Mr. Rees-Mogg's initial reaction to the first draft was even more scornful. He described it as "a shameful document, destructive of democracy, disastrous for Europe, disastrous for Britain and for all the other present and prospective members of the European Union" and as being "drafted in a disorderly and undemocratic way."
There is no mistaking the constitution's plans for a single Europe. Michael Barnier, a European commissioner, asked the bottom-line question: "The hour of truth is coming for Europe: Do we want to be only an economic and financial community or do we want to become an independent political power?"
The main feature editorial in The Sunday Telegraph commented: "The proposed European constitution would, if ratified in anything like its present form, mark the moment at which the EU ceased to be an association of states and became a state in its own right" (emphasis added throughout). This would be Britain's worst nightmare.
Paul Eastham, deputy political editor of the Daily Mail, underscores the dangers for Britain. He says that if the draft constitution were to be adopted in its present form, Britain's "freedom to decide foreign policy and support the U.S. in facing down dictators such as Saddam Hussein would also be removed"—a frightening thought!
Conservative British observers have already branded the proposed constitution "a blueprint for a European superstate." The United Kingdom is, however, still considered a serious obstacle to Franco-German plans for a federal union of Europe. The Daily Mail reported that, not so long ago, "Gerhard Schroeder threatened the future of the EU by demanding a new ‘hard core' of countries, excluding Britain. The German Chancellor . . . wants an elite group, led by anti-war countries Germany, France and Belgium to head a ‘two-tier' EU."
Of course, Britain angrily rejected certain key sections of the EU draft document almost before the ink was dry on the final text—demanding significant revisions. But will that really happen? It is always possible that some sort of compromise will be reached, moderating some of the document's worst sections. But whatever the eventual outcome, the Channel gap between Britain and the Continent clearly remains and shows no sign of narrowing. U.K. thinking is miles away from Central European thought on many key issues. How much more America's!
(Sources: The Times, Daily Mail, The Sunday Telegraph [all London].)