The last few months have been pretty momentous for the EU project. At the same time more and more people in Britain are starting to talk about our relationship with Europe. It is a subject that cannot be ignored. Platform 10 has asked two acquaintances – one passionate Euro-sceptic and a proud Euro-phile – to answer the question: “Should Britain be at the heart of a strong Europe?” First up is Christian May (@christianjmay), who says No, Non, Nein.
In an ideal world, sure. Why not? But this is not an ideal world. This is a shaky world trying to contain the symptoms of a crumbling Europe. The only place Britain should occupy in this landscape is high atop the cliffs of Dover, rationing the life rings and looking smug.
The age of the Euro-sceptics is over, for they have been proved right. The “sceptic” suffix can now shift across to the anti climate-change lobby, and Euro-realist should become the new label for those of us who question the EU’s economic self-destruction or gratuitous political power-grabs.
The days of suspicion must surely have passed. Those who advance a pro-federalist vision of Europe may as well claim that the earth is flat; the evidence is simply not in their favour any more. We are not talking about ideals and visions any more. When we were, it was easy for the soft-left to take the position that EU integration meant peace and prosperity – and if you were against that, what sort of person were you?
Well, it’s fair to say that the great European project is coming off the rails. Isn’t there a wonderful irony here? Whenever the people of Europe were consulted on this plan they tended to say No. But not even tens of millions of voters shouting NO at the same time could put the brakes on this. The only thing that looks likely to rip this train from its tracks is the obstinate, delusional decision makers at the heart of Europe who would rather die than fail.
No amount of money, spin or head-in-sand-burying can rescue the European Union from the disaster it has created. The evidence is so overwhelming that it’s hardly even a fair fight. Who would have thought, even a few years ago, that the grand socio-economic-political experiment could actually end up ripping Europe apart? That may sound a little dramatic, but it’s no longer that absurd to suggest that we could be spending those old Francs on a booze cruise in the not too distant future.
Why? Why has this project so turned the stomachs of our nations? The fact of the matter is that there is nothing to defend. Those who still proclaim the virtues of a European super-state are clinging to a vision no less attainable than it was 10 years ago, or 30 years ago.
The UK is but one country of many in the European project. And what do we have to show for it? A fisheries policy that penalises fishing. A farming policy that throws farmers on the bonfire if they can’t keep up with ruinous EU rules. University campuses that get hit with fines for a failure to show sufficient appreciation for EU ideals. World class sports teams that must redesign their kits to include the symbol of the Motherland. A political process that has been neutered by unaccountable decision making processes. I could go on….
The fact of the matter is that the majority of the British public favour withdrawal from this ghastly experiment, and who can blame them? Is it xenophobic to seek control of our own employment law? Is it small-minded to want to draft our own security policies, relevant to our own people? Is it backward-looking to be thankful that we didn’t join the Euro? And is it really so bad that, having witnessed the disastrous fate of the countries that lapped all this up, we should be more sceptical than ever? Actually, strike that. I don’t mean “sceptical” – I mean realistic. The British people have a remarkably well-informed and realistic view of the EU project, and it is high time that the people had their say on the matter.