Yet again there are two main camps split over the European issue. The first camp includes those who typically say that the Brexit negotiations will be immensely complicated and might take ten years to conclude. The endgame within this camp is to loosen the ties only so much it can be claimed that the UK has formally left the EU while still maintaining a “special relationship”. In practice this would mean a substantial degree of political entanglement going forward. Possibly a Norwegian relationship: Market access but still budget contributions and EU influence over amongst others immigration.
The second camp icomprises those who say that a majority of the British people would be betrayed by not totally disentangling the UK from the EU. The endgame is to regain the status as a fully sovereign nation. If EU market access requires continued EU entanglement, sovereignty takes precedence.
At first glance the “salvation strategy” might seem appealing, even reasonable. After all, almost half the population voted to Remain. Would not a special relationship be the perfect compromise?
No. There are eight main reasons the “salvation strategy” should be resisted and the “sovereignty strategy” embraced.
First, too many within the first camp are guided – usually unconsciously – by career interests. This includes many of the public servants and EU-funded academics who objected to nothing when the EU overexpanded and then claimed that Armageddon would follow a Leave victory. At just about every turn these people have been wrong while judgments have been clouded by personal interest. The salvation strategy would empower this group. Making them part of the negotiating team would, now as before, serve society poorly.
Second, the salvation strategy comes close to the failed negotiation attempt of Team Cameron: We do not want to leave either but please give us something meaty so we can pull this off against the electorate. This attempt could have succeeded had the movers and shakers in Brussels been realists. However, many are idealists thinking, like idealists do, that also minor steps in the “wrong” direction means failing nothing less than mankind. Ambiguity will be exploited, hence David Cameron’s peanut bag result.
Third, the EU position is weaker than ever. The Euro project as well as the immigration policies ensure ongoing voter discontent; anti-EU parties are destabilising the political landscape in every member state. To no small degree the original economic objectives have been sacrificed on the altar of centralisation. The orchestrators are now, unsurprisingly, running out of (other people’s) money. East-West as well as North-South friction is building. Who to put things in order? The very same idealists who have always reliably ignored the grumblings of the people. Obviously, the safest distance from a ticking bomb is far away.
Fourth, it is not only a Brexiteer myth that the UK position is strong. The UK is a major EU budget contributor, it has the strongest military in Europe, it is the second biggest economy, it is a major buyer of German and French goods, it is also the only major European economy not embroiled in the growth crippling euro project. Most importantly, the UK is yet again about to turn into the most vital European democracy. This is far from only an academic strength. The ability to select and deselect political leaders is what ultimately decides the long term strength of any society. As it happens there is also a foolproof recipe for weakening society: handing ultimate political power to unelected anonymous leaders at a remote power center also in control of the world’s largest PR-budget.
Fifth, if the EU leaders play hardball during the negotiations and refuse to grant EU market access – without numerous caveats – they will find themselves caught in their own narrative. What, after all, will they tell voters in other member states? The British people still want to trade but we are not going to let them even though free trade is precisely what most European voters signed up to?; Yes, everywhere in Europe consumers and exporters will suffer but so be it because we, the federalists, want to make a political point. Sure, perhaps Juncker can temporarily pull off his punishment agenda by liasing with faithful allies such as Martin Schultz (EU Parliament), Hollande (France) and Stefan Löfven (Sweden). However, the European electorates are not as easily duped anymore. Come Election Day and many such allies are likely to be gone.
Sixth, Brexit does not have to be remotely as complicated as some Bremainers claim. Disentanglement from everything but a trade agreement should be a guiding principle; the EU provides evidence that the attempt to turn one international organisation into a Mädchen für alles leads to muddled nothingness. Consequently the general approach should be to bring every power back to Westminster as quickly as possible (where any sensible EU law can still be enacted). What does need to be negotiated is a free trade agreement. There are plenty of templates. Simply passing existing trade practices might be more advantageous than involving an armada of diplomats and lawyers who might have personal interest in dragging things out. Adjustments can be made later.
Seventh, only by clearly leaving the EU can the toxic EU issue be settled once and for all. Certainly, at Downing Street it might be tempting to adopt the half-baked salvation strategy while it would please many influential public servants. However, as soon as the government started pursuing such a strategy there would also be destabilising talk of, yes, treason.
Eighth, the EU is not Europe. It is merely yet another political megaexperiment now failing while brought about by misguided armchair thinking. For good reason it now enjoys scant democratic support; it could disintegrate faster than many think. If totally disentangled the UK would stand ready to immediately form a new trading bloc with other possible defectors. A new trading bloc without a stifling political overcoat would, arguably, benefit Europe immensely. It would quite possibly appeal to the vast majority of European voters.
Is the formation of such a trading block impossible? That is what almost every EU expert used to say about the UK leaving the EU.
Mark Brolin is Author of A State of Independence: Why the EU is the Problem not the Solution
News Source TelegraphNews