Brexit Would Be Less Like Divorce, More Like Annulment On Grounds Of Fraud

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If Brexit is like divorce (and it isn’t), it is only because we were tricked into marriage in the first place

You hear it again and again, the hysterical comparison Remainers make between Brexit and getting divorced.

Throughout this EU referendum campaign we have constantly been told that not only will voting to become an independent country will see us physically severed from the continent of Europe and cut adrift to bob around aimlessly in the Mid-Atlantic, but also that this “acrimonious split” will be akin to walking out on our European allies and leaving them with the house, the car and custody of the kids.

Latest to peddle the divorce line is Philippe Legraine in CapX:

On top of the disruption of a messy divorce, Britain would suffer enduring damage by separating from the huge, wealthy market on its doorstep. Not only would trade with the EU be less free, Britain’s access to other export markets would be worse too.

The Economist has been at it too, with their scaremongering and false depiction of Article 50 negotiations:

Article 50 provides that the EU will negotiate a new agreement with the withdrawing country over two years. That can be extended, but only by unanimous agreement. The article also specifies that, when agreeing a new deal, the EU acts without the involvement of the country that is leaving. To get a feel for the negotiating dynamic, imagine a divorce demanded unilaterally by one partner, the terms of which are fixed unilaterally by the other. It is a process that is likely to be neither harmonious nor quick—nor to yield a result that is favourable to Britain.

(This is false narrative is nothing but hyperbolic, biased scaremongering, as brilliantly debunked by The Leave Alliance here).

And the Guardian gets in on the act too, with William Keegan opining:

The Labour party turned out on parade last Thursday, and Jeremy Corbyn pronounced that there was an “overwhelming” case for our remaining in the EU. This is statesmanlike behaviour and judgment. Whatever the deficiencies of the EU, we are not going to remedy them if we leave. And the Lawson/Johnson idea that we can renegotiate our way into the advantages of belonging to an organisation that we have just left is for the birds. Messy divorces do not work like that.

The broader point keeps on cropping up – Brexit means a messy and acrimonious divorce, we are told, and therefore we should avoid this at all costs.

But this is pure nonsense. Britain’s relationship with the European Union is not like a marriage. Our membership is not a flawed collaboration or partnership whose kinks and problems need to be patiently worked through in couple’s therapy.

In truth, Britain’s experience of EU membership has been like being in a platonic friendship with someone who is desperately trying to turn that friendship first into a romantic relationship and then into a marriage, and using every single trick and deceit at their disposal in order to do so.

Britain wants somebody to hang out with sometimes, a bit of companionship and a mate who will be there to help celebrate the triumphs of life and provide support and encouragement when things are difficult.

The EU, on the other hand, keeps agitating for us to get a joint bank account, a veto over what TV shows we should watch, a common “guests remove shoes upon entering” household rule and is insisting that we spend our precious vacation time visiting their parents in the south of France rather than driving Route 66 like we always wanted.

Worse still, the EU is making ominous sounds about going vegan “for the good of the Earth”, the clear implication being that we are expected to forswear steak night and take the plunge as well.

And despite our repeated attempts to push back and hint at our desire for a platonic relationship, at some point soon we know in our heart of hearts that the EU fully intends to do to us what every newlywed wants to do on their wedding night – consummate the marriage.

Poor Britain just wanted someone to go to the movies with once in awhile, and now the EU has moved in, spent three grand on new curtains and turned the home cinema into a mini fitness centre. Throw in the fact that suspicious looking packages from Ann Summers have been arriving all week – not to mention that leather whip and pair of handcuffs resting casually on the bed – and it looks like we are in for a rather excruciating evening.

Of course, this could all have been prevented at any point if only we had been willing to have one slightly awkward but brief conversation making it clear that our view of the relationship and the EU’s view of the relationship are fundamentally different – that we want to be friends, and that if it is to be “friends with benefits”, the only benefits we are interested in relate to pragmatic things like trade and friendly cooperation (where doing so on a regional European basis makes sense).

There is still time to have that conversation – just. There is still time before the removal van comes to bring the EU’s clothes and furniture, and before the wedding invitations go out announcing our forthcoming nuptials to the rest of the world. The conversation will become trickier and more fraught the later we leave it, but if we Vote Leave in this referendum we can still salvage an important friendship while preserving our own national bachelorhood.

Brexit now would not be a divorce – it would be correcting a decades-long misunderstanding about the nature of our relationship with the EU, and what we wanted to get out of it.

Wait much longer, though, and the relentless process of political integration (which David Cameron has utterly failed to win an exemption for Britain) will soon be such that we find ourselves trapped in a common law marriage, and a relationship which is much harder – or even impossible – to escape.


