A special programme examining the issue of British sovereignty as we approach the EU referendum.
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Throughout Britain's history, we've been a sovereign nation.
So do we want to take control back, or are we happy to share it?
It's a special programme tonight on the EU, sovereignty and power.
We'll visit this place, the sovereign principality
of Sealand, to ask if it's better to be a small nation,
with more direct control over your own affairs.
We are a thorn in the side of the British government, I believe.
They have try to control us in the past, unsuccessfully.
But absolutely, it is not lawless, here.
It is common-sense law, what you have.
make the law, not because anybody else tells you?
We'll ask our guests just how much of our lives Brussels controls,
and we'll see how many of our laws come from the EU.
This is the 1972 European Communities Act.
This is it, the act that took us into the European Economic
We'll ask this Cabinet minister and this former Commissioner
if Brexit would give us more power back over our lives,
or just lose influence over the rest of Europe?
MUSIC: "500 Miles (I'm Gonna Be)" - The Proclaimers.
# Forced on King John as he made off with the revenue.
Does our culture of Magna Carta and liberty make it particularly
hard for us to ever settle down in a bigger continental club?
Good evening, it's more crowded than usual in here this evening -
It's the first of six, in fact, over the next two months,
each devoted to one big issue in the referendum campaign.
And we are live blogging the each one of the website with extra
background and analysis. Our goal in these programmes
is to help you make up We'll look at the economy, security,
migration, to name a few. But we picked perhaps the hardest
one to start with: The word sovereign can refer
to a king or queen, a gold coin or a holiday company,
but for our purposes tonight, Is this country ruled
by those we elect here, Most pertinently, can
we kick out the authorities With me here, Lord Mandelson
and Chris Grayling, for the In and Out sides
of the argument. A panel of people
with expert knowledge We have a group of undecideds
here selected for us by the pollsters Ipsos Mori
and, these poor souls, with us for each of our specials
throughout the campaign. all about people like them -
as the referendum will likely be lost or won by the people
who could swing either way. I don't know how important you think
sovereignty is that I think you think it is central to the
referendum issue. I think it is vital, it is how we make laws, raise
taxes, who governs our waters. It is a key issue. Everything derives from
that? Lewis, I think you are someone who was not so taken with the issue.
I think it was a topic that was least necessary for me to know
because it is probably the hardest to pitch post-referendum. I will do
something I should not do, show your hands. I will give you a choice, how
many would say... Sovereignty is the most important issue, how many would
say the economy? How many would put sovereignty above the economy as an
issue? And how many would put the economy above sovereignty? OK, we
will see whether by the end of the programme you are persuaded
sovereignty is important. Angela, I am glad I picked you to start with.
OK, before we get stuck into discussion in here,
We wanted to start you off with some sovereignty basics.
How might you look at the issue of what powers of self-determination
we'd gain by leaving the EU, and what we'd possibly
The case against the EU is simple - we should decide our laws,
not subcontract them to a remote authority overseas.
The case for the EU, was put by a former President
"In the age of globalisation, pooled sovereignty means more power,
I've been giving a bit of thought to sovereignty and power.
It is not a country you have probably visited.
This is Sealand, a self-proclaimed micro-nation a few miles
It is an old Second World War anti-aircraft
It was outside territorial waters when claimed by
They declared it a sovereign principality almost 50
There is not much to do here - you can enjoy the views, and
ponder on the meaning of what it is to be sovereign.
It was seized by a man called Paddy Roy Bates.
It is our frontier, it is our small slice of freedom in
We are a thorn in the side of the British Government, I believe,
because they have tried to control us in the past, unsuccessfully.
But absolutely it is not lawless here.
But it is up to you that you make the law, not
because anyone else tells you to make the law.
This is an extreme example of one sovereignty
They have sovereignty here, but not much else.
This is what some on the Remain side of the argument
think Britain would be like if we left the EU.
We would get our sovereignty back, but we would be an
irrelevant outpost in the middle of the North Sea.
You can be king of a castle, but only if it is a very
Obviously this is a very extreme and ludicrous way of
framing the sovereignty debate, but it does
perhaps illustrate the
potential dilemma between sovereignty and influence.
If we leave the EU, we stop others interfering in our lives, but we can
We gain power back over our own affairs, but we lose influence over
Lest this all sounds a bit far-flung, go from the metallic hulk
It provides an example of how our sovereignty is lost.
We most definitely can't help it as you
might want, as we have signed up to EU rules that restrict us bailing
Vicky Pryce was chief economist at the
Business Department and is a keen supporter of the Remain side.
If you are looking at it from an economic
perspective and business perspective, would you want us to
have a level playing field with rules you understand and you could
And you don't get all sorts of barriers there
For that to happen you have to accept
rules and regulations that apply for everybody,
so you give up some of
your sovereignty because you choose to do so,
because it makes a lot of
For EU supporters, sovereignty is a two-way street.
