Brexit Fallout: Fear And Loathing (Of Democracy) In Brussels

The hysterical response of EU officials to Brexit (as opposed to national leaders, who have been more pragmatic and conciliatory) shows why we were right to leave the European Union, and why no lover of democracy should be happy so long as it continues to exist as a supranational government of Europe

Among a number of my fellow liberal-minded Brexit supporters I sense a reticence to attack the European Union now that we have most unexpectedly won the EU referendum. This, I think, stems from the admirable and earnest desire to do the right thing for Britain, ensuring that we negotiate the best possible secession deal with Brussels without needlessly antagonising our European partners. All of this I understand and agree with.

But I cannot retract nor temporarily suppress any of my earlier criticism of the European Union, and nor should any other Brexiteer not intimately involved in the Brexit negotiations feel compelled to pull their punches.

The EU was and remains an aloof, arrogant and insulated escape pod for failed national politicians, dreary bureaucrats and starry-eyed euro-federalists to govern nearly an entire continent without the first shred of democratic legitimacy. The EU is an answer (the eventual common European state) without a question, a solution without a problem and a glaring anachronism from a bygone age.

The EU is a succubus, draining the life and capability for self-governance from its member states (as the British government is now belatedly finding out, facing the prospect of having to think and act independently on the world stage), replacing the potentially positive outcomes of intergovernmental cooperation with the fudged, amateurish, self-inflicted calamities of unstable supranational governance.

It therefore follows that just as I believe EU membership is wrong for Britain, so I believe it is wrong for other EU member states too – and it should be up to the national electorates of each country to validate their continued partnership in this project by voting to leave or remain in their own national referenda. If the European Union had any shame or dignity it would positively welcome such a step in order to finally affirm its existence through popular support, rather than doing what it always does – hiding behind staunchly pro-EU governing elites in each country.

And it is this fear of further referenda in other countries which is now spooking many of the EU’s most senior leaders, though they remain utterly divided as to their reaction, with Donald Tusk and the Council favouring a “steady as she goes” approach and EU Commissioners and Parliamentarians like Jean-Claude Juncker and Martin Schulz wanting a reformed (read: more) Europe.

In a speech to the European Parliament, Guy Verhofstadt declared in a speech directed at Donald Tusk, President of the European Council:

…the reaction of the European Council to this political earthquake, because an earthquake it is, what happened in Britain. The only reaction I have heard of the Council was that we should not change anything, that it’s just a question of implementing the existing European policies. I find this shocking, and I find it all so irresponsible. I don’t think you understand what is happening.

It’s not only a Brexit referendum. Before that there was the referendum in Denmark, negative. There was the referendum on the Ukraine agreement in the Netherlands, negative. Now in the UK. What are you waiting for? For the next referendum in France? The next referendum in Italy, maybe? When will you recognise, when will the council recognise that this type of European Union of today, you can not defend it any more? And that Europe needs to be reformed. And in my opinion that the new vision, the new approach should be presented to the citizens of Europe.

Of course, Verhofstadt then goes wildly off key, claiming that the results of a recent Eurobarometer poll somehow represent a seething public desire for a common European army, intelligence service and indeed a true EU government:

The real problem today [..] is intergovernmentalism. A loose confederation of nation states based on unanimity can not work. That is the reality of today, that you don’t recognise until now.

So More Europe, then. Even now, after the loss of the EU’s second largest economy and strongest diplomatic, cultural and military power, the elites sitting in Brussels and Strasbourg wish to press ahead with implementing their vision. The only reason for its widespread unpopularity and rejection by Britain is, to their minds, the fact that their vision remains incomplete. If only we saw the common European state standing finished in all of its glory we would learn to love it, so those countries which remain must hasten to bring it about.

What dangerous garbage. This is why any lover of democracy and any supporter of the nation state as the last line of defence and supreme guarantor of our freedoms should be implacably opposed to the European Union, now and always.

Out of necessity we must maintain warm, cordial and productive relations with Brussels, especially as we begin the delicate work of unpicking 40 years of incessant political integration by stealth. But if the happy day finally comes when the EU collapses under the weight of its own sanctimony, misconceived sense of destiny and glaring internal contradictions then the world will be a better place, the cause of democracy will be better served and nobody should shed a single tear.

