As national sovereignty increasingly becomes a thing of the past for most Europeans, the controversial European Union is taking the British government to court in an effort to force taxpayers to supply more welfare for immigrants in the United Kingdom. Analysts, however, say the move is likely to backfire, with fuel essentially being poured on the fire as escalating anti-EU fervor sweeps across Britain ahead of a promised public vote on secession.
After two years of “discussions” between London and the emerging Brussels-based super-state resulted in an impasse, so-called “eurocrats” still claim that British authorities are improperly denying welfare benefits to some immigrants. “Tens of thousands of EU nationals living legally in the U.K. have been refused access to benefits to which they are entitled,” alleged EU spokesman Jonathan Todd, citing “official figures” showing that British authorities had denied welfare to almost 30,000 immigrants between 2009 and 2001.
The U.K. government denies the allegations, with officials saying that they will continue enforcing the “right-to-reside” test before handing out public funds to foreigners. "We will not only fight this action but press ahead with plans to strengthen Britain's benefits system to ensure it cannot be abused," the government said in a statement cited in media reports, adding that the welfare requirements were "a vital and fair tool.” Proponents of the rule, which was put in place almost a decade ago by a Labor party-led government, say it is necessary to crack down on “benefit tourism.”
The European Commission, somewhat similar to an executive branch, argues that the requirements for immigrants to obtain welfare in Britain violate EU “law” because they go beyond what is required from Britons. As such, European “authorities” — now responsible for more than three fourths of the “laws” governing formerly sovereign member states — recently announced that the bid to saddle taxpayers with more bills would have to be resolved in the self-styled “European Court of Justice.”
Based in Luxembourg, the EU’s highest “court” could end up imposing massive fines on British taxpayers if it rules against the U.K. government, at least assuming Britons have not yet seceded from the increasingly unpopular union. A ruling might take years, but even passionate opponents of the EU concede that the verdict will almost certainly be in favor of Brussels.
Critics of the EU in Britain immediately expressed outrage and contempt over the controversial decision to take the U.K. to court. Already, most Britons want out — if a referendum were held today, virtually every poll and analyst agrees that voters would overwhelmingly choose to secede. Facing enormous pressure from within his ruling Conservative party and the liberty-minded United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), which supports exiting the EU and is soaring the polls, even Prime Minister David Cameron finally capitulated and agreed to permit a referendum if he holds on to power.
With the latest news, however, anti-EU sentiment continued to reach new heights in Britain. “The European Commission has thrown a hand grenade into an already intense debate about the U.K.’s continued EU membership,” said research director Stephen Booth with Open Europe. “At a time when public support for both the EU and immigration are wafer thin, this is the worst possible issue the Commission could have sought to challenge, at the worst possible time.”
Politicians such as Peter Lilley, a Conservative Member of Parliament who was the minister in charge of welfare when the “right-to-reside” test was adopted, said the move by Brussels exposed the EU’s efforts to expand its own powers and should be resisted. Rather than showing the need for secession, though, Lilley claimed being hauled before the court simply means U.K. authorities need to get tough with the perpetually expanding behemoth in Brussels.
“It does strengthen the case for David Cameron seeking to get power back to this country to make our own laws rather than for this creeping competence of law-making being extended to Brussels even in areas where every country has decided it should be reserved for itself," Lilley said during a widely quoted radio interview. While the prime minister and a faction within his party say they want to repatriate some of the powers usurped by the EU rather than leave entirely, other political leaders said it was well-past time for a divorce.
UKIP leader and Member of the European “Parliament” Nigel Farage, for instance, blasted the notion of London being able to reason with the super-state or decrease its power, saying the latest EU assault on Britain simply offered more evidence that the only real solution was exiting the EU. “This court case will drag on, wasting millions of pounds and will no doubt result in an embarrassing defeat for the Government,” he wrote, criticizing politicians who claim that the U.K. would be able to resist without exiting the union.
“The Government’s promise to make it difficult for EU migrants to automatically access UK benefits has been blown apart before it has laid out how it would do this,” continued Farage, who frequently compares the EU to communism or criminals during his world-famous speeches in the European so-called Parliament. “The idea that Britain can stand up in court in Luxembourg and win this case is sadly almost laughable.… The only argument really strengthened is the one to leave the EU completely.”
Evidently, Farage’s message is resonating with the public. From being ridiculed and demonized by the “establishment” as recently as last year, the UKIP — thanks partly to its stance on British membership in the EU and opposition to infinite immigration — has now become the third largest political party in Britain. In recent polls and surveys, the party’s popularity has continued to soar, and analysts expect that trend to continue — especially with top EU leaders openly calling for a federal regime to finalize the destruction of national sovereignty and self-government.
Meanwhile, other continental entities are on the war path against Britain as well. The so-called European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that national laws restricting the vote of prisoners had to go. That court, based in Strasbourg, is now waging a full-blown campaign to secure compliance, with its top judge warning the British that they may be kicked out of Europe if they refuse to bow down.
Authorities in the United Kingdom, however, are still fighting back. The attorney general is expected to testify at the Supreme Court against the idea. Parliament is also supposed to decide whether or not to comply with the controversial ruling — and for now, it appears that lawmakers have no intention of complying with the controversial mandate from regional “authorities.”
"The fact that the attorney general is defending the case shows how serious an assault on our democracy it is,” former Foreign Office lawyer and parliamentarian Dominic Raab with the Conservative party was quoted as saying. "The EU's backdoor attempt to dictate human rights to Britain is dangerous ... and will strengthen calls for a wholesale renegotiation of Britain's terms of membership. It is a battle we must win."
Other leaders have gone even further in warning about the threat from regional entities like the EU. Then-Czech Republic President Vaclav Klaus even warned last year that Brussels was close to the final stages in killing off self-governance and national sovereignty. When former Maoist revolutionary and current EU Commission boss José Manuel Barroso declared that a federal regime was inevitable, Klaus spoke out.
"We need to think about how to restore our statehood and our sovereignty. That is impossible in a federation,” the respected liberty-minded president explained. "Especially after our Communist experience, we know, very strongly and possibly more than people in Western Europe, that the process of democracy is more important than the outcome. It is an irony of history — I would never have assumed in 1989 that I would be doing this now: that it would be my role to preach the value of democracy."
The New American predicted decades ago that the EU would eventually become precisely what is being observed today. As this magazine also reported last month, recent polls show that what little public support existed for the EU — an unaccountable regime foisted on the peoples of Europe almost entirely without their consent — has now all but vanished throughout most of the bloc. In the United Kingdom, that sentiment is probably stronger than anywhere and is still growing by leaps and bounds.
Even with President Obama outlandishly threatening Britons with “economic consequences” if they choose to leave the EU, support for secession is spreading like wildfire. Unless authorities in London and Brussels are willing to completely and overtly ignore the people and lose any shred of legitimacy — not entirely out of the question — analysts say the United Kingdom may yet regain its independence someday.
Alex Newman, a foreign correspondent for The New American, is currently based in Europe. He can be reached at
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