The EU's democratic deficit

We recently learned who is being nominated for the role of President of the European Commission for the next five years.

After failing to reach agreement around their dinner table, EU chiefs have now confirmed their nomination of Ursula von der Leyen, currently the German Defence Minister, to take on the role.

Ms von der Leyen has previously spoken that her “goal is the United States of Europe – based on the model of the federal states of Switzerland, Germany or the US”.

Such federalism, of course, was not on our EU referendum ballot papers three years ago. Remaining in the EU is not the status quo but the extension of a common currency, an EU-wide tax, single military force and much more ‘ever closer union’.

The late Tony Benn once posed five questions to anyone holding power: “what power do you have; where did you get it; in whose interests do you exercise it; to whom are you accountable; and, how can we get rid of you?”

The detachment of UK citizens – indeed, the people of 28 EU countries – from the answers to these questions continues.

On completion of Brexit we also have an opportunity to see democratic renewal in our country.

I have previously spoken in Parliament about how one of our country’s greatest strengths is our ability, over the centuries, to evolve our political systems.

Just one example would be to replace the House of Lords with a fully elected chamber. It would be no bad thing for a revising second chamber to reflect the broad proportional position in this country.

I also believe that some of the separate parts of our constitution should be collated together; and I would like to see further powers devolved locally in England, to ensure that more and more decisions can be taken by those elected at a local level.

Henry Smith MP