Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Brexit is only a baby step in the battle for sovereignty


The EU started with the Coal and Steel Community. The theory was that if coal and steel were a common resource then Germany and France would not fight over it. Globalisation made this somewhat redundant but that has been the thinking ever since. It is in the DNA of the EU which is why it will never substantively reform.

Not for nothing is aerospace manufacturing distributed between a number of EU member states. Airbus over the years has been the recipient of massive subsidies to split its production - preferably to struggling regions. Arguably this has contributed to the gradual hollowing out of UK aircraft manufacturing.

Behind Airbus, which is justifiably described as a European job creation scheme, is the mentality of me-tooism. America has Boeing and its jumbo jets so the EU must have Airbus and the ill-conceived A380 white elephant - now made obsolete by more efficient aircraft such as the A350 and Boeing 787. The same can be said of Galileo. The EU just loves its baubles and trinkets of nationhood.

Virtually every major initiative from the EU follows this particular pattern - erode national capabilities, centralise the decision making and then make member states hopelessly dependent on the EU. The threat of Airbus leaving our shores has often been used to leverage political decisions in the EU's favour.

Not for nothing is the EU commonly compared with the USSR in that it shares the same penchant for central economic planning and emblems of power and prestige. What this ultimately leads to is an invisible leash on member states where in theory they can exercise sovereignty but in practice cannot. Very often the EU doesn't tells us what to do but limits the scope of what we can do meaning the only thing left is what the EU had in mind to begin with. This is why alarm bells ring when I see moves toward a European Energy Union. The agreed text was released yesterday:
The goal of a resilient Energy Union with an ambitious climate policy at its core is to give Union consumers, both households and businesses, secure, sustainable, competitive and affordable energy, which requires a fundamental transformation of Europe's energy system. That objective can only be achieved through coordinated action, combining both legislative and nonlegislative acts at Union and national level. 
Typically your average remainer will look at this and ask what's wrong with that? Who doesn't want clean, green affordable energy? These will be the remainers who only took an interest in EU affairs on the 23rd June 2016. Us leavers, however, know what it means in practice.

In practice it means centrally decided targets (which are never a good idea irrespective of the subject matter), subsidies for white elephants - usually regional job creation schemes like the Swansea tidal lagoon, along with energy production quotas and inter-connectors designed to ensure interdependence - and consequently a loss of energy sovereignty. All in the name of market based competition. This is is why remainers are often baffled as to why the EU is criticised as both "neoliberal" as well as comparable to the USSR.

It is actually neither. This is just the "Ever closer union" root command in action - to remove decision making from member states, bringing it all under the supervision of the Commission and the ECJ, ensuring national governments are obliged to import at least some of their energy from within the Market - and of course to meet green energy targets irrespective of how much it pushes up bills.

What this means is that if a government is thrown out of office and replaced by one with a radically different set of ideas, previous acts installing the EU energy union will be binding, along with all the targets - with wheels set in motion on infrastructure spending which cannot be reversed.

So if, in the unlikely event that we had an actual conservative government that believed in conservatism, and they decided that "green jobs" were makework bullshit - and that the job of the energy sector is to produce cheap energy so as to drive down costs for consumers and manufactures (making business more competitive and giving the less well off a break), they will still be locked into the broader EU policy. So much for democracy.

This is something of a moot point since our establishment tends to produce bland virtue signalling narcissists who have long abandoned any sense of conservatism - and when together in a room with the rest of Europe's showboating elites on some summit or jamboree, they will sign up to yet more commitments paid for by us irrespective of whether we want them to or not.

This is is essentially why Brexit is as much a culture war as it is a campaign for sovereignty. Our rulers like to look and feel important so they host grandiose and "urgent" global summits in order to parade their virtue to the world. This is why they hate Trump because he's not part of the groupthink and doesn't conform to the consensus.

This elite groupthink tends to be tin-eared, completely oblivious to the democratic messages sent to them - and because they're surrounded by NGOs they believe they're acting in the greater good. They believe these moves are popular with their electorates. This is why we are seeing a resurgence of populist movements across Europe. Unenlightened plebs are more concerned about the cost of living and job security than hugging bunnies.

