Anyone who regularly reads my columns knows I’m a great proponent of democracy, freedom of speech and the self-determination of people. I worry when a “ruling body” becomes overly oppressive and dictatorial, and I am worried now. I’m worried at the hard line stance Europe increasingly seems to be taking.
The problems in Catalonia rumble on whilst political prisoners are held in Madrid. With Article 155 invoked, the autocratic rule of Europe’s puppet Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is being strengthened. Be under no illusions: he is a puppet – without the support of Europe Spain’s economy would collapse. So he dances to the tune that they play. The crisis in Spain is well off the front pages, somewhere between celebrity gossip and sport.
EUROPE’S REACTION TO POLAND’S TURN TO THE RIGHT
That’s where you might also find what is happening in Poland. Poland, that beacon of anti-communist hope where free elections 30 years ago preceded and emboldened the fight for the fall of the Berlin Wall. Poland has taken a fierce turn to the right, and along with Hungary, not scared of courting controversy.
Poland has become increasingly dictatorial since the election of the far-right government led by Prime Minister Beata Szydlo and President Duda. The government has been interfering in the judiciary, never a good sign, and is also fiercely anti-immigration. So how does the ruling body of Europe react? It starts the legal process of Article 7(1).
Article 7(1) is the legal structure to impose sanctions that in the first instance precludes a member from voting in the European Council, which decides the law. A sort of “you are a member but you can’t be involved in the law-making process if we disagree with your politics.” I have had to reread what I’ve written as it seems so unbelievable, but it’s true.
“When you have a centralising force such as Brussels, there will always be tension between independent nation states and integrationist bureaucrats,” said Andrew Rosindell, UK member of parliament (MP) to LiveSquawk News.
Still, Rosindell, a leading Brexit proponent, finds it “astonishing” that the EU reacts by saying Poland is undermining democracy.
“Brussels kept silent on the Catalonia issue, forced countries to vote again for the Lisbon Treaty, and bankrupted southern Europe with the Euro,” he said. “Clearly, the Eurocrats have been furious with the Polish government ever since it refused to take in refugees.”
Various Remainers were approached for their views for this column, but none were willing to be interviewed.
ARTICLE 50, ARTICLE 155 AND MAYBE AN ARTICLE 7
Margaritis Schinas, chief spokesman at the European Commission, told LiveSquawk Brussels was indeed unhappy with Poland’s current political stance.
“The commission is ready to use all tools at its disposal, including Article 7(1) if and when it decides that there is a clear risk of a serious breach of the Rule of Law,” he wrote in a detailed email response to my questions. “The Rule of Law is not optional,” he wrote.
Translated to, I suspect, the Rule of OUR Law is not optional.
While I am in no way condoning the behaviour of Poland or indeed the Catalans, I feel strongly that freedom of speech is a fundamental right and by their actions Europe is suppressing these freedoms.
Apart from my own political feelings why do I feel this is so important? Because I remain more convinced than ever that beneath the smarmy exterior of EC apparatchiks, there are problems as big, if not bigger, than Brexit for them to worry about. Apart from Poland there are the domestic political problems of Germany’s lame-duck Chancellor Angela Merkel, France Emmanuel Macron’s internal problems, and for Spain, not only Catalonia but its simmering pension crises. Europe looks like a big bowl of Matzah ball soup to me.
With Theresa May exploiting her position of weakness, a position where no Tory MP can truly attack as they fear an election, to pull a deal from the fire with Europe the UK is now in the driving seat – a fact you won’t see reported in the Press. I, for one, doff my cap. The UK has capped the payment due at a figure of circa£35bln whilst it negotiates a trade deal. Nota Bene- Europe sells at least £80bln more goods to the UK than we do to them. Do they want to lose this? I’m not suggesting that we want to be as crude as “Do you still want to sell us your BMWs because if so we want the £35bln dropped down a bit” but I am now turning increasingly bullish of Sterling and I would tickle at few longs on board the one thing that I am sure of is to steer well clear of the Bitcoin casino!
Andrew Rosinedell has been The Conservative M.P. for Romford since 2001 as its Member of Parliament.