John Bercow certainly knows how to hog the limelight. The man who drones on and on, lecturing MPs about brevity, was at his grandstanding best in the House of Commons on Monday. But for once, I agree with him. It is wrong for the Government to keep asking MPs the same question in the hope that enough of them will cave in under pressure. Just because the EU deploys the same tactic to deal with recalcitrant voters who have the audacity to vote “the wrong way”, it doesn’t mean that the Prime Minister should be allowed to get away with it.

Thankfully, Bercow’s intervention has spared us all another meaningful vote this week, and although I am sure it was not the Speaker’s intention to help Brexiteers in Parliament in any way, it might just work in our favour.

I have to say that I am disappointed with some of my fellow Brexiteers – many of them personal friends – who have decided to back Theresa May’s deal at this stage in the negotiations. They have their reasons, and I don’t doubt their commitment to the cause. No-one can say that Philip Davies is anything but a committed Brexiteer, and if anyone starts questioning that commitment, I will defend him. No, the reason why I am disappointed is because I feel that their tactics are wrong.

Theresa May has written her letter and is today going cap in hand to Brussels asking for an extension to Article 50 at the European Council meeting. Britain is in crisis, so she says – said as if she is an innocent bystander, not a protagonist of a deal that has been overwhelmingly rejected by MPs and is deeply unpopular with the majority of UK voters.

If she has any sense, she will say that the Speaker of the House of Commons has tied her hands; that she doesn’t stand a chance of getting the current deal through Parliament because he won’t allow her to. “If you want us to leave more or less on time (after a short technical extension), you had better give me something meaningful, otherwise there won’t be another meaningful vote”, she should say. She could use it as negotiating leverage.

The EU doesn’t want a no-deal Brexit which – despite how MPs voted last week – is still the legal default position in just eight days’ time. It doesn’t want a long extension to Article 50 either. It has offered us a truly awful deal that it wants MPs to approve. The EU has to contend with elections this year which are bound to increase the number of eurosceptic populist MEPs. It doesn’t want more of them from the UK. A new Commission has to bed in and doesn’t want to have to continue Withdrawal Agreement negotiations with the UK. It is far better to give some more concessions that will command majority support in the House of Commons (knowing that it still has by far the best part of the deal) than to allow negotiations to keep dragging on.

So please, Brexiteers in Parliament, stay true and be brave. I know that you are facing pressure left, right and centre. The whips are on your back; retired politicians are busy writing op-eds telling you to cave in; newspaper editorials are urging the same; and one of your number, Andrew Percy, the co-chairman of the misnomer that is the Brexit Delivery Group, has accused you of idiocy for holding out. Don’t listen to them. You know that this deal is awful. You know that it is the worst kind of Brexit in name only. Like me, you are probably resigned to not getting the Brexit that you want. You know that you will have to compromise, but you shouldn’t compromise until the second you have to.

MPs will vote again on Theresa May’s deal next week after the EU has made some tweaks, despite what Bercow said on Monday. The Government will get around it with another one or two pieces of paper from the EU. If it is still a bad deal, they should vote it down. Watch the EU stop the clock on 29th March if it has to, and watch them make more concessions. Please remember that the EU has invested an enormous amount of time and effort into these negotiations, too. Theresa May doesn’t want to throw away more than two years of work, but neither does Michel Barnier.

It has to be made clear that the implementation period must be time limited and there must be alternative arrangements to the Irish backstop for the deal to go through. It still won’t be my kind of Brexit, and it still may be a poor deal, but it will be much better than it is now. Importantly, we won’t be trapped.

Now is not the time to give in. There may be just eight days to go, but these negotiations are far from over. Now is the time to fight harder than ever before.

The post Now is the moment for Brexiteers in Parliament to stay true and be brave appeared first on BrexitCentral.

My first visit to the European Parliament in Brussels last week certainly brought out the politics nerd in me, even though it didn’t change my mind on Brexit.