We helped our car industry after the financial crash with a
scrappage scheme, subsidising new cars turned in for old ones.
We were not allowed to insist on the new
cars being British, of course, but other countries could not favour
Other countries had scrappage schemes at the same time,
in fact we imitated some of the ones already in existence elsewhere.
they were buying loads of our cars, so you could not say you should only
buy UK-made cars when in fact we were happy to sell them to others
who were buying them through their own scrappage scheme.
So for example of our government wanted to subsidise a
Under the EU state aid rules, the Austrians
What on earth has it got to do with them?
John Redwood is on the Out side of the debate.
We have lost the right to govern ourselves.
I think the British people and their Parliament should
whether they should subsidise a particular way of
generating power, and that is something
normal country, the Parliament decides on the advice of people and
it can become a topic for throwing them out
Once you are in the European Union you have to ask the permission
of the others or indeed you may do something
which the others decide is
illegal and the court will often back the others
On Sealand, of course, there is not much of an energy industry and not
Then others do not give much to Sealand.
It seems to me we have a
Do we want to stop making compromises for the sake of others,
at the possible cost of them no longer compromising for the sake of
Of course it would be nice if we did not have to make a choice.
Boris Johnson said when it comes to cake,
he is pro-having it and pro-eating it.
Could we stay in the EU and have
We are not the first country to grapple with this.
There is a long EU history of argument over nations having vetoes
over the bits they do not like and it was led by
General De Gaulle, who returned to power
having been as it were in
exile, and he did not like what had been done.
Under the treaty, which had been negotiated by his
predecessors, there was to be a gradual increase in the use of
majority voting so that one member state could not block
particular measures, especially in agriculture
and De Gaulle decided he would try to stop it.
And his way of stopping it
was to withdraw the French from all meetings.
The French left an empty chair and for about six months from
the middle of '65 to '66, the European community
The veto gives each nation more power but
makes the community of nations harder to govern.
The others did not want to give the French veto on
I can't even say agreement was reached on what became
known as the Luxembourg compromise, because it was a unilateral
statement by the French that became known as the Luxembourg compromise
in which the French said if a member state invokes an important national
interest on a subject then discussion should continue until a
It was a classic Euro fudge and it eventually
lapsed, as John Redwood found when he was a British minister.
I agreed with the French view then and
thought the Luxembourg compromise was necessary,
but of course it did not work.
It is a warning to people, do not trust them.
We were told for years we may have signed nasty
looking treaties, but don't worry, if something important came along
you could use the Luxembourg compromise and you would get your
Of course we did not use it and over the years of non-use it
gradually lapsed and I remember on a couple
of occasions saying to the
government, maybe this is an occasion when we need
to use the Luxembourg compromise and the official
nobody wanted to go near it because it was row territory
And one day you woke up and discovered that it was no
The truth is there are advantages to being a small nation,
Not having a veto, but not needing one.
Here they can at least get decisions made quickly.
The rules are made by my father, Prince Michael, as
That is the reason Sealand was made into a principality, to simplify the
That way you do not need to vote things through a parliament.
Simple constitution not with the red tape,
The debate over the use of the veto or the power of our
Parliament to block EU legislation is pretty well over.
We can pick and choose some of what we do in the EU
but not all of it and if you don't like that, you should vote to leave.
At least that is if you think sovereignty is all-important.
But most of us have to do a little mental cost benefit test.
If we leave the EU, do we value the powers
And do we think we would lose influence anyway?
As you weigh up that choice there is a first
Living the British dream, or dreaming of a continental life?
The closer to Europe you feel, the less
you might worry about pooling power with Europeans.
The lower the cost of being in the EU.
Where is the essence where when I close my
Gisela Stuart is a thoughtful campaigner for Brexit.
I think in terms of say in the United
Kingdom, nobody in London would object to paying more taxes to keep
Northern Ireland as part of the UK, that is part of the union.
If you go back to the European Union, the
original six were pretty much a kind of demos.
And you could have said Denmark and Austria, there was
All I can tell you now is with 28 and growing, that
demos has stretched itself beyond its limits.
Only you know who you feel comfortable sharing your house
with, your bank account with or your votes with.
Are the British generally outliers in Europe?
On average, are our values different from theirs?
The Anglo-Saxons and probably a lot of
the seafaring nations know one thing.
That you cannot control the
You find the whole of British politics,
the system in the House of
We never claim to define ultimate long-standing truths.
We simply say, here is a problem, what
One Parliament does not bind another.
Because when circumstances change you may have
No, we take a fundamentally different approach in
the political decision-making process.
There is a second question you might want to think about.
