I Am Obliged to Reconsider My Support for the European Union 382

To my own astonishment, and after a full 36 hours of hard thinking to try and escape this conclusion, I am in intellectual honesty obliged to reconsider my lifelong support for the European Union, due to the unqualified backing of the EU Commission for the Spanish Government’s dreadful repression in Catalonia.

This is very difficult for me. I still much favour open immigration policy, and the majority of Brexiteers are motivated at base by racist anti-immigrant sentiment. Certainly many Brexiteers share in the right wing support for Rajoy’s actions, across Europe. I have been simply stunned by the willingness of right wingers across the internet, including on this blog, to justify the violence of the Spanish state on “law and order” grounds. It is a stark warning of what we might face in Scotland in our next move towards Independence, which I have always believed may be made without the consent of Westminster.

But not all who oppose the EU are right wing. There are others who oppose the EU on the grounds that it is simply another instrument of power of the global 1% and an enforcer of neo-liberalism. I had opposed this idea on the grounds it was confusing the policies of current EU states with the institution itself, that it ignored the EU’s strong guarantees of human rights, and its commitment to workers’ rights and consumer protection.

I have to admit today that I was wrong, and in fact the EU does indeed function to maintain the global political elite, and cares nothing for the people.

The Lisbon Treaty specifically incorporated the European Charter of Fundamental Rights into basic European Union law.

There is no doubt whatsoever that the Spanish Guardia Civil on Sunday contravened the following articles:

Article 1: The Right to Human Dignity
Article 6: The Right to Liberty or Security of Person
Article 11: Freedom of Expression and Information
Article 12: Freedom of Assembly and Association
Article 54: Prohibition of Abuse of Rights

I would argue that these were also breached:

Article 21: Non-discrimination
Article 22: Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Diversity

The European Commission is obliged to abide by this Charter by Article 51. Yet when the Spanish government committed the most egregious mass violation of human rights within the European Union for a great many years, the EU Commission deliberately chose to ignore completely its obligations under the European Charter of Fundamantal Rights in its response. The Commission’s actions shocked all of intellectual Europe, and represented a complete betrayal of the fundamental principles, obligations and basic documents of the European Union.

This is the result. The disgusting, smirking Margaritas Schinas of the European Commission refuses to face up to the intellectual vacuity of the EU’s position. He is also lying, because he claims to be limited in matters beyond the Commission’s competence, when he knows perfectly well that the EU Commission is ignoring its obligations under the European Charter of Fundamental Rights.

That video was a key factor in persuading me, after 44 years of actual enthusiasm for the EU, it is no longer an organisation which I can support.

900 people were so injured by the Guardia Civil that they had to go for formal medical treatment. Officers, in full riot gear, baton charged entirely peaceful lines of voters, smashed old ladies on the head with weapons, pulled young women by the hair and stamped on them on the ground, threw people down flights of stairs, fired rubber bullets into people sitting on the street and broke a woman’s fingers one by one.

To take the “legalistic” argument, even if you accept the referendum was illegal (and I shall come to that), that in no way necessitates that sort of violence. It could be argued the referendum’s result had no legal effect, but the act of the referendum itself is in that case a form of political demonstration. If that involved abuse of public funds, then legal consequences might follow. There was no cause at all to inflict mass violence on the voters. The actual violence was absolutely disproportionate, unprovoked and undoubtedly met the bar of gross and systematic human rights abuse by the Spanish state.

Yet the EU reacted as if no such abuse had ever happened at all, and the world had not seen it. The statement of the EU Commission totally ignored these absolutely shocking events, in favour of an unequivocal statement of absolute support for Rajoy:

Under the Spanish Constitution, yesterday’s vote in Catalonia was not legal.
For the European Commission, as President Juncker has reiterated repeatedly, this is an internal matter for Spain that has to be dealt with in line with the constitutional order of Spain.
We also reiterate the legal position held by this Commission as well as by its predecessors. If a referendum were to be organised in line with the Spanish Constitution it would mean that the territory leaving would find itself outside of the European Union.
Beyond the purely legal aspects of this matter, the Commission believes that these are times for unity and stability, not divisiveness and fragmentation.
We call on all relevant players to now move very swiftly from confrontation to dialogue. Violence can never be an instrument in politics. We trust the leadership of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to manage this difficult process in full respect of the Spanish Constitution and of the fundamental rights of citizens enshrined therein.

I speak fluent diplomatese, and this is an unusual statement in its fulsomeness. It contradicts itself by saying “this is an internal matter” but then adding “these are times for unity and stability, not divisiveness and fragmentation” which is an unequivocal statement of opposition to Catalan independence.

The Commission later claimed that to comment on the violence by the Spanish Authorities is beyond its competence, a plain lie due to Article 51 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. But what was in fact outwith Commission competence was this statement of opposition to Catalan independence.

