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Opinion

It's the end of Britain as we know it

The Lisbon Treaty spells the end of a sovereign Britain.

By Stephen Webbe / March 24, 2008



London

You might want to take that vacation in England just as soon as you can – before its 1,000-year run as a sovereign nation comes to an end.

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This winter, 27 nations of the European Union (EU) signed the Treaty of Lisbon. You may think, "Innocuous enough," as Portuguese-inspired visions of the Tagus River and chicken piri-piri swirl before your eyes.

But for England (Britain, actually) the Treaty of Lisbon isn't that appetizing. That's because, if ratified, it will become the decisive act in this creation of a federal European superstate with its capital in Brussels. Britain would become a province and its "Mother of Parliaments," a regional assembly. And that's no small humiliation for a country that gave the world English and saved Western civilization in the Battle of Britain in 1940.

The Eurocrat elite in Brussels might not admit it, but the Treaty of Lisbon is essentially a constitution for a "country" called Europe. More bluntly, it's a cynical repackaging of the EU Constitution rejected by French and Dutch voters in 2005.

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair promised to put the EU Constitution to the British people in a referendum. But his successor, Gordon Brown, has reneged on that promise. He insists that the Treaty of Lisbon is shorn of all constitutional content and that it preserves key aspects of British sovereignty. On March 11, the bill to ratify the treaty cleared the House of Commons. And now the Brown government is poised to win passage in the House of Lords, too.

But British resistance is stirring. In a recent series of minireferendums, almost 90 percent of voters gave the Lisbon Treaty an emphatic thumbs down and demanded a nationwide referendum.

If all 27 nations ratify the treaty this year, it will begin to come into effect on Jan. 1, 2009. The British will then be expected to transfer loyalty and affection to the EU and devote themselves increasingly to its wellbeing.

With its flag, anthem, currency, institutions, regulations, and directives, the EU has long been indistinguishable from a nation-state-in-waiting. Now the Lisbon Treaty gives it those requisites of nationhood it's always lacked: a president, a foreign minister (and diplomatic corps), a powerful new interior department, a public prosecutor and full treaty-making powers. Add to those its common system of criminal justice, an embryonic federal police force, and the faintly sinister-sounding European Gendarmerie Force, and what this union becomes is a monolithic state with great power pretensions.

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