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The Ratchet: The Ratchet:
A Cool Look At The European Union
by John Rennie Stewardson. £6.99
Paperback, 144pp
This stimulating book is for those with inquiring minds who are looking for a jargon-free perspective on the complexities of the EU venture.
[eurofacts (Vol 6 No 11) – 16th March 2001]

Mr. Rennie Stewardson has packed a lot into this short book. It is an account, written in clear, simple and fluent English, of how the British came to find themselves in the EU, and what they should do about it.

Rennie Stewardson writes with the authority of someone who has seen Brussels and Whitehall from the inside – not as a politician or civil servant, most of whom have axes to grind, but as a very senior corporate lawyer with big British multinationals involved in lobbying. He (like this reviewer, as it happens) was an agnostic on the EU until he actually came up against it and realised the enormity of what was going on. Since then, he has put a huge amount of effort into comprehending the beast, and making it comprehensible to others.

For those unfamiliar with the details of the EU institutions – the Council, the Commission, the Court of Justice and so on – the key chapters will be “The Anatomy of the Monster” and “EU Institutions”. Together, they are a lucid short jargon-free primer on what, in effect, is now the government of this country.

Other chapters discuss the philosophy still driving the creation of the mega-state, its impact on the internal affairs of the UK and the inexorable process – the “ratchet” – by which Brussels seizes ever more power. The latest click of this ratchet, Nice, plunges the EU knife deep into the heart of national sovereignty: defence (which Rennie Stewardson, having served in the Battle of the Atlantic, knows something about) and foreign policy.

Rennie Stewardson carefully explores the alternatives to EU membership and the pros and cons of the UK’s staying in. He lists 27 advantages that the UK has as a major global power and 19 gains and freedoms that she would achieve on leaving the EU. His conclusions and recommendations are as inescapable as they are unsurprising. We should get out – now.

the june press