It was also extremely unusual – in fact I cannot think of another example – of the EU Commission specifically to endorse by name Mariano Rajoy, let alone immediately after he had launched a gross human rights abuse.

Condemnation would have been too much to expect; but these gratuitous endorsements were a slap in the face to anybody with a concern for human rights in Europe. Also, in diplomatese, I should have expected the mildest of hidden rebukes in the statement; I would have been annoyed by “The Commission is sure the Spanish Government will continue to meet its obligations under the Charter of Fundamental Rights” as too weak, but it is the kind of thing I would have expected to see.

Instead Juncker chose to make no qualification at all in his support for Rajoy.

Perhaps as a former diplomat I put much more weight on these little things than might seem sensible, but to me they are the unmistakeable tells of what kind of right wing authoritarian institution the EU has become, and why I can no longer offer it my support.

I now want to turn to the wider question of whether the Catalonian referendum was indeed illegal. This argument must always come back to the Charter of the United Nations , which states at

Article 1 (2) To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace;

It is worth noting that there is no qualification at all on “self-determination of peoples”. It is not limited to decolonisation, as sometimes falsely claimed. The phrase is repeated in the separate UN Declaration on Decolonisation, as the principle plainly is applicable in that context. But it is not limited to that context and appears in the Charter outwith that context.

The question of what constitutes a “people” is a thorny one. NATO were sufficiently convinced the Kosovans were a “people” to go to war for their right to self-determination, while in terms of domestic law of Yugoslavia or Serbia their independence was every bit as illegal as Catalonian independence is under Spanish law. The purveyors of the “illegal” argument, in Spain and in the EU, have never deigned to us why the Kosovans are a “people” with the right to self-determination whereas the Catalans are not.

In this limited sense, NATO and the EU were right over Kosovo. If the Kosovans are a “people”, their right to self determination under the UN Charter could not be nullified by domestic Yugoslav or Serbian legislation. The same is true of the Catalans. If they are a “people”, Spanish domestic legislation cannot remove their right of self-determination. The rights conferred by the UN Charter are inalienable. A people can never give up its right of self-determination. Indeed, those arguing that the Catalans contracted into the current Spanish constitution are heading into a legal ambush as they have already admitted the Catalans are a people with the right of self-determination.

Indeed the Spanish constitution already admits Spain contains separate nationalities. The preamble of section 2 to the Spanish Constitution reads:

Section 2. The Constitution is based on the indissoluble unity of the Spanish Nation, the common and indivisible homeland of all Spaniards; it recognizes and guarantees the right to self-government of the nationalities and regions of which it is composed and the solidarity among them all.

Remember, the right to self-determination is inalienable. Once you have acknowledged the existence of different nationalities, the Spanish Constitutional Court cannot legitimately deny their right to self-determination. What it can legitimately do is to judge on their constitutional arrangements within Spain. It cannot legitimately prevent them from determining to leave.

I do not see any doubt that the Catalans are a “people”. They have their own language. They have their own culture. Most importantly, there are over one thousand years of written records of their existence as a separate “people” with those attributes and an extremely long, if in some cases occasionally broken, history of their own institutions.

I do not think it is seriously arguable that the Catalans are not a “people”. It is also the answer to the frankly childish comparison, made by right wingers, to the South East of England breaking away. There is no legitimate argument that the South East of Englanders are a separate “people” in the sense of the UN Charter. The same applies to Northern Italy. Belgium, however, does include different peoples with the right of self-determination, should they choose to exercise it.

The fact that a “people” has the right of self-determination gives them, of course, the right to choose, including the right to choose to remain within their existing state. That right to choose was all the Catalonian government was seeking to offer. The Spanish government and courts are implementing a domestic law, but that domestic law is incompatible with overarching wider rights. As journalists point out in that EU Commission video above, the Turkish courts are correctly implementing domestic law in jailing journalists and academics. It is not enough for Spain to say it is implementing law when the law itself is illegitimate. Jews were “lawfully” rounded up in 1930’s Germany. Gandhi and Mandela were “lawfully” imprisoned.

I will never forget working in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as the South Africa (Political) officer in 1986, when the policy of the Thatcher government was explicit that black activists jailed under the apartheid laws were lawfully detained, and that apartheid forces breaking up illegal Soweto demonstrations, in precisely the manner seen against voters in Catalonia, were acting lawfully. Over thirty years, the acknowledgement of the overarching internationally guaranteed basic rights appeared to have made progress. But the EU Commission has just turned its back on all of that.

