A lot of people are under the impression that the EU is a trade bloc or an alliance. It isn't. A trade bloc is a collaborative group based on multilateralism and common ground. The EU isn't that. It is supranational. It is a government. It does not seek agreement. It tells us what to do.
As much as it is already the supreme government for Europe, with its own courts, it is largely one you cannot remove. It takes our place on all the global bodies and it has exclusive rights to negotiate all terms of trade. It is gradually taking over more and more policy areas - and not by agreement either. The Commission decides if an agreement is either a shared or exclusive competence. It will often abuse its powers to gain exclusivity - and once that precedent is set the power is never returned.
This prompts some to ask how come we had that recent trade deal with China and how come we still have a seat at the UN. It is from this I am reminded of the scene in A Bridge Too Far where Major General Robert Urquhart details his method of retreat by placing the dead and wounded on machine-gun posts to give the impression that his forces were still in place, while the main force slipped away quietly in the night. He describes this as like a collapsing paper bag.
We have have the powers to go on sales missions and sell our goods abroad, but always within the terms set by the EU. Trade is an exclusive competence of the EU. And while we are at the United Nations, in most instances we now have to vote for the common EU position whether we want to or not.
All the essential powers that make us an independent nation have been to a large extent removed. But the EU will never outright replace us, sending its own delegations and speak as a single entity. They know the peoples of Europe would never stand for that. And so it is effectively doing the same as Major General Urquhart. It wants the enemy (the people) to believe there has been no retreat of democracy.
The EU never makes large and visible moves when it comes to advancing its supranational agenda. Its modus operandi is integration by stealth. Softly and quietly the tentacles have crept into every corner of government. That's why leaving the EU is not as simple as knocking up a free trade deal.
Even when it expands it is never wholly honest. As far as most people are concerned, and as far as our media can be bothered to report, the agreement with Ukraine is a "trade deal". It isn't. It's a comprehensive agreement designed to suck Ukraine into the EU. A particularly stupid idea.
Only through public ignorance of what the EU is does it ever advance its agenda. And because the public have never really been educated in what the EU is and how it does what it does, people will still buy this notion that the EU is just a trade bloc.
Efta is a trade bloc. It makes no demands other than its members uphold that which they have agreed to. The EU does not work like that, never has and never will. The EU is in a very real sense a dictatorship. It does not believe in political transparency nor does it believe in democracy. Don't be fooled by the presence of a toothless talking shop to which we send our political rejects. It has no power to speak of and most of what it votes on is decided well in advance with only limited means of amendment.
Everything about the EU is illusory. Its "democracy" is a sham and it could not be further from the ethos of multilateralism and cooperation. And for as long as the people remain ignorant of what it is and how it works, power will only ever flow away from the people.
And that's why this probably is the last chance to leave because it will only take a few more steps to complete the process of integration and we will have reached a point of no return. We may leave in the future but we won't be doing it amicably or carefully and when we do leave in such a way, that really will cause all the scares they warn of to happen. That is why we have to leave now. If we don't leave now, while we may maintain all the baubles and trinkets of being a free state on paper, we will be supplicants to a machine that is in all respects the absolute enemy of democracy.