‘the time has come to quit this failed experiment. Goodbye EU, hello world…’
Posted by: Greg Lance-Watkins – Greg_L-W.
Why we should leave the EU
By Tony Parsons 06 November 15
Forty years have passed since our last referendum on Europe, but with the ailing continent in economic free fall in the face of global competition, the time has come to quit this failed experiment. Goodbye EU, hello world…
By the end of 2017, the people of this country will be asked a question that nobody has asked them for 42 years: “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union?
Yes or no? The arguments for and against will be exactly the same as they were in 1975. The case for Britain leaving the EU is the case for national independence.
“If you cannot get rid of the people who govern you, you do not live in a democratic system,” said Labour’s Tony Benn, a lifelong opponent of rule from Brussels.
And the argument for staying in the EU is always that Britain is a poor, racist, lonely land if we stay outside.
“We believe, passionately, that Britain is better off in Europe,” declared the Lib Dems’ Nick Clegg, an unapologetic cheerleader for rule from Brussels. “Richer, stronger and safer in an uncertain world.”
The bookies tell us that the “yes” campaign is running away with it. And the “Little Europeans” have a powerful argument. Britain can’t make it alone. Outside the EU, nobody can hear you scream. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
This country swallowed that scaremongering line 40 years ago. Will we swallow it again with 19 million Europeans unemployed, and Greek policemen with their trousers on fire, and Romanian travellers sleeping in Hyde Park?
The arguments for and against EU membership might be exactly the same as they were four decades ago but something has fundamentally changed. The world.
Since the UK joined the European Economic Community in 1973, and had a referendum about our membership in 1975, the global economy has been transformed out of all recognition. First Japan and later China and India have become economic powerhouses. Changes in technology have shrunk the planet. Globalisation means that Europe is no longer the centre of the world.
“The World Trade Organization has brought down tariff rates around the world,” the Spectator noted in a piece called “Ten Myths About Brexit”. “Even if we didn’t sign a free-trade deal with the EU, we would have to pay, at most, £7.5 billion a year in tariffs for access to its markets. That’s well below our current membership fee.”
The EU itself has changed from a confident Common Market to a tired, increasingly fragmented superstate, bickering about debts so huge that they will never be repaid – the Greek debt burden works out to be around £22,000 for every man, woman and child in the country.
How exhausted Europe seems today. How worn out by arguments. There are not 400,000 French people living in London because they like the climate. They have fled one of the great stalwarts of the EU, and now a country in deep economic decline. The European Union looks like a knackered idea from the last century. That wasn’t what the UK – derided as “the sick man of Europe” in the Seventies – longed to be a part of 40 years ago.
The greatest failure of the EU is its currency, a political construct with no basis in economic reality that carries the seeds of its own destruction. A single currency can never work without a single country. Nineteen nations with vastly different attitudes towards work, tax and corruption are locked together in a straitjacket of financial union. But you can’t have financial union that works when one country makes Mercedes and another country makes moussaka, when one country pays its taxes and another does not, when one country goes to work for eight hours while another does the lambada on the beach.
It is no coincidence that EU countries which have retained their own currency – the zloty in Poland, the kroner in Sweden, the pound in the UK – are doing better than the countries that labour under the dead weight of the euro. The euro doesn’t work and it is the reason why youth unemployment in Spain is nearly 50 per cent, and why the suicide rate is rising in Greece, and why the EU hobbles far behind other regional economic groupings like Nafta (North American Free Trade Agreement – USA, Canada and Mexico), Mercosur (South America) and Asean (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations – Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, et al). “None of which,” noted Boris Johnson, “has these elaborate sovereignty-sharing arrangements, with a peculiar parliament and court and a vast and ever growing corpus of supranational law.”
These nations trade for their mutual benefit. They are not bound by the madness of a single currency. They do not have open borders. They get on with their neighbours without giving them the keys to the safe. But those of us who campaigned for Britain to keep the pound were mocked as loony, swivel-eyed xenophobes. “The real madmen,” wrote Iain Martin in the Telegraph, “are those who created the euro, who thought that political dreams and vanity could trump economic sense and cultural and national differences, by creating a currency union on a vast continent without safeguards.”
The case for the UK remaining in the EU will be made by the same people who assured us that Britain should ditch the pound sterling for the euro. They were wrong then. They are wrong now.
On the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, the French magazine Le Monde warned its British neighbours about the perils of leaving the European Union.
“Britain beware,” said Le Monde. “Brexit could be your Waterloo. Don’t let the sirens of fake independence pull you away from the continent. Just as in 1815, your future is in Europe. The country which cornered Napoleon cannot succumb to Nigel Farage.”
But this is to make the incorrect assumption that British Euroscepticism – that euphemism for the visceral loathing that millions of us feel towards our unelected masters in Brussels – is the personal property of the right. Yet there is a deep tradition of anti-EU feeling in the UK that covers the political waterfront.
Half a lifetime ago, when this country last had a debate on our relationship with Europe, two of the most iconic political figures of the age – Enoch Powell and Tony Benn – both campaigned against the UK’s membership of what was then the European Economic Community. The reasoning of these wildly different men was the same – their objection to the subservience of an elected government to unelected foreign bodies, the meek surrender of our national sovereignty, the fundamental lack of democracy in the EU.
Joining the EU, Benn wrote, was, “The most formal surrender of British sovereignty and parliamentary democracy that has ever occurred in our history.”
