Former soldier and diplomat Adrian Hill continues his series on the diplomatic and defence environment of the UK’s departure from the EU. Disclaimer: At times we publish the views of our members. This article is not an official Veterans for Britain paper and does not necessarily reflect the view of Veterans for Britain.
This month began with John Major doing a come-back turn of his grey man – remember his puppet – for Spitting Image. Followed by Tony Blair strutting the footlights in Brussels – as usual Tony picked the place famed for cosy restaurants thriving on lots of Euro people with fat expense accounts.
He also brought back memories. Once upon a time I was on the CBI Council for an industry and had a lot to do with three trade unions. The largest was the GMB back in the days when John Edmonds was their Secretary-General. They very kindly invited me to their annual conference and then in 1996 to the Labour Party Conference. Colin, the union leader for our industry, was very friendly with Tony Benn. Whatever you voted, Tony Benn was splendid company with an incredible memory and razor sharp wit. At coffee and tea each day we would join Tony at his small table at the back of the main hall. Sometimes Arthur Scargill joined our table. I never forget when Tony Blair made his ‘ Education, education, education ’ speech. Afterwards, like a wise old owl, Tony concluded, he’ll get elected, sooner or later he’ll get found out – mind, he’s a good actor.
Tony Blair owed his good fortune to Neil Kinnock, Clare Short and all the others who had forced Militant into a retreat that was to last twenty years. New Labour seemed to take Clare Short and her foot soldiers for granted. Today people like Tony Blair should be campaigning against the people who are taking over their party, not attacking the voters, many of them Labour faithful, who decided we’ve had enough of Brussels and Berlin. Tony Blair and Lord Mandelson are the ones who want to bring back their toxic past. I find their credibility gap is a crevasse as far as most people are concerned in the British Isles. We haven’t forgotten John Major and the ERM crash on Black Wednesday, nor Tony Blair promoting Euro membership not that long afterwards. Fortunately Gordon Brown put a stop to that idea. That’s before we remember Iraq and the Middle East. None of them appear to have read about Strategic Perspective 2040 in Der Spiegel last November. Stick to those lunches in Brussels with your Euro Zone chums.
Which brings me to the European Union’s lavish representation in our country. They used to have a modest office in Kensington Palace Gardens. I once called on the EC Representative when the cherry blossom was out. Poor fellow. That was the only time I ever suffered from hay fever and I spent half an hour sneezing my way through our business. Fast forward a couple of decades to a delightful dinner at our club to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. All the ladies were given a little present and the evening was great fun. Across the table I found the European Union representative or his deputy – who began fiddling with his mobile telephone. Now in our club we have telephone booths for that kind of thing and so I asked my neighbour, who had master-minded the event, would he like me to offer a quiet word! The man from the Euro Zone stopped fiddling.
These days the European Union have more offices than I had when taking care of a multi-billion industry which employed about 150,000 people – and I’ve a hunch they have more staff. On their website the news page is highly entertaining. The appointment of the new Secretary-General is announced but no mention made that this was immediately challenged by an MEP demanding an official enquiry. Nor is there a word about the audit of the European Union budget. When I was responsible for the contents of British Business News in Korea we gave the news blemishes and all – result, the Koreans knew they could trust what we printed about British inventions and products. As for their news about Northern Ireland, they should read the Good Friday Agreement, which was drawn up between people who live on these islands and the voices of moderation and reason were American, George Mitchell and Bill Clinton. To be candid, I find it contemptible that the Eurocrats are claiming to have brought peace to Northern Ireland when they had nothing to do with it other than sitting on the fence and now are trying to stir up hatred. As for peace in Europe, the Americans, British and Canadians decided this when together we demanded unconditional surrender. Are we seriously expected to congratulate our former enemies for not fighting each other since the Marshal Plan?
Indeed, one confesses surprise that a former and long serving Home Secretary, Theresa May, has allowed two hostile diplomatic missions to do as they please and blatantly meddle in British domestic politics for so long. One is the Russian Embassy where I would have thought that a clear out rather on the lines of Alec Douglas Home’s in 1971 ( 90 expelled and 15 not allowed to return – several were planning sabotage targets ) would make a good start. That removed 20% of the staff. I would send packing Russia Today as well. Why stop there? While she’s at it, sever another head from Hydra. Close down the EC Representative Office rather conveniently located in Smith Square. Their campaign stinks. More and more it resembles a managed plot. In plain English a foreign power seeks to over-turn a democratic national vote by colluding with the Opposition and wealthy political has-beens. Let them all suffer the inconvenience of travelling to Brussels for their orders.
Don’t worry, Theresa, just pick up Heracles’ sickle, it might even make your day.