But this is why Brexit is also not enough. The Leave Alliance has often made the case that European regulatory initiatives do not begin life in the EU. More often than not they are global agendas. From banking regulation though to climate obligations, these measures are global and EU legislation that follows merely enacts those global accords. The EU just uses the opportunity to further its own integrationist agenda. This energy union is no different.
(23a) Member States should develop long-term [ ] strategies with a perspective of at least 30 years contributing to the fulfilments of the Member States' commitments under the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement, in the context of the objective of the Paris Agreement of holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and achievement of longterm greenhouse gas emission reductions and enhancements of removals by sinks in all sectors in line with the Union’s objective. Member States should develop their strategies in an open and transparent manner and should ensure effective opportunities for the public to participate in their preparation. The integrated national energy and climate plans and the long-term strategies should be consistent with each other.
But this is also why Brexit of itself doesn't resolve much. It is a great thing to be leaving such an entity but in the end our government is just as likely to sign the UK up to these exact same global conventions as an independent state.

This is why Brexit is unlikely to result in a bonfire of regulation simply because that which is not necessary for continued trade with the EU will have its genesis in a global agreement. I had hoped that Brexit might bring an end to the plague of wind turbines (another bullshit makework scheme) - but the targets we're working to are not of EU origin.

Of course, removing the EU from the mix certainly gives us more room for manoeuvre but leaving the EU does not unplug us from the global system - and diplomatically it would be unwise to do so - much though we might wish to.

This gives us some indication of the battles future generations will have. As the global system matures every branch of global governance will be in thrall to the same pseudo-progressive dogma where we see ever more Malthusian authoritarian measures to kill off democracy and the sovereignty of the nation state. In some respects the WTO is already there which explains the American attitude to it.

With this in mind you might then wonder why I am an advocate of the EEA when there every probability that the EU energy union will partly apply to the UK. The truth be known I am not the biggest fan of the EEA either. The relationship is based on a win some, lose some basis, where EEA states can still be steamrollered - or worse; we have a europhile government that won't put up a fight - much like Norway.

On the face of it that is no good for the UK, but should we leave the EEA, not only will be still be bound by international conventions, one way or another we will have to forge our own regulatory responses which won't look that much different to EU legislation. Given the EU is a regulatory superpower and our closest neighbour, it will still influence what we do.

I am of the view that EEA solution can work if we have an assertive government with its own ideas, acting in the national interest and willing to use its veto - blocking these such measures at the Efta and global level. But that really depends on domestic politics. Any mode of Brexit is largely useless without a political and cultural revolution here in the UK.

Given our domestic politics is hopelessly trained in the vassal state mentality after forty years of EU membership, and a willing participant in the dismantling of democracy, it's going to take a lot more than a simple referendum.

Our politics is is ideas free because it's not used to having to generate ideas. The big ideas like the energy union all come from deep within the bowels of the EU Commission (another reason why the EU is not a democracy) - all part of the creeping technocratic agenda. Our indolent politicians are only too happy to go along with it because it means they enjoy all the privileges of power but none of the responsibility.

This is why we have had a succession of zombie administrations obsessed with trivia and engaged in displacement activity. Anything more complicated that deciding what adverts should be allowed on the underground is beyond their ken - and this is why we increasingly see what should be local issues debated in the national parliament.

An EEA Brexit for the moment is entirely adequate. It repatriates trade, fishing, agriculture, home affairs and a sizeable chunk of energy policy (among other things) - which gives them enough to be getting on with for now. Meanwhile it provides a stable platform for continued trade.

In spirit I am a hard Brexier but all the evidence points to the need for a more gradual softer Brexit otherwise it will all go south faster than our politics is is equipped to cope with. Maybe when we have a government worthy of its name we can rethink our position but first our government needs to develop a taste for sovereignty and remember again who it serves.

Judging from the level of debate on Twitter between trade wonks and civil servants we can see that there is a poverty of trade experience and a narrow definition of how to pursue UK interests. Again we see how they have fallen prey to the Brussels mindset and can think only in terms of FTAs. We have a long way to go before we are ready to be a fully independent nation and I expect it will take us twenty years to get there. Who can say what the global outlook will be by then?

Like my fellow Brexiters I want full independence and I want it now, but I fear my comrades underestimate the state of decay and how ill equipped we are to take it all on. If we're going to do this we have to do it right and we must be patient. Good things come to those who wait.

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