A.       What has the EU (ever) done for us?WIFM

Has it made us richer?

Our growth has stayed pretty much on post-war trend throughout. We didn’t catch up with average EU6 post-war recovery rate, they slowed to ours then fell behind on average.

Has it made us safer?

Only Britain, France and Poland make an adequate effort at defence. USA, Australia, New Zealand and Canada are our main intelligence partners.

Has it made us more just?

English law

English law is a world favourite: the ECJ is bent towards political objectives. EU justice is about protecting the Project, not about its citizens.

Has it made us kinder?

Only Scandinavia and Britain meet UN standards on aid.

Has it made us greener?

We have made a huge commitment to lowering CO2 emissions but the rest are mainly laggards despite the rhetoric. Germany depends on coal while we have virtually stopped burning it.

Has it made us more internationalist?

The Customs Union (CU) works between companies trading within the EU but puts up barriers to trade with non-members and does not cover services, which are the more important part of the UK economy.

Has it protected us from the Great Powers?

Great powers

EU leaders wish to see the Union as a great power, in addition to the USA and China. However, economically, politically and militarily the EU does not and cannot compete, so its members remain vulnerable to the vagaries of globalisation. A “union that protects”, but how and from what?

B.       No Second Thoughts

Second thoughtsIt has been suggested that the General Election vote in the 2017 represents the second thoughts of voters and so overrides the 2016 Referendum result – the British public has given MPs the right to decide how we leave the European Union and its Customs Union. This is wrong for two reasons. First, general elections concern a broad range of policies but the Referendum was about a specific policy and the answer was clear, if not overwhelming. Secondly, our representatives were sent to Parliament to carry out their party’s manifesto promises, so about 80% of them are expected to say “aye” to leaving the CU.

C.       Associate Membership

Associate membershipGuy Verhofstadt, writing in the Daily Telegraph [1], suggests the EU and UK make an ‘Association Agreement’ to simplify and overcome the obstacles to completing the Article 50 negotiations in reasonable time. Such agreements already exist with other countries hoping to join (not leave) the EU: Turkey, Albania, Montenegro, Macedonia, Serbia, Kosovo, Bosnia, Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova and a few others. It’s a bit like waiting to join a golf club – while the committee considers your suitability you can’t play the course or even enter the members’ bar unless invited, and even then you must observe the dress code; you have no influence on the rules but you have to pay for the privilege of access to the guests’ lounge. Guy VerhofstadtIt may be worth it if you’re keen join the club but it’s an odd way of leaving, especially if you’re forbidden from becoming a full member of other, less up-tight clubs. 


D.       Remainers or Submissives?

RemoanerDo you want the UK to be a separate country, to be merged into a federal Europe, or to be given away?

Leavers want Britain to be a separate and independent country, able to make its own choices or, if the citizens decide they don’t like them, to overturn them. They want a legal system that has served them well as it has developed over nearly a millennium and is one of the most respected around the world, a system in which they can even sue the Government and think they might win (see The World’s Favourite Law). They want to reconnect with people further afield, especially where there are ties of culture, law, language and ancestry rather than favouring whoever they are told to by an unquestionable authority. They want to expand trade with dynamic and developing economies rather than a declining bloc. Britain would still be a cooperative nation. It is part of the UN and has an influential, high-profile position (on the Security Council). It also has a senior position in the CommonwealthCommonwealth, a wide-ranging group of global countries increasing in importance The Commonwealth as a whole is bigger than the EU (twice as many countries and four times the population), more widespread globally and growing faster. It is active in peacekeeping – and sometimes contentious wars – but that’s our choice. It will remain in the Council of Europe, the European Convention on Human Rights, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. It will not be retreating from participation in financial, political and social bodies concerned with global wealth, health, peace and the environment.

Many Remainers want to leave things just as they are rather than risk change. This applies especially to advocates for large corporations that may have to rethink their strategies to take advantage of new opportunities but risk opening the field to more energetic rivals, including those outside the protective walls the EU has built. Some are the clerks and mandarins who are, or were, serving Brussels (maybe retiring to the House of LordsHouse of Lords (HoL) and have built influential connections and healthy pensions. Others are persuaded by the idea that they are sacrificing independence for the greater good of a larger pond (it is a fetid pool).

Things will not remain the same; by staying the country will be increasingly merged and subject to the will of the strongest or most influential states (currently Germany and France) and lobbying by self-interested groups like German manufacturers, French farmers and Spanish fishers.