Exactly how much influence do we have over the rest of the EU, so
The interesting thing about the UK is that it has influenced
If you look at what is going on right now, I would say a
large percentage of the industry standards across Europe
You can argue that even arch sceptic Prime
Minister Thatcher had a big influence on the whole direction of
the EU, even if she came to doubt its value.
There was a move towards greater majority voting in order to
Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister at the
time, although she did not like the idea of giving
up veto in this area, she was the prime champion of the
single market, it was part of her drive for greater competitiveness,
both at home and in the European communities.
She accepted these considerable changes across a wide
So that we would move from a veto to majority voting.
But not everyone agrees we get our way very
And not everyone thinks the kinds of concessions we win are
You see all the time we are concentrating on minor
issues like what shape is a plug or the size
the big issues of how do we spend our money?
What taxes are we allowed to raise, how does our welfare
system work, who was allowed to come to our country?
The EU has moved on massively from just being a of trade
As the referendum campaign progresses, you will hear a lot
about the different countries Britain might emulate.
You will not hear much about Sealand.
But it might just help you think about
sovereignty, power and the potential trade-offs between the two.
I got back through Sealand passport control safe and well.
And I'm joined here by Chris Grayling MP,
one of the Cabinet ministers campaigning for Brexit.
Lord Mandelson, the Labour politician and former
European Commissioner, campaigning to Remain.
And as well as our group of undecided voters,
Sir Francis Jacobs, a former Advocate General
Marina Wheeler QC, a barrister described by one newspaper
as the "brains" behind her husband, Boris Johnson.
The historian, Professor Robert Tombs and Siobhan Benita,
who was a civil servant in several big departments and is now
I want to start with the biggest question on sovereignty.
Exactly how much control does the EU actually have over us?
Is it just the single market stuff, or is the EU creeping into every
Chris Grayling, you have written the U dominates our way of life. Is that
true? -- that the EU. And we go to work in the morning, our workplace
conditions are framed by the EU. When we travel to work, the safety
standards around the transport system come on roads and railways
are shaped by the EU. In regards to the countryside, the rules about
agriculture are shaped by the EU is so are the rules around the
environment. When we go shopping at the weekend, the rules that give us
consumer rights are shaped. When we have issues in the news like asylum,
the definition of an asylum seeker is saved by the EU and so on and so
on. We look across the full range of government and look for an area of
government activity that is not wholly or partly shaped by the EU
and you are looking at quite a small number of areas. Let's focus, road
safety that you imagine. You are not suggesting that we would not have
road safety rules if there was not an EU. In practical terms, how
different are what they are making us do from what we would do anyway?
Wright let's take a practical example, Boris Johnson has argued
for it, we've had terrible accident in London, cyclist being crushed by
lorries. Boris has argued for improved ways of protecting cyclists
on the roads, changing the way that lorries operate and are structured.
It falls under EU rules and the French don't want to do it so he has
said he has not been able to pursue that. But it's going to happen? It
is a delay while they improve the lorries. It is a typical compromise
to look after people with lorries. Boris would ban it tomorrow but the
French say then that lorries could not drive on our roads. But it is a
decision we can't take. Live animal transport, I personally don't
believe we should carry live farm animals over very long distances in
lorries. I think it's inhumane and we should stop doing it and probably
the majority of people in this country would stop doing it but we
can't because EU rules would allow us to do so. Another change we would
put in place because I think it's right but we can't because the EU
says it is their competency and they are not doing it. To go through some
areas where the EU does not touch our stuff, I mean, it touches it all
a little bit but the rules of the welfare system for British people
are basically determined by ours. The welfare system is a good case in
point. I was employment Minister for the first two and a half years of
the last Parliament and you are right, the Lisbon Treaty, the most
east -- most recent EU treaty says Social Security is a national
confidence by the European Court has ruled that the provisions in the
treaty would say people should have the freedom to move anywhere they
want across Europe has been deemed by that court to trump the rights of
the member states to decide their Social Security. But the bulk of
where full rules and the bulk of taxes are made here, education,
health funding, shopping, gay marriage. Increasingly, more wealth
are rules are being shaped by decisions in the European Court even
though they are supposed to be a matter for the UK, they are turning
into European decisions. Peter Mandelson, do you acknowledge we
have lost a lot of control? We have had some example there like animal
transport. A very poor example because I remember legislation to
protect animal welfare going through the commission when I was a member
ten years ago. I'm not quite sure what Chris is talking about. It's a
bit like Boris Johnson's claimed that there is an EU directive that
prevents children from blowing up balloons, also rubbish. But you are
not shying away... We do give up some sovereign tree. Absolutely not,
I don't shy away from it for a moment. But the point I want to make
is this... So you have given up some intrigue? Chris Como throughout his
statements, talked about the US some autonomous, independent
organisation, totally separate from us, making these laws and then
imposing it on us. We make this law. We, the member states, make this
law. We have a member of the European Commission who draws up
these proposals in the first place. We have British members of the
European Parliament who reflect the public's interest in that
legislative system. There are British judges in the European Court
of Justice. Sorry, you are not... We have 13% of the vote and they have
87%. We, like every other member states, are part of this collective
process of taking decisions, formulating legislation, pursuing
policies and yes, in many cases, they are a compromise. Can I give
you an example? It is not simply Britain standing aside in spend that
isolation, agreeing with itself. That's the easiest thing in the
world. But where there are things that we need to pursue legislation,
that we need to introduce on an EU wide basis, then we are part of the
system. Who do you think got rid of all the roaming charges for mobile
phones? The European Union dead. Can I give a quick example? That is not
wholly true. North Sea oil expression, after the Gulf of Mexico
oil disaster, the commission decided it needed to step in and tighten
safety standards, even though we already had in the North Sea the
best safety standards in the world. It rewrote the safety practices. As
a result, North Sea oil companies are now having to redo the way they
work, even though what they were doing was safe in the first place.