Let’s not lose sight of that.

 

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History Will Judge Left-Wingers Who Betray Their Principles To Support The Anti-democratic European Union

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Shining an unforgiving light on the wishful thinking and self-deception powering the naive left-wing campaign for Britain to remain in the EU

Your best read of the day comes from Elliot Murphy at Counterpunch, a writer from the Left who systematically deconstructs the fatuous assertion by the likes of Owen Jones, Jeremy Corbyn and Yanis Varoufakis that the EU can be reformed and turned into some kind of Utopian socialist paradise.

Certainly the EU as it is presently constituted is hardly friendly to traditional leftist interests and obsessions, as Murphy points out:

This groundswell of support for Remain across substantial parts of the Left is hard to square with the facts. State aid to declining industries, along with renationalisation, are not permitted by current EU laws (under directive 2012/34/EU), and any mildly progressive government which managed to get elected in 2020 would be hindered from the outset by the EU. Considerable reforms of the energy market would also be illegal under EU directives 2009/72EU and 2009/73/EU. Collective bargaining is becoming much weaker across the EU, most vividly in France and Germany.

McDonnell’s plans for People’s Quantitative Easing? Outlawed by Article 123 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. The series of anti-trade union laws introduced in Britain over the past few decades? The EU has no qualms with these whatsoever, showing no interest in providing even modest forms of protection for workers.

As the Labour Leave campaign points out, the EU would also outlaw an end to NHS outsourcing, tougher measures on tax avoidance, and general improvements to workers’ rights. The soft Left’s talk of international solidarity and the brotherhood of man in relation to the EU is absurd, especially as it continues to drive forward deeply militaristic and undemocratic (or rather, anti-democratic) policies. The EU is, after all, one the world’s major post-war imperialist projects, boasting an inherently and aggressively exploitative relation with the global South. The entirety of the EU parliament could be filled with McDonnells and Iglesias’s and no substantial reform would be forthcoming: The parliament is an institution purely of amendment and all power lies with the civil servants and the unelectable Commission.

Brilliant. How marvellous it is to hear the fatuous, paper-thin leftist defence of the European Union being properly shredded by somebody who isn’t willing to furiously ignore their own political convictions, suppress the cognitive dissonance and blindly cheerlead for the Remain campaign.

And of course Murphy is quite right – you could pack the European Parliament full of Owen Joneses and Jeremy Corbyns and still it would make no difference to the work and impact of a body which cannot propose or strike down EU laws and policies. There is a reason why the EU’s architects made sure that the one “democratic” component of the entire project was utterly toothless, and this is it.

But what of these nascent leftist “change” movements like Democracy in Europe 25 (DiEM25) or Another Europe is Possible (AEiP)? Murphy has surveyed the work of these and other fantasist left-wing Remainers, and is unimpressed:

When Michael Chessum, a major organiser of the pro-Remain ‘Another Europe is Possible’ (AEiP) movement, is questioned about what concrete ‘changes’ he would like to see in EU, he simply dodges the question. Chessum’s behaviour generalises. To my knowledge, not a single supporter of Remain has presented a satisfying answer to the question of how we are supposed to go about reforming the EU. Even Yanis Varoufakis during his recent ‘Lunch with the Financial Times’ interview confessed that in reality the EU isn’t going to be reformed to anywhere near the extent the Remainers are hoping for (attempts to reform ‘will probably end in failure like all the best intentions’, he claimed). Even Remain supporter Ed Rooksby can write on his blog about how he is ‘not particularly convinced by arguments emanating from [AEiP] in relation to the possibility of transforming EU institutions in a leftist direction’. How is a new, reformed EU possible? How can we change it to break from the Washington Consensus? The answers are, worryingly, not forthcoming.