I have always considered myself a “pragmatic Brexiteer” and never harboured any ill will towards the Parliament itself, or MEPs who genuinely seek to make a difference in Europe and the wider world: from pushing for higher animal welfare standards to reducing inequality and supporting humanitarian aid projects, there are some positives. Sitting in on a fish welfare meeting shortly after my arrival showed me just how wide-ranging the issues covered there are, and the commitment of those involved to change things for the better was obvious.

But for all the good things I witnessed during my visit, they didn’t outweigh the deep-rooted problems running through the EU. Seeing first-hand the trunks sat outside MEPs’ offices that they use to transport their work between Brussels and Strasbourg was a visual reminder of the needless extravagance of the EU – the cost of operating two sites, chauffeurs for the MEPs, their vast expenses budgets and even ensuite toilets in the MEPs’ offices… The list goes on.

All of this is being paid for by the hard-working taxpayers of every Member State. Maybe not everyone will be particularly bothered or shocked by these things and perhaps they might even write them off as perks to attract talent; but they do hark to a bigger problem with the EU – and that is the way it, or should I say those at the top, perceive themselves and their project in comparison to the rest of the world.

The EU believes it is a superior power and should be respected as such. You only have to look at the way Michel Barnier, Jean-Claude Juncker and Co. have treated the UK for confirmation of this: dare to disagree with their vision of a United Federation of Europe, and they react like bullies who couldn’t get your lunch money.

Walking through the buildings, it reminded me of when I’ve attended the Conservative Party Conference – the press area buzzing with live TV interviews throughout the day and people catching up over coffee or rushing to their next event or meeting. Once inside, I was able to wander around, attend events, sit in on the voting, or visit the MEPs’ offices – which is probably the closest you’ll get to transparency in the European Union.

Chatting to an APA (Accredited Parliamentary Assistant), we of course came onto the subject of Brexit. He wished the UK wasn’t leaving, however he agreed that the EU hadn’t helped the situation back when David Cameron was seeking reforms to the UK’s membership by offering him so little. The EU called the UK’s bluff and the British people responded accordingly, using the power of democracy – a concept seemingly lost on the European Commission.

Towards the end of my trip, I explored the ‘Parlamentarium’, which is a museum a stone’s throw from the Parliament that takes visitors on a tour through the EU’s history, detailing its structure, a timeline of when each member state joined and the key objectives of the EU. It’s an interesting journey through EU propaganda that ends with a lovely gift shop filled with EU flags, mugs, badges, umbrellas, bags… Anything an EU fanatic or a Remoaner’s heart could desire!

At one point during my tour, I couldn’t spot the exit and suddenly felt a sense of panic of being trapped in the EU’s propaganda machine forever, just like the UK could be trapped in a never-ending customs union – an experience I never wish to repeat.

Even as I sat on the Eurostar on my way back to London, I noticed a passenger sat across the aisle from me whose laptop had an ‘I’m In’ sticker on it from the Stronger In referendum campaign – another reminder that three years on, those who support the EU project just can’t let go. Which is why it is more important than ever that we don’t let them forget the 17.4 million people who voted to leave it.

I thoroughly enjoyed my trip; the people I met there both in the Parliament and in Brussels itself were friendly and welcoming and the (subsidised) food was amazing.

But getting a taste of the EU first-hand not only reaffirmed my Brexiteer stance; it also made me wonder how things might have been had reform been possible. If you ever get the chance to visit and see it for yourself, I would highly recommend it.

The post How a visit to the European Parliament reaffirmed my support for leaving the EU appeared first on BrexitCentral.

In November 2013, Robert Oulds of the Bruges Group invited me to speak at a conference in London. He asked me because I had been for some years accredited as a journalist to the EU institutions in Brussels, writing in particular the Brussels Blog for the Mail Online.

More, being Irish, I had particular experience in the matter of EU referendums. Ireland had just finished some years which became known as “the never-endums.” I’d been in the middle of it all. I had some warnings for Britain. And Britain should have listened.

What is going on now, in the Commons and at the European Commission, is a movie I’ve sat through before, twice. I know how it ends.

The never-endums in Ireland began in June 2001, when the Irish voters rejected the Nice Treaty – that’s the treaty which readied the EU for new member states from Eastern Europe. Ireland’s Constitution required a vote. The Irish voters recognised that the treaty marginalised the power of smaller states. They voted No.

