hms iron duke

hms iron duke

Friday, 29 April 2016

Brexit: Dear Christopher...

Dear Christopher,

As a Europhile, EU-sceptic the decision I have made that Britain remain within the EU is an on balance decision to do with all the issues I laid out in my blogs; the survival of a politically-fragile UK, British influence over the big change that is coming in Europe, Britain's need to lead the anti-federalists within the EU (there are many), the existence of the constitutional lock that prevents further transfers of sovereignty, Britain's history as Europe's common-sense power balancer, the nature of the threats we all face from the likes of Russian and IS/Daesh (and the vital need for strategic unity of effort and purpose to confront them), and the coming battle over the new Treaty on European Union. 

Democracy: If we cede the field to the Euro-federalists at this critical moment in Europe's history they will win. This is why many of them want us to depart. We can only stop what I believe to be an historic mistake if we remain within the EU and do what England/Britain has done since the 16th century - stop misguided, self-interested, far-distant uber-elites from imposing a grand dessin which shields them from the 'inconvenience' of democracy. Yes, Cameron achieved little in his efforts to achieve EU reform, primarily because he sought a poliical fix to a political problem of his own making. However, the issue of, and need for EU reform is very real. Moreover, the reform process is only just beginning and Britain must help lead the fight to return the EU to the nation-states which remain the foundation of political legitimacy in Europe. And, by so doing honour the mass of people who regard the nation-state as THE focus of power, identity and representation. 

Governance; Again, Cameron's sadly typically smoke and mirrors 'reform' effort masked another struggle; the coming fight between those of us who believe that most European nation-states have matured and no longer pose a threat to themselves and others (my view), and those who believe Europe can only be saved from itself if the state is scrapped (the Obama view). Europe is on the verge of a new political struggle over governance, legitimacy and efficiency that Britain cannot and must not turn away from. 

Sovereignty: We will not protect our sovereignty by turning away from the EU because left unchecked the euro-federalists would impose another form of 'sovereignty' upon us. No, to protect our sovereignty Britain must remain within the EU to fight for the principle of shared as opposed to transferred sovereignty. Specifically, that means fighting to ensure the European Council remains the pre-eminent and only truly legitimate body of the EU. Therefore, Britain needs to be engaged to prevent the ubercrats of the Commission, the European Court of Justice and their fellow travellers from wilfully misinterpreting the treaties for federalist convenience and then using the legitimacy-lite, rubber-stamp European Parliament to provide a fig-leaf of faux legitimacy.

Power: Given Britain's slow relative re-emergence as an, and possibly in time THE, economic and military power within Europe the way politics works is such that whether Britain votes to stay or go Britain will end up to my mind in pretty much the same place - the leader of the non-Euro Europeans. This power role will be vital for Britain to play in the coming intergovernmental conference about the new political settlement without which the EU will be unable to function and which will be the best guarantee of both political accountability and a return to political balance.  Indeed, it is the absence of that balance in the EU between the Eurozone and non-Eurozone which has led to the Brexit referendum and of which it is a symptom. 

Leadership: Too often Britain's incompetent political and bureaucratic elite blame the EU for their own failings, and indeed their own lack of belief in Britain. The Scottish question became a crisis not because of the EU but because successive British governments withdrew from the world role a top five world power should play and eroded the institutions that help forge British national identity, most notably our armed forces. Critically, locked into the short-termism of London they failed to understand that the very idea of Britain is based on the world role Britain has and must play. This monumental failure of political leadership has been further compounded by a Whitehall bureaucratic elite who routinely seek to gold plate EU legislation to prevent proper parliamentary oversight and scrutiny. The result is a country that far from punching above its weight in the world, after what is a tired and utterly misplaced mantra, now punches far beneath it, be it in Brussels, Washington or elsewhere. This weakness was apparent again last week in the needy, fawning body language evinced by Cameron during the Obama visit.  Indeed, the people who pose the real danger to Britain are Britain's own elite Establishment precisely because of its lack of belief in Britain, lack of ambition, and the lack of strategic imagination from which the Westminster/Whitehall bubble suffers. 

Finally, I like your optimistic belief in our great country which is one I share. However, I believe we must fight with others to reform the EU AND fight our elite to re-establish a belief in Britain that will once again forge a sense of national pride, confound the secessionists, and with partners and friends enable us to carry the principled fight for a democratic Europe.  Britain can lead that fight and win it if we the British, together with our many admirers desperate for us to again lead, have the courage and the determination to engage in it. 

Therefore, right now, given the issues, given the moment in British and European history, given the dangers we face, given our history, and given who we are, I am committed to remaining within the EU to change it, to reform it, and to give the Euro-federalists hell in the coming fight for Europe. Indeed, my mission is a simple one; to return the very idea of 'Europe' back to the people where it rightly belongs. 

I hope that explains my position and thank you for a clarification of your own Eurosceptic position.

All best,


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