It is not just the Commission. Macron, May and Merkel have all declared unequivocally against Catalonian independence, while refusing to make any comment at all on the state violence as an “internal affair”. This from Guy Verhofstadt is as good as EU reaction gets, yet it is still entirely mendacious:

I don’t want to interfere in the domestic issues of Spain but I absolutely condemn what happened today in Catalonia.
On one hand, the separatist parties went forward with a so-called referendum that was forbidden by the Constitutional Court, knowing all too well that only a minority would participate as 60 % of the Catalans are against separation.
And on the other hand – even when based on court decisions – the use of disproportionate violence to stop this.
In the European Union we try to find solutions through political dialogue and with respect for the constitutional order as enshrined in the Treaties, especially in art. 4.
It’s high time for de-escalation. Only a negotiated solution in which all political parties, including the opposition in the Catalan Parliament, are involved and with respect for the Constitutional and legal order of the country, is the way forward.

Verhofstadt accepts without question the right of the Spanish Constitutional Court to deny the Catalan right to self-determination, and like every other EU source does not put an argument for that or even refer to the existence of that right or to the UN Charter. He claims, utterly tendentiously to know that 60% of the Catalan people oppose independence. That is plainly untrue. In the last Catalonian assembly elections, 48% voted for pro-Independence parties and another 5% for parties agnostic on the issue. On Sunday, 55% of the electorate voted. A quarter of those votes were confiscated by police, but the votes of 42% of the electorate could be counted and were 90% for Independence. There is no reason to suspect the confiscated ballots were any different. Verhofstadt does at least acknowledge the disproportionate violence to stop the referendum, thus correctly attributing the blame. This is the only statement I have seen from any EU source which contains any truth whatsoever.

To withdraw a lifetime of support for the EU is not a light decision. I have delayed it for hard consideration, so that the emotions aroused by the Spanish government violence could die down. I am also very confident, knowing how these things work, that Rajoy had briefed other EU leaders in advance that he was going to close down the referendum, and their statements of support had been pre-prepared. Diplomatic wheels grind slowly, and I assumed there would be some rowing back from these original statements once bureaucracies had time to react to the excessive violence. In fact there has been no significant softening of the hard line.

In itself, even this incident would not be enough to make me denounce my support for the European Union. But it illustrates, in a way that I cannot deny, an argument that has been repeatedly urged on me and which I have been attempting to deny. The principles of the European Union and indeed the content of its treaties are something I continue strongly to support. But the institution has in fact been overrun by the right wing cronyism of the neo-liberal political class, and no longer serves the principles for which it ostensibly stands. It is become simply an instrument of elite power against the people.

Today, and with a greater sadness than you can imagine, I withdraw my support for membership of the European Union.


I continue urgently to need contributions to my defence in the libel action against me by Jake Wallis Simons, Associate Editor of Daily Mail online. You can see the court documents outlining the case here. I am threatened with bankruptcy and the end of this blog (not to mention a terrible effect on my young family). Support is greatly appreciated. An astonishing 4,000 people have now contributed a total of over £75,000. But that is still only halfway towards the £140,000 target. I realise it is astonishing that so much money can be needed, but that is the pernicious effect of England’s draconian libel laws, as explained here.

On a practical point, a number of people have said they are not members of Paypal so could not donate. After clicking on “Donate”, just below and left of the “Log In” button is a small “continue” link which enables you to donate by card without logging in.

For those who prefer not to pay online, you can send a cheque made out to me to Craig Murray, 89/14 Holyrood Road, Edinburgh, EH8 8BA. As regular readers know, it is a matter of pride to me that I never hide my address.

382 thoughts on “I Am Obliged to Reconsider My Support for the European Union

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  • David Foot

    The European Union has a lot of problems, sadly it is no longer a common market uniting a large group of nations as friends, it is now moved by pursuit of power.
    There is another entity different from the member states and it fights for to exist, to grow and to control all other sources of power, it has a mind of its own. The nations which chose to remain will be less nations and more provinces of an unelected executive and legislature formed many times by failed politicians who their own countries just “put them there” to get rid of them.

  • Fran Cotton

    As a lifelong socialist I’m glad to see you reconsidering your opinion on the EU Craig.

  • Joe McLoughlin

    Quote: “the majority of Brexiteers are motivated at base by racist anti-immigrant sentiment.”
    This is utter rot. Do you believe EVERYTHING the MSM tells you? I want nothing to do with the EU because I believe in my country. They are anti-democratic. They seek to repress ANY aspiration of self determination by ANY means.
    When we point this out you shout us down, calling us racists. Now you see the fascism first hand, you claim to change your mind, but you still think we are mindless reactionaries. It is time you check your own preconceptions. Ask yourself who managed to convince you that more than half of the UK’s adults are nazis, just because they do not want to submit themselves to this unelected dictatorship. They have done a number on you, and millions like you, who bought their accusations of bigotry hook line and sinker. Catalonia has shown us Spain’s and the EU’s true colours. They are reacting to the people’s legitimate aspirations for self determination like any other oppressive self serving empire would.