Quite rightly, Murphy has no time for those who waffle on about reform – “Of course the EU needs reform” being perhaps the most overused phrase of this entire referendum campaign – while failing to outline any concrete or probable steps to achieving that elusive change:

Airy-fairy proposals for ‘another Europe’ to ‘protect our rights’ and so forth simply fill a void lacking any concrete solutions to achieve this and any proposals for how to achieve a new EU constitution. In theory, another anything is possible: Another New Zealand, Another Skelmersdale, Another Isla Nublar, Another Tamriel. It is not as if another EU is inherently unreachable, but rather that without any posited, realistic steps to achieve it, the hopes of the Remain camp will quickly dissolve after June 23rd, no matter which side wins.

Concrete solutions are lacking, then, as it is no good for the Left camp of Remain to simply point voters in the direction of Owen Jones columns and Caroline Lucas YouTube videos instead. The powers of the European Commission, European Central Bank and European Court of Justice are guaranteed by EU treaties and can only be reformed as a result of a unanimous agreement within the Council of Ministers. AEiP may exert some moderate degree of influence over the UK’s soft Left, but it will have to become substantially more commanding if it hopes to influence the Council of Ministers. Likewise, the foundational pro-austerity, market liberalisation principles of the EU are established by the same treaties, which can be modified only by a unanimous agreement by all 28 member states.

Quite so. All of this, one must recall, is taking place in the context of David Cameron having singularly failed to extract even one substantive concession from his fellow EU heads of government during his damp squib “renegotiation” effort.

Now, this blog will be the first to concede that the entire exercise was a sham – the government didn’t even bother to properly consult the people as to the nature of reform which we wanted, arrogantly assuming that they already knew. But in any case, even when faced with the potential departure of the European Union’s restive second-largest contributor, the EU offered nothing by way of sweeteners. Would it have been different had Angela Merkel et al been dealing with a genuinely eurosceptic British prime minister? Perhaps. But if David Cameron couldn’t get any kind of deal from the EU, what chance do a fuzzy coalition of leftists have of achieving reform in another direction?

Neither does Murphy have time for the weak reasoning of foreign leftists who have sought to parachute themselves into the debate with a minimal understanding of the facts:

The Left Remain camp have also recently been galvanised by Noam Chomsky’s tenuous support for their cause, with Owen Jones and AEiP posting quotations of the professor’s brief statements on the matter. Chomsky’s reasons for supporting Remain are extremely weak and don’t stand up to much scrutiny. His reasoning is as follows: The racist Right is in favour of Leave, therefore we should Remain. But the racist Right is also in favour of Remain. Chomsky’s logic seems to be as follows: If P, therefore Q, so why not Z? Indeed, if an Out vote would simply ‘leave Britain more subordinate to US power’, as Chomsky claims, then why did Obama urgently, even desperately call for Britain to Remain? Owen Jones has in the past ridiculed what he calls ‘Chomsky fans’ on Twitter (while also labeling those who politely disagree with him ‘Stalinist’, ‘sectarian’, ‘ultra-left’ and ‘Gallowayite’), but deems it appropriate to sign up to his views when they align with his own. Chomsky’s opinions about the UK are naturally not going to be thoroughly well-formed and articulated, unlike his criticisms of US domestic and foreign policy: For instance, during a visit to the University of St Andrews in 2012 he expressed pro-monarchy feels for the rudimentary reason that if people enjoy it and find it fun, then who’s to object to it?

Many on the left simply cannot begin to address the limitations of the Remain camp: For instance, Media Lens, UK leftists sympathetic to Chomsky, have been oddly silent about the entire EU referendum. A certain level of unease and awkwardness pervades a lot of discussion about the EU, with many preferring simply to abstain or delay decision making until later. At Chomsky’s university, Matt Damon recently addressed MIT’s class of 2016 with ideas that Will Hunting would be far from impressed with, calling for a Remain vote with his typical mixture of casual arrogance and self-assurance, but devoid of any argument or apparent understanding. Damon ultimately retreated into the safe territory of banker-bashing, forgetting to justify his reasoning for supporting Remain.

So Matt Damon thinks that Brexit is a bad idea. Who the hell cares? Damon clearly has no understanding of the history or political issues at stake, and is merely parroting what he believes to be the “correct”, right-on opinions in order to signal his own virtue. More worrying is the fact that when it comes to the specific question of the EU, many thinking leftists are doing the same thing – temporarily switching off their brains and switching themselves over to “mindless repetition of approved talking points” mode.