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The EU’s Model Of Supranational Harmonisation Does Not Keep Us Safe

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On national security as with trade and social affairs, the case for Brexit hinges on the conflict between intergovernmentalism and supranationalism

In his latest Telegraph column, Christopher Booker joins this blog in refuting the baseless, scaremongering claims by the Remain camp that being in the EU in any way protects Britain from the risk of terrorist attack.

Booker writes:

It was unfortunate timing for our not very convincing Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, when he used the Brussels terrorist attacks to claim that they only confirm how disastrous it would be for Britain to leave the EU. “The fact is,” he said, that “across Europe we do have these mechanisms now” for “sharing intelligence about terrorists’ movements” that enable “all intelligence services across Europe to pool their efforts”.

Do those “mechanisms” for sharing intelligence include the Parliament, Court of Justice, Commission, the supranational elements by which the European Union undermines nation states and seeks to usurp their role on the world stage? Of course not – these are all explicitly political institutions. All of the collaboration which actually helps to combat terrorism in Europe occurs on an intergovernmental, not a supranational basis, mostly outside of European Union structures.

When sovereign governments are free to co-operate on mutually important issues, they can often do so well. But when a busybody supranational regime seeks to take on ever more responsibilities from the nation state, vesting them in inappropriate and unproven institutions, that’s when things can easily fall through the cracks, as this blog explained yesterday.

Booker rightly goes on to argue:

In fact, there is here a much wider point, which highlights one of the most common misunderstandings about the EU, whose supporters try to persuade us that without it, international cooperation could not exist. In fact, over a whole range of issues, countries have long evolved extremely effective systems of inter‑governmental cooperation, such as on air-traffic control, Interpol, the international postal union, the European Space Agency and dozens more (not to mention Nato).

All these, negotiated between national governments, regardless of whether or not they are in the EU, work very well. And not the least absurd feature of the EU’s attempt to make itself a “supranational government of Europe” is how often it has tried to absorb these examples of effective cooperation into its own clumsy bureaucratic empire: as when it launched its “Single European Sky” programme, or set up “Europol”, or issued directives on postal arrangements with which it then expected non-EU states to comply, or tried to take over the European space programme for its crazy Galileo satellite project.

If only more people appreciated the crucial difference between “inter‑governmental”, which works, and “supranational”, which doesn’t, how much more enlightening our debate might become.

Inter-governmental versus supranational. It is very much in the interests of the EU’s apologists and closet federalists for the general public not to realise the difference between these two important terms.

The former describes the healthy co-operation between friendly allied countries, sometimes bilaterally and other times facilitated by an organising body (like Interpol). The latter describes weak nation states outsourcing key responsibilities to a higher third party, a reckless and unproven approach only ever attempted by national politicians seeking to escape accountability to their own electorates.

If the Remain camp succeed in their effort to lay a thick fog of war over the EU referendum debate so that important terminologies and ideas are confused and muddled, they automatically win. If they can persuade people that the EU equals warm, fuzzy co-operation with our friends while Brexit equals snarling isolationism and being an international pariah, the Remain camp need to nothing else. And so far, they are succeeding.

In order to turn this around, the Leave campaign absolutely must succeed in educating the public on the difference between laudable and (ideally) transparent and accountable co-operation between European countries on one hand, and the outsourcing of core government competencies to undemocratic, unwanted and untested unified European institutions on the other.

This applies not only to national security, but economic and social affairs too. When the Leave campaign are able to cut through the fog of confusion and make people realise that leaving the EU would actually represent an affirmation and strengthening of the only kind of co-operation which actually delivers positive results (the inter-governmental kind), they are far more likely to embrace Brexit and realise how the EU actively harms healthy intergovernmentalism in its rabid pursuit of ever-closer union.

Can the Leave campaign this message across in less than three months between now and the referendum? Perhaps. But enlightenment will not spring from the mouths of deliberately ignorant “leaders” like Boris Johnson.

Those who can actually distinguish between the real issues and the cosmetic ones – which sadly excludes much of the British press corps – urgently need to find a way to amplify their message.


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Bottom Image: Cartoon by Wolfgang Ammer, published in Intergovernmentalism & Liberal Intergovernmentalism

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The EU’s Undermining Of National Identity Creates A Space Where Islamist Extremism Freely Grows

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Eroding national identities while forging an unwanted and unloved new European identity creates a dangerous gap, which Islamist extremists are now exploiting

There is a welcome glimmer of realisation in today’s New York Times that repeated attempts to artificially force political union on the disparate peoples of Europe (alternately by threat and by stealth) is leading to increasingly suboptimal outcomes.

Jochen Bittner writes:

Official Europe has worked hard to move past nationalism, so that there is no German or French Dream. But there’s no European Dream, either, not yet. So new migrants have no spirit to tap into, as they do in the United States. Instead, some Muslims find it more attractive to give their loyalty to Allah, their fellow believers or the Islamic State.