    • jeemlad

      Joe . . . He used the word “majority”, not “all” . .. I’m one of those Brexiteers and I’m not a racist either, but I’m quite happy with his point as I suspect it may be true of many, if not most . . .

    • Lesley Davies

      Dear Joe McLoughlin,

      I must totally agree with you about “this unelected dictatorship”. I did not vote in the UK referendum. Having absented myself from the UK for the last 25 years I did not feel I could vote when I have not contributed to UK taxes or any other aspect of life in the UK since I left. However, as the Brexit debate raged it was the lack of elected representation, particularly in bodies like the EU Commission that, made me quite certain the EU has long outlived its purpose. The dogmatic arrogance and supreme conviction in his own views being the only ones worthy of consideration, that make Jean Claude Juncker and his like minded gravy trainers, so utterly despicable. Compared to other regions and power blocs Europe may seem relatively small geographically, but look to other areas (China and India for example) ostensibly single nations, yet filled with so many different cultures and ethnicities. They function but often have deep divisions. With such massive cultural and ethnic variety the EU in its current form is an unworkable juggernaut with so many differing needs, aspirations, cultural expectations and other socio-economic vicissitudes. Juncker and his posse have enjoyed privilege and outrageous expense accounts for far too long with no visible benefits for the vast majority of EU residents. What ever happened to integrity, ethical behaviour and the kind of attitudes the “West” have supposedly been renowned for?

      Or am I just another middle aged reactionary neo-fascist who should be rounded up and disposed of for failing to accept my lot, as happened with those who voiced their discontent with the European National Socialists of the 1930s and 40s?

    • mic

      here here Joe …sick of the racism insinuation and usually made by people who come from the upper middle class ..the Polly Toynbee Christopher Hitchins class who would DIE if they had to spend a week on a council estate and experience the joys of multi culti dream land

  • Josep

    Well, I can see what you mean. I have been a strong supporter of the European Union. These days days I’m really feeling betrayed and treated as a second class citizen in Europe.

    You see, I’m a European citizen that lives in Catalonia. There are millions of people like me (I don’t think this is an exaggeration) whose rights and whose opinions are being totally disregarded right now. The reason? Simply we are not a state. So the EU seems to be about states and not about European citizens. I don’t really know whether I like this. The way it had been portrayed at the beginning made me think that this project would be something different.

    At any rate, the downside of what you say is that if citizens like you abandon the EU, citizens like me will feel very lonely and helpless.

    • qo

      There are a variety of reasons why the EU has doomed itself following the creation of Article 50. It is akin to Superman building a Kryptonite factory. Perhaps a more apt metaphor would be a fisherman widening the gaps in his nets without quality control checks. Could either the superhero or the fisherman hold a 3rd party responsible for the outcome? Some analysts would argue that Brexit is the legacy of countless follies on the part of the EU Commission to impose their economic and political wills on others without proper quality checks in place. Others could argue that in creating Article 50 the EU sealed it’s own doom. Yet, political heavyweights like Guy Verhofstadt or Michel Barnier are trying to convince EU domestic audiences that the impending collapse of the EU – if Brexit is allowed to happen – is down to one political party in one country. Absurd?

      If the EU is so weak that one country can control the events of 28 nations, then it is not fit for purpose. Few Remainers would argue otherwise. The EU dogma is the Holy Grail of some political fanatics who have conveniently overlooked that simple fact. If a company, business or individual creates the cause of their own demise or adds to it in even the smallest way then issues of competency must inevitably be raised.

      How competent is the EU in managing it’s own affairs – internally and externally? Domestically the EU has numerous issues including terrorism linked to Open Borders. Externally the EU has shown the world that it is not prepared to tolerate a difference of opinion. It will not stand for Brexit. Brexit must be stopped at all costs. What legacy would that leave the EU as a political body? The most obvious answer is that it would be released from its own rules and regulations with regard to fair treatment of the UK (or any other member state) and would thus be wholly unaccountable thereafter.

      The UK is one of the biggest economies in the world. To say it cannot manage it’s own affairs is a blatant lie. It did so during Trafalgar. It did so during World War one. It did so when it carved railways across the globe and when it produced repeated technological and scientific innovations throughout history. However, as an Ally the UK in historical context has never violated the rules of NATO or the UN. It abides by the rules it is set – even by itself. The same cannot be argued for the EU.

      With hindsight some in the EU Commission must regret providing the appropriate solution to an unelected council in the form of Article 50. The EU has taken note of the concerns of the 27. How many of the concerns of the UK have been heeded? Why do I ask that?

