The intervention into British domestic politics by the President of the Council, Herman von Rompuy, to endorse Barroso the Commission President, in what is now the official stated view of the EU on Scottish membership, was a little surprising…not because Herman is anything other than a right wing centralist with no interest in democratising the institutions – he is against directly electing EU leaders – but because the Council had previously been publicly agnostic. It is after all the Council which is ultimately responsible for membership, and it is the Council legal advisers who will formulate the approach to be taken to Scotland and the rUK after a Yes vote.
So why would he join Barroso in the now infamous assertion – still without any legal foundation or description of the mechanics to be used – that ‘a new independent state would, by the fact of its independence, become a third country with respect to the Union and the treaties would, from the day of its independence, not apply anymore on its territory’?
Could it be relevant that the member of his cabinet who advises on institutional matters is one Richard Corbett? If he sounds vaguely familiar to any of you Euro nerds, it’s because he is an active professional politician in the British Labour Party and was an MEP from 96 to 09. So he’s hardly a disinterested observer although, to be fair, a man can give up one career and transform himself into an independently-minded professional in another. However, in Corbett’s case it seems he is only stopping over in the Council offices until he gets back into active party politics. He’s been selected as second on the Yorkshire and Humberside Labour list for next year’s European elections so is more than likely to get elected. Since part of his job is liaising with national governments, including the UK, how likely do you think it is that he would resist the temptation to do a bit of behind-the-scenes campaigning on the UK’s behalf by suggesting that Herman speak out on the sticky business of Scotland?
Combined with the private talks between the Spanish right wing and the Tories to agree a common front on Scotland and Catalonia, we now appear to have a British Labour politician inside the system helping to dictate European policy towards the same end.
I know, I know, conspiracies exist only in the minds of the gullible. But sometimes, if you smell a rat, it’s because there are rodents nearby. Or should that be rongeurs?
Incidentally, on my aside about David Martin referring, strictly accurately, to Scotland as a region…my point is that our country, Britain, was created by two separate nations who retain that identity and, even if Brussels finds it inconvenient, we regard ourselves as such, or we should. David clearly disagrees and follows the Brussels diktat. But can you imagine an English MEP standing up to declare that he represents “the region of England”? I doubt it. He’d have the Daily Mail on his case straight away. We should call ourselves what we like and let them interpret to suit themselves. I don’t think many eurocrats wouldn’t know what was meant by Scotland or England. To me, it’s about pride, something some politicians seem to have mislaid.