SubmissiveThe Liberals and SNP want to reverse the Referendum and stay in the EU, that at least is straight forward. The HoL and Labour want to stay in the CU, they aren’t Remainers apparently, they’ve said they respect the decision of the people after all. They are Submissives prepared to give the country away, being subject to the EU’s treaties, laws and regulations as they are, or will be, but without influence. Or maybe the Submissives are actually pretending, because this position is so unappealing the British people would rather reverse the Brexit decision. That is deceitful.

 E.       Who Cares?

SentimentWe return to the subject of fragility and its consequences for the EU. It can fairly be claimed that every nation and empire experiences fragility and the risk of breaking up. Why do we pick on the fragility of the EU as especially troubling? There is a reason and it can be summed up in one word – sentiment – or, more to the point in the case of the EU, its absence.

Before the UK Referendum on staying in or leaving the EU, the UK went through an earlier referendum, that to decide whether Scots wished to remain within the UK or to go for independence. That vote went the other way and the Scots voted to remain. This was an example of high fragility and great risk to the group of nation states that form the UK. Why did the result go the way it did? Put simply, although many Scots felt (and still feel) very strongly about their own country, enough of them felt more strongly about the union and did not want to disrupt it, for economic, political or any other reasons.

DelegationIf sentiment is one reason that the UK survived that experience, the other is that the UK government has delegated considerable powers and responsibilities from the centre to the peripheries. The EU reverses both; it sucks up increasing powers and responsibilities from the ‘peripheries’, i.e. the member states, and it does not inspire the sort of sentiment that has held the UK together. Those factors make the EU more vulnerable than the UK to breaking up.

A counter-argument is that the UK has been in existence for centuries, the EU for just a few decades. Perhaps it takes centuries to win the allegiance of enough people to hold a political entity together and the EU has not been around long enough to achieve such a level of sentiment – or inertia. To counter that counter we can look at another difference that counts. Rulers of the UK, and other cobbled-together nation states, have had to take account of the views of citizens, at least under democracies in which rulers can be dismissed by popular vote. This is not true of the EU, which does not care to offer its citizens any opportunity to review and renew its government.

SubsidiaritySo in fact we have at least three related factors that hold nation states together that are not present in the EU: sentiment, power delegation (whatever happened to ‘subsidiarity’?) and democracy.

It may be worth considering how non-democracies and pseudo-democracies are held together and here the answer is also power but this time the power of the military, the police and the secret services, three powerful agencies that the EU aims to set up, in the absence of proper democracy and the delegation of power together with the failure to win hearts and minds.

The EU Project is dangerous; dangerous because of its over-weaning ambition and the fragility that is the consequence.



15 thoughts on “Shorties-16

  1. The 499-kilometre border running from Carlingford Lough to Lough Foyle will become the only land border between the UK and the European Union after Brexit.

    Different customs rules, regulations and standards will apply in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, if the UK is leaving the EU, so the different rules could have to be enforced at a border.
    Farmers and business interests north and south of the Irish border will be paying a steep price, if there isn’t a solution that protects them.

    The UK and the EU both signed up to the idea of a backstop in December 2017.


    1. Smuggling across that border has always been rife and no doubt will grow again. The Irish have a knack for looking after themselves.
      The backstop was in the draft withdrawal agreement, made by the UK government and then rejected by parliament. I don’t think it was signed by either party, just agreed in principle.


      1. People commute across the border everyday for work, and school and in few days time they may need to bring their passport for every trip.
        It sounds like a minor inconvenience, but ask anyone trying to make day trips to Canada or Mexico how long they have to wait at rush hour.
        Ask anyone who regularly crosses the border, how suspicious the guards get after a while, that you may be smuggling.


      2. I have every confidence that the Irish (North and Republic) will find a way around this potential problem. However, let’s suppose that they don’t; is that sufficient reason for the UK to remain in the EU? There is no question that Britain leaving the EU will create many problems. But why does no one want to cost the consequences of being inside when the thing collapses? Which it will because it satisfies so few people and many of those who say they are satisfied haven’t understood the ideology that underpins the project, and the contempt that Eurocrats show for citizens, and the deceit with which the project is promoted and marketed. And so on. You seem to have read many of our posts, what do you think of our arguments against the EU? Do you live in an EU country and, if so, are you satisfied that your life is better than it would be if your country was independent?
        We’ve added an item to our most recent post (Bloody-Border Line) which has a link to a detailed review of alternative ways to avoid a hard border after Brexit. The report is from the European Parliament itself, though we don’t see them referring to it.


      3. I am Spanish and I live near an English school.
        I am very satisfied, like most Spaniards, to belong to the European Union.
        I understand your position and the reasons why the British want to separate.
        But due to an excess of democracy (referendum 52% vs 48%) we, the Westerners, are playing Russian roulette.
        I sincerely believe that it is another example of the “Decadence of Europe”.