      The EU is founded on the principles of egalitarian treatment of members. However, the difference between the theory and the practice of this set of principles is evident in an examination of the treatment of Cyprus, Greece, Italy and now the UK by the EU Parliament. With only 28 member states the EU has already developed a reputation for bearing down on counter-arguments in at least 4 of them.

      Indeed, the core functional problem of the EU is best evidenced by the voting system in the EU Parliament itself. If we examine how legislation is designed and put into law. MEPs must either vote for or against motions. Forms are not filled in by MEPs to set legislation. They do not have that power. They cannot amend legislation. And they must pass a mountain of legislation every day.

      Such a high volume of turnover in legislation produces it’s own problems. Like a snowball running downhill, inevitably it is impossible for MEPs to read every single bit of legislation they are faced with in a day. Few supporters of the UK remaining in the EU will even acknowledge the absurdity of that simple fact.

      The Brexit Legacy from the perspective of the EU is that nothing is permitted to move or change without official authorisation. I refer to my earlier point on treatment of member states as an example of this. Furthermore, this week we have heard in the media of numerous attempts by the EU Parliament to derail Brexit or at the very least to delay it.

      For the UK the best legacy of Brexit will be one that allows its component parts to succeed. To decide their own fate. A legacy which consists of freedom broken down into smaller component parts without compromise. Law. Trade. Employment. Culture. And so on.

      The EU in comparison aims to fuse its component parts and that is yet another area where the 2 differ in their approaches to policy management. Consider the Euro as an example. Whereas the UK government has given devolved administrations more powers in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, the EU takes away powers from member states. To approach each political body (the EU and UK) with equal measure after such considerations explains why there is growing discontent in countries like Poland and Hungary. Naturally like the devolved administrations within the UK, member states within the EU do not like to lose power. They do not like to be told what they can and cannot do. To the contrary, they desire control over immigration, security and fiscal policy. The authority in Brussels either does not understand this or does not wish to acknowledge that such policy management is essential to the long term well-being of its member states.

      The Legacy of Brexit is one that will be essential to the development of the world in the 21st century as the changes it brings will undoubtedly have impacts that go beyond the EU in 2019. There is not point in the EU Parliament attempting to make an example of the UK as such a tactic would be counterproductive in the long term (as explained above). For Brexit to be satisfactory for the UK and EU requires planning and checking complex criteria so that the outcome is one of mutual gain. Such an outcome is not achieved by veiled threats or even openly expressed ones. Nor is a satisfactory outcome achieved by attempting to subvert democracy whether in the UK or Catalan.

      There is no point in denying Brexit will have a legacy. I would hope it will be a positive one with an unambiguous and clearly identifiable outcome.

  • Jorge

    Wrong, completely wrong.
    Violation of art. 1, 6, 11, art. 12, yes, they were violated, not by me nor by many Spaniards, but yes by the government.
    Violation of 21 and 22? No way! Nobody did anything on Sunday because of their language, culture, neither there was discrimination.
    It would be nice also to find the article which talks about which article is violated when claiming your right for article 12 you decide to occupy public spaces such as schools, for which you expressly do not have the permission. The right to assembly or associate does not give you right to do it no matter where, right?
    If you do not see everything which is to be seen, and only what you are willing to see, better not to look at it, or at least not to say more than is to be said when leaving details out of the picture you are portraying. There is not one single guilty one in this is story, is much more complicated than that….

  • Davy Holloway

    Great blog. I voted leave for reason illustrated in this blog, and despite the hash job the Tory government, if I knew what I know now I would’ve still voted leave. What happened in Catalonia and the EU response to it has only reaffirmed my conviction that it was the right thimg to do.

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    Nothing seriously new here. Just quibbles, self-advertisement and the usual trolling.

    Did Craig ever complain about the EU doing nothing about what Britain was doing in the world, especially in Ireland? No, he joined it, and only complained when Karimov went over the top.

    As I recall, Murray did nothing at home or in the EU when Captain Simon Hayward, who was shooting up the area for the FRU, was finally disposed of in a drug-smuggling set-up in Sweden so a European covert operation against the IRA could go ahead.

    Why don’t you really do something surprising?

  • Noam

    Thank you for this informative post. It has indeed been horrifying watching the violent repression in Catalonia, then watch our politicians ignore it or downplay it. It is a dark time for the EU, for democracy and for human rights. One thing I would ask you is: wasn’t it already clear that the EU acts “to maintain the global political elite, and cares nothing for the people”? For example, as the Greek tragedy unfolded not so long ago, with an entire country sacrificed on the alter of corporate profits and maintaining elite power?

  • Dafydd Bates

    I agree with all of your arguments above, Craig, including the legality question.