The shock was fierce in Brussels, and Irish politicians, to their shame, went to the European Council to make apologies for their own people. The Irish were forced to vote again. The firepower and Project Fear of the political parties, and some gestures and garnishes from the EU, made sure this time the people gave the right answer.

Then, in June 2008, there was another referendum, this one on the Lisbon Treaty. The Irish were the only people in the EU to be allowed a vote, and they voted No by 53.4% to 46.6%. That was a larger margin than Leave won in the British 2016 referendum.

Brian Cowen was then the Irish Prime Minister. I had to watch him at the European Council, shivering like a whipped spaniel, promising he would reverse the vote if only the EU would give him something, anything, he could take home and present as a concession.

The EU finally promised to tack on a few paragraphs to a future accession treaty with Croatia that only repeated what was already in the European treaties – that Ireland could be neutral, that abortion was Ireland’s business and that powers of direct taxation remained with member states.

None of that had anything to do with what was in the Lisbon Treaty. But it was enough. In October 2009, in a second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, held as the terrifying Irish property and bank crash was underway, the Irish voted Yes. The vote allowed the treaty to come into force across the EU.

My patriotism has never fully recovered from the humiliation.

And now I am out of the Press Corps and working as Head of Communications for Steven Woolfe, an independent Brexiteer member of the European Parliament. My life is soaked in all the Brexit manoeuvrings of May and the rest. I’m back at the movies. Spoiler alert.

In that speech I delivered in 2013, I gave details of how the Irish voters were betrayed by their own government. I had hoped that, since there were a handful of Tory political heavies in the audience, the warning might get through.

It didn’t. But to the Conservatives in particular I know, I say: don’t say you weren’t warned.

What follows is an edited version of that speech from 2013.

I have spent the past several years in Brussels, covering the EU institutions. I’m back in Britain now, which is where I ought to be, since this fight on the future of the EU is shifting to Britain. I understand most of you believe that, if you get an In/Out referendum, and the Out vote wins, then – hurrah! – free at last. You’ve won.

Don’t kid yourselves. This is where I stop speaking as someone from Brussels and start speaking as someone from Ireland. You need to remember that in the EU, a Yes vote is forever. A No vote is only ever temporary. Trust me on this one, I’m Irish. I know. The EU has forced the Irish through this more than once. Therefore, it is naïve for any of you to think that, if you get a vote in a referendum to leave the EU, then that is the battle won. It is not. It is just the end of the phony war.

What I am here to tell you today is that what was done to the Irish after they voted No to the Lisbon Treaty in 2008 will be done to the British if they vote No to the EU in 2016. I’m going to give you details of how the Irish government and the EU elite worked together to overturn the democratic Irish rejection of the Lisbon Treaty. What they did to the Irish, a Conservative government and the EU elite will do to the British.

Here is what to expect. If you want to get your country out of the EU, you’d better come up with a strategy to overcome this. First, of course, to overturn a referendum result, there must be in place a national government willing to collaborate with the EU elite. I have seen no sign in Brussels that the elite are in any way worried over Cameron’s talk of a referendum. The EU elite know that Cameron is one of them. He is a collaborator. Ireland had the same sort of EU collaborator in the former Prime Minister Brian Cowen, who was leader of the Irish government at the time of the Lisbon Treaty referendum.

I hope you will see from what I am about to tell you that for the sake of your country, you must work to make sure the Tories, if they are still led by Cameron, do not win the next election. A referendum under a Cameron majority government would be worse than no referendum at all. Here is why.

Imagine the Out side, your side, wins the referendum. Imagine what happens after the result is announced. Cameron will face the banks of cameras outside Number 10 and say that the people have spoken and now his government will respect them, will listen to them, will ‘understand’ the referendum result. A day later Cameron will face the journalists again and adjust his phrasing slightly. He will say that his government must learn what the British really meant by their Out vote. Not that his government must obey the vote, no, must understand the vote.

