The bedrock of the Brexit campaign is the myth that the EU is “undemocratic”, so to “get our country back” (a nonsense phrase if ever there was one) we have to leave the EU. The lynch-pin of their argument is that European Commissioners aren’t elected – ergo the EU is ‘undemocratic’.
This argument falls for a whole host of reasons. Firstly, the European Commission is the equivalent of the British Civil Service. Have you ever voted for a civil servant? Of course not. We elect the people who direct the Civil Servants and the EU is exactly the same. Here’s a diagram of how EU democracy and oversight works.
As you can see, no legislation can become law unless the elected MEPs agree. If they don’t the legislation is sent back to the commission, where it’s either redrafted in the light of MEPs objections or it’s binned. The Commission cannot pass laws themselves. So, there’s genuine democratic oversight.
There’s another thing. The Brexiteers are either incredibly ignorant of how Parliamentary democracy works in the UK, or they’re deliberately ignoring it. Here’s why. Have you ever heard of the 3rd Marquess of Salisbury? Or the 2nd Earl of Liverpool? As they’ve been dead for years you probably haven’t. OK, let’s try someone more modern. Lord Young? He served in Margaret Thatcher’s government. No? OK, let’s try someone bang up to date. Lord Adonis? He was Transport Minister in the last Labour Government. He’s now head of the Infrastructure Commission.
So, what do they all have in common? None of them were elected. In office they were unelected members of the House of Lords. Not only that, but two of them actually served as Prime Ministers! All of them have done the very thing that gives the Brexiteers an attack of the vapours – despite being unelected they were responsible for making laws. Plus, let’s face it, you can’t get more politically powerful in the UK than by becoming Prime Minister.
Nor are these coves unique. You might have heard of another one, he’s one of our most famous Prime Ministers. His name? Benjamin Disraeli.
Oh, another thing. Who invited Disraeli to be Prime Minister and form a Government? None other than Queen Victoria. Now, just who elected her?
The Brexit camp claims that the EU is undemocratic are baseless. In fact, as history shows, by their own definition, the EU is more democratic than the UK!