We could not stop that from happening because we are one of only
two or three out of 28 member states... And are those companies
complaining about our membership of the Eucharist among are they saying
we should come out? They are complaining directly about the
legislation. Chris has a long-standing track record and bete
noire about health and safety legislation which is drawn up in
Europe which he would like to see repealed. What I would say to you is
that as a Cabinet minister, if you felt so deeply and passionately
about a policy that has been formulated Rod Lawler that has been
drawn up in Brussels, then you as a minister have a right to go there.
My complaint about you and some of your colleagues is that you are so
Euro phobic that oftentimes, you don't bother to go to Brussels, you
don't bother to turn up at the meetings. That's not true, I've
represented the UK at European Council meetings for five years,
going to every council meeting that I've been invited to. I realise
why... I realise why you are being so defensive about this. As you well
know, many people in Whitehall believe that you hate the European
Union so much that you won't bat for Britain by turning up at the
meetings. I have been to every council meeting that I've been
invited to for five years. I have never sent a junior minister but I
have never either felt properly able to represent the UK's interest
because I was consistently and always outvoted. So you sometimes
did not turn up. That's not true. We will establish that later. I want to
bring in a member of the panel, Siobhan Benita. Michael Gove said
something quite interesting and I wonder if you can help us with this?
I know UR a Remains a porter, you said, "As a minister, I've seen
hundreds of new rules across my desk, you will, none of which were
questioned by the UK Parliament, none of which I could alter in any
way and none of which made us free, richer or fairer". In your
experience in the civil service, how many bits of EU staff were rolling
across the table? There are two perceptions in this debate which,
Mike spirit of 15 years in the civil service, gets a bit muddled in this
whole debate. One is exactly what Peter was saying, laws don't get
imposed on us. We are there, around the table, negotiating each of those
laws as they come in. Actually, UK civil servants are very good at
getting what they wanted those negotiations. I think it is a
misunderstanding to say somehow these things are done to us. There's
not a separate of Brussels bureaucrat that we are not a part
of. Peter has made that point. The second thing, I can honestly say in
my time in the civil service, the EE you played a very small part in the
policies I saw coming across my desk. -- the EU played. That might
have been a reflection of the fact I worked in departments like the
Department of Health for the last two years of my time in the civil
service, after the coalition came in. The NHS reforms that we worked
on for years, that were very messy going through Parliament, had very
little, if anything to do with the EU. Mike spirit would have been the
same in the Department for Education, I think. I think it's
important as well that people realise it is not true that
absolutely everything is controlled by the EU. I'm not doubting that
some things are. So would you put yourself somewhere between Chris
Grayling and Peter Mandelson? Would you put yourself with Peter
Mandelson or closer to Chris Grayling? I'm definitely closer to
Peter. We influence the areas where the EU governance or influences our
policy-making. But there are a huge number of policy areas where the EE
you have three little influence over what we do. Marina Wheeler, you
wrote a piece about one of the ways in which the EU and extending
influence into the UK which is essentially judicial, through the
courts. Often, in fact, taking more power than anyone thought they
would. You should explain the point because it was quite an influential
piece will stop it is certainly true that the issue here, when one is
looking at power, is not just legislation, although I certainly
agree that there is a great deal of legislation. But the other really
important actor is the court. Certainly, with the legislation that
exists and the powers that exist, the court does interpret that and
often takes a very expansively you a bit. But my particular point that I
wrote about was something that is another further leap forward, the
Charter of fundamental rights. Now, the Charter, I'm giving a little bit
of background, just to explain for everyone's benefit, the charter is
very like the convention on human rights that comes from Strasbourg.