A few weeks ago, I was in the European Parliament and asked Nigel Farage about this danger. He is aware of it. He said that “what we need is a big No. To win, they need only a small Yes, we need a big No. Otherwise the government might choose to interpret the vote.” I think Farage is being too trusting if he imagines a government attempt to interpret the vote will only occur if the Out majority is narrow. I forecast it will happen no matter how large the margin. The Irish rejected the Lisbon Treaty by a vote of 53.4% against, 46.6% in favour. The EU still told their collaborators in the Irish government it had to be overturned.

So, I’d say that even if your Out vote achieves a margin such as that, I’d forecast your Prime Minister, following the pattern the EU set for the Irish, will announce he must consider what the vote ‘really means.’ And you can stand outside Downing Street all you want and scream ‘What it means is that we want out of the EU!’ but a Cameron government will only say that they understand that this is ‘an emotional issue’ for you.

Meanwhile a statement will come from the President of the European Commission saying the Commission respects the democratic decision of the British people. And meanwhile the UK Permanent Representative, whoever he is in 2016, will be around at the Commission to explain just how the Foreign Office will get the colleagues – because in Brussels they are all colleagues – out of this one.

Then after careful consideration – what one Irish politician called “mature reflection” – Cameron will say he now understands what you, the British people, were saying by voting Out: he will say you are angry that the EU has not been reformed. He will say that the Out vote was really a protest vote, because – and here comes the cliché – referendum votes are rarely about the question on the ballot paper.

If you were Irish, you would know the rest. The Cameron government will commission an opinion poll to find out what the British people ‘really ’meant by their vote. Yes, the government will use taxpayers’ money to pay a polling company to find out what the taxpayers meant when they voted to get Out of the EU. Which is itself outrageous. But the Irish government did exactly that. The Government in effect said to their own electorate: ‘You are far too stupid or reckless to be trusted with a ballot paper.’ Which is of course the attitude of the EU elite to voters, why they are squeezing democracy out of every part of the EU. But that is another issue. 

The Irish government commissioned a poll after the Irish voters rejected the Lisbon Treaty. The Cowen Government said they wanted to find out the “real reason” the Irish people voted No to Lisbon. It was all of course just a way to find an excuse to run the referendum again.

While this fraud, this collaboration between quislings in Dublin and the EU elite continued, the people, the voters, stood by powerless. As will you. The British people can expect the same kind of fraud if they succeed in voting to leave the EU. They will be patronised, and frightened, by government insistence that they did not know what they were doing.

They – you – will be told in effect that the British voters are too dense, too uneducated about the EU, too much under the influence of what the EU denounces as ‘dangerous nationalism’ to understand the implications of their own vote. Cameron will announce he understands your Out vote, understand what it really means.

The EU institutions will make assurances about this being a matter for the British alone, but will also make statements meant to frighten the British people about the danger of leaving the EU. Then the Cameron Government will identify – by way of a taxpayer-funded opinion poll – two or three allegedly key issues as the reasons Britain voted to get out.

Brussels will reply with some statement which Cameron will accept as an assurance that the worries on these two or three issues can be ‘addressed’ by an EU elite he will call ‘our European partners.’ ‘Addressed’, of course, is a word of no particular meaning.

But you will not go to the polling booths a second time as the Irish did.

Unlike in Ireland, a referendum here cannot override Parliament. To have a referendum vote ignored, all that is necessary is for Labour opposition, the Lib Dems or what’s left of them, and the euro-loving wing of the Tories to vote with the Cameron to overturn the referendum vote.

And there will be nothing the voters who delivered a majority Out vote will be able to do about it. Which is why it would be better for you to wait until the Conservative Party has a leader who is actually a Conservative, and go for a referendum then. At least then there will be a chance of Out meaning Out.

So that is what I have to say to you, drawing on the Irish experience of how a quisling government and an anti-democratic EU elite can overturn a referendum result.

What you can do about it – well, that is up to you. You can either be disgraced as a nation, or you can fight. Good luck.

The post How an Irish observer warned in 2013 how the pro-EU elite would seek to block Brexit appeared first on BrexitCentral.

Liberal Brexiteers? Yes, we do exist!