“For the first time in centuries,” said Enoch Powell, “it will be true to say that the people of this country are not taxed only upon the authority of the House of Commons. The judicial independence of this country has to be given up. The law made elsewhere will override the law which is made here.”
Britain in the late 20th century – the sick man of Europe – wasn’t listening. But does the booming Britain of the 21st century still need the comfort blanket of Europe?
David Cameron is currently negotiating with our EU chums for a better deal for Britain. He is not challenging any of the great founding principles of the EU as set out in the 1957 Treaty of Rome, the “four freedoms” – the freedom of movement of capital, goods, services and people across the EU’s internal borders. He knows that controlling our own borders is impossible within the EU. The changes Cameron is seeking are more peripheral – the abuse of welfare benefits and being excused from the EU’s aim of “ever-closer union”.
But even these modest requests, even these pitiful little crumbs, have been rejected. Martin Schulz, the president of the European Parliament, said, “What makes me sad and angry is the undertone of national resentment. Hatred is spread. People are used as scapegoats.” It was “not possible” to change the UK’s relationship with the EU, said Schulz, adding that Britain “belongs” to the EU.
Just to be clear – David Cameron is not asking for much.
And he’s not going to get it.
Apparently it doesn’t matter. The bookies – so rarely wrong – have the British odds-on as wanting to remain in the EU. Yet we were always a bit different to the rest of the Europeans, who all had good reasons for cowering together.
The East Europeans emerged from the long decades of rule by the Soviet Union that followed Nazi occupation. The last century saw dictatorships in Greece, Spain and Portugal. There are bitter memories of war and occupation in France, Germany, Holland, Italy and Belgium. After the darkness of Europe’s troubled 20th century, the EU must have seemed like a burst of heavenly light.
As a young man, I travelled through those post-war shadows in Europe – Poland when it was a Soviet satellite, Greece when it was a military dictatorship, Spain when General Franco ran it. These were all bleak, scary places where a young man did not want to linger.
The British signed up simply because we thought the Common Market would be good for our Seventies economy. Federal Europe was never a British dream. We never needed anyone to save us.
The assumption is always that the EU will last forever. But no doubt the South African prison warden who turned the key in Nelson Mandela’s cell in 1964 firmly believed that apartheid would last forever. And I bet the Roman centurion surveying Hadrian’s Wall when the mortar was still wet in 128AD was certain that the Roman Empire would rule Britannia until the end of time.
But all empires fall. The Roman Empire, British Empire and the Soviet Union all came and went. All crap ideas have their ending. Apartheid. Slavery. Segregation. And if the mightiest empires eventually fade into the mists of time, then why should a failed economic experiment like the EU be expected to last forever?
I don’t know what will happen in the EU referendum. But to millions, it feels like the current arrangement is unsustainable. In 2014, 268,000 EU migrants came to the UK. And that is fine if your experience of EU immigration is pleasant – a charming Italian making your macchiato, a brilliant Polish dental hygienist. But if you live in the sticks and you are fighting for a council flat or a doctor’s appointment or a place for your kid in school, then your experience of the greatest wave of immigration in our history is unlikely to be so benign. Yet I know that I have more in common with an Italian or Pole than I do with the kind of British Muslims who place their faith above everything else. Geographically – culturally – I’m a European. But no country within the EU will ever control its own borders and I can’t see how the infrastructure of our country can cope with those numbers forever.
Whatever the polls tell us, the race is not yet run. In the end it will come down to what Matthew d’Ancona called “the self-perception of the British – their sense of Britain’s place in the world”.
The liberal establishment, from Downing Street to Broadcasting House, will argue for Britain to remain in the EU, that the loss of our national sovereignty, the degrading of our democracy, is a price worth paying because it is good for business.
But can you really put a price tag on freedom?
Don’t let them tell you the British are not a proud, independent nation. Don’t buy into their stinking culture of fear. Throw your arms around the big beautiful world. Don’t be a Little European. Just say no.
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Follow Tony Parsons on Twitter: @TonyParsonsUK
Tony Parsons is a bestselling novelist and an award-winning journalist. He began his career in journalism as a music writer on the NME. Naturally, the highlight of his career was winning Writer Of The Year at GQ’s Men Of The Year awards.
Posted by: Greg Lance-Watkins
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With an avg. 1.2M voters per MEP & Britain having only 8%, if united, say. The EUropean Parliament has no ability to make policy and has a Commission of unelected bureaucrats, thus clearly the EU is not even a pretence of being a democracy; yet The EU & many of its vassal States are willing to slaughter people in Sovereign States to impose The EU’s chosen brand of democracy on them!
The imposition of a Government and policies upon its vassal regions such as the peoples of Greece shows just how far from being a democracy the EU is.
There will be little or no change in Britain’s economic position, when we leave the EU, using a better negotiated & updated version of the ‘Norway Model’ as a stepping stone to becoming a full member of the Eropean Economic Area, where all will benefit, as we secure trade relations with the EU’s vassal regions, with an EFTA style status and can trade and negotiate independently on the global stage, as members of The Commonwealth and the Anglosphere.One huge benefit will be that we can negotiate with bodies like the WTO, UN, WHO, IMF, CODEX and the like, directly in our own interest and that of our partners around the world in both the Commonwealth and the Anglosphere at large; rather than having negotiations and term imposed by unelected EU bureacrats and their ionterpretation of the rules handed down as if they were some great achievement by the EU.The greatest change and benefit will be political, as we improve our democracy and self determination, with the ability to deselect and elect our own Government, with an improved Westminster structure, see >Harrogate Agenda<.
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