Article 50 Revisited: Has the UK’s Secession from the EU been Years in the Making? – Part Three

In the first two parts of this series we looked at the origins of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and also the political timeline of events (in relation to the EU) that came about following David Cameron’s rise to Prime Minister in 2010.

To conclude I will now offer a summary of everything that has been discussed and present some additional insights.


Given the complexity of this issue it is perhaps to be expected that we would culminate with more questions than we presently have answers to. One in particular though stands out – would the EU referendum have happened without the secession clause of Article 50 being in place? We have seen how some considered the inclusion of Article 50 in the Lisbon Treaty as ‘only encouraging secession‘. And it is undeniable that only after the clause came to prominence that movements began on a parliamentary level to begin the process of forcing a vote on EU membership. The referendum did not come about through public clamour and voters taking to the streets in protest. It was entirely promulgated by the State. The subject started to gather momentum once the dynamic of governance had changed from Labour to Conservative. At no stage before this was the prospect of a referendum on EU membership on the agenda. This is important to understand because Brexit has been characterised by many as an expression of ‘populism‘ and a resurgence of ‘nationalism‘. Both of which are perceived as symbols belonging to the right of the political paradigm.

We have observed how the build up to a referendum on EU membership was being gradually cultivated as early on as the Coalition government’s time in power (2010 to 2015). One could argue that this five year period acted as a bridge for deriving an eventual consensus on the issue. Once the Conservatives had gained an outright majority, events started to move very quickly from confirming that a referendum would be held by 2017 to the date of the referendum being announced as early as February 2016. Why such haste? Only thirteen months had passed since the 2015 election to when the country voted to leave the EU. Politicians are often accused of not keeping to the promises they pledge in party manifestos. In regards to the referendum, though, Cameron kept entirely to his word on the issue. There was no prevaricating. He promised a referendum, and dutifully delivered it.

Other questions exist too. Was Article 50 used as a basis for legitimising secession from the European Union, with the intention of it being invoked down the line? Or was it created in case fascist dictatorships ever came to power and pushed for an exit? A dead clause to gather dust, or a roadmap towards reform? As yet there are no definitive answers.

A year after the referendum, Lord Kerr (the man at the center of Article 50), signed a letter along with sixty others calling for Brexit to be halted. The same Lord Kerr who believed that Article 50 would only ever be triggered by an aforementioned ‘dictatorial regime‘. We can speculate as to his sincerity, but there is no immediate evidence to suggest that he was not being truthful with this statement.

What there is evidence of is Lord Kerr’s participation on the ‘European Group Task Force‘ which delivered a report to the Trilateral Commission in May 2014 entitled, ‘Credible European Governance‘. On page nine of the document, a recognition of the ‘growing problems of EU fragmentation and renationalization of minds and markets‘ is discussed. According to the report, these ‘problems‘ were also a concern,

within the economies of the euro area including the divisive issue of
“larger v. smaller countries”, “Northern v. Southern” countries or – better worded —between “creditor v. debtor” countries or “open and closed” economies

The authors then state that ‘this centrifugal trend must be arrested or, at the very least, mastered‘.

The objectives of devising a banking union, a fiscal union, an economic union and a political union are also raised throughout the report, all of which would be ‘necessary to ensure
the long-term sustainability of the EMU (Economic and Monetary Union)‘. How would this be brought about?

In all likelihood such construction, whatever its precise shape and ambition, would require a new treaty to give it both legal certainty and political legitimacy.

It goes on to discuss the need for a shared vision throughout Europe, of the ‘re-emergence of stark geopolitical challenges‘ within the continent. Therefore, it is deemed essential that member states are willing to act on and implement treaties and share sovereignty. But future changes to the treaties ‘are in the hands of the citizens‘. This is language that resonates with David Cameron’s declaration back in 2015 on the question of an EU referendum, when he said the decision was a matter for the British people. The commonality here is that treaties and parliamentary process are undertaken independent of the populace. Diplomats and politicians craft the legislation, and we as the electorate exist simply to ratify or reject it. This is the extent of modern day democracy. We sign off on representatives and ensuing policy without a thorough examination of the trail of documentation accompanying them. The subsequent consequences of our verdict are invariably used against us to create the conditions allowing for further attempts at a power grab in the future.

Further into the Task Force report to the Trilateral Commission, the UK is mentioned specifically in relation to it’s membership of the single market, an issue which has been driving the narrative on Brexit since the referendum:

A debate on competences has been launched by the British government on Britain’s future position in Europe where reference is made to the Single Market. Today, most EU countries accept that the euro area represents what President Van Rompuy calls the “symbolic heart of the European Union”. For the United Kingdom, the single market is the essence of the EU. Can these two visions continue to coexist within the EU, now that the euro area is surmounting its “existential crisis”?

This passage appears to be questioning the UK’s position inside the European Union. In many previous blog posts I have talked about how the manifestation of a crisis is often used as an opportunity to implement reforms. We saw this following the ‘Great Financial Crisis‘ with the introduction of new regulatory standards working through The Bank for International Settlements. And we have seen the narrative build since the referendum of the urgency for more reform of the European Union and the deeper integration of nations. Crisis as an opportunity is not only something Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann has discussed. It is also raised in the report, where they quote one of the founding fathers of the European Union Jean Monnet:

People only accept change when they are faced with necessity, and only recognize necessity when crisis is upon them.

