European Commission - Great British Traditions

Back in the Spring and while canvassing during the Council elections I was accosted by a constituent who said "a man of your age has no right to be as fit as you are". Given the choice between the possibility that he thought that I was a great deal older than I am or taking it as compliment my vanity dictated the latter!

More recently, however, my blood pressure was pushed through the roof. The cause of this malaise was one Mr. Günter Verheugen who is the European Commissar with responsibility for the Single Market.

Let me explain. My furry alarm clock had woken me at her customarily early hour to demand breakfast and I was quietly minding my own business and paying passing attention to the Today programme when Mr. Verheugen shattered the tranquillity of dawn.

He intended, I think, to be helpful. He was announcing the fact that our pints of beer would be safe from further meddling from Brussels. What in fact he said, though, was that the European Commission had decided to "put forward a proposal" to allow the UK to keep our Imperial measures.

"Allow"? Forgive me. Whose country is this and where is it run from? (No. Don't even begin to go there!)

While carefully avoiding mention of the future of the pound sterling, Mr. Verheugen and his cronies have apparently decided that ”neither the European Commission nor any faceless Eurocrat has or will ever be responsible for banning the great British pint, the mile and weight measures in pounds and ounces. These imperial measures are part of the very essence of great British traditions that all Europeans know and love".

That, Mr. Verheugen, is just a little late for Greengrocer Steve Thorburn who was prosecuted (persecuted?) under the Weights and Measures Act for selling bananas by the pound and subsequently died, at the tender age of 39, of a heart attack resulting, in large part, from the activities of "faceless Eurocrats".

The fact is that the Faceless Eurocrats and the Commissars to whom we can put names and faces are increasingly unloved and fast running out of friends not only in these Isles but even in Europhile countries to which they have traditionally looked for political support and fat salaries.

That, perhaps, is why the Campaign to get the draft Constitutional Treaty put to a referendum that I and Laura Sandys and Charlie Elphicke and Dan Hannan have promoted in East Kent is receiving quite staggering support.

Politicians are given to hyperbole. "Millions" and "Thousands" are frequently used where the reality often lies in tens. We know that most leaflet campaigns requiring the respondent to use a postage stamp receive scant reply even where the issue is one that reaches out to the concerns of the people.

The Referendum Campaign, Mr. Brown, is different.

Never during my entire time in parliament have I received, within days, literally dozens of returned postcards in support, the majority of them either bearing First Class stamps or hand-delivered to my office. Keep them coming, please. Such is the strength of feeling on this issue that it tells me that the people of this Great nation have had enough of Brussels and all its works.

If the Common Market, as very distinct from the European Federation towards which we are being driven, is to survive at all then Brussels needs to take its tanks off the lawns of sovereign states and recognise the fact that unless they "change" (to use a politically popular theme) then the Ode to Joy is likely to be played at the funeral of the EU. In the meantime I have lovingly preserved the chain-measure that belonged to my Father and is, I understand, once again to be legal.

Good thing too. How else would we measure cricket pitches!

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