No-one seems to have much memory any more of the centuries of incremental British liberty, stability and fraternity which preceded these past few decades of European equality, bureaucracy and oligarchy. The pebbles of 1973 and 1975 grind down the cornerstones of 1215, 1534, 1628, 1679, 1689, 1701, 1706, 1829, 1928… I could go on, but few of these dates resonate any longer against the incremental attrition of ‘ever closer union’ couched beneath ‘unity in diversity’, in which cultural difference and historic detachment must be subsumed to an overarching judicial-political construct by which our national freedoms and individual unfreedoms are now defined.
Very true. And Hilton’s conclusion is also spot on:
Now we are to decide our European destiny again by referendum, but this time we must be told the truth: we either leave to pursue a future that is contiguous with our past, or we stay to be absorbed into a United States of Europe, which is already being rolled out as “economic governance” – just ask the peoples of Greece, Ireland, Spain, Italy and Portugal. The “democratic deficit” cannot be fixed: the whole project was designed at its inception to bypass the capricious and unenlightened will of the people. Democracy is an inconvenience: the epistocracy knows best.
We were lied to. Sorry to be so blunt, but that’s the history. If my parents and grandparents had been told back in 1975 that their voting to remain in the EEC would eventually mean that a market trader would be arrested for selling a pound of bananas, or a young student could be carted off to a Greek jail and deprived on his ancient rights of Habeas Corpus and trial by jury, they’d have voted to leave. And that’s what I’ll be doing, whatever honest, sincere or cast-iron guarantees they decide to give.
You can never pin the europhiles down on the key point that the British people were lied to in order to secure a “Yes” vote back in 1975. Pro-Europeans would rather talk about anything else. They will wax lyrical for hours on how quickly our feeble economy would be instantly obliterated if we sought to forge free trade deals with the whole world rather than just the EU’s protectionist racket. And they never tire of claiming that Britain is so puny and hopeless a country that we would become a diplomatic irrelevance if we sought to remove ourselves from the unseemly and ineffective cacophany of 28 countries shouting in not-quite-unison.
There’s a reason that the europhiles won’t address the question of the Great Lie. And the reason is simply that they have no answer to it – they know it to be true. They know perfectly well that the British people gave consent only to join a customs union back in the 1970s, and that the true nature of the project – the increasingly powerful political union which has come to overshadow mere economic concerns – was never explicitly mentioned, the voters never warned.
What personal relationship, built on an initial lie, can long hope to survive the trials and tribulations of life? And likewise, what manner of co-operation between countries, built on a massive deception as to the ultimate goal of political union, can be expected to survive difficult economic times and the inevitable calls to make sacrifices for the supposed greater good of a supranational organisation which has earned – and deserves – neither love nor loyalty?
This history of Britain and our proud tradition of individual liberty is far longer and richer than the short, sordid chapter of enforced European unity which has characterised the past few decades. Leaving the European Union will not be a leap into the unknown – it is merely returning to an older, tried and tested state of being.
And as Adrian Hilton rightly argues, there is nothing to fear in that.
My full take on the Reimagining Europe project can be found here.