While the Lib Dem leadership may be fanatical supporters of the EU, they do not speak for all Liberals. According to YouGov, 32% of Lib Dem supporters voted for Brexit; then there was the “Liberal Leave” campaign run by Lib Dems, and the pro-Brexit Liberal Party; finally there are individual liberal Brexiteer campaigns of which www.liberalbrexiteers.com is one.

Any Liberal should be concerned by the European Union as currently constituted; the customs union that is Fortress Europe frustrates free trade, the EU is a politicians’ rather than a people’s project, its political structures are not human in scale and it doesn’t make sense to wire all the key functions of the government of every member state into one massive European fusebox. Above all, the EU fails to make the crucial distinction between unity and uniformity, hence the Brussels obsession with “one size fits all”.

Finally, the EU may have a parliament but it is not a democracy; while it is possible in a British election to vote out a government and replace it with an alternative, the hybrid governance of the European Parliament, Commission and Council does not allow for this. It’s all labyrinthine, unresponsive and remote. Democracy loses traction under such circumstances, as few can name their MEPs and declining turnouts (43% in 2014) evidence increasing voter disenchantment with the European project.

In short, the EU fails to measure up to any liberal yardstick. If, God forbid, we are saddled with another neverendum, the liberal credo of individualism, localism and community should easily outgun the distant corporate globalism of the EU, provided other Brexiteers give it campaign space.

Meanwhile, the ultimate EU objective remains the creation of a federated Union of European states, with one economy, one currency, one army, one law and one president. But is a United States of Europe still relevant or desirable? Thanks to the internet and the Jumbo Jet, the world is a much smaller place than it was in 1950. A union of countries having nothing much in common apart from their borders might have had something going for it in the 19th Century but does European exclusivity and identity still make sense? Why a union with Germany but not Japan, with Austria but not Australia?

My website liberalbrexiteers.com attempts to address these issues and tries forecasting what the global situation will be in 2050. Our world is changing at bewildering speed, as millions of people in a host of developing nations demand a standard of living that we have taken for granted for decades. If we are to survive, let alone prosper, in this challenging environment of shrinking resources, burgeoning populations and highly competitive markets, we need to reach out and make common cause with those nations – European or not – who think as we do. In this context, the EU will be an international irrelevance, thanks to a declining GDP, shrinking market share and a reducing EU population which currently represents only 7% of the world total and will be a mere 5% by 2050.

Certainly, Brexit has stress tested the main parties to their limits and all will emerge damaged by this process. British Liberalism has not escaped, thanks to those who describe themselves as Liberals and Democrats, but nevertheless resolved to “resist” the result of a public ballot and to denigrate those who voted Leave as uneducated oiks who didn’t understand the issues. In particular, the 65+ age group has been singled out by Lib Dems because they voted by nearly 2 to 1 to Leave the EU and stand accused of “shafting the young” who voted by over 2 to 1 to Remain. Leaving aside that these oldies were the very same voters who as youngsters had voted by nearly 2 to 1 to remain part of the European project in 1975 and that maybe the political class should ask why they changed their minds, the intolerant stance of the Lib Dem leadership post-2016 has been a disgrace to the British liberal tradition.

Moreover, their demands for another neverendum are wrong-headed. The last referendum cost £137 million, lasted four months and was highly divisive. A second referendum and/or a third general election in the space of four years would achieve nothing other than accentuate these divisions.

The will of the people may seem dubious at times (indeed, we Liberals reckon the electorate has been making ghastly mistakes since 1906!) but the democratic process is logical. Another referendum would subvert the democratic rule that we vote in the light of our experience, on the understanding that we may vote differently in a following ballot if things do not work out. We have to experience Brexit first before we can make a judgement. We can always decide to renew our membership of the EU in the future if our experience of Brexit indicates that our leaving was a mistake, but the proof of the Brexit pudding is in the eating, not in endless speculation about how palatable it will be.