Following on from this report came a paper produced in November 2015 by four David Rockefeller fellows of the Trilateral Commission. One of those is German economist Katinka Barysch, who is currently an associate fellow of Chatham House’s European Programme. Prior to this Barysch worked at the Centre for European Reform (CER) from 2001 to 2013, both as chief economist and deputy director. As referenced in part one of this series, Lord Kerr is the present chair of the CER advisory board. Barysch is also an advisor to the European Commission and the House of Lords.

Another of the authors is Manuel Muniz, who is Senior Associate at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. Belfer is a Think Tank that, according to its website, focuses on ‘international security and diplomacy, environmental and resource issues, and science and technology policy.’ Currently there are two members of the board of directors and three fellows of Belfer who are represented on the Trilateral Commission. The trend of several institutions crossing over into the Commission through specific individuals is once again prevalent.

The paper in question – ‘EUROPE’S NEW NORMAL: SIMULTANEOUS CRISES THAT THREATEN TO UNRAVEL THE EU‘, raises the issues of economic crisis within the Euro Zone, the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the refugee crisis and euro skepticism in the UK. On the latter, the paper states that the risk of Britain voting to leave the EU was ‘significant‘, and that should it materialise could prompt a chain reaction of nations wishing to demonstrate their own variant of national sovereignty. The authors conclude that they,

remain convinced that none of the crises Europe faces today can be solved by individual states acting on their own. The only way forward for the EU is to continue to cooperate and integrate in areas where it faces common challenges.

There is a recognition that the populations of Europe (‘a tired, disengaged and skeptical electorate) are unconvinced by the idea of further integration measures, at exactly the time where the authors insist that the EU requires them. The paper also goes as far to state that,

many Europeans have come to suspect that the EU’s institutions have become overly powerful and some think that they have even used the latest crises for a further power grab.  

If the authors comments are anything to go by, it appears that support for an ‘ever closer union‘ was waning at the time of the paper’s publication. As a remedy, they venture that, ‘some flow into the opposite direction might help Europeans to regain trust in the European process‘.

One interpretation of this remark is that countries be granted a platform to express their grievances with the European Union, perhaps even to the point of seeking renewed independence or opting to withdraw from the bloc altogether. From their own perspective the union desires a sharing of sovereignty rather than individual expressions of it. Therefore, a nation instigating a greater level of autonomy (dubbed protectionism / populism in some quarters) might eventually suffer lasting consequences given the steadfast and federalist nature of the supranational EU. Over time countries demonstrating more nationalistic tendencies could quite easily unravel into crisis. Especially if separation from the union results in a nation being compromised economically. In this scenario, might those same Europeans opposed to further integration become more receptive to the idea?

The ultimate question then is whether the outbreak of a ‘crisis’ is organic, in the sense that it happens beyond the control of government and globalist institutions. Or whether instances such as Brexit were designed to happen to further the agenda for more power. You may ask why the UK would be permitted to leave the EU when the objective is for ‘ever closer union‘. But without Brexit and further instances of a rise in ‘populism‘, calls for reform have no traction. Crisis must either originate or be instigated to achieve the desired response from the electorate. Calling for reform inside a vacuum of no discernible unrest on a geopolitical level leaves institutions like the EU exposed to greater scrutiny.

In the case of Article 50, the pathway leading out of the EU came up against no reluctance at its inception, and went through Parliament with no amendments and no resistance. By examining the trends and the movements of globalists – of which Lord Kerr is one of them – it assists in helping to gauge their future intentions. I have written before about how in the run up to the EU referendum The Bank for International Settlements were gathering in Lucerne, Switzerland, for their annual conference. The same occurrence happened months later when the BIS and the World Bank gathered in Washington DC when the U.S. election took place. Two instances of ‘populism‘ – the subject of many prior warnings by globalist institutions – had come to pass. And ever since then the need for greater unity and reform gained a route onto the agenda.

To this day the IMF and fellow organisations persist with the narrative of the dangers of ‘protectionism‘ and ‘political uncertainty‘. In the midst of these warnings we have witnessed the rise of the far right in Germany with the AfD party entering the Bundestag for the first time. Then came the Catalonian vote for independence. And, most recently, the prospect of a far right coalition taking power in Austria following the success of Sebastian Kurz’s People’s PartyThe Austrian election happened to take place on the final day of the IMF and World Bank Annual Meetings in Washington DC.

We can say this is circumstantial evidence leading to a much deeper story, or simply put it and other examples of events coinciding with the actions and communications of globalists down as mere coincidence (in spite of the repetition of similarities).

What we should be conscious of, however, is events that transpire following a particular election or referendum. And here again we discover another commonality in that monetary policy has tightened in the U.S. under Donald Trump and is now about to do the same in the UK. Would this have been possible without the ‘populist‘ surge of Brexit and Trump? Did the central banks require geopolitical unrest as cover for exercising their plans? In my view the evidence suggests that this is the case, as I regularly document through weekly economic updates.

It is ultimately for the reader to decide and make a judgement on.

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