‘National sovereignty will soon prove itself to be a product of the imagination’
Gerhard Schroder, Chancellor of Germany 1998 – 2005
Leaving the EU – Making it Legal
For those of us who argued long and hard for the UK to relinquish its membership of the European Union, today is a momentous day. The British Government will give notice formally to the EU, through the office of the President of the European Council, that the UK is triggering Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon. As a telling indicator of the nature of the European Union, before 2009 it was illegal for any member state to leave the EU. It took a British lawyer to draft Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon to bring at least a flavour of democracy to that Treaty. Imagine joining your local golf club on the understanding that if you chose to relinquish your membership of that club, you’d be taken to court. That’s Napoleonic law for you.
Red Letter Day
The Moraymint family calendar now has this day marked up in large red letters and will be recognised today and annually hereafter with a bottle of champagne. I suppose, out of spite, post-Brexit the EU could place an enormous export duty on French champagne being shipped to the UK – in which case English Nyetimber it shall be.
Prepared to Walk Away
The parties to the exit negotiations have up to 2 years from today to come to some agreement about what the UK’s withdrawal from the EU means in practice. If no agreement is reached within 2 years then either the European Council can sanction an extension to the negotiations, or the UK walks away. Any half-decent negotiator will tell you that leaving your counter-party with the prospect of you walking away from a negotiation is a no-brainer. Being prepared to reach a deal at any cost opens the door to the UK being screwed over by the European Union. It strikes me that some people in the Remain camp are, even now, prepared to see the UK screwed over by the EU; a sort of Remain rearguard action, perhaps?
The EU Yesterday and Today
The original intentions of the EU’s founding fathers may have been well meaning. However, over the course of 60 years, since the signing of the Treaty of Rome, the EU has morphed from being a club ostensibly focused on economic cooperation to being a nascent superstate characterised by contempt for democracy. Whilst it was a close-run thing, it didn’t really surprise me that the majority of people of this country voted for the UK to leave the European Union. At the time of the EU Referendum, my head said we would vote Remain, my heart said we’d vote Leave. What shocked me at the time was the extraordinary level of propaganda associated with the supposed catastrophic consequences of the UK leaving the EU: total economic disaster; World War III; the collapse of civilisation (all were cited). To some extent that propaganda theme pervades, but its credibility (not that it had much in the first place) does seem to be diminishing by the day.
To this day, I’ve yet to see a Remainian argue cogently that, on balance, it is better for the UK to be governed by a foreign oligarchy than by its own elected Parliament; for the UK to pool its sovereignty with 27 other nations and have less than 4% of the voting rights in any decision-making process affecting 64 million British people’s lives; to open our borders to 500 million foreigners purely in the name of free trade, and to hell with the cultural, social and internal security consequences.
The UK muddled along nicely thank you for 1,000 years before Jean Monnet et al conceived the European Union (as we know it today). You could choose virtually any history of the English-speaking peoples you like and you would discover that it is we who invented freedom – and it is we, the people of the United Kingdom today who remain the greatest advocates on earth of freedom and democracy. We live for these tenets; we die for them.
This is all terribly baffling to our fellow members of the European Union. Many, if not most of our EU colleagues simply cannot believe that the UK intends to recover its sovereignty, to bring its law-making back in-house and to pursue trading relationships with not only the nations of Europe, but also the rest of the world. The histories of the nations of the European continent are, obviously, quite different to that of our islands sitting here offshore to that landmass. It’s beyond the scope of this post to wax lyrical about why the British people are what they are today, to explain our norms, values and beliefs. Suffice to say that on matters of law-making, freedom and democracy there’s little question that we, the British people, think quite differently to the European Union groupthink which prevails today.
‘I have never understood why public opinion about European ideas should be taken into account at all’
Raymond Barre, Prime Minister of France 1976 – 81
‘The day of the nation state is over’
Roman Herzog, President of Germany 1994 – 99
The End Game
It is that groupthink which contains the seeds of the EU’s destruction; those seeds inhabit also the economic madness that is the euro currency. That economic madness manifests itself as social destruction in those countries which should never have adopted the currency in the first place. There’s only so long that 500 million people can be coerced. Again, it’s beyond the scope of this post to set out in any detail why the European Union is doomed. It may take 10 years; it may take 3 years; the EU may survive for another generation. My own view is that the EU’s days are numbered and that its fall will come within my lifetime, and possibly sooner rather than later. The task for Europe’s political leaders will be to manage the unwinding of the European Union under control and peacefully. My fear is that they’re not up to the task; indeed, dismantling the European Union is probably unthinkable to its core politicians, if not most of the Union’s political elites; it’s that groupthink again.
Anyway, that’s the future; but today’s the day. Today’s the day we the British people start the process of extricating ourselves from a failing union, a cooperative founded upon deceit and which many of us will be glad to see receding in the rear-view mirror. All the best to the European Union. Meantime, Cheers! to the United Kingdom, freedom and democracy.
‘The UK belongs to the EU’
Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament 2012 – 17
Notwithstanding the post above, if you remain convinced that the UK’s future lies within the European Union, spend a few minutes watching this …