There has been endless complaint since the UK voted to leave the EU a little over a year ago. Not from voters mind you. The vast majority of Remain voters have simply got on with their lives and accepted that they lost the argument. Owing to the fact that the Remain prediction of immediate catastrophe for the UK simply did not occur, many former Remain voters have come to the conclusion that they were duped. But this has not stopped the rearguard action from some politicians and some influential people in the papers. There are still attempts to stop Brexit or to so water it down that it would amount to staying in the EU. Even if the doom and gloom about Britain’s immediate future has been shown by events to be ludicrously pessimistic, we are still supposed to believe these pessimists. It’s as if a weather forecaster kept telling us there would be a hurricane and when day after day it kept failing to appear he kept on expecting us to believe that he could predict the speed of wind. It’s time to realise that that the establishment of political experts in Britain are wrong. What’s more they have been wrong about everything for the past fifty years. It is for this reason that some of the newer EU members such as the Poles are beginning to question whether the whole thing is worth it. The reason is simple. They can watch and they can think.
The whole EU project is based on deception. If only it all happens gradually we can create a United States of Europe without anyone noticing. I don’t think in the end that forming a new nation state called Europe is a good idea. I can though respect those who disagree with me. If it were modelled on the United States of America, with just as much freedom and democracy and with similar rights for the constituent parts, then there could be advantages. But the EU is not remotely like the USA. The people of the USA elect their president and their upper and lower houses of parliament. The powerful people in the EU are appointed. The most important decisions are made behind closed doors. The democratic will of member states (Greece, Republic of Ireland, France, the Netherlands) has recently been overturned. There has been a concerted effort to do the same with the UK. But it looks like it will fail. There is likewise at the moment an attempt to make Poland bend to the will of its EU masters. Hopefully that will fail too.
If you want to be part of something called the United States of Europe, then it indeed makes sense to support Remain. But few indeed are the Brits who do. This is where the whole project becomes dishonest. I don’t think many French or Italian people want France or Italy to be merely a region of Europe. But after sixty years of EU propaganda and mission creep there is a tendency to think that there is no alternative. A tiny proportion of Remain supporters really believed in European federalism yet that is what they voted for. There is a sort of self-deception that the EU won’t ever quite reach the point of being a United States of Europe. But watch how it has gradually moved more and more towards its goal. There is a single currency. There is border free travel such that in parts of the EU you barely even notice international borders. There is a president. Soon there will be an army. If you don’t think European federalism is happening you frankly are not paying attention.
Brexit may involve some tough choices and it may even involve some hard times. But if we don’t want to be part of a federal nation state called the EU, and the vast majority of us don’t, then leaving is the only option. You either get this, or you don’t. I don’t think you need to be ruled by someone else in order to trade freely with them. But here’s the deal. I would prefer not to trade with them at all than be forced to do bend to the will of the EU. I don’t think Brexit will be nearly as tough economically as some people predict, it may even be such that we barely notice. But again even if it were going to be tough, it would be eminently worth it. Unless you are one of the tiny band of EU federalists you have to agree with me. If you don’t want the UK to be the equivalent of Vermont, then you have to think that it’s better to leave the EU now rather than continue towards the federalist EU destiny.
It is this point that has recently become clear to Poland. Most of us pay little attention to Polish politics. All those consonant clusters can make it difficult to follow. But something important is happening and it is worth paying attention. There is a now a fundamental dispute between Poland and the EU. The Poles elected a party called Prawo i Sprawiedliwość [Law and Justice]. This party has some fairly traditional Polish Catholic views, but for all that it is currently the largest party in the Polish Parliament. The dispute with the EU may in part be because of this traditional Polish Catholicism, which means that the Polish Government sins in a variety of ways against EU Orthodoxy. But it is in two ways in particular that the EU most disagrees with Poland. The first is that the Polish Government wanted to appoint judges to its Supreme Court. There have been some protests about this in Poland. Fair enough. In every country there are political disagreements. But the EU has told Poland that it may not appoint its judges in this way. Why ever not? The USA appoints judges to its Supreme Court by means of a political process. The EU doesn’t complain about this. Why should it complain about how Poland decides to do these things? What has it to do with the EU? At any rate some rather important people in the EU are appointed and a large number of decisions are made in a less than transparent way. Why threaten to remove Poland’s voting rights in the EU over something as arcane as how they appoint their judges?