But it is a Luxembourg and EU version. So we have two charters? We
have a convention and the charter which becomes important. The charter
is a bit broader than the convention. It was originally
conceived as part of a constitutional treaty but rejected.
It was repackaged and appeared at Lisbon. The important point about
the charter is that it is now being used as a way of challenging
domestic legislation and EU legislation. The important point is,
with the principle of supremacy of EU law, it can set aside national
law and national provision. Do you recognise the court has
extending power. The reason you have the European Court of Justice is
there has to be a body that arbitrates in times of disputes when
there are different interpretations of the law, somebody has to give a
judgment. The question is whether that panel of judges have extended
EU law areas we would not have thought we were signing up to when
we joined. Do not recognise that. I hear the claim and do not recognise
the reality and I want a Europe that supports values. I want a Europe
that supports human rights. I want a Europe that stands up for
individuals, minorities and their freedom. I would like those values
to be reflected in the decisions of the other European institutions. I
believe in those values. What proportion of time when we end up in
the European Court, the UK ends up on the winning side? Funny you
should mention that but I have a list here. I knew you would ask
this. I rather like the UK wins over the clearing houses. Benefits
migration, a case we brought. British taxpayers win ruling against
Her Majesty's revenue... We win some and we lose some, Chris, I am
afraid. Can I ask... Sir Francis Jacobs, you were an Advocate General
at backcourt. Have they extended judicial power? I think it is
reasonable to take the view the Court of Justice has taken a broad
view of the powers conferred on the European Union. I think this is not
particularly surprising, it is something you would find in modern
democracies, that the courts tend to take a broad view of rights and
powers conferred by the Constitution, certainly to take a
broader view of fundamental rights which is regarded as a basic value
in Europe, and should be. Rightly so. There is a difference between a
Supreme Court in the United States for example and European Court of
Justice. This is not a democratic country in his court over a
constant, a club of nations, is there a difference? I do not and
there is such a difference now. We have the European Court of Human
Rights which is developing the basic rights of individuals through
Europe, a larger Europe than the EU and it is not surprising in the
scope of EU law, and it is only where the court has jurisdiction
within the scope of EU law, that fundamental rights should be
protected by the court. We need to move on. We have dealt with the
courts and certain issues. Well, in the referendum campaign,
there has been an attempt to encapsulate the argument
about sovereignty into a single number - the proportion of the laws
that govern us in this country that Is it most of the law -
or just a bit? It would be lovely to be
definitive about this. We asked Queenie, a British bulldog,
a national symbol no less, She got the BBC's legal affairs
correspondent, Like a lot of British citizens,
Queenie, this British Bulldog is confused about just how much UK
law is in fact now EU law. The claims vary so massively,
it is really difficult to get The organisation Business
For Britain, which campaigns for Britain to leave the EU,
says over 60% of UK law If you stack up the entire EU rule
book, it would be higher than Nelson's Column,
which is an incredible amount of paperwork for British businesses,
employees, all people who have to comply with this legislation
that they have to deal with. That is cost and time added
to their businesses. Others are sceptical
as to whether calculating a percentage of EU law
tells us anything at all. The critical thing
is to look at impact. If you look at percentages,
you end up with the number of laws, directives and regulations,
which tells you nothing For impact, you need
to look at these sectors where the regulations
and the laws are made. In some sectors, the impact
will be absolutely minimal. Between 1993 and 2014,
Parliament passed 945 Acts, of which 231 implemented EU
obligations of some sort. It also passed 33,160
Statutory Instruments, which flesh out how
a statute will work. 4283 of them implemented
EU obligations. Add both of these together
and divide by the total number of laws passed,
and 13% of our laws If you want to know about UK law,
this is the place where every piece of UK legislation is stored,
including this one. This is the 1972
European Communities Act. This is it, the Act that took us
into the European Economic This is the act that gives direct
effect to EU law in the UK. That is what gives rise
to that 13% figure. But that figure is not entirely
accurate because most EU regulations don't need new laws like these
to bring them into effect. Most can be brought into effect
without the need for legislation. For instance, by simply changing
administrative rules. So if you count all EU regulations,
EU-related Acts of Parliament, and EU-related Statutory Instruments,
about 62% of laws introduced between 1993 and 2014 that apply
in the UK implement EU obligations. Doing a simple count of laws is not
really that useful. The Working Time Directive,
which gives workers a minimum number of holidays and rest breaks,
is pretty significant. The regulation classifying padded
