“If the British cannot support the trend to more integration in Europe, we can nevertheless remain friends, but on a different basis. I could imagine a form such as a European economic area or a free trade agreement.” – Jacques Delors in 2012
If an ideologically devoted European federalist like Jacques Delors can see the best way forward for Britain, why can’t we?
Our ruling elite may be comfortable with our integration into the European Union, but the majority of the public are sceptical. Their generally risk averse conservative nature and the sense of uncertainty around leaving will likely see us remain in the EU for the time being, but they will never fully accept our place in the Union and will wake up one day to understand that their country has become a vassal.
Our Europhile elite will try as they might, but eventually the British will vote for democracy. We can do this now, in an orderly and amicable fashion, or possibly after another referendum, but the worst case scenario is to kick the can further down the road when the latest attempt to unify Europe under one government comes apart at the seams.
We should leave now.
Our relationship with the EU from within has always been difficult, to the extent that Britain is constantly causing problems with its silly diplomatic games designed to appease the domestic audience and attempting to create roadblocks to the advancement of the EU project. I don’t think this is remotely constructive; the EU will be better off with the UK as an independent ally.
We British are in a perpetual state of identity crisis. With our own distinct legal, business, political and social culture we are unable to accept amalgamation with a unified European polity. The attempt to force the creation of a European demos is futile, especially when it comes to Britain. The fear of uncertainty is not a good enough reason to vote Remain when we exist in a perpetual state of uncertainty and uneasiness as an EU member. Constantly fretting about losing powers and freedom, about conserving what formerly made us distinct and free and trying to hold back the tide of federalisation. We are stuck in the middle of a rock and a hard place, and will remain stuck if we don’t leave. Why vote for purgatory when we can vote for progress?
It is constantly re-asserted that we want a more trade and cooperation based relationship, without political and judicial union; but the only means of achieving this is by negotiating an amicable and mutually beneficial secession. We can and will continue working closely with the EU on multiple levels; through mutually beneficial transnational joint programmes we will continue to cooperate in security, science, aviation, sport and academia. In the vast network of global forums we can form ad-hoc alliances with the EU as well as with other nations, in the Council of Europe and in intergovernmental meetings we can contribute to the formulation of solutions for Europe wide issues.
We do not seek to turn away from the EU, but simply to negotiate a new relationship based on equitable cooperation and trade. As the EU becomes itchy to put a lid on its “British problem” and move towards political and economic union, now is the time to leave and negotiate this new settlement.
If the electorate is faced with a choice between carrying on with the status quo or choosing an alternative future; the uncertainty of a change in the status quo creates an inherent bias. However, the status quo is not on offer.
The proposals of the 5 Presidents and President Juncker’s own proposals set out clear intentions to move forward with integration. Despite the claims of some Remain campaigners the proposals are still very much on the table. They represent the natural progression of the project and an inevitable reaction to the Euro crisis. The EU cannot exist in a state of limbo forever; it has come to yet another fork in the road. To function as a political construct the EU needs to deepen integration or fundamentally reform to become a looser association. The direction of travel has always been one way, this is not about to change when the final destination is within reach.
The next step is to take away power from the Member States over their economies and budgets and centralising it all in Brussels with a genuine Economic Union, a Financial Union, a Fiscal Union and a Political Union. This will be for all eurozone members but it will have inevitable effects on the UK. It represents a formalisation of our second class membership as well as a clear and present danger that our Europhile Government (whichever party governs) will cede more power to Brussels.
This is the real decision at the referendum. We either take this opportunity to leave and negotiate a new relationship, or we vote to Remain and hand successive Governments and the EU a blank cheque to hollow out Parliament further and see the mediocritisation of our political system continue apace. We risk marginalisation as a second class member latched to a unified EU. We’d still be subject to a supreme government, but become peripheral within the Union.
To vote Leave is to endorse leaving the political, judicial and monetary structures of the EU, not to end our economic relationship. This is huge opportunity that we shouldn’t spurn in favour of second class EU membership with some minor cosmetic changes that represent nothing but a rebranding of our current stagnant status.
A vote to Remain is but a temporary delay to the inevitable restoration of democracy and independence in Britain. There is a readymade departure lounge to ease our transition, an eminently better option than a messy exit at a later date.
The EFTA/EEA countries, such as Norway and Iceland, have a defiant public who are more than happy living in independent countries. It’s about time we too stood up to our establishment and demanded democracy. Quibbles about “influence” are pathetic arguments against using this route as a soft landing.
Norway adopts only 21% of EU legislation and it is involved in the consultative process and it wields a right of reservation; which it used to veto the Postal Directive that led to the privitisation of Royal Mail, and detrimental proposed regulations for offshore drilling that threatened to weaken the Norwegian regulatory system, while Britain had no option but to implement them, to the disgruntlement of British industry.
In any case, as an EFTA/EEA member the UK will have an independent voice on the global forums where the rules of the Single Market originate, therefore we have the opportunity to influence them at source and at the consultation stage when the EU adopts the substance of international standards into legislation. There is an extensive network of global bodies, a complex layer of global governance and we will be fully involved without the EU middleman.
Additionally, EFTA/EEA countries have no responsibility for the unpaid debts of EU countries or the solvency of the European Central Bank or the European Investment Bank. This is the new relationship we desire, this is the REAL renegotiation, and it’s only the first stage of our independence, with a world of opportunities opening up in the long term. What’s not to like?
This post was originally published by the author 9 March 2016 http://thescepticisle.com/2016/03/09/the-eu-is-moving-towards-its-final-destination-its-time-for-us-to-depart-and-choose-a-different-track/