The reason perhaps is that Poland has sinned in a more fundamental way. When Angela Merkel responded to the refugee crisis in 2015 by in effect saying all of them were welcome in Germany, what she really meant was that all of them were welcome in the EU. She might have been generous unilaterally, but she expected the consequence of her decision to be shared multilaterally. Poland has refused its share. This is the root of the dispute about judges.
Poland along with other members of the Visegrád Group (Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia) has shown great reluctance to accept any of the people Mrs Merkel let into the EU. Why ever should these countries be so reluctant? After all aren’t we continually told how beneficial immigration has been to Britain, France, Germany, Sweden etc.? Why would anyone want to avoid something that was so clearly of benefit to them?
This is the crux of the matter. The Poles et al have benefited from the EU. They are net recipients and get a large amount of money from the richer EU states. Not only this, but they have also benefited from free movement of people. Many Polish people have been able to live and work in Western Europe. But this has also given them an experience of life in the West. What they have seen is how the Pro EU establishment has managed things for the past decades.
Take Britain where the majority of Polish people have come to live. The UK is wealthier than Poland in part because we didn’t have to live under communism for fifty years. But communism also isolated Poland from much of what has happened to a country like Britain since the 1950s. I think the Poles who have been living in places like Britain have seen where Western values and the EU establishment Orthodoxy lead. They don’t like what they see.
I recently went to a Polish Church service in a cathedral. It was packed with people of all ages who quite obviously were sincere and believed with enthusiasm. My guess is that the equivalent English language service would have been sparsely attended with a few elderly ladies who probably were not quite sure what they ought or ought not to believe. This is the difference. The UK has gone through a revolution since the 1950s. Belief in Christianity has collapsed. Traditional ideas about morality are no longer believed and we have little idea about what we believe about anything. We know what we must not say at least in public. But what is it to be British in Britain today? Few of us have a clue. What values do we have except those vague values that are shared by everyone in the West in general? But then these are not our values. They are the values of everybody. This really means we don’t have our own values.
The Poles have been happy to live and work here. We too have benefited from them coming here. But my guess is that when some have them have returned to Poland they have come with a message. Be careful. If you follow the path of Britain you will turn Poland into the same thing. You see the Poles know exactly what it means for someone to be a Pole and they are absolutely clear about what their values are. What they believe is what they have always believed. They like believing these things and want to maintain their country more or less as it is.
The British political establishment from the 1950s onward has made one hell of a mess. We have debts that we can’t pay, but which instead we must attempt to gradually inflate away. We have destroyed the foundation of our morality (Christianity) without having been able to put something else in its place. This means that large numbers of our citizens do exactly what they please so long as it is within the law or they can avoid getting caught. We have strange combination of “anything goes” while at the same time we peer through the lace curtains to make sure no-one sins against the latest diktat of political correctness. We have completely lost control of our borders and have absolutely no idea of what to do about it. Meanwhile many of our cities have been changed beyond all recognition, such that pictures from the 1940s look as if they are pictures of another country. They are.
It was this that we rebelled against when we voted to leave the EU. We were saying to the British political establishment that we rejected them and everything that they stood for. It is for this reason too that the establishment and its supporters reacted with such fury. It is for this reason too that they have been fighting such a bitter rearguard action.
We should support the Poles. We went to war to defend Poland in 1939, but in the end failed to do so. We probably couldn’t have done otherwise. We lacked the will, perhaps the strength to fight the Soviet Union in 1945. Nevertheless our failure to defend Eastern Europe in those days led to decades of tyranny. We must not allow Poland to be bullied because it wishes to protect its sovereignty and way of life. We must allow them to learn the lesson of the past decades.
Western cities are now under continual threat. We are told that we must live with this and that nothing can be done. This is no doubt true. But it is not true about Warsaw, Budapest, Prague or Bratislava. Let these cities at least avoid having to say that this fear is normal. We need a new way of thinking, because the old ways have led to what Poland and its neighbours are desperate to avoid. Brexit may be a step in the right direction. If Poland leaves too then we should offer them friendship, help and free trade. Poles have been through tough times to defend their freedom and sovereignty. No doubt they will consider it to be worth it. Perhaps their example may encourage others. The EU and the Western political establishment that created it is part of the problem. We are seeing the consequences of the decisions that were made for the past decades every day throughout Western Europe. It is for this reason that the Poles reject these decisions. They can see where they lead. They are right to reject them.
If there is hope,’ wrote Winston, ‘it lies in the Poles.’
This post was originally published on the author’s personal blog: