Dear Mr Jones,
Having read your featured articles in conjunction with the two letters from Geoff Spinks and the recent letter from Malcolm Neill, together with your own observations below each of those emails, I am bound to say that I consider that you have displayed the patience of Jove when addressing these two individuals personally, especially where firstly, each of the 2 letters from Geoffrey Spinks displayed an almost total lack of knowledge as to (a) the functioning of the EU and (b) the role of the European Court of Human Rights (EHIC), and in consequence the role of the Court of Justice for the European Union (CJEU), formerly known by the short title of the ECJ
One of Mr. Spinks’ reasons for being in the ‘leave’ camp is where he refers to the difficulty Theresa May had, as the Home Secretary, when attempting to deport that vile radical Moslem preacher. Whilst this was as a direct result of a decision by the ECHR, when acknowledging this fact Mr. Spinks nevertheless fell into the same trap as so many others, by quite wrongly linking that court with our membership of the EU.
In reality, it is a completely separate institution and was set up as the guardian of the Convention of Human Rights (formerly known as ‘the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms). Indeed, the only things these courts have in common, apart from the reasons which gave rise to them, is where they share the same flag and each have adopted the European anthem, ‘Ode to joy’ and also where the EU has adopted many of the protocols of the former, but that is where the connection ends.
Further, as a matter of interest to all your readers, the Convention came into being for signatures in 1950 and there are now 47 Member States. Also its first protocols were drafted by English lawyers and this Court (ECHR) is overseen by the Council of Europe, with representatives from each of the 47 Member States and from where its judges are also appointed. I won’t go into the finer points of its mechanism.
This Council should not be confused with the Council of the EU, as it is by Mr. Spinks et al, which is represented by each of the 27/8 Member States with the guardianship in the hands of the Court of Justice for the European Union (CJEU).
The late Winston Churchill is accredited with founding both these institutions, which arose from the ashes of WWII, the Convention being a direct result of the many atrocities committed both before and during that conflict, while the EU, on the other hand, was a more gradual development mainly for the initial purpose of ensuring Europe remained at peace.
The first development was in 1947, but Winston Churchill had already written to his War Cabinet as early as 1942, setting out his own wishes thus: “Hard as it is now to say, I trust that the European family may act unitedly as one under a Council of Europe. I look forward to a United States of Europe.”
As you will be well aware, Winston Churchill was ousted in 1945 but that did not stop him from championing each of these institutions; although from 1947 their paths divided when developing separately, with the EU developing from the European movement. However, it was not until March 1957 when two treaties were signed in Rome. The plotted history which eventually led to the EU is too lengthy for me to go into now.
Sadly, even many MPs fail to draw the distinction between these two separate institutions, although I mostly suspect deliberately when supporting the Brexit camp. Further, with regard to the case in question, this concerned a person’s right to respect for private and family life (Article 8). Indeed, when alluding to that case Theresa May declared in the House that extradition could not be effected ‘even when the individual has a cat’. This of course was absolute nonsense and a most deliberate lie at a time when certain members of the House were seeking to withdraw from the Convention.
This confusion in the mind of Mr Spinks occupied the first four paragraphs of his initial letter before he then he spouted forth further rubbish about the Eurovision song contest, when attempting to support his argument for Brexit, before entering the topic of the reported current estimate of the weekly cost to the UK (£500 million) in the context of Brexit and the negotiations, which he also contests.
I will not deal with all he wrote during his two exchanges, but Mr Spink refers to there being a big world out there. I should like to tell him that, ‘Yes, there is a big world out there, but it is an ever shrinking world and no longer the same world as he would choose to believe’.
Mr. Spinks also chooses to rely upon Michael Gove’s statement about his father being forced out of business in the fishing industry, as a result of the UK’s membership of the EU. Here Mr. Spinks also revealed where he was completely out of touch with events, because Mr Gove was later forced to retract that statement after his father declared that he had merely chosen to go into retirement.
Facts are the air of science and as wonderful as the wings of a bird may be, it could not fly without the air of science.
He also wrongly refers to the EU seeking to have an army and a police force, because with regard to the former, I should not need to tell him that NATO is falling apart and the fact that Donald Trump, in the light of growing concerns about another world war, has already declared that the main concern of America is now centred upon its defence of the Pacific and the Europe will have to defend itself
I also noted where Malcolm Neill, whilst attempting to get on the Brexit bandwagon, also referred to your lack of respect, whereas the lack of respect came from him. Also where he foolishly refers to their having been a democratic vote, whereas, in truth, many of those most affected were barred from having their say, even though it was granted to Gibraltarians, Irish nationals living in the UK etc. – not to mention the red bus and all those lies and other dishonesty employed by the main Brexit antagonists.
On the other side of this debate the ‘Remainers’ were accused of ‘Project Fear’. I would add that neither side properly informed the people of the consequences of the referendum in the run-up debates. Well, ‘Project Fear’ is now, fast, becoming a reality, as are the consequences of the result of the referendum.
With regard to Mr. Spinks’s observation about a European police force, I should tell him that one already exists. It is known as Europol with a staff of 600 based in The Hague. Its purpose is manifold, including the fight against terrorism, cross-border serious crime, drug trafficking, slave trade, cyber warfare etc. It is there to protect citizens by liaising with the law enforcement agencies of the Member States. In the world in which we now live Europol is an essential agency within the EU.
Aged 82, I am more aware than most of the reasons for the Convention on Human Rights and the eventual creation of the EU, as both arose from the ashes of the fire like a Phoenix following those dark days of our history when I slept underground in London. One has to experience such things as bombs raining down in order to really grasp the need for Europe to act together.
Even though I would be amongst the first to say that the EU has lost direction and needs to be put back onto a democratic path, this can only be achieved by working on the inside and not throwing the baby out with the bath water.
Further, one also needs to visit a death camp, such as the first camp at Dachau in order to grasp the real reasons for acting as one. I have visited that place, although I refused my wife’s request to take her there during our last visit to München (Munich). I had also passed through Bergen-Belsen during the ‘Cold’ War. The notorious death camp was just a wild landscape, having been wiped off the map on the orders of General Eisenhower.
Sadly, the overwhelming majority have very little idea of the meaning of the right of free movement, let alone all the other rights we are shortly to lose, including the very distinct possibility that British citizens will be required to apply for the new European visa (ETIAS). Mr. Spinks pooh poohed the notion in his 2nd letter but he does not realise that border controls throughout Europe are currently being set up in readiness for this new Schengen border control as of June 2021.
This is the EU’s link to the new visa requirements www.etiasvisa.com/etias-requirements and the Commission have already announced that, in all probability, it will affect British nationals, unless there is an agreement to avoid it.
Rights which citizens have acquired in the civilised world should be cherished and not surrendered, as Mr Spinks and likeminded people would willingly choose to do.
David R. Burrage