The UK, EU and NATO are all approaching a road junction. There are divisions in all that have been taken advantage of by Russia to destabilise them as a first step before military operations and annexation. Radical action is needed to give the West a robust deterrence to the rapid escalation of this process. Such action must enable faster political decision making to counter nuclear coercion and use of energy and food as non-military weapons of war.
Reform, renew and rejoin
Brexit is done. To such an extent that the reality of lost trade, student education and scientific research opportunities, higher costs, small business closures and job losses make it increasingly clear that Brexit is the biggest, single act of self-harm in modern times.
Liz Truss won 81,323 Conservative Party members’ votes to become prime minister. The total British electorate is over 46,000,000. Her first act was to support the unconstitutional sacking of the Treasury’s principal secretary, sending a clear signal that her government is not interested in impartial advice.
The UK and Reform
The government intends to replace EU laws on environmental protection, consumer and workers’ rights and product safety with little or no scrutiny by parliament through the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill. Meanwhile, the previous PM is busy deciding which ‘friends’ should receive a peerage and enter the House of Lords.
Kwasi Kwarteng’s first ‘mini-budget’ evoked much criticism, including a sharp warning from the International Monetary Fund, and caused the largest fall in the value of sterling ever. The only winners are Tory sponsors and hedge fund managers who made huge profits by betting against the pound.
As millions of families are facing a bleak winter and the number of labour strikes grows, the Conservatives may face a major backlash in coming months. The road junction for UK is to move further right or reform for a fairer government system.
Labour and reform
What is the opposition doing to stop the slide of this government further to the right? Gordon Brown has conducted a constitutional review that proposes to abolish the House of Lords if Labour wins the next election.
It would be replaced by an assembly of the devolved nations and regional authorities with greater financial powers. It will give citizens a constitutional guarantee of social and economic rights, including healthcare, education and social protection and establish a new integrity and ethics commission. To read more on the proposals, see Labour’s plan for House of Lords.
The full results of the review were not available for the Labour Party conference, but they did pass a motion overwhelmingly to introduce proportional representation for general elections – this time supported by Unite and UNISON, Britain’s two largest unions. That makes it more likely to be adopted as party policy. The British political system needs reform to give devolved nations, English regions and the general electorate a greater say in decisions affecting long term plans for the UK’s future.
NATO and reform
In my article The irresistible rise of China I alluded to the fact that Europe can no longer rely on the US to underpin European defence within NATO. This is not a new idea. In September 2017, President Macron of France outlined his vision of a European defence doctrine. He recognised then that the US had started slowly to disengage from European security and Europe must take more responsibility for itself, so that Europe can act autonomously and quickly to intervene abroad in our local, geographical region complementing NATO’s wider territorial defence role.
He did not propose a EU federal army but more of an alliance for close cooperation of nations in their defence planning, equipment procurement, training and operations; an alliance somewhat like that now evolving for production and use of energy. He recognised the difficulties of implementing this, including Britain leaving the EU and resistance from other nations opposed to further federation.
The war in Ukraine has given new impetus to these ideas. NATO’s Jens Stoltenberg and the EU’s Ursula von der Leyen have worked together. The new threat to Europe’s security demands that a reformed doctrine and alliance be found.
The EU and Renew
On 25 September, the president of the EU’s Renew Europe group, Stéphane Séjourné, supported by Canadian born Hungarian Katalin Cseh, vice chair of the group, held a political rally in Warsaw hosted by Szymon Holownia, leader of Poland 2050. The agenda was to discuss Poland’s European future, the invasion of Ukraine and other pressing European affairs.
The event, ‘Europe 2050’, brought together 500 participants who heard from Olha Stefanishyna, Ukrainian deputy prime minister for European and Euro-Atlantic integration, European commissioner Thierry Breton, and others.
The concluding statement was:
“Renew Europe and Polska 2050 want a Poland at the heart of our European Union. A strong Poland is a European Poland. We are proud to be in Warsaw, we are proud to have Polska 2050 in our political family.
“The Polish people have showed their strength by leading Europe’s response to Putin’s despicable war. There is no strong and united European Union without Poland. Polska 2050 represents the modernity and vision that Poland needs to thrive in Europe.
“The PiS Government is failing to reflect Polish people’s demands for a European future and this must change. It is time for Polish people to grasp their European destiny.”
Gas, gas, gas
Only a day or so after this event two blasts occurred in the Baltic Sea. Presumed sabotage of the Nord Stream and Nord Stream2 pipelines releasing massive bubbles of Russian gas. Coincidentally, Polish President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki attend the inauguration of a new gas pipeline from Norway through Denmark to Poland to reduce their dependency on Russian gas.
Polish electoral polls have seen the governing Law and Justice party popularity drop from 43.6% to 35% while the Confederation coalition initially dropped from 27.4% but has recently returned to 27% and appears to be on an upward trend. There is hope that the EU will renew itself and start to turn around the threat of further political moves to the far right.
The UK must work hand-in-hand with the EU to bring this about to ensure the survival of democracy and the future security of Europe. Is the time coming for the UK to ask to rejoin? One step at a time.
The UK and rejoin
The simmering threat of right-wing parties has its roots in recent decades of immigration from all its causes. They range from economic migration from Africa to refugees fleeing from Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and now Ukraine.
But the war in Ukraine has shown that the true threat to democracy is from autocratic superpowers. By their very nature, an autocratic government will resort to any measures to retain and extend its power. Democracy must fight for its survival. The European Union realises it must be more united and is renewing itself. It has a plan to make democracies across the EU more resilient.
In this context, Brexit makes no sense and is illogical. It has damaged the UK’s reputation and causes social unrest. The EU plans to empower its citizens more while Brexit takes back control to its government but not to its citizens. It is from the grassroots that the changes required will come.
A month ago, I and other members of Bremain in Spain travelled to London to attend the National Rejoin March. Sadly, it was rightly postponed when our Queen died. At least we were able to pay our respects to the Queen and for Magdalena and I to share some English fish and chips outside Westminster Palace! We will all be back in force on Saturday 22 October. Join us, it is your democratic right.