    However, the question we have to decide is whether the EU is a better framework within which to confront global neo-liberalism than inward-looking, backward Britain. I think it is

    • Victor Value

      Apart from the fact that the EU is a neo-liberal project with a Christian Democratic face

      • freddy

        Beware of what you wish, beware of who you wish to run a country,
        the FRENCH were sick of Sarky, sick of Hollande,
        so they voted for the bankster

        now they are upset he is shafting them!

  • Chris Ferguson

    I went to Barcelona on the 30th of September as a strong supporter of the EU, believing it stood for human rights and democracy to stand with the people of Catalonia as they voted. I stood with a Catalan friend on the 1st October, in amongst thousands of Catalans trying to vote. We heard the reports of the violence and there were rumours the police were coming to our polling station. We formed a human barricade to try to stop the police so that people could vote. Luckily the police did not come to our polling station, but we saw afterwards the police violence – utterly cruel and viscous violence on the old, children, women – deliberate sadistic actions. I was with the thousands of Catalans protesting during the day in Barcelona and the massive demonstration in the Evening on the 3rd October.Then we heard the pathetic statement by the Spanish king telling the Catalans were being very, very naughty – and not mentioning one word about the police violence – nor even asking both sides to discuss matters (which Madrid has never agreed to). He totally blamed the Catalans and just alienated them even more. I came back on the 4th October – no longer supporting the EU. My reasons being for totally the same reason. It no longer represent democracy and human rights! I was heartbroken both at the violence against the Catalans trying just to be themselves and the state violence used against them – but also for my belief and support of the EU as defenders of human rights and democracy, and that they are not just there for big business and big states, for many years are empty and false

  • John White

    Thankyou Craig Murray for your principled move of conscience. I very much regret to say that events last Sunday are looking likely to be a mere prelude to what is now brewing on Monday 9th, with the Spanish Constitutional Court shutting down Catalonia’s regional assembly and troops ready to take over and shut down key infrastructure including radio TV etc.

    May I also say, as a veteran campaigner for a democratic mandate on the EU question that turned over time into “Brexit”, that neither I nor many other key campaigners I know have ever been motivated by xenophobia or fear of the other. Indeed, immigration only became “the” issue as a symptom of the deeper problems caused by the Lisbon Treaty: if we had joined the Euro in 1999, as nearly happened, it would not have been immigration but economy that was the main issue, as has been the case in southern mainland EU member states, especially Italy and Greece. The big difference is, for them to leave the EU the economic cost would be utter catastrophe. And I also ask, that people reflect on the media interview strategy of “brexiteers” enacted over the last few years. From 2014-2016 in particular, pro-Brexit campaigners struggled to be interviewed about anything else BUT immigration even when they really tried: the TV presenters simply would not allow it.

    I do not expect the EU to rise to this onrushing moral challenge: it has never managed a real moral challenge before and the technocratic replacement of elected officials (yes even if we didn’t approve of or like Berlesconi) have been key indicated that EU principles are for public consumption only.

    The dream of a peaceful Europe must not die, but the ambition of the EU commission is not the way to preserve them. It is fair and free trade Europe needs: not supranational autocracy. I expect many more will choose to follow your lead if things go as badly as they look like they will in Catalonia, and the EU acts as its historical patterns most likely anticipate they will.

    Sincere regards, from a long time follower of your work, John White

  • Henry Bolton

    Every ‘right winger’ I know, myself included, is delighted about the situation in Catalonia and fully supports the independence movement. It is yet another wonderful kick in the teeth for the EU.

  • Donal

    I understand your viewpoint and, sadly, I reluctantly agree with you. The EU has long abandoned democracy, has failed to implement financial union properly so the Euro project is deeply flawed (with terrible consequences for Greece), and is now operated as though a gentleman’s club.
    My hope had always been that peoples with strong cultural identities; Scotland, Basques, Catalans, Sicilians, Corsicans, Welsh, etc, etc could seemlessly transit to levels of independance as willing Europeans within the European ‘family’, preserving their rights and priveleges.
    But The Club seems intent on preserving the political power of elites, whatever the consequences for the populations of Europe.
    The question is, as ever, how can we change this flawed project into one that could still fulfill its early promises?

  • Snook

    I find it hard to believe that a man of your experience & intellect needed to witness this act of EU duplicity to withdraw support.
    The EU has always said one thing and acted contrary.
    Look how it ‘saved’ Greece time and time again. Every violation you refer to can so be applied to Greece.
    It’s only reason for existence is promotion of self & the self serving criminal element in power.
    Vorhofstadt should be in jail for crimes already committed. Juncker has been swindling Joe Public since entering public office and the list goes on.
    What we have now is a bunch of megalomaniacs hell bent on building a superstate by insidiously undermining individual member states.
    You talk about free movement as if it’s a good thing. The EU see it as a way to further weaken & burden members with the added bonus of sending many criminals to further up the chaos. If that’s racist then I’m a racist. You know as well as me that the policy isn’t helping genuine refugees or workers….. It’s helping traffickers, economic migrants and dangerous criminals with no intention of integration.

