Saturday, 25 March 2017

Brexit: the end of an error

The EU60 hashtag on Twitter is a potent reminder of why I voted to leave. It is radiating hypocrisy. More than anything the EU is a deranged cult. The Europe the true believers live in is not one I recognise at all. I do not see this malign entity as a guarantor of peace and prosperity. Quite the opposite in fact.

The modus operandi of the EU has always been to capture political institutions in the belief that consent would eventually follow. Only when their agenda is complete do citizens get any kind of say in it. This is why Maastricht and Lisbon were never put to a popular vote. Our rulers knew that we would say no. And we got off lightly.

Against all economic wisdom the EU pressed ahead with its vanity currency and now Greece is a broke and squalid internment camp. The rest of Europe has seen a decade of stagnation with no promise of recovery.

In that we must ask when do the peoples of Europe get a say? When exactly do we see this exercise in consultation? When shall we have democracy? At what point is it turned over to the people? And what price must we pay until then?

For this, the EU has no answers. A new Jerusalem is always just only one more treaty away. Paradise awaits but first you must surrender more power.

From inception the EU has been built on a foundation of lies. Perhaps the biggest is that the EU does not control us. For sure there is no dictator at the centre issuing decrees. What we see instead is a number of roadblocks which prevent governments from acting alone in accordance with the wishes of their peoples. They are many and subtle.

For as long as i can remember there has been running dispute about how much law the EU actually makes. To put a number on it is a rhetorical trap. It did not take all that many laws to give effect to EU institutions and grant supreme authority to the EU. It takes only a few sentences to make our entire statute book subordinate to EU authority.

In so doing, a number of areas of technical administration have been handed over and we have closed down our own systems of domestic administration. Brexit will make this acutely observable as we increasingly find we have to rebuild our capacity for self governance.

The effect of this is that reform of political and policy systems is impossible. Common EU policies, notably fishing, were designed in a hurry chiefly to bring it all under one authority. The view was that they would sort the rest out later.

Decades later we are still waiting for reform while species are routinely driven to the brink of extinction. Commercial and political interests of other Member States stand in the way of meaningful reform, and given the implausibility of achieving significant structural reform, even the UK has given up trying. You can extrapolate and apply this dynamic to any number of policy areas.

The real world consequences of this is a system bogged down in a bureaucratic quagmire where things that need to reform and modernise stay as they are inside contracts predating the internet. It is this that stands in the way of radical economic reform at a time when we most need it.

I have never sought to downplay the risks of leaving the EU. There will be a price to pay simply because change of this magnitude always has its costs - but also because we now lack the political and technical expertise as a consequence of surrendering national competence. We have seen an atrophy inside the civil service which has lost a good deal of its vitality and our influence has suffered because of it.

Meanwhile, we have dismantled our trade and diplomatic infrastructure that will leave the UK in a vulnerable place for many years to come. It is only because we are a former power in our own right that we have any chance of recovery at all. Not so for many EU member states who will be waiting a lot longer for any kind of meaningful political change. It is that which will ultimately nurture populist movements. We can attribute the SNP and Ukip to this dynamic. Eventually the EU will be destroyed by its own inertia.

In that regard, history will judge the EU as the entity which destroyed European prosperity. As to peace in Europe, the other big lie is that the EU is to be credited for it. More than anything it is the memory of two wars that have shaped European psychology along with our unity against the common Soviet foe. It is that which has kept an uneasy peace.

Everything about the EU is a lie. It owes its continued existence to the ignorance of the political class and the casual consent of the politically uninterested who accept the dogma of "unity, peace and prosperity" at face value without applying their critical faculties.

In truth there is no European identity. There is not even unity. The UK is one of the only member states to enter in good faith. The latecomers see it as a safety raft in a storm while the French are only ever true Europeans when it suits their economic agenda.

It is only through British politeness that we do not invoke Article 50 today on this anniversary of the EU. It would be churlish to spoil the party. We should mark this jamboree well though. For all the rhetoric about unity we must take stock. Scottish independence rhetoric was ramped up long before Brexit. We see separatist movements on the rise all over Europe. Beneath that is a burgeoning desire for change and democratic replenishment. Something that is fundamentally muted and restrained by the EU. It is the EU ripping Europe apart, not populism. It's cause and effect.

For all that I am worried about how Brexit will be handled, and for all that I am concerned for the economic penalty we will likely have to endure, I remain certain that leaving the EU is in the best interests of peace and democracy and ultimately the process of a renewal in governance will bring about the elusive economic regeneration we demand. It won't come soon, but late is better than never. For that reason I will be raising a glass to the 52% when Mrs May goes to Brussels. We are finally correcting a monumental error.

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