THE EU HAS begun its legal action against the UK to attempt to force it to either appoint a new UK EU Commissioner, or else face paying millions of pounds in fines after the UK missed the November 11 date to appoint a Commissioner.
The Commission has now begun a course that will see the UK being sued in the European Court of Justice and face the prospect of huge daily fines, that could amount to make its £39 billion leaving payment look like small change – unless it complies with the EU’s instruction to bend the knee yet again to Brussels and appoint a Commissioner.
At the same time, Donald Tusk, the European Council President, has let it be known that he considers Brexit to be the ‘real end of the British Empire’ and urged UK Remainers ‘Don’t give up. In this match we are already in extra time. Perhaps it will even go to penalties.’
Of course, the British Empire ended a long time ago. It was wound up by the Tory MacMillan government in the 1960s. It certainly won’t be missed by British workers or the millions that it once oppressed and super-exploited.
Tusk continued to urge Remainers to battle on to try to maintain the remnants of the empire urging them ‘Don’t give up.’
In fact, Prime Minister Johnson told the House of Commons in June that he ‘would not under any circumstances’ appoint a new commissioner to serve the new EU Executive, as he repeated his vow to ‘unshackle’ the UK from the Brussels dictatorship.
However, Johnson’s ability to use brave words and then publicly discard them is now well known. It is his trade mark!
He is the leader that told the British people that ‘He would rather die in a ditch’ than write a letter to Brussels requesting the leaving date be changed from October 31 to January 31.
He not only sent a letter, he gave evidence in the UK law courts that he would comply with the request and would not break the law.
The contrast between the posture and the reality revealed his political feet of clay, and also the feet of clay of British capitalism.
In fact, Britain’s ambassador to the EU has already written to the EU Commission that the UK would not nominate a commissioner during the general election campaign.
What will be done after the election? If he wins the election, Johnson will no doubt eat his words and send a commissioner, as he moves on to continue the Brexit trade negotiations.
Meanwhile, Brussels’ position is that an EU state cannot use domestic law to avoid carrying out their obligations to the EU concerning appointing a commissioner.
Britain now has a deadline of November 22 to make the necessary appointment. Incoming Commission President Ursula von der Leyen – who is replacing Jean-Claude Juncker – has asked the UK to nominate a commissioner, arguing it is obliged to do so under EU treaties. The letter to the UK is the first stage in the Commission’s infringement process.
The court can force the country’s authorities to comply, imposing financial penalties – either as a lump sum or as a daily payment as long as the infringement continues. And it can take many years to move through the court.
EU leaders are concerned that a commission which functions without a UK commissioner would set a risky precedent – that other countries could follow, bringing the EU to an end.
Von der Leyen set the 11 November as the ultimate deadline for a British nominee. Now that that deadline has been missed, the European Commission can launch an infringement procedure against the UK.
The working class in the UK has had enough of all of the manoeuvring and counter-manoeuvring that has taken place to avoid a ‘no deal’ breach with the EU.
There is not the slightest doubt that any attempt to fine the UK for not appointing a commissioner, or any shameful capitulation to the EU by the government sending one to Brussels, will be met with widespread political strikes against the government, leading to a general strike to bring it down, to go forward to a workers government and socialism.