As this blog conjectured when Owen Jones abandoned his nascent euroscepticism and went back to loyally cheerleading for the EU:

It is a shame to see Owen Jones – at his best an intelligent and articulate voice on the Left – frittering away his time on the EU referendum campaign by pointing out the foibles and tactical hypocrisies of the Leave campaign. But what other choice does he have? Despite knowing full well that the EU is unreformable, Jones has committed to supporting Britain’s continued membership.

I think that this is a betrayal of the democratic accountability and local control that Jones spends much of his time promoting. And I suspect that he does, too. Which is why we can all expect to see lots more “gotcha” videos on YouTube criticising individual members of the Leave campaign, but not a damn thing praising the European Union or explaining how this magical socialist “reform” of the EU is to be achieved.

After all, nothing distracts from a guilty conscience like pointing out the flaws, failings and inconsistencies of other people.

The behaviour of the British Left during the EU referendum campaign would probably make quite an interesting psychological study as an exercise in mass delusion. Thousand of not millions of people with solid left-wing beliefs and a rightful distrust of the establishment are now simultaneously trying to convince themselves that voting for the establishment and the status quo is somehow the brave, left wing thing to do.

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This coping mechanism takes its toll, which is why left-wing Remainers are so much happier when they are criticising the behaviour of the Leave campaign (making their slanderous allegations of racism and so on) – the more they talk about the wretchedness of the Evil Tories, the less time they have to consider their own betrayal of left-wing principles.

And just look at what it is the supposedly compassionate, generous and open hearted Left are endorsing by campaigning for a Remain vote:

One of the major disasters of the Remain endorsement by substantial parts of the Left is that many seem incapable of acknowledging that the EU has by now become masterful at generating racism and promoting finance capitalism. Acknowledging this dynamic is frankly essential in understanding the rise of Far-Right forces across Europe. The EU was more than willing to impose sanctions on Greece when it became tempted to disobey orders to kowtow to European banks, but it seems far less willing to do anything about the rise of the Far-Right in Germany, France, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Austria and Hungary. As Kevin Ovenden recently put it in Counterfire: ‘Far from countering the far right and authoritarian tendencies, the EU – with its austerity, Fortress Europe, anti-democratic diktats and endemic national antagonisms – is generating those reactionary features: and not only on the far right. The EU is fully behind the French government of Francois Hollande. It has suspended basic freedoms under an eight-month old state of emergency and is using the militarised police to batter through new austerity measures passed not by parliament, but by executive decree’.

[..] The ‘choice’ of austerity in Britain is no such thing in the EU, being part of its treaty. Anyone who claims that the EU is beneficial to workers’ right clearly hasn’t read the text of its treaty, which makes it very clear what the EU’s intentions are, and always have been. The ‘freedom’ for big firms to move capital, labour and commodities without any restrictions in order to maximise profits, regardless of social or environmental cost, is something no genuine socialist, communist or anarchist could ever support. Moreover, the EU is infamously driven towards privatisation, ‘free markets’ and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (largely the work of the Troika) – which signifies game over for much of Britain’s indigenous industries if adopted, as the EU’s 28 states engage in a race to the bottom in order to diminish living standards and workers’ rights.

Hardly the kind of behaviour that a good comrade should be defending, surely?

Oh wait, this explains it:

In the face of this apparently austere ideology, the EU is nevertheless careful to generously fund British quangos, charities, arts groups, museums and universities to ensure the recycling of a healthy pro-EU sentiment amongst the influential middle class intelligentsia, academia and commentariat, ensuring that most of its major limitations are sidelined or forgotten about. It manages to do all this after having intentionally destroyed Britain’s fishing industry. This system amounts to one of the clearest definitions of a racket.

But it is more than a racket, isn’t it? It is almost what you might call class warfare – the privileged and well connected upper middle classes aggressively asserting their interests (continued funding for their quangos and charities) over the interests of the working classes. Again, Murphy is absolutely right to call out the hypocrisy.