waistcoat in things like puffa But each counts as another EU law
on the UK pile. As do EU-wide regulations governing
the production of things like olive oil and tobacco,
which we don't produce. If the UK votes to leave the EU,
would we actually be We make cars and we want
to sell them. We will have to make cars that
comply with European rules. Whether we go down the Swiss model,
the Norwegian model, the WT model or whatever,
it is reality, not law. They will not accept our cars
if they don't comply So Queenie, for a British
bulldog like yourself, or a citizen like me who's been
concerned about the issue, it is probably fair to say that EU
law represents a significant part But to turn it into a
numbers game? Come on,
Queenie. Clive Coleman on the numbers,
and how not to interpret them. before we move on can be agreed this
numbers game, 13%, 62%, whatever it is, it is pointless. I would not
argue in terms of numbers, the questions I would ask is in terms of
impact, questions like if the EU brings forward a measure in
financial services, North Sea oil, something similar, that will cost
jobs in the UK, do we have the power to say we will not accept that? We
don't. That is my problem. To be clear, you would not be going around
saying, three quarters of laws come from Brussels? I don't put numbers
on it. Peter Mandelson, do you agree, the 13% figure sometimes
quoted by the Remain side is not helpful? I do not use the figures
but I take issue with Chris, who talks about legislation, EU
obligations, the terrible impact, as if it has been something done over
which we have no influence. It is very fundamental. This is not
legislation imposed on us, we are part of the legislative process and
until Chris understands this he will not come to terms with the
process... If he went to Brussels more often he might know and how it
worked. I have been there more recently that you have, Peter. If
the EU brings forward a measure that will cost jobs in the UK can we stop
that happening? If we have been part of the less -- legislative process,
if we have co-control with the European Parliament over what
legislation goes through and we have been part of the legislation I
accept we need to implement it, it is an obligation on us, but only
because we have in a prior stage to its conclusion been part of its
formulation. Sometimes we are outvoted. You have to accept the
obvious, sometimes we are outvoted and you have to accept that as part
of being a member. Which is why I want to leave. I think there is a
different problem, which is often legislation that leaves the
commission which has had a full impact assessment and is quite
specific and people know it has to be contained, as it goes through the
European Parliamentary process, it is often added to and made into a
patchwork quilt and when it reaches the member states it is often
extended, gold-plated, extended in coverage with the consequent impact
on us at home, so it is not just Brussels and the European Commission
it is the elected representatives in the European Parliament who also
have a responsibility, but it is the member states whose job it is to
contain the impact of legislation without any side effects.
We've discussed how much power over our lives that we've lost
But one of the main arguments for leaving is not about what we've
lost, but what we might still lose in future, the fear of the EU
Can I take it that is actually your deepest fear? It is important, we
are not voting to stay in the EU as it is today, it will have to change
and in order for the Euro to survive and we have seen the crisis,
eurozone countries will have to do things in a harmonised way which
they are saying so, talking about a eurozone Budget and Finance
Minister, a greater social policy integration. We are talking about
being on the fringes, one of only two member states not committed to
being part of this, like being a 5% shareholder in a business where
somebody else owns 95%. We will have no say as they take on the
characteristics of an emerging United States of Europe. Peter
Mandelson, can you give assurance that is not going to happen, we will
not be on the edge of a big page? I think just because we have less
influence because the eurozone is integrating as it is, does not mean
we should draw the conclusion we should abandon all our influence and
leave the European Union. The more substantive point is this and it is
important for the future. In my judgment, we have seen the last two
great political projects of the European Union. One is the single
currency, of which we are not part and are not going to be, and
secondly, the Schengen zone, the open borders, and why do I think
they will be the last smack two reasons. First the public in Europe,
not just in Britain, has no hunger for deepening the integration and
constructing a further political project within the ambit of the EU
and secondly the member states who control the European Union, it is an
intergovernmental organisation essentially, would much prefer to
see the European Union do better and take on... The responsibilities it
has rather than broaden... I think the argument goes to make those
projects work, to make your own work, they need to integrate they
need fiscal union, political union, they need to be more like a country.
You won't have France and Germany ceasing to be nation states because
they are in the Eurozone. What is important, Evan, if I may say that
we need to maximise our influence on what goes on in the Eurozone because
its success or failure will directly affect us. That is very important.
