Long but worthwhile blog over on Nosemonkey‘s site, which takes a look at the debate on the EU Referendum Bill, and specifically at what the amendments say about Bill Cash’s attitude to and knowledge of the British constitution.
Clive is justifiably worried that Britain will use the threat of a referendum to obstruct necessary change within the EU. He says:
If Britain wants to remain a member of the EU but in doing so prevents further European integration from happening, she will be destroying the EU – forcing it to stay as something Britain wants, not what other EU member states may want. And this not by negotiation, but by an obstinate, childish refusal to either compromise or have the decency to leave and let others get on with it. It’d be the diplomatic equivalent of puncturing the football the other children are playing with because no one wants to play cricket with you.
He also points out a strange sovereignty paradox I hadn’t thought of before. Britain for (it claims) the preservation of its sovereignty, is not a member of the Schengen accord on free movement. However, by that very act, it is fettering the sovereignty of the Irish Republic, which can’t join Schengen as it would dissolve the common travel zone which allows free travel between Northern Ireland and the Republic.
This isn’t just a matter of politics, it’s actively harming the Irish economy: not being in Schengen, as the Economist has recently argued, is putting off rich Chinese tourists who can go to Paris, Rome, Berlin and Prague on one visa, but need (and don’t bother to get) a second one to go to London or Dublin.
So whose sovereignty is more important, the Irish or the British? I think we all know what the Eurosceptics would say to that. But as it is, their dodgy constitutional fetishism (a bit Tea-Partyish in its own way), has blinded them to the fact that no nation is an island. Even if it’s an island. Or Ireland.