Sub-Editor of Naked Politics
Leave campaigners tell us that the status quo is not on the table, but the clue is in the word ‘remain’. It clearly is. What they actually mean though, is that the status quo isn’t fixed. The only constant in life is change, and all that. We must therefore consider the direction of travel before we can decide whether we wish to “remain” on the EU bus. If we are happy with both the destination and the route, this referendum is nothing more than a cursory glance out of the window, before getting back to the Sudoku. If not, a taxi to the destination of our choice, will appeal.
To establish where the EU is headed, we should check what the founders entered into the Sat Nav. Jean Monnet was clear that “Europe’s nations should be guided towards the Superstate without their people understanding what is happening. This can be accomplished by successive steps, each disguised as having an economic purpose, but which will eventually and irreversibly lead to federation”. And who could dispute that we are travelling down just that road. Since we joined the EEC in 1973, successive treaties have transferred progressively more powers from UK citizens to unelected bureaucrats in Brussels-Strasbourg. Remain proponents are adamant that no further power grabs are planned; but evidence to the contrary is already in the public domain, with the Five Presidents Report setting out exactly how they intend to implement their integrationist plans to achieve “ever closer union”.
A significant step was taken when the Euro was established. Unfortunately, not without casualties. The economies of Southern and Eastern Europe have been decimated by an inability to devalue their currency and compete with wealthier Northern and Western nations. Youth unemployment runs to up to 50%, which leads to mass emigration, with the associated loss of skills perpetuating a downward cycle. Serial bailouts are required to sustain structural deficits, and abject poverty is returning to a continent with a share of global economic output that has fallen from 36% in 1975 to less than 17% today. The inevitable solution to this self-induced crisis is the unification of fiscal policy (taxation and government spending), with cross-border wealth redistribution, and investment strategies: “Guided towards the Superstate… by successive steps, each disguised as having an economic purpose…”
We have one saving grace here, of course. We are not in the Eurozone. So it doesn’t affect us. Right? Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth. Apart from the obvious financial consequences of increasing membership costs and bailouts that we have to pay regardless of being told otherwise by our duplicitous government, increasing economic migration causes wage suppression in the UK and adds pressure to ailing public services. As importantly though, stagnation in the Eurozone, when combined with the EU-imposed prohibition on negotiating trade deals with more successful areas of the globe, has a seriously detrimental effect on our balance of trade.
Politically, distancing ourselves from the monetary union has diminished our influence significantly. Not only are our non-Euro-related concerns side-lined, but the countries have now formed a voting bloc with a permanent majority, meaning that British MEPs are outvoted more than twice as often as any other member states’.
The EU has expanded threefold since we joined, despite assurances to the contrary at the time of the last referendum. The same wool is being pulled over our eyes as we are now told that there will be no further enlargement, despite five more nations having applications pending, and £1.8Bn of your tax money being used for pre-accession funding. Much has been said about the immediacy of Turkey’s accession in particular, as if we hold an annual plebiscite on the subject. They don’t meet the membership criteria today, but neither did Greece, Italy or Belgium when they were accepted. The first concessions have already been made, with the refugee crisis proving useful as leverage. If past history tells us anything, the political motivation of the day will prevail, and you won’t be consulted when it does!
As our sovereignty and influence erodes, and costs and immigration levels spiral, the one point of universal agreement in this debate, is that our deteriorating relationship with the EU is far from perfect. Idealistic Remainers believe that everything can change, while Brexiteers seek evidence first. David Cameron points out that we are not “a nation of quitters”; but the toxicity of the EU membership, that threatens our long-term economic and democratic health, suggests that it’s time we kicked the habit. Unfortunately, the prospect of post-Brexit withdrawal symptoms might be enough to keep us hooked. Does Britain have the will power to see it though?