      4. I’m sorry that you think that Brexit is decadent. And I don’t understand the reference to Russian roulette. However, I’m pleased that you – and “most Spaniards” – are satisfied with the EU. This must be a comfort to its leaders and other supporters.
        Our blog is not so much about Brexit as a critique of the EU and we welcome challenges to our views. We believe that the foundations and ambitions of the EU (disdain for its citizens and the evolution of a federal government to overrule elected national governments) and its consistent failure to improve the economic prospects for Europeans will, eventually, bring the whole project down.
        How to do you feel about our arguments, as summarised here.


      5. The Brexit referendum bisected Britain. The vote was designed to demonstrate that Britain did not want to leave the European Union. In fact, had Britain’s political and business elite doubted that the referendum would result in a “remain” verdict, it’s unlikely the vote would ever have been called. But 52 percent of voters wanted to leave the EU; 48 percent wanted to stay. If 2 percent of voters had switched positions, the referendum could just as easily have gone the other way.
        The consequences could be so serious that, in my opinion, this is like playing Russian roulette.

        I forecast a global recession by 2020, then economy will prevail over sociability.
        The European Union will redefine itself as a more modest trade zone. The current free trade structure is unsustainable. We have grown overly dependent on exports. This dependency makes our economies extremely vulnerable to fluctuations in demand outside of our own borders.


      6. General elections to the UK Parliament usually have a similar, fairly close result, so I don’t think anyone was surprised, except by which side got the majority. You are right that the expectation of those in power, and close to it, was that the result would go the other way. Had the result been expected then you are also right that there would never have been a referendum.
        Yes, the consequences of the referendum will be serious; the mistake that Remainers make is to believe that staying in such a flawed project would have been less serious. Inaction has consequences too.
        You may be right about a global recession but I seriously doubt that the EU will reform itself, or be forced to reform, to change the underlying ambition, which is to rule as much of Europe as possible without the inconvenience of being dismissed by an electorate.
        Free trade holds only within the Single Market; the tariffs imposed on, for example, African traders are powerfully protectionist, which makes nonsense of the leaders’ claims to be enthusiastic free traders.
        I hope that more people look seriously at the poor long-term prospects for the European Union, and ask themselves why they should want their countries to remain. Th EU can’t get close to the ideal that it claims for itself and, sooner or later, it will be found out.


      7. Unfortunately, the British Parliament, on the referendum of June 2016, didn’t set a minimum threshold.
        If such a threshold had been in place, it would, perhaps, have avoided the constitutional crisis that has now engulfed the United Kingdom.
        On my own experience, we prefer to remain together and procure perform better, than to get isolated in a global market.


      8. Parliament would only have set a threshold if they thought there was a chance of losing. And then the British public might have protested, since normal elections are won by the “first past the post”, method, with no threshold.
        I don’t think there is a constitutional crisis, just a more exciting round of noise-making, which may produce some better results in the end.
        I don’t believe the EU will reform, from the inside or anywhere, so that to me is a forlorn hope. But good luck with it! Perhaps when it happens the UK will vote to rejoin.


      9. That´s why I said “playing Russian Roulette”. You have got a bisected Britain.
        In my point of view, the same term should be applied to the EU.
        Consequences: The decadence of Europe´s civilization.
        Tendency: Colapse.


      10. Yes, Britain is bisected, but it has been so for many decades. The two main parties switch into power quite often and then switch back again when we get fed up with the current one. That is what the EU is designed to avoid; we cannot change the government. In Britain the Conservative and Labour parties condense voters into almost equal, large minorities, with much smaller minorities (LinDems, UKIP for example) having no chance of gaining power. So we get a fresh government every once in a while. However, so much is now ruled by EU legislation that it could be argued that the UK Parliament and government are little more than puppet shows, to keep the ‘masses’ amused and believing that they have the power to change who rules them.
        The EU is so determined to grab and keep power that no member state now has a truly independent government. I wonder when the people will realise this.


      11. Ok. “Bon chance” for the next recession!
        You will have to negotiate multiple bilateral businesses.
        I will celebrate, if your traditional methods of government are the right ones, for a humanity that has doubled in less than 60 years.


      12. Thanks for your good wishes; and ours to you too.
        We also hope that Brexit can be made to work – of course it needs to happen first. It will not be easy but the EU is is in trouble because it is based on a confidence trick imposed on the people of Europe. The Eurozone will go down first, as it has run out of options to cope with the many crises it faces. And EMU is at the heart (or guts) of the Union project. In the end Brexit may not do much damage to the EU, but its own failings will bring it down.
        “Bon chance” to you also.


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