This will be a series of posts casting an eye on the government funded propaganda. For now we'll just have a look at page one of the booklet claim by claim. Here we go:
The UK has special status in a reformed EU. It has kept the pound, will not join the euro and has kept control of the UK border.
The UK does not have a special status at all. To have a special status we would have to have a unilateral right to refuse any new law coming from Brussels. We do not have that. Cameron didn't even ask for that. No powers have been returned to the UK. To have accomplished any of this there would need to be fundamental changes to the founding treaties of the EU. To do that would require the approval of the 27 other member states. This has not happened and never will happen. The EU is unreformable. That's why they didn't even try. That's a big reason why many want to leave.
To say that we have kept the pound and will not join the Euro is neither here nor there. That was already the case. There was never any possibility of joining the Euro. As to border control, it's actually something of a myth to believe we don't have border controls but many are unsatisfied with the freedom of movement aspect of EU membership. There has been no reform of this.
The Prime Minister has secured what he believes to be an emergency brake, but that's only if all other EU members agree. The likelihood of it ever being applied is zero - and the agreement was already within our power. Put simply, the Prime Minister is lying.
Cameron says the UK will not be part of further European political integration. But what does that mean? In practice it would mean the EU may never again assume power over decision making where Britain is concerned. But the agreement he has secured has no material effect on the EU treaties. It is therefore not binding. The EU is perfectly within its legal right to assume power over decisions if the European Court of Justice or the EU Commission rules in its favour. And it will. And Cameron's government will roll over and let it. Who is even going to notice? Not our media.
Cameron says "there will be tough new restrictions on access to our welfare system for new EU migrants". This was always a decoy to keep the media distracted. Migrant benefits are not nearly as much of an issue as many believe. We may see a marginal shift of policy within the powers we already have, but this is not EU reform.
We are talking about a governmental organisation that legislates everything from labour laws, human rights to car wing mirrors. Make no mistake, the EU is a government. I will will never be persuaded that a supreme government for Europe is the right move for Britain, but if I were to be persuaded to stay in, I would want to see real reforms. This doesn't even get close.
The booklet says "we have a commitment to reduce EU red tape" - which is a wholly meaningless thing to say. There is no measure that prevents further laws being imposed on the UK. There has been no change to the structure of the law making institutions. Nothing Cameron has done even begins to address the issue of reducing regulation. It says:
The deal gives the UK the best of both worlds. The UK is stronger, safer and better off in a reformed EU. We have access to the Single Market and play a leading role in determining the rules that govern it.
The PM is pulling a fast one here. It is plausible in some remote circumstances that we are "safer and better off in a reformed EU" but the EU has not been reformed and never will be. Such reforms would have to be a transformational re-write of the EU as an institution. It would require a referendum of its own because it would be so far reaching. The absence of such is all the proof you need that there has been no reform.
In any case, the Prime Minister is lying when he says we have a leading role in determining the rules that govern the single market. We never have had that kind of influence. The basics were decided by the other members before we even joined, and as trade is now global, regulation is increasingly global too. The regulations are made by major global super regulators. The EU does not allow us an independent vote and refuses us the right to opt out. We would have more of a say in the rules the EU adopts if we left the EU.
The Prime Minister has never been interested in reforming the EU. He likes it the way it is. He knows it would never be reformed and he knew we would never get what we asked for - so he didn't even ask. He instead subjected us to weeks of political pantomime and is attempting to deceive us. He is gambling that people have been kept sufficiently in the dark about the EU that they will trust him. You shouldn't. He is lying.
Over the next ten weeks you will hear him repeat the phrase "stay in a reformed EU". He will also repeat the words" special status". Just like the words "long term economic plan" he believes that if he repeats them often enough - and they are repeated by the media, that people will accept it as fact. It's cynical but it works. Watch out for it.
People don't know very much about the EU and the government has been keen to keep it that way. That is what Cameron is banking on. He seeks to exploit public confusion. There is no reason to trust David Cameron. He lied when he said he had used the veto and he's lying now. He has never wanted to leave the EU and is not remotely interested in reforming it. He is taking you for stupid. Tell him where to shove it. Vote to Leave.