Is Ed Miliband really that worried about losing the next election because of Cameron’s sell-out to the monarchy every year in order to build a drip drip sense of Britishness that took Mrs Thatcher just one Falkland’s War?
The report of him asking people in England to fly St George’s flag and for Scotland to support the English football team and not be “un-British” sparks of desperation. In November 2011 he was proud of his roots linking him to the “state” of Israel as well. It seems to me he is proud of anything except the opportunity to have conviction!
His further claim that an independent Scotland has to mean the end of a British Union not only lacks imagination, but is outright disgusting that he can tell the home nations who are yet to vote on independence what their relationships to the other nations will be.
Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg are all independent nations and members of the European Union, yet they have preserved their Union – Benelux – between themselves. Why is it not possible for the four British nations to also be both independent and interdependent at the same time?
A ‘British Isles Customs Union’ (BICU) modelled on Benelux might be the answer. There is no need for us to have to have separate passports, driving licences and other State apparatus with independence – we can share them as part of BICU. But just because Labour would be nowhere if England was its own nation with its own Parliament if the other nations were independent, it doesn’t mean Ed Miliband as its leader should have the cheek to try and stop democracy taking place.
As a recent covert to supporting independence for Wales I am not surprised that only 10% of those surveyed from Wales would agree to it in light of the polarised debates on the subject (Voters would say “No” to an independent Wales, February 2). Things will change though.
I am not a separatist for wanting Wales to be independently constituted – I am as British as I have always been. I want joint British and Welsh nationality, and the current settlement does not give me that. Nor am I a nationalist for wanting independence – I am as much of a British and European Unionist as I have always been. I want a British Isles Customs Union (BICU), where each of the four British nations is equal rather than Wales being legally constituted as a province of England.
Independence within the EU could actually make our British union stronger not weaker – we just need to drop the archaic United Kingdom constitution. In such a set-up it would be illegal to discriminate against someone because they are Welsh. And Welsh firms would be expected to be treated as favourably as those in England when tendering for work in England and not charged more tax as present (Western Mail, November 16, 2011).
I do not think Wales should have a seat on UN like Plaid – in fact I think the EU should sit as one block. I don’t think Wales would need its own passport office as Labour seem to – We can share all these state entrappings, including the DVLA and other registrars within BICU, as Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg do with Benelux. If they can be independent in the EU while dependent on one another – why can’t we?
I must contest F S Wusteman’s claim that an independent Wales would not have an independent voice in the EU (Letters, January 26).
If one were to look at the current EU Treaty (TFEU) there are 62 areas in which every EU country has to agree unanimously before that law can be passed – one of these is Article 113 relating to indirect taxation like VAT so no member state has to give up its tax regime as they suggested.
The problem Wales has is we are not properly represented in the EU Council of Ministers in which only David Cameron and his UK Ministers have a right to vote on behalf of the UK. This body must agree to every piece of EU legislation before it is made law – and in many cases it can completely overrule the European Parliament if it disagrees with them.
Wales has no right to veto EU law that could, for instance, affect our manufacturing – we are at the mercy of the UK Government.
Readers will recall me calling for a British Isles Customs Union of the four British nations, which while all independent, would agree to common laws which could include a common position on EU law (Letters, October 22, 2011). If England voted to leave the EU but join the EEA it would have to implement EU law but have no say in making it. But with the BICU Council of Ministers they could do both.
In the meantime, while the argument for independence is being won in principle even if not in detail, as looks likely in Scotland, there is a way all British nations can get an equal voice in the EU decision making processes without any new primary legislation from Westminster.
Section 109 of The Government of Wales Act 2006 gives the Welsh Government the power to ask for new powers from Westminster, which could include the right to direct the UK Prime Minister to veto any EU directive that does not meet Wales’s interests. Scotland and Northern Ireland could be granted the same power.
These provisions could lead to a more united British Isles, where each nation can represent its own citizens’ interests while co-operating where this is in the interest of all citizens in the British Isles.
I recently proposed a new type of settlement where each of the four nations of Britain could be independently constituted as nation states yet members of a “British Isles customs union”, or BICU (Letters, October 22).
Rather than each nation have its own overpaid head of state or, worse still, keep the outdated monarchy, our head of state could be based on a “rotating presidency”.
The president’s primary role would be to chair the Council of Ministers and work to cut down the costly duplication of legislation so instead of four laws on say banning smoking or regulating marriage, there would be one law with different provisions for each nation. It could be chaired by Carwyn Jones one year, Alex Salmond the next, etc.
This “constitutional presidency” would mean we could ditch the “constitutional monarch”. Mickey Mouse is not the Governor of Florida is he? Yet he is their top tourist attraction bringing millions into the economy each year. So why do we still have one of our top tourist attractions – The Royal Family – as head of state? Disney Pixar is the most profitable company in the world, trading in fantasy around “princesses” and “princes” – why don’t we sell them the Royal Family, so they can run them 100% as a tourist attraction for taxable profit? The “Queen” could still open the Welsh legislature, but in a ceremonial way, little different to the ways some towns still employ town criers, who operate more for cultural reasons than any practical constitutional role.
I have previously expressed my objections to independence for Wales and primary legislative powers. The reasons have been because of reduced scrutiny of legislation due to unicameralism (Letters, April 14, 2004), unnecessary duplication of laws (Letters, October 1, 2002) and lack of effective use of time due to having to implement EU Directives on top on Welsh law (Letters, February 20, 2004).
Others have said independence is unaffordable because of entrappings of the state, requiring passport offices, driving licence agencies, and customs and tax offices. Welsh nationalists often draw parallels with Catalonia as a model for independence. I would however suggest another one – Benelux – the union between Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg. There is no reason why all the British nations (including Ireland) can’t be independently constituted as nation states, whilst being both members of the European Union and a “British Isles customs union.”
These “member nations” could share state apparatus, like a council of ministers and supreme court, from which BICU governments would make laws applying to all nations in the case of the former, and from which they would provide judges to resolve inter-governmental, EU and international law issues in the case of the latter. We could still have British passports and hold joint nationalities as British citizens and Welsh citizens. Our driving licences could still be issued by the DVLA , but could have “CW” for “Cymru Wales” on them instead of “UK”. It would be a big improvement on the current settlement, as not only could a new Act of Union give us more exclusive rights within the BICU, but because each nation could be independent members of the EU, the people of Wales would have greater rights to be treated equally in England than they do now. We could be a member of the euro like Ireland, and that may mean more manufacturing returning to Wales while England keeps the pound.