Intelligence services estimate that up to 6,000 jihadists from Western Europe have traveled to join the Islamic State. This enormous figure does not illustrate merely the failures of integration policy. It also shows the failure of mainstream European Muslims to keep their youth immune from extremism.

A result of this mutual apathy is too many Islamists, and too few police and intelligence officers — particularly in Belgium, but not just there. We may have a common European currency, but we still do not have a common European terrorism database. Islamists in Western Europe seem better coordinated than the European authorities hunting them.

There is a creeping awareness too that the head-in-the-sand insistence by many Western leaders that Islamist terror has “nothing to do with Islam” has been a textbook case of wishful thinking overriding political judgement, even common sense:

For the sake of social peace, after the Sept. 11 attacks, and later after the Madrid and London bombings, we told ourselves that Islam and Islamism had nothing to do with each other. But sadly, they do. The peaceful religion can sometimes serve as a slope into a militant anti-Western ideology, especially when this ideology offers a strong sense of belonging amid the mental discomfort of our postmodern societies.

That’s not to say that the article is right about everything. At one point it lapses back into the lazy, unthinking assertion that the European Union is solely responsible for keeping the peace since the Second World War:

So are Germany’s critics right? Is it reasonable to pull up the drawbridge?

In a way, the very question shows the disproportionality of the thought — unless you think it’s worth sacrificing 60 years of peace and international cooperation to the depredations of terrorists. It’s what they want; European disunity, confusion and extremism put them a step closer to the all-out war between Muslims and non-Muslims they so desperately seek.

The notion that the leaders of Islamic State – or radical jihadists in general – could give a hoot whether the Western European countries they so fervently loathe are grouped together under a single political umbrella or under their own auspices is ludicrous beyond words.

The home-grown radical Islamist terrorists from Belgium, Britain and France do not feel any allegiance to Europe or to their own particular country. Their only allegiance is to their warped strain of Islam, which teaches them to loathe anything and everything which does not conform to a very fundamentalist, conservative and specific worldview.

If anything, the European Union’s insistence on subordinating the national identities of individual member states in a thousand ways large and small, and attempting to shoehorn in an artificial new European identity which consistently fails to take root is primarily responsible for allowing a radical Islamist identity to creep in between the cracks.

If the European Union is the vehicle for international collaboration that its cheerleaders consistently claim, then it would focus on intergovernmental co-operation – for that is what will do the most good thwarting future terror attacks. But the EU doesn’t particularly care about co-operation between security services. Such matters are exquisitely boring to the architects and drivers of European political integration, who care only about creating a single European state.

Consider: if the European Union is a benign and non-threatening group of countries coming together to trade and solve common problems (like the threat of Islamist terrorism), why is such a tiny fraction of its budget – and an even smaller percentage of officials’ time – spent on enhancing intergovernmental co-operation so that agencies and forces work seamlessly together when they most need to?

No, the European Union has a flag, anthem and parliament for a reason – because those are the things that matter to them, the building blocks of political union. Sure, the EU’s leaders are happy to take advantage of the Brussels terror attacks – as they do with every other crisis – to declare that the only solution is “more Europe”. But the more Europe they have in mind won’t do a damn thing to thwart future terror attacks. It will only make them more likely.

Building a politically unified European state involves first dissolving existing national identities, and then replacing them with a new European identity commanding the loyalty and affection of the people. The EU has been moderately successful at the former, but absolutely hopeless at the latter. Staggeringly few people see themselves as European first and foremost – nearly all retain primary loyalty to their country, or in some cases to a region – like Scotland or the Basque region.

And as the nation state is undermined on one side while the vaunted new European identity consistently fails to materialise, this creates an ever widening gap which can be filled by Islamist extremist recruiters and terrorists. When there is no healthy sense of national identity, first and second generation immigrants may struggle to assimilate, and sometimes they will find meaning and belonging in undesirable places.

None of this should be shocking. Much of it was entirely predictable. But the European Union – who are now sickeningly claiming that they were the true victims of the attack, as though a self-important bureaucratic talking shop even registers on the Islamic State’s radar – refused to take the threat seriously, because it was too busy building up the appearance and trappings of a state.

Proper co-operation and coordination between national intelligence services does not require a European Parliament, a European Council, a flag, an anthem or pretensions on the world stage. If the EU really cared about keeping its citizens safe first and foremost, it could immediately deprioritise all further steps toward political integration, roll back its outsized role in supranational governance and focus on facilitating the kind of basic inter-governmental cooperation that might have feasibly prevented the Paris and Belgium attacks.

But of course the European Union will never do this in a million years. Because the EU has some other objective, far more important than trifling concerns over national security, on its agenda.

Now what could those other priorities possibly be?


