Lord Stoddart Speaks to the Trumpet

Euro Realist Newsletter

Lord Stoddart Speaks to the Trumpet

Recently quoted as stating his concern over the creation of an EU super-president, Lord Stoddart of Swindon aired his views on the EU to Trumpet staff at a meeting in London during the winter of 2010.

In what was, for this magazine, a first, we visited the House of Lords in London during the chilly winter month of December 2010 for what turned out to be a stimulating discussion with one of Britain’s most experienced politicians, Lord Stoddart of Swindon. He is a Euroskeptic Independent Labor peer, member of the House of Lords and joint chairman of the Campaign for an Independent Britain (cib).

Lord Stoddart was first elected to Parliament in 1970, being created a lord in 1983. He was a member of the Labor Party for 54 years, serving as cabinet minister for Housing and Construction, opposition spokesman for Energy, and government whip in both the House of Commons and the Lords. He was an active trade unionist at local, regional and national level. Lord Stoddart is currently joint president of the cross-party movement Campaign for an Independent Britain.

Lord Stoddart’s rare and clear-sighted view of the European Union was articulated by his Press Office during the last Europe-wide election to the European Parliament in 2009, when he declared: “I am appalled at the refusal of the government to tell the public the truth about the extent to which the United Kingdom is now governed by the European Union and that vital decisions affecting our interests are being taken by a gaggle of 26 other nations, whose interests are often inimical to those of Britain. The only way to save our country from complete absorption into a single centralized European state is to leave the EU and, since not one of the major political parties supports this policy, ukip [the UK Independence Party] is the only realistic alternative.”

Barely a month prior to our interview with Lord Stoddart, his probing questions in Parliament had resulted in the publication of figures proving that Britain’s membership of the European Union was causing great harm to British trade.

Last week he was credited by the British press with exposing an EU plot to create a super-president with the power to override all comers in Europe’s institutions, especially placing British sovereignty at risk.

“This is a plot by people who want to abolish nation-states and create a United States of Europe,” he said. “The whole thing is barmy. These people are determined to achieve their final objective. The only hope for Britain is to leave the EU and become an independent nation.”

On a rather chilly and typically gray London winter afternoon, Dec. 21, 2010, we were met at the entrance to the House of Lords by Lord Stoddart. He proved a most amiable host in guiding us on a tour of the House, including the room where the Queen prepares herself for entry into the House via the Sovereign’s Entrance once a year for the state opening of Parliament.

We then moved to a committee room in the venerable building for the interview.

In a frank and fascinating exchange with the Trumpet, Lord Stoddard had the following to say about the EU and Britain:

Trumpet: Lord Stoddart, is the EU good, as some have claimed, for British trade?

L.S.: Britain’s trade deficit with the EU has destroyed Britain’s manufacturing base. In the 1973 year of joining, 32 percent of Britain’s gdp was from manufacturing industries. Today it’s only 10 percent. Regarding exports, 18 percent of Britain’s exports go to the usa—only 8 percent to Germany! Pro-EU opponents say that 45 percent of our exports go to the EU, go to Rotterdam. But the truth is that this 45 percent goes through Rotterdam, which is an “interport,” on its way to other non-EU export destinations, including, for instance, Britain’s Commonwealth network, etc.

Trumpet: What is the main problem with the EU?

L.S.: The whole edifice of the EU is anti-democratic, not-undemocratic but anti-democratic. There is zero accountability. The unelected Commission has sole power to put forward legislation. “Ever closer union” is their stated objective. Once legislation has been agreed by the EU Council of Ministers, it then proceeds immediately to ratification; it cannot be discussed in our British Parliament, including the House of Lords. I sit on the House of Lords Standing Committee on the EU, but the committee’s recommendations never alter any EU legislation, our recommendations are just ignored.

Trumpet: Could you identify the key moment in Britain’s relationship with the EU?

L.S.: The Treaty of Maastricht in 1992 was the true turning point. This created “qualified majority voting,” meaning that Britain, with only 8.5 percent of the voting power, would always be voted down by the other states. I formed an anti-Maastricht pressure group in 1992, to no avail. They’re very clever. It’s impossible to discuss amending an individual treaty such as Maastricht because subsequent treaties are all created as “amendments” to the original European Communities Act of 1972!

Trumpet: How do Britain’s mainstream political parties view the EU?

L.S.: The problem in Britain is that all the major political parties are in favor of our belonging to the EU. They won’t accept that it’s bad for us in every aspect. Until 1985 the Labor Party was opposed to EU membership. It was the Conservative PM Edward Heath that brought in the original European Communities Bill in 1973. Deceitfully, he presented it as a bill to discuss terms of British entry, but once it passed through Parliament he quickly broke that promise. And from 1985 onwards, there has not been one major political party to lead any opposition to the EU. Both the major parties denied Britain a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty recently, which is simply the EU constitution by another name.

Trumpet: Who could lead Britain’s exit from the EU?

L.S.: ukip (the UK Independence Party) could certainly become the focal point for the various disunited anti-EU groups. And this is partly because they have such an excellent leader in Nigel Farage.

Trumpet: But why this complacency amongst the mainstream parties?

L.S.: The problem is that British politicians are embarrassed by their British heritage. A recent example was David Cameron telling the Americans that Britain was the junior partner in World War ii when it in fact stood alone against Germany in 1940.

Trumpet: What about the British press?

L.S.: The press is largely silent. Only the Daily Express is campaigning to get us out. [See “Brits to PM: Get Out of EU!”]

Trumpet: What will be the “tipping point” for Britain?

L.S.: I think that point will come only when the city financial center and the business community finally decide they’ve had enough. [See “New EU Attack on City of London.”] The trouble is that there is no cohesion amongst EU resistance groups to the loss of sovereignty. I have tried several times to get these groups together. A tipping point will come! “Ever closer union” is not just a flourish, it means what it says. That is their objective. It never was about a common market, it was always all about “a country called Europe.” This can be clearly seen in the original Treaty of Rome.

Trumpet: What’s next for Britain and the EU?

L.S.: Britain pays over to the EU £14 billion gross! Much of it goes into waste and corruption. This will rise to in excess of £16 billion by 2014. Now we have the new diplomatic service costing £9 billion (pounds stirling) per year. It’s a ratchet. Whenever there’s a crisis it gains power. It gains power by ratchet. The euro single currency has led swiftly to huge interference in member states’ financial matters. They now have an “Office of Investigation.” This will be their cia. Mark my words. With the recent financial crisis, Germany is now the primary power in the EU.

Trumpet: What current efforts are being made to get Britain out of the EU?

L.S.: The cib continues its efforts. We recently produced a glossy booklet called A House Divided, which we sent to every single M.P. in both houses of parliament, and it is having an effect!