Let me bring in Robert. Do you see some trajectory, a sweep of history,
if you like, that takes the Eurozone towards something closer to a nation
state? How much does that worry you about the role of the UK on the edge
of it? In a way it does but I don't see it in the same with either of
your distinguished guests. Firstly, I don't think it would work, at
least not in a democratic way. It is hard to see any sovereign body
within the youth. If there were one, they would be able to solve the Euro
crisis and the refugee crisis. It is clear that there's a gap in the
middle, a void the centre of Europe. It seems that the member states are,
as it were, losing sovereignty but there is no one taking it up and
running Europe on our behalf. What we seem to be having, therefore, is
a dysfunctional and probably unworkable system of very many
nations which, if they are very lucky, might turn into something
like the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which was able to be run by keeping
everyone in an equal stake of unhappiness is one of its prime
ministers said but it is difficult to see it working in an effective
way. If things go wrong, and things do go wrong, there is no one who is
a sovereign to make the final decision is binding on everyone. No
one say, "Here are the refugees, this is the number you will have and
this is the number you will have". No one can say that. That's not
right, there's a European Council of member states who at the end of the
day, calls the shots in the European Union. We all know that. The
European Commission services it and implements and executes what the
member states want. The European Parliament adds to it, quite
rightly. The European Court of Justice will arbitrate when there
are disputes or legal interpretations to be made. But at
the end of the day, the European Union is owned by its member states
including Britain. It is they who will call the shots and decide
through their agreement how the refugee crisis or any other crisis
is managed. They may not do it instantly. They may not do it
perfectly bit silly end of the day, they will get there, with a little
bit of give and take and compromise but that is what being in an
organisation like the European Union is all about. Robert? As you said,
we're not really in it, we are half out of it or three quarters. Who? We
are not in the Eurozone and we are not in Schengen. We are full members
of the European Union. We are full and equal members of the European
Council and full and equal members of the European Parliament. We have
our own personal the European Commission. And we have no control
at the Eurozone policy, surely? Orange Mackreth we don't want to be
in the Eurozone. But if the Eurozone, as you hope, becomes more
successful, would you like us to join? No, we took a decision some
time ago as the government to keep open the option of joining and then
deciding not to and that position stands. We were right then and we
are right now. I don't see the circumstances in which Britain is
going to go into the single currency. Let's take a pause, there.
We can come back to this in a moment.
You have been listening as we talked about the power of the European
Court and the number of laws and the kinds of control and examples of the
kind of control that Brussels exerts and what we can do and what we can't
do. Peter Mandelson has talked about how we do also shake those laws, we
are not just passive victims of things being imposed on us. Any
comments or thought as we listen to the compensation so far? I will pick
on one of you if you don't put your hands up! Yes. It seems to me that
there is a wish to engage with all of the other member states. It seems
to me that we want to then try and exert some sort of control over them
will stop but there does not seem to be anything that guarantees that we
will have a degree of control. Know because we are only one vote. It is
down to us and our future European members of Parliament to see how
they perform. But some of the stuff that Chris said, I must say, scared
me a bit. It was meant to. I think it is important. What did I say that
was wrong or inaccurate? Any questions for the experts from the
panel? Any others of you, Lewis? I have a question, in terms of us
producing things like vehicles, cars, anything. Will it then become
harder for us to go to the European markets if we do leave? That's a
very good question for Chris Grayling. What is going to happen is
we're going to try to be the single market if we leave, aren't we? And
then we're going to sign up to all the things we talked about that you
make like French road safety rules... We will seek to trade
freely with the European Union and we will be able to do so because we
buy far more from them than they do from us. Can you confirm that when
we agree to go back into the Zingle or get the access to their markets,
do you agree or not that we will have to reinstate many of the things
that you have said you don't like? -- when we agreed to go back into
the single market. We loose country from that. Not within the UK. So
different standards from the rest of Europe? If we sell things in the US,
we have to meet their standards and the same with Japan. We would be
able to, despite what Peter says, for example, to ban live animal
transport which is not legal today and has not been -- illegal today
and we have not been allowed to ban it because of EU rules. What about
the 10% tariff that would be placed on car exports to the continent of
Europe? 10%. What about the 28% on chemicals? What about the 11th cent
and 13% on food and beverages? The point is that we buy far more from
them than they do from us. Does anybody seriously believe that the
German government is going to say to its car-makers, and the French
government is going to say to its nasty bombers, who blocked the
motorways when there is trouble, "We are going to stop you selling to the
British or we are going to make it more expensive"? So you are willing
to say we will ban the W X balls to the UK because you are not giving us
access to your market? We are not going to ban exports and neither are
they. Aren't they going to say, you are in the single market and you
have to obey the rules, for example go on the lorry standards, the
trucks that can drive on the roads? You can't be in the single market
with a different set of rules. The very rules that you have talked
about, to be in the single market on agriculture, there will be one rule
for the transport of live animals, one rule for lorries which will get
you the dangerous lorries that Boris wants to ban. That implies in North
America as well, the North Americans have two B-cell their own lorries.
This is our home market of 500 million people. We have a massive
trade visit from them, we buy more from them than they do from us. If
we bark on leaving the European Union, will we then embark on an
elaborate negotiations to get ourselves back in the single market?
We will have an agreement because it is invariant rest. So having voted
to come out, we will embark on a prolonged negotiation to get
ourselves back? Let's get into this with the economic expert. We are
going to get to this in the economic programme. Chris Grayling, we will
get to this all in the programme in a couple of weeks.
