Why are we deaf to the truth about Europe?
Britons must realise that the EU is now a domestic – not foreign – issue, argues Daniel Hannan MEP
Did you see the thousands of people outside Parliament on Wednesday, campaigning for a referendum on the European Constitution? No? I can't say I’m surprised. The lobby went almost wholly unreported. Five idiots protesting about climate change made top billing; thousands of respectable citizens politely asking their MPs to keep their word got no mention.
Why are we so indifferent to the question of becoming part of a European state? Normally, when questions of nationality are at stake, they dominate political discourse. Think of Kosovo or Kashmir or Northern Ireland or any other territory in the world where there is an argument about which country to belong to. Yet, when it comes to UK independence, we flex our shoulders in a shrug so bored as to be downright Gallic.
Perhaps it is fatalism: an understandable belief that, whatever we say, politicians will ignore us. Perhaps it is the old British vice of leaving things until too late. Or perhaps it is simple ignorance. Even now, after 35 years of membership, few Britons understand the nature of the European project.
They still think of it as a disagreeable business that takes place across the Channel - expensive, undemocratic, corrupt, but far less immediate to them than, say, the admissions policy of their local school.
In fact, the EU is a domestic, not a foreign issue: its institutions pass 80 per cent of our laws, even in areas that have no conceivable international dimension: the ban on vitamin supplements, car seats for 12-year-olds, HIPs, fortnightly recycling (mandated by the EU's Landfill Directive), the nonsense of fitting different stamps to different sizes of envelopes (the Postal Services Directive), the rigmarole involved in opening a bank account (the Money Laundering Directive)...
We have replaced our system of parliamentary government with EU rule. And we haven't noticed. ·
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