So we don’t need another ballot; we just need Parliament to do what we told them to do after they decided to ask us what we wanted. Lib Dem, Labour, Conservative and other MPs – including Tim Farron, David Lammy, Dominic Grieve and Caroline Lucas – started this hare running in 2015 when they united to vote for a referendum. They must now unite to deliver the clean-break Brexit that we voted for, as described in the Government’s referendum pamphlet as the undesirable alternative to remaining in the EU.

The post I’m a Brexit-backing Liberal who rejects the remote politicians’ project that is the EU appeared first on BrexitCentral.

It is now well known that, if resurrected, the Prime Minister’s Withdrawal Agreement would keep the UK under EU rules and regulations, but without representation in the system that makes them, through a potentially immovable backstop.

What is less understood is that, even since the referendum in 2016, this EU system has moved on. As the recent European Foundation paper Behind Closed Doors shows, EU decision-making, never democratic by any standards, has in the last decade become even less accountable and transparent. A system that has always concentrated power in the hands of small “law-making groups” – the Commission and Council in particular – has become even less democratic, making the rationale behind its laws more opaque yet.

To grasp how the EU has functioned until recently though, it is worth briefly outlining what its structure was intended to be, through comparison with the UK Parliament.

In the UK, Parliament is the law-making body. In the Commons, all members are elected; the other house, though not directly elected, acts in an advisory capacity, and cannot veto laws. All proceedings are televised, every word transcribed. The Government is drawn from Parliament, with its ministers answerable to it, and they must appear before it frequently. This Government can be removed at set intervals, along with every other member of the Commons.

The EU, meanwhile, is a system of law-making groups, the most important being the Commission – a small, unelected gathering, where note-taking is banned and whose chamber none may enter without the Commissioners’ permission. Only the Commission may propose laws. These progress to the Council, which passes legislation through a qualified majority vote (QMV), following the abolition of the national veto. The Council is attended by Coreper (the Committee of Permanent Representatives, i.e. Member States’ ambassadors), which tries to reach agreement on Commission proposals before they get to the Council. How Coreper reaches agreement is also hidden, but 70-90% of decisions are now made this way, then adopted by the Council without further discussion. The European Parliament meanwhile cannot propose law, often is not consulted, and typically can be ignored.

While the Commission has always been an obstacle to transparent decision-making, after it initiates proposals the Parliament and Council are supposed to be able to amend and occasionally block them. Our research suggests that, as the Commission takes greater control of the EU system, even this little capacity is being seriously undermined.

At the heart of this is the growing use of “Trilogues”, small and little-known negotiating groups that operate on behalf of the Commission and Coreper. Designed to be subject to even less oversight, they are “a legislative body in [their] own right” and “possibly the most powerful, [governing] the overwhelming majority of legislative procedures”.

These Trilogues include a small number of Commission representatives, MEPs, and civil servants. They aim to secure legislative agreement before any transparent process occurs, giving the Commission even greater control while preventing the public knowing why laws are being made. Once Trilogues agree a text, neither the Parliament nor Council are able to change it, so with national scrutiny rendered “difficult, if not impossible”, Member States’ ministers now have little involvement.

Moreover, in both the European Parliament and the Council, the UK is now the country most often on the losing side, with Germany and an entrenched bloc of its Eurozone voting allies the most frequent winner. Even before it loses all representation in the EU institutions, the UK is already consistently outvoted on issues of profound national interest, like financial regulation, and has been unable to achieve any meaningful reform to this system.

These developments are disturbing indeed, as the continent that gave the world democracy and equality before the law is increasingly governed away from public view. Remaining under this system’s rules – either without representation, as the Withdrawal Agreement proposes, or via a second referendum – would severely undermine our democracy.

The post Behind Closed Doors – the EU has abolished the little democratic oversight it had appeared first on BrexitCentral.

My biggest beef with the European Union has always been the way it stifles consumer-friendly innovation in the interests of incumbent businesses and organisations. Today’s victory for Sir James Dyson at the European General Court lays bare an especially shocking example.

Dyson’s case, which has taken five years in the courts, reveals just how corrupt and crony-capitalist the European Union has become. It is no surprise that Sir James was and is a big supporter of Britain leaving the EU. Essentially, the rules have been bent to allow German manufacturers to deceive customers about the performance of their vacuum cleaners, in a manner uncannily similar to – but even worse than — the way mostly German car manufacturers deceived customers about the emissions from diesel vehicles.

