The idea behind a unified Europe under one government was first floated during World War One and it grew from there into a vision and an ideology. After several aborted attempts, the ideology finally began to be implemented in the 1950’s when it was firmly believed that the nation state as a concept was finished and must be dissolved. The trend, it was believed, was towards vast blocs integrated politically and economically with power centralised and wielded from the top down. State planning, bureaucracy and centralisation was popular all over Europe and this is reflected in the nature of the Union even now. The UK entered in the 70’s when it was a bankrupted basketcase, plunging freefall from the imperial age into a post-war age which seemed to herald nothing but decline and humiliation.
Oh how things have changed. For a start the nation state has proven incredibly resilient and has flourished in the modern age of globalisation, in which flexibility, agility and the ability to act according to specific national interests are extremely valuable assets. A plethora of global organizations have been created to facilitate trade and cooperation between nations, and drive forward the harmonisation of industry, commercial and trading standards and allow nations to interact equitably. The trend was not for nation states to be dissolved and integrated into huge blocs with power centralised but to interact through global bodies and intergovernmental organizations. Trade barriers are now increasingly broken down by removing technical barriers to trade, by harmonising standards and encouraging regulatory divergence and through unbundled industry specific agreements rather than vast, bundled agreements between blocs.
Britain recovered its confidence, liberalised and modernised its economy and entered a new era. We were not finished as a nation and did not have to accept our decline to be terminal. However, we are yet to accept the mistake we made when our confidence had slumped and rectify it by untangling ourselves from political unification and subordination. Only then can we embrace the modern age and progress to our global destiny. The crash of 2008 was a heavy blow that has weakened us, but it highlighted the strengths we retain as a result of having an independent currency; and we are now recovering at a faster rate than other EU states and creating more jobs than all of them put together. To realise our full potential we have to break the constraints placed on us, regain control of our trade policy and pursue our own path politically and economically.
The main backers of the EU in Britain are the political elite, big business and major banks in collusion with the major lobbying groups in Brussels. None of them care about democracy, this to them isn’t about principle, values or aspiration; it’s about consolidating their own power and wealth, hence their desire for a large centralised organisation and a vast money pot. And all the time, as power is removed from London and transferred to Brussels we are told that we have to be at the “top table” and at the centre of the stage where we belong. These archaic arguments need to be given their redundancy notice.
Again, things have changed. The EU is pushing forward with closer union, and using its power to crush all barriers to its goal, nonetheless it is in decline. The EU’s working age population has peaked and is falling, it’s economic performance is sluggish and dogged by a lack of dynamism, agility and good policy. The EU market has fallen as share of the world market and will continue to shrink. The emerging markets of the Americas, Australasia, the Commonwealth and the East are the future, and it is only by leaving the EU that Britain can recover its ability to exploit new opportunities and nurture new relationships as well as strengthening its long-standing alliances.
The idea of governing Europe via a vast bureaucracy and supranational institutions, sacrificing democracy for their agenda of “high ideals”, is the decrepit rigid ideology of an insulated elite who’s vision of a European demos has inevitably proven to be an illusion. Their ideology has led to poverty all over Southern Europe and high unemployment across the continent. It has caused disenchantment and discontent. And it has led to the degradation of politics which now wallows in mediocrity.
Furthermore, as the new wave of globalisation advances into a whole new era, the EU is no longer the “top table”. Global problems need global solutions. The nature of international cooperation, and regulation has changed and the direction of travel is for the process to become ever more globalised. The regulatory process is the domain of specialist global bodies working at the UN level such as UNECE, the WHO, the ILO, FAO, IMO with the involvement of a whole host of outside experts. This highly technical and complex process isn’t a matter for politicians across a table, but those with the necessary expertise; and the ability of a nation influence the process comes through offering those skills. We do not need to be in the EU to involved directly, at the very highest level, in making these “rules” before they are handed down to the European level where the EU is used as a regional instrument to rubber stamp them into law. In-fact, our influence at the global level can be far too easily curbed according to the whims of the Commission, which can claim competence and force us to adopt a common position against our interest.
We don’t need this domineering middleman. Not anymore. Times have changed, and we must change with them.
Post originally published by the author 29 January 2016