  • mickc

    Well done! The EU is an authoritarian, almost fascist, entity. The UK is better off out.

  • Landscape

    To me who is a fan of a ‘United Europe’, sharing cooperating, working together, yet not a fan of the EU because I believe all of this & more can be achieved without the need for the oxymoron of ‘ever closer political union’.
    How many different political parties across the EU?
    Even the EU parliament is split into 8 separate groups
    A common market was all that was necessary, the drive towards federalism for me is what I really don’t agree with.
    For me it’s really all down to localism, elected representatives/law makers close to the people and accountable
    Or centralism, unelected EU commissioners/law makers distanced from the people and unaccountable to the people

  • David

    Welcome, come on in, the water is lovely.

    The more Brexiteers you talk to, the more you’ll realise they came to their position for the same – or similar – reasons to you, albeit a bit sooner. The Greek tragedy was a major turning point for many.

    And the more Brexiteers you speak with, the more you’ll realise they’re just like you – not racist xenophobes. They (we) have a visceral dislike of it for principled, libertarian reasons. If you want racism go to the BNP, it has nothing to do with being a Brexiteer.

    You’ll begin to see that the mainstream media has been lying to you all along. You’ll begin to see the funding streams of the pro-EU media, and daylight will dawn. Finally, be prepared to be called a racist and a xenophobe – despite never saying anything to that effect. You’ll see how the Remainers’ campaign of smears up close and personal

    Good luck, bon chance!

    • Parth

      Great post! I used to bristle at being referred to as a ‘Brexiteer’, but am now beginning to wear it as a badge of pride.

  • Gail Gyi

    “And then the scales fell from their eyes.”
    What has really surprised me is the length of time it has taken for a good, obviously intelligent man to do a “Volte Face.”
    I’m black, so clearly not a racist, I’m English, I have lived in Scotland 22 years, yet I supported and campaigned for the SNP and the Independence referendum in all weathers across many years. Now here is the “Piece de resistance.” in the face of enormous pressure from my other half, friends and colleagues I voted to leave the EU. After the US government and the Mafia I believe the EU to be the most corrupt organisation on earth concentrating power in the hands of an elitist few and oppressing the rights of many, suppressing opposition voices when it doesn’t suit their agenda, the events in Catalonia only served to reinforce an opinion I have held for years. Scotland must take cognisance of the events of the past week. Independence yes, but EU readmittance should not be a twin goal.
    There are 196 countries in the World, I can live with dealing with most of the other 169. What the EU did and continue to do to Greece was and remains another indicator of the inhumanity we are forced to accept in order to trade and ostensibly remain at peace within Europe. No, not in my name, I made my decision and the sooner we get out the better.

    • Bill Rollinson

      Great piece and I’m in full agreement with you! Their One World Government dream is falling apart, as is their Ponzi Scheme.
      How is it so hard to not see how they have been scamming us for decades?
      Creating money from Fresh Air and adding it to a nations GDP creates ‘Growth’
      They need people with the ability to borrow, which is just one of the reasons for immigration, as we have 20 million Economically In Active [ONS] [can’t claim benefit, can’t get a loan]
      This is also why Osborne said he may have to raise Student Loans after the Leave vote, it was the only way he could guarantee GDP if their prophecy [recession] came true.
      We need to get Government creating money backed by the productivity of it’s people, which means bringing back all that off shored manufacturing. Competing against the Corporations will bring prices down!

  • Bill Rollinson

    The EU was created to produce One World Government, as an ex Ambassador I thought you would have known that? They don’t have ‘principles’ and their Treaties are full of Legalese, the common man couldn’t understand. They do not practice what they preach, quite the opposite. They promote ‘democracy’ while all the time denying it to members. We leavers were aware of their game, as they had shown previously in Ireland, Denmark and Netherlands votes [go again]. So we asked the question, “will you keep pushing for another vote if you don’t get what you want” Junker came back and said “you only get one vote”! But as we have all seen, the EU have been relentless, so much so, their negotiating team are refusing to talk trade, accusing us of non transparency(?) while ignoring the fact TTIP was conducted in total secrecy?
    EU actions are in a similar vein to what America do in their ’empire’ building, only on a slightly smaller scale, with America it’s world nations who don’t comply that get the sanctions; Financial or Military. It’s all about the money, or in this case ‘gold backed money’!

  • Lubos Motl

    Your kind of conversion is probably very widespread in Catalonia itself these days. Lots of people were pro-EU, pro-immigration etc. But they were just betrayed – like Czechoslovakia by France and Britain in 1938.

    But imagine how much clearer the picture looks from a mainstream Polish, Hungarian, Czech viewpoint. The countries have been harassed for some totally regular, non-violent, constitutionally standard changes to the constitution by majorities – details about the process to name judges, paperwork that an NGO needs etc. A hysterical terror and threats of prosecution and expulsion from the EU began. But beating 2-3 million citizens – the majority of politically involved Catalans – by batons, shooting by rubber projectiles, cancelling sessions of their parliament etc., this is just OK? No interventions of the EU are possible in that case.

    Clearly, the Central European nations are 2nd class members of the EU. Their governments are allowed orders of magnitude less than the big Western countries’ governments, and Spain has made it to the list, we see. The double standards are amazing. So many comparisons of the positions of the EU look just so plain insane.

    Some microagression against a Crimean Tatar is almost a reason to wage war on Russia but the police violence in Catalonia isn’t. Kosovo can get independence even without a referendum but Catalans aren’t even allowed to physically hold a referendum that could be labeled invalid. Millions of illegal Muslim migrants can’t be discouraged by tools, let alone treated with batons. But millions of peaceful, innocent citizens of Spain who have clearly done nothing illegal by themselves can be beaten. And one could continue.

    All these contrasts are so striking that it is trivial to imagine how the people who justify these positions of the EU would justify the extermination camps as well. The extra strength of the stomach one needs for that latter isn’t too much stronger relatively to what the EU has already shown.

  • Ignacio

    Hats off sir! Thank you for your support and your dignity. It’s a rare thing these days.

    I look forward to join EFTA, with Norway, Switzerland and Iceland.

    Visca Catalunya!

  • Chaz Wyman

    I think you have made the mistake of swallowing whole the established media’s position on Catalonia without first considering both sides. Radical separatists are not only attempting to break up Spain, but have managed to divide their own region. Such separatism is done on the most base grounds. It is an attempt to hive off the richest region of Spain to create a new Monaco; a haven for the world’s richest people to park their yachts, to control wealth, to increase inequality. We’ve seen this happen before with the break-up of Yugoslavia. Where now Croatia has the best land, hotels, beach-front – Bosnia’s poverty has increased.
    Separatism is retrogressive, be that small minded Brexit or the narrow minded racism of the Catalans. There is nothing good to be said about this trend to smaller and smaller polities. Corporations love it. Divide and conquer.

    • tartanfever

      ‘Radical Separatists’ who want to ‘create a new Monaco’.

      Really ?

      My understanding is many Catalonians are fed up with the Spanish government outlawing and over-riding locally passed laws, such as banning electricity companies from cutting of power to houses of people who are struggling to pay their bills, or recognising full human rights for refugees.

      If thats the new radical then there really is no hope for humanity.

  • Bjørn Holmgaard

    The EU was always about imposing the US order – many of the founding fathers being on the CIA pay-list. If anything good were to come from being a satellite-organisation to the US Empire, it would have to be incidental – no a feature.

    The corporatist policymaking model of the US transposed on the European continent has delivered the same level of corruption – and it is destroying the western social fabric. All wealth goes to the 1 % while clever social engineers turn the frustrations of the many (poor) against themselves – as the Greeks now hate the Germans with the same vengeance as they themselves are scorned. The blacks hate the whites and the political correct hates and despise the traditionals.

    Who will defend Rome from the Visigoths when 95 % off all inhabitants are debt-slaves to the 1 %?

    But anyway, it good to have fair-minded people in the club – and i for one welcome you.

  • freddy

    I would be very shocked, if in ten years, anything is left of the European Union.
    I expect it will collapse in on its self, starting next year.

  • Amir

    Biased and deceitful article. Pretty obvious when you cited the article 22, when regional languages in spain are more protected than any other in Europe (p.e catalan and basque are official in Spain, but not in France where both are also spoken). It’s OK if you want to fool yourself, but don’t try to fool others.

  • Ruth Livingstone

    I was obliged to reconsider my support for the EU in the months leading up to the referendum. There were three turning points for me. 1) The complete refusal of the EU to acknowledge any need for reform, as exemplified by its refusal to grant any concessioms to David Cameron, following on from their election of Junker as the head of the Commission, an appointment the UK strongly opposed. 2j The punishing treatment of Greece by the EU. 3) The seeming inability of the EU to react to the Syrian refugee crisis in a humane and organised manner.

    I really must refute the racist accusations thrown at Brexiteers. When I look at the leaders of the EU, I don’t see a wonderful multiracial, multiethnic organisation. No. I see a group of old, white, European countries trying to defend the status quo in the face of a rapidly changing and diverse world.

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