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Brussels Attacks: Solidarity With Belgium Today, But What About Tomorrow?

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Solidarity is great. What’s next?

There is a very familiar pattern to all of this.

A bloody Islamist terrorist attack brings carnage and fear to the streets of a major Western city.

Everyone from heads of state to the man next door rush to publicly register their shock and solidarity on Twitter.

Someone inevitably pops up after a few hours to lecture us that there is nothing Islamic about Islamic State, and that we should really be calling them Daesh, or “so-called Islamic State”.

Someone else usually pops up to say something incredibly bigoted or ignorant about all Muslims.

Impromptu shrines appear in a major square of the afflicted city, with candles, chalk drawings and sometimes a bit of impromptu John Lennon.

And the day closes with Europe and America’s major landmarks illuminated to resemble the national flag of the afflicted nation. They’re getting really good at that part now.

Fast forward a day, and plans are well afoot to grant even more powers to the well-meaning but overstretched security services – who were unable to make use of their current extensive powers to thwart the attack – and generally at the expense of our civil liberties. Particularly our rights to privacy and free speech.

Fast forward a month, and we have all moved on. Domestic political concerns, celebrity scandals and daily life have reasserted themselves.

I think we can all agree that we’ve got the public grief, cathartic expressions of solidarity and stern faced authoritarianism down to a fine art at this point.

When are we going to start acknowledging – and maybe even tackling – the root causes?


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Announcing The Leave Alliance

The Leave Alliance Launch

A campaign that Semi-Partisan Politics is proud to support

I have written a lot of uneducated bilge about the European Union in my time.

My natural instincts – supporting democracy, self-determination, the nation state and accountable government – were generally sound, but too often I lapsed into lazy confirmation bias and weak, borrowed rhetoric when arguing for Britain’s independence from Brussels.

I would still be churning out even more bilge today, were it not for the site and the group of activist bloggers who are coalescing around Dr. Richard North and Flexcit, that rigorous, comprehensive plan for safely extracting Britain from European political union while minimising risk.

If this blog has gone somewhat quiet on the finer policy details of the Brexit question over the past year, sticking to the bigger picture, it is only because through slowly becoming familiar with this body of work, I have come to realise how much I have yet to learn and understand about the workings of the EU and the international regulatory environment – and how much I thought I understood that turned out to be completely wrong.

The upshot is this: this referendum should not be about David Cameron’s fraudulent “renegotiation” deal (even though it is yet more evidence of the EU’s inability to reform even under existential threat), any more than it should be about the arbitrary and misleading statistics about jobs saved or threatened, hospitals built or universities closed. All of these alarmist talking points can be fought to a draw on the 24-hour news channels by the SW1 talking head armies of the establishment Leave and Remain campaigns.

This referendum – this rare, great opportunity that we have been given – should be about our democracy. It should be about who governs Britain, how they govern Britain and how we exercise oversight over the people who make the key decisions affecting our lives. And one thing is certain: the more people learn about the true nature of the European Union – and the more they are encouraged to think like engaged citizens rather than fearful consumers – the more they come to realise that Brexit is an essential first step toward reclaiming our democracy.

That’s what The Leave Alliance is about. TLA is an alternative to the dumbed-down, uneducated major campaigns battling it out for lead designation in the referendum campaign, whose dismal and unforgivable failure to embrace a properly worked through plan for Brexit – and then promote it in the media – means that we are now fighting the referendum campaign with our hands tied behind our backs, David Cameron chuckling to himself all the while.

The Leave Alliance launches later today, in Westminster, and it will be a campaign that engaged citizens and thinking eurosceptics and Brexiteers across the country can actually be proud to support. It is a campaign which understands that Brexit is part of a process of much-needed democratic renewal, not a fixed destination in itself. And it is a campaign which will never condescend to the British people by reducing this great question of human governance and statecraft to a disingenuous war of competing statistics.

If you feel let down and embarrassed by the well-funded but utterly amateurish Leave campaigns, then The Leave Alliance offers you a home for this referendum campaign.

If you get angry when bumbling Johnny-Come-Latelys like Boris Johnson blunder onto the Brexit scene, stealing the limelight while making a complete hash of arguments which more intelligent eurosceptic voices have been making for years and even decades, then The Leave Alliance is for you.

And if you read Semi-Partisan Politics and generally find yourself agreeing with what is written here, then I ask you to follow my lead and abandon the mainstream Leave campaigns who are cheerfully leading us to defeat, and instead support The Leave Alliance, whose strong commitment to eurosceptic principles and intellectual rigour will campaign for Brexit – and to keep the flame of genuine democracy alive in Europe – for as long as it takes to achieve our cherished goal.

The Leave Alliance

Wednesday 16th March, 2.30PM

The Council Room

One Great George Street

London, SW1P 3AA

Donate here.


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