In this discussion of sovereignty, we don't want to overlook British
history and heritage, and the question of whether our
We are taught about 1066 and all that, the fight
for liberty, Magna Carta, and all that it is to be British.
# Magna Carta. # Magna Carta?
# He's got to be subject to law # Left to Henry III
and Edward I to pass it through. # Since 1215, Magna Carta's been #
The foundation of our democracy. Horrible Histories' take
on Magna Carta, and the founding of a British political culture that
still resonates today. We're joined again by our panel,
with the constitutional historian Vernon Bogdanor replacing
Sir Francis Jacobs I want to put to the panel of
voters, I want you to shut your eyes and say to yourself the word, "We".
We heard one of the speakers in an earlier video saying when you shut
your eyes and think of, "Weak", you have a particular community in mind.
How many of you were thinking, "We British", when you did that? And how
many were thinking, "We Europeans"? Really? Is that because we are
having a conversation about it? I think it probably is because we are
having a compensation about it. Today, I am feeling a sense of
wanting to be a part of something bigger, for some reason, being here
today. Very interesting. Robert, you have written quite a lot about
British history. Do you think that British culture, political culture
struggles to fit with the European one? If it does, that would make
sovereignty harder to swallow? It clearly does because we have always
had a different view of the European project than most of our partners
have. I think the reasons are pretty simple and they don't go back all
that far. We have rather less to be worried about. If you think of the
history of Europe in the last century, it is one that for many of
our neighbours has been a history of wars, civil wars and dictatorships
and foreign occupation and so on. For them, the U is an escape from
the nightmare of the last hundred years. It is not really the same
forest. -- the EU. Whether it is good or bad, we are not willing to
make the same kind of sacrifices to stay in the project that many
countries like Greece are. Vernon Bogdanor, do you think there is a
cultural misfit that makes pooling sovereignty with Europe difficult?
There may be and we have often seen ourselves a separate from Europe but
of course twice in the last century, the governments which wanted to
isolate themselves from Europe found themselves forced into world wars
because of events that happened in far-away parts of Europe. Neville
Chamberlain spoke of jokers of actor as a far-away country of which we
know nothing. I think the European project is very important for
bringing together countries which previously fought each other.
Everyone says that Germany and France will never fight each other
again. I'm sure that's right but in the Balkans, we see ancient hatreds
which are only kept together by the European Union and the possibility
of entering it. A Europe that is broken up into national states might
be very dangerous for us. We can't, whatever we think escape from what
is happening on the continent. Therefore, there is an argument for
saying we should be there to influence what is happening on the
continent. I think this is an aspect which is often left out of the
debate. Chris Grayling, I want to put this point to you. You said we
will be a little thing on the edge of a big nation called Eurozone. Why
does that mean we should come out? Why wouldn't you stay in to
influence it as much as you can? You won't have influence over it if
you're outside of it completely? Two things, the organisation that has
kept the peace in Europe is Nato rather than the European Union, in
my view, which has played an enormously important role in ending
the divide which took root in Europe after the second model and help
provide peace and prosperity and in the eastern Mediterranean today,
Nato is dealing with the migrant crisis, not the European Union. In
terms of our influence, what matters to me is the ability did event and
look after our national interest. We have not spoken at all about
migration to night... We are doing that in another programme. Or the
issue of housing where we have huge pressure already, we are bringing in
a population the size of Newcastle to the country every year and yet we
have no power ourselves to set limits on the number of people who
come and live and work here. It's not about closing the door
altogether but we can't even set limits as part of the European
Union. It is an example where we cannot take a decision in our
national interest and I think we should be an independent nation able
to do that. Chris Grayling, thank you.
I want to give the last word to the panel. What has been the most
important thing you have heard the night, the thing that has weighed
most heavily? I liked the historian Feller, sorry, I forgot your name!
He said the EU was set up to stop warring nations fighting each other,
keep them on the same side. I'm Irish and I feel more European. I
think there's a place for closer integration with these countries. It
has brought travel, opened up many people's eyes in the world. Most of
you said you did not think some entry was as important as the
economy. How many of you still think the economy is more important than
sovereignty? We've had a debate on sovereignty but how many of you
think the economy is the more important issue? My goodness! Any
more final points from the panel? I think when Lord Mandelson said that
you know, it is give and take within this union, I think that is a very
valid point, to state that if you are part of the union, Europe, you
have to take, some you win and some you lose. Basically, I agree with
that. We need to leave it there. Everybody gets squeezed in these
mammoth Our live blog page is still filing
material, for another half hour Sovereignty is a strangely
abstract word for an issue that is all
about power and control. I hope you have found much of what
you have heard useful. In seven days' time, we will be discussing
security but that is all from us tonight.
Hello. We will continue to see some very big differences in the weather
across the UK on Tuesday. The more persistent rain is going to be