Remaining in the EU is an appalling option, we’d be a supplicant with all credibility lost, even more likely to be outvoted on everything. From Malta to Ireland, from Spain to Slovakia and from the EU core in Germany and France, every country feels it can tell us what we must do. The German Social Democrats have decided to talk to Merkel about coalition but conditional on agreeing a Macron-style agenda: common EU welfare and tax policies plus a common eurozone budget. Added to common agriculture, common fisheries, common trade policy, common customs and common currency (no point staying out of that since the main EU drive is to save it and reinforce it) we’d soon have a common foreign policy, common defence policy (and army), common policing and common tax rates – all overseen by a common judicial authority.
What a betrayal!
The drive for a common police force and a common army is a real give-away; these are the two main things that a true super-state lacks at present. They are necessary to control the potentially difficult people the state subsumes. Every super-state to date has had these, from the Roman Empire through the Soviet Union to modern China. And the British empire, so we should be alert to the temptation.
We could opt for a Liberal Democrat, soft Brexit (staying in the SM, CU, overseen by the ECJ) which is much the same as remaining in the EU except we’d have no representation in the Council, Commission, EU Parliament or ECJ but still have to pay and obey. That’s taxation without representation, otherwise known as colonialism.
Either of these choices might avoid the chaos and uncertainty of a hard Brexit but we’d be certain to sink into obscurity and be robbed of our most precious assets. The French are already bending their tax rules to entice our companies away and nobody ever wins a regulations battle that would favour German industry. It seems we are partly out now, having been excluded from new technology funding by the European Investment Fund despite 16% of its money having come from the UK. Barnier says that by leaving we are refusing to stand shoulder to shoulder with the others in the face of terrorism yet insists we will be excluded from Europol. Such blatant hypocrisy. And yet he, and they, are winning the propaganda war. Frustrating.
Once we started on the Brexit track we needed to be firm, we cannot reverse to where we were before June 2016. The IFS thinks a no-deal Brexit might cut our GDP by 4.5%. Nobody is forecasting a recession like Ireland’s which fell by 35% of GDP in 2008 but was well into recovery within five years, despite being forced by the EU to shift the burden of its banks’ defaults onto its taxpayers’ shoulders to protect French, German and other (including British) banks from loss and contagion. It could be tough though and would require some radical policies for Britain to bounce back as quickly as Ireland did, which means business-friendly ones, like theirs. One reason for the stubborn refusal of the EU to budge from their mandate is the fear that the UK would be a serious competitor, too close for comfort.
If a deal is agreed with Brussels the LibDems want another referendum on its terms. We have a representative democracy because most people don’t have the time, interest or perhaps the confidence to immerse themselves in detail. The LibDems didn’t want a vote on the Lisbon Treaty because it was too complex for the public. They used to believe that such detail should be left to Parliament and a simple In/Out referendum would give any decisions the finality needed to stop the endless quarrels about Europe. Of course they were expecting a Remain result, as most of us were; when they didn’t get it they showed their true EU credentials: “re-phrase the question and make them vote again”. If a Lisbon referendum was too complex then expecting the public to decide on the details of a Brexit deal certainly is. The Lib-Dems and the EU are dimly aware that too many citizens mistrust them, though they don’t understand why, because they seem to believe their own propaganda.
We understand the idealism of those who support the peace and prosperity objectives of European unity but we can’t understand why they fail to see that the EU is a malign interpretation of their hopes, the arrogance and vengeful bullying make clear that idealism has turned to ideology. The intention to discourage other nations from leaving is further proof; why would anyone want to leave if the benefits were clear? The scare tactics mean the EU doesn’t want to listen to its citizens and transform itself into something we could all admire – after all, it could mean ‘less Europe’ which would threaten the cosy lives of the Eurocrats.