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Why Jeremy Corbyn Is Lying to Himself (and Us) About TTIP

14/06/2016 12:03 | Updated 14 June 2016

Jeremy Corbyn will never get the chance to veto TTIP. There, I've said it. Earlier in the referendum campaign he made a bold promise to veto TTIP, but it is a promise that he won't be given the opportunity to keep. Anyone versed in the history of the European Union, née the European Economic Community, née the European Coal and Steel Community, will know that it is an institution that has pursued a slow, steady, but relentless campaign to grab power from member states, and it will not be thwarted by a well-meaning socialist and erstwhile Eurosceptic.

Jeremy Corbyn's promise is going to be dashed against the rock that is the Lisbon Treaty, and the tiny hopeful splinters of that broken promise will be left to drift across a vast sea of futility. The Lisbon Treaty established the EU as a legal entity capable of negotiating international treaties on its own behalf, and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union established two types of authority for such negotiations; exclusive competence and mixed. Exclusive competence means areas where the EU alone has the ability to negotiate treaties or legislate. Treaties categorised as being within the definition of exclusive competence do not need to be sent to national parliaments for ratification, and simply pass through the EU's own ratification process. In other words, the EU does not have to ask national parliaments for permission before signing the treaty and making it law, even though all member states will be bound by whatever is signed. Exclusive competence means the EU is boss.

The second category of treaty is one where there is mixed competence. These treaties are negotiated by the EU, but are then sent to each of the member parliaments for ratification. Any one nation state can prevent a mixed competence treaty from being ratified, effectively exercising a veto and killing the treaty on the floor of its national parliament. The treaty is then dead EU-wide.

TTIP is currently classified as a mixed treaty, so in theory Jeremy Corbyn could kill it in the House of Commons. Only, he'll never be given the opportunity. And here's why: the EU will never let TTIP progress as a mixed treaty. Anyone who has ever worked in Brussels will simply shrug at this point and say, "of course." Most normal, non-Brussels people will think I'm being paranoid. The last time people accused me of being paranoid during this campaign was when I alleged the existence of secret Civil Service plans for Brexit. Those plans turned out to be real. The idea that the UK will never be able to vote on TTIP is not paranoia and here's why.

TTIP has a baby sister called CETA, a comparable trade deal that the EU is currently negotiating with Canada. Like TTIP, CETA is supposed to be a mixed deal, but as Roland Smith revealed, reports in the German press have made it clear that the EU intends to reclassify it as an exclusive treaty, giving the EU sole jurisdiction over its ratification. It simply will not be sent to national parliaments and will pass into law before any of our pesky democratically elected representatives have the chance to examine or veto it. How can this happen? How can a treaty change classification?

Article 3 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU includes five broad categories that delineate the EU's exclusive areas of competence, but clause [e] is perhaps the broadest; 'common commercial policy'. An international trade deal would almost certainly fall within this clause, and even if the national governments were minded to challenge the EU, they'd need a unanimous vote to overrule it. In other words, all 28 member states would have to agree that the treaty shouldn't be reclassified as exclusive. So the presumption is in favour of reclassification unless all 28 member states agree otherwise. In other words, the EU isn't boss only when it doesn't want to be boss.

According to Die Zeit, Italy has already signalled it is in favour of reclassifying CETA as an exclusive treaty, so the battle for any national parliaments to be given the opportunity to veto that treaty already seems to have been lost. See how quickly things can change when you have no say in them?

If the EU is proposing to exclusively negotiate and ratify CETA, what are the chances that the national parliaments will be allowed anywhere near the real jewel, TTIP? Almost zero. There has been a lot of talk during the referendum campaign suggesting that TTIP is dead and that the French will veto it. TTIP is nowhere near dead, it's just being very, very quiet, and if it follows the same path as CETA, no one, neither the French, nor Jeremy Corbyn will be able to veto it.

Some people seem to take comfort in Jeremy Corbyn's promised veto. If you are one of those people, I don't mean to sound rude, but please be assured that you are fooling yourself. If we remain in the EU, this treaty will never be allowed to darken the doors of the House of Commons. In the eyes of people intimately familiar with the workings of the European Union, Jeremy Corbyn might as well be promising to build a marshmallow staircase to the moon.

Jeremy, if you or your advisers stumble upon this piece, please do look into the matter. Your inability to block TTIP may make you go from 30% leave to 70% leave.

With leave leading the polls, and the remain camp in panic mode, I feel it is time members of the government started to tell us how they will implement a leave vote. Since the Leader of the Opposition won't do his job and put the government on the spot, it's up to we, the people, to act. Read my previous article on the issue here and if you agree, sign this petition.
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Petition to Require Publication of Plans to Leave the EU

Let's not rely on people like Jeremy Corbyn to keep promises that can't possibly be kept. Let's take charge of our own affairs and reclaim the power that has been so calculatingly taken from us.

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