Saturday, 4 June 2016
We're a better friend to Europe from outside the EU
It's easy to get caught up contemplating what Brexit means for Britain. Less thought is given over to what will happen to the EU if we leave.
It would be fair to say the EU is having a confidence crisis. It is not liked and even many who will vote to remain in the EU have no love of it. They do so out of defeatist resignation. Everywhere you look there are stress in all directions, tearing at the fabric of the EU. Member states have their own needs and the restraints placed on them by the EU is causing friction.
This is largely down to the fact that the EU ideology was born in another time, before what is becoming a global migration crisis. The foundation of the EU is simply not equipped to cope with it. Even the 51 Convention on Refugees is an old piece of law which acts as an open invite. It's why people risk the open seas and the people smugglers.
And the EU will not reform that. I seriously doubt the EU is even capable of diagnosing the problem. They are afraid such enquiries would identify what we already know. The EU is central to the problem.
So what happens if we leave? Well, for starters it takes the UK out of the equation. The EU is then free to consolidate the Eurozone without British obstinacy. That will improve confidence in the Euro and reduce some of the economic stress. And it is highly unlikely that Britain will go it alone. Efta really does feel like an obvious destination for the UK. We are told that Denmark and Sweden will follow if we do.
I am not sure if that is true but if that did happen we would have a Europe redrawn between continental Europe and the North Atlantic rim, and so Euro is reformed into regions more culturally and politically aligned. That makes the EU more likely to succeed as a political dominion over Eurozone states.
We would then need to redesign the Council of Europe (a separate institution from the EU) where the EU is a member of of a looser European cooperation forum. Having broken the EU of its expansionist ideals, to have put the brakes on the one ring to rule them all mentality, the EU is then rationalised and put back in its place. It is is also plausible that Russia would see this as less threatening which may bring about more conciliatory chimes. What Brexit would do is remove any doubt that NATO is the platform on which we agree our mutual defence, and through this we are still united against common threats.
It seems to me that the EU is a forced marriage, concocted by political elites and consequently will never be loved in the same way that the nation state is. It has an air of artificiality it will never shake. Only when peoples are allowed to define themselves and their governments will you secure a comfortable consensus, where cooperation happens voluntarily rather than by decree.
And that is actually what's wrong with the entire supranational construct. It is built on the assumption that cooperation and economic convergence is not possible without holding a gun to our heads. Through various instruments it attempts to create political and social union by artificial means. That is why it will never work. These things cannot be coerced.
And that is why it is so important to leave the EU because we are ruled by ideologues who despite all the warnings from history are still trying to hold this all together without a positive mandate form the people of Europe.
If we leave the EU then we will reshape Europe once and for all, moving beyond the post-war settlement, able to build something more in line with what would evolve naturally. The egotism of our European elites is what holds us back and is the cause of the stresses we seem incapable of resolving. As much as the EU is a bad move for Britain, it was a mistake for all of Europe.
But we are where we are. There is no going back on the Euro. It exists and there is nothing we can do about that. But we can help it by strengthening it. And that starts off with a recognition that the EU has bitten off way more than it can chew. It can only survive if it coalesces around the EU and focuses its efforts on building good governance within. Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal may need the EU for that. Britain most certainly does not. We invented good governance.
As to the East, we are already seeing buyers regret from Poland. Poland, out on the edges will probably end up as divided as Britain is on the EU matter. I think they might be better taking a leading role in Baltic version of Efta, with close cooperation with Ukraine and Russia. A Europe of regional blocs built along cultural commonalities, cooperating more informally than the EU would allow democracies to thrive while maintaining order in Europe.
If we persist with the EU without fundamental reform - even as far as DNA resequencing, the all we will see is disorder, fragmentation and perpetual divisions. We will see breakaway movements popping up everywhere. I don't think it's any coincidence at all that Scotland has a strong independence movement. If there is to be unity in Europe then it can only come voluntarily. If the people are held hostage then we will only ever resent our rulers. The ground will turn sour and the gulf between the governors and the govern will widen. That never ends will.
If Britain leaves the EU we can once again (for the third time) liberate Europe from an imposed doctrinal empire. We can escape the inevitable fate of the EU collapsing under its own weight. Brexit may even be the only way to save the EU. If the EU does collapse it will be a disaster. And this is not so far-fetched. When empires do fall it happens real fast and their governments are always caught by surprised. They are the last people to read the signals. And the reason it probably will is because many rather expect it will and will not lift a finger to save it when it does. I won't.
I even know people voting to remain largely because they believe we might as well keep the status quo until it inevitable does collapse. I fail to see the logic myself. If we can avoid such an expensive fate why not fix the roof while the sun is out? There is never going to be a convenient time to completely reinvent the post war settlement, but Europe badly needs reform and if we don't get it then there will have to be another war. That's what happens when democracy is denied.
Brexit will be a major catalyst. It will trigger a reinvention of the British state, but it will be the one thing that will shake the EU out of its complacency. It will be the one thing that forces the EU to modernise to meet the challenges of the new century. Unless we ditch the dogma and embrace reality, reality will embrace us. And it will not be a soft embrace.
If Britain votes to remain in the EU it will be taken as a signal to stay the course - to stoke the fires, having plotted a collision course with the iceberg. Once we vote to remain reform will never be on the agenda again. And our political class here in Britain will maintain the lie that Cameron has reformed the EU. It will cause only bitterness. Politics will not heal for a generation or more. We can never begin to heal until the thorn is removed from the paw.
Make no mistake, there is a smell of death coming from the EU. Putin smells it. It's why he's so brazenly challenging our resolve. It knows the EU is all mouth and no trousers. He's already plotting a land bridge to the Crimea. He knows he'll probably get away with it to. I know of no-one in a rush to die in a ditch for the EU. That's the problem with artificial constructs. "Support our troops" rapidly becomes "meh".
And given that the EU is such a timid and indecisive beast, incapable of reaching consensus, with divided loyalties where it has overreached, we cannot expect it to be a be a coherent defender of our values or even our territory. We are not safer in the EU. I might die for Mrs Betty Windsor of Buckingham Palace. I might even die for what Westminster represents. But the EU can take a hike.
There is no European demos and consequently there can never be a functioning EU wide democracy as exists in the USA. It's a pipe dream. The longer we deny reality, the more it will cost us - and we really will pay a heavy price. Let's do all of Europe a favour and put this bad idea out of its misery. Let's vote to leave.