You’ve not heard of David Heathcoat-Amory? You are not alone. But a little knowledge of this now former Tory MP is most rewarding, as is his frankly ridiculous piece in the Telegraph, “How Britain can restore freedom to Europe”. Ah, freedom, that value which all who argue for the public sector to be slashed to 1939 levels and beyond proclaim from their suitably upmarket rooftops.
Heathcoat-Amory is clearly on the Eurosceptic wing of his party, which nowadays means most of it. He is also adept in the use of routine dishonesty and pulling a fast one when he deems it necessary. Thus he asserts that the EU “cannot manage its own budget properly”, which is an old canard, but still in regular use by the antis. And, in addition to his sleight of hand, he has a plan.
This plan is, more or less, to allow all member states to opt-in to anything they like, and so by implication opting out of everything they don’t. This is the most beautifully crafted horseshit. How any kind of single market can function without all the participants playing by the same set of rules is not told, and will not be, because the very idea is utterly meaningless.
So Heathcoat-Amory’s idea of wanting an opt-in for our motor industry (and therefore heading off any tendency for Nissan, General Motors, Jaguar Land Rover, Volvo, Toyota, Honda, BMW and – God forbid – Volkswagen (they own Bentley Motors) to decamp to Spain or Portugal), while not bothering with social and employment laws, environmental and transport policy is complete crap.
Maybe he ought to also give some thought to the other potential losses in his brave new world outside, or partly outside, the EU: the free movement of people (like Brits) to travel and live wherever in the EU they choose, for instance. And the Open Skies policy. And the ability to influence what the EU does, which, without full participation, would be lost. Not for nothing is the first language of the EU English.
Picking and choosing would not result in freedom, but utter chaos. Heathcoat-Amory talks of his new dawn being “liberating”. Yes, freedom to no longer have any say in what the rest of the EU does, while being free to be told that if we don’t like it, we’ll have to lump it. And the same would be true of any bilateral agreement with the USA. Or China. Or India. Or Brazil.
But then, Heathcoat-Amory knows all about talking crap: this, after all, is the man who was forced to pay back almost £30,000 in expenses, and submitted 19 claims over a three year period, at a total cost to the taxpayer of £388.80, for horse manure. Small wonder the Lib Dems unseated him at the last General Election: another Tory who went to Eton and then up to Oxford and not quite in touch with reality.
And small wonder his idea for a brave new EU smells just a little ripe.