The EU’s Disturbing Democratic Deficit and the Wisdom of Tony Benn.

The EU’s Disturbing Democratic Deficit and the Wisdom of Tony Benn.

Regardless of where anyone sits on the political spectrum the primary issue in this EU referendum is the one which should concern everyone:  Who should govern Britain ?  – the people of the United Kingdom or the EU’s anti democratic political institutions deciding the laws under which we live? (Cameron desperately wants to avoid this question dominating the referendum campaign).

The disturbing democratic deficit at the heart of EU law making means that none of the EU’s 23,000 laws can be amended or voted out by British voters (or the voters of any other nation) at any general election. With this vital issue in mind, it is well worth considering this timeless quote from lifelong EU opponent, Tony Benn:

“What power have you got? Where did you get it from? In whose interests do you exercise it? To whom are you accountable? And how can we get rid of you?” If you cannot get rid of the people who govern you, you do not live in a democratic system.”

Applying Benn’s criteria to the anti-democratic way in which the EU elites make our laws (summarised below) does anyone seriously believe that we live in a democratic system?  Can any EU supporter explain how this system is in any way democratic and accountable to British voters?  Can they tell us why this undemocratic system makes them feel “European”?

        How EU law is made

  •  Laws are proposed in secret by the unelected European Commission, which has the monopoly power of proposing new legislation (neither the EU Council nor the European Parliament nor any parliament or other institution of member-states has the power to propose EU legislation)
  •  Those draft laws are negotiated in secret by COREPER – the unelected Committee of Permanent Representatives (i.e ambassadors to the EU) of the member states. The UK delegation is known as UKREP & its representative is one amongst twenty-eight representatives.
  • Those laws are then decided in secret (sometimes after consultation with the European Parliament) by the Council of Ministers, where the UK has 8% of the vote.
  • The resulting laws are then executed by the Commission (in which no EU member state has any vote) & supported by the European Parliament (in which the UK has 72 MEPs out of a total of 736).

The Westminster Parliament is irrelevant in this process: it cannot reject or amend – even by one comma – laws handed down from Brussels. (National parliaments in other EU member-states are in the same position).

All Westminster can do is to rubber-stamp them – which indeed it does – most of the time without even a debate in either the House of Commons or the House of Lords.

The Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice, which is legally-superior to all courts in member-states, has the ultimate power of decision over the interpretation and implementation of EU law.

The EU Commission is the sole enforcer of all EU legislation, with the power to fine member-states for non- compliance.


Whatever laws you may like to see implemented, British voters will never get to decide them if they conflict with EU law (e.g. railway nationalisation). Whilst the EU is, quite rightly, the target of much of our anger we must never forget the the primary culprits who have handed all of us over to this disgraceful anti-democratic system: the generations of spineless British politicians, of all parties, who have chosen to give OUR powers over to the EU’s political institutions. (You can find out how your MP has voted on EU issues here: )

As the late Tony Benn, who had the vision and integrity to oppose the EU, said:

“I ask myself why the House is ready to contemplate abandoning its duties, as I fear it is.  I was elected 41 years ago this month.  This Chamber has lost confidence in democracy.  It believes that it must be governed by someone else.

It is afraid to use the powers entrusted to it by its constituents.  It has traded power for status.”


If democracy is destroyed in Britain, it will be not the communists, Trotskyists or subversives but this House which threw it away.  The rights that are entrusted to us are not for us to give away.  Even if I agree with everything that is proposed, I cannot hand away powers lent to me for five years by the people of Chesterfield.  I just could not do it. It would be theft of public rights.”


The following clips show Benn’s vision and precision when analysing the EU’s impact on British democracy:   (see 6 mins+)

No one with any experience of Rotherham politics can be under any illusion that every deficit in our own local democracy is down to the EU.  It isn’t. With or without the EU our own politicians have added to the democratic malaise at both local and national level which is why major democratic reform is badly needed in a post EU Britain.

Fortunately, the definitive EU exit plan- the Market Solution (Flexcit)- outlined in my previous article (see link below) has a detailed plan (Stage 6: Domestic Reform) for major democratic reforms in a post EU Britain.

With the launch of the Leave Alliance:  a brand new summary booklet of the Market Solution exit plan has been produced to inform and reassure everyone that the leaving the EU is an economically safe and secure option on the road to an independent and democratic Great Britain :

John Wilkinson (Twitter: @jwrotherham)

2 thoughts on “The EU’s Disturbing Democratic Deficit and the Wisdom of Tony Benn.

  1. Pingback: Does John Healey MP know that Parliament can’t change any of the EU’s 23,000 laws? | Rotherham Politics

  2. Tony Benn on the 1975 Referendum (A letter to his constituents)

    “The Parliamentary democracy we have developed and established in Britain is based, not upon the sovereignty of Parliament, but upon the sovereignty of the People, who, by exercising their vote lend their sovereign powers to Members of Parliament, to use on their behalf, for the duration of a single Parliament only — Powers that must be returned intact to the electorate to whom they belong, to lend again to the Members of Parliament they elect in each subsequent general election. Five basic democratic rights derive from this relationship, and each of them is fundamentally altered by Britain’s membership of the European Community…..”


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