In today’s decision – a very rare case in which the EU courts have had to back down — the EU’s General Court said it would uphold Dyson’s claim and that “tests of a vacuum cleaner’s energy efficiency carried out with an empty receptacle do not reflect conditions as close as possible to actual conditions of use”. Yes, you read that right: until now, in Europe only, vacuum cleaners were tested without dust, the better to suit German manufacturers.

The case concerns labels on vacuum cleaners stating how much energy they use. The Energy Label for corded vacuum cleaners is mandated by the EU’s Ecodesign and Energy Labelling regulations. The purpose is to encourage energy efficiency in such products and the job of the Energy Label is to make sure that consumers get clear information about product performance. Dyson was the first manufacturer to support limits on the power consumption of motors in vacuums. Why wouldn’t it be: its Cyclone product is very efficient?

The Energy Label was introduced throughout the EU in September 2014 and updated in September 2017. It covers overall energy rating, rated A to G, with A being best and G being worst; annual energy usage: in kWh; the amount of dust in air emitted from the machine’s exhaust (A to G); the noise level in decibels; how much dust the machine picks up from carpets (A to G); and how much dust the machine picks up from hard floors and crevices (A to G).

All very reasonable, until you find that the European Commission stipulated that under these regulations, vacuum cleaners are tested empty and with no dust. This flies in the face of the methods developed by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), an international standards organization, which have been adopted by consumer test bodies and manufacturers worldwide. It is out of line with the way other appliances, such as washing machines, ovens and dishwashers are tested “loaded”, not empty.

Why would the EC have made this strange decision? Because the big German manufacturers make vacuum cleaners with bags. Sir James Dyson invented ones without bags. And the bag ones gradually become clogged with dust so they have to use more power or lose suction. The decision to test them empty plainly benefits the bag-cleaners. Behind the scenes the German manufacturers lobbied for this outcome.

The result of this is that you can buy a bag cleaner with an A rating, take it home and find that most of the time it performs like a G-rated cleaner.

So in 2013 Dyson challenged the labelling rules in the EU General Court, arguing that, to reflect real-life experience, the performance of a vacuum cleaner should be tested in real-world conditions, and that might actually include – God forbid – encountering dust. In November 2015, the EU General Court dismissed Dyson’s claims saying that dust-loaded testing is not reliable or “reproducible” and therefore could not be adopted, despite the fact that the international standard does use dust. Nonsense: in its labs and in houses, Dyson tests its own machines using real dust, fluff grit and debris including dog biscuits and Cheerio cereals – of both the European and the American kind.

Dyson appealed to the European Court of Justice in January 2016 and on 11 May 2017 it won. The court said that to reach the conclusion it had, the General Court “distorted the facts”, “ignored their own law”, “had ignored Dyson’s evidence” and had “failed to comply with its duty to give reasons”. The ECJ said that the test must adopt, where technically possible, “a method of calculation which makes it possible to measure the energy performance of vacuum cleaners in conditions as close as possible to actual conditions of use”. The case was passed back to the General Court, which was given time to reconsider its verdict at leisure. Today, after eighteen months of cogitation (what do judges do all day?), and with nowhere to go, the court capitulated.

Dyson has this to say about the case: “the EU label flagrantly discriminated against a specific technology – Dyson’s patented cyclone. This benefited traditional, predominantly German, manufacturers who lobbied senior Commission officials. Some manufacturers have actively exploited the regulation by using low motor power when in the test state, but then using technology to increase motor power automatically when the machine fills with dust – thus appearing more efficient. This defeat software allows them to circumvent the spirit of the regulation, which the European Court considers to be acceptable because it complies with the letter of the law.”

How much more shocking does the crony-capitalist corruption at the heart of Brussels have to get before people rebel against this sort of thing? They did already? Ah yes, Brexit, true Brexit, cannot come soon enough.

The post Dyson’s five-year legal battle reveals the crony capitalist corruption at the heart of the EU appeared first on BrexitCentral.




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