Murphy is also right to ask how the Left will be viewed if Britain does vote to Leave, in a future where smoothly exiting from political union while maintaining access to the single market ensured that none of the Remainers’ apocalyptic warnings of economic ruin come true:

A serious Left argument against the EU needs to be presented both in the event of a Leave or Remain vote, since without the presence of any serious Lexit arguments being presented, in the event of a Leave vote left-wing Remainers will be thoroughly cornered and will be forced to rapidly re-orient their tactics to accommodate for the likely UKIP gains (among many other things). When Remainers focus purely on the positives of the (often dubious) positives of EU, we should ask how this dishonest and skewed set of priorities will be interpreted post-referendum.

Absolutely so.

When the dust settles, and when Britain continues its slide away from democracy in the event of a Remain vote, all that people will remember is the likes of Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Jones – people who pride themselves on their right-on credentials – standing shoulder to shoulder with the establishment in defence of the status quo. And when they tremulously offer their “battered spouse” excuse (but I thought we could change the EU!) they will rightly be scorned, and mocked and then ignored.

Already UKIP is starting to encroach on Labour’s heartland vote. Labour MPs and former ministers are lashing out in confusion and outrage at the unwillingness of local councillors and ordinary party activists to help them in their great establishment effort to keep Britain in the EU. On this issue, the parliamentary party and the grassroots are starting to come apart at the seams. And in the event of a Remain vote, you can be sure that UKIP will be there, ready to pick up swathes more disaffected Labour votes.

The question of Britain’s independence is not a partisan issue. It is equally as shameful when conservatives are willing to sell out their own democracy as when socialists do the same. But given the nature of the EU, and how this corrupt supranational political union benefits the wealthy and well connected elites far more than the people, it is Labour’s dogged support for Remain that stinks to high heaven.

Tony Benn would be ashamed of what his party has become. Labour are supposed to be the party of ordinary people. We know because they never shut up about it. And yet nearly the entire Labour Party is uncritically cheering the status quo and our ongoing membership of a dysfunctional political union which nobody would invent if it didn’t exist, and nobody would join if it did.

But of course, there were always two sides to the Labour Party – the cerebral middle class ideologues and internationalists, and the working class movement borne out of the trades union movement. Well, we know what happened to that particular branch of Labour in the age of the SpAdocracy. Now all that’s left is the middle class clerisy.

Now, the middle class left-wing clerisy want desperately to stay in the European Union – it funds their research, universities, development schemes, artistic projects and businesses, funnelling them British taxpayer money without the unseemly need to beg the taxpayers directly in elections.

They love the EU because it enables them to virtue-signal their enlightened progressivism, while also delivering a whole host of lucrative in-house side benefits. And if it means betraying democracy, betraying the poor and betraying the interests of Labour’s core voters, that’s just fine. So long as that grant money keeps flowing, of course.

Sadly for these parasitic folks and their defenders on the pro-EU left, some of us are watching, observing and taking note. And when the time for blame and judgement comes around, there will be no escaping accountability for having sided against democracy in their arrogance, fear, ignorance and greed.

We will make sure of it.

 

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Unmasking The Anti-Democratic European Union

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Elections alone do not make democracy

You’ll probably have heard it a thousand times by now, from a succession of glazed eyed EU apologists – “people have a nerve calling the EU anti-democratic! The European Parliament has proportional representation, which is better than the House of Commons! And what about the unelected Lords?”

The insidious idea that because parts of the British constitutional framework are undemocratic we should freely accept the deliberately antidemocratic governance of the European Union is glib and toxic, and deserves to be rebutted.

Fortunately, the bloggers of The Leave Alliance have been hard at work doing just that.

Lost Leonardo of the Independent Britain blog breaks it down to basics:

Democracy, from the Greek—demos and kratia—literally means ‘people power’. A democratic system is one in which decisions are taken as closely to the people as possible. The UK system of parliamentary or representative democracy could be said to be a limited democracy while the Swiss system of direct democracy is what one might call a true democracy.

The EU government, for that is what it is, is not only undemocratic but anti-democratic. The people have no control over the decision-making process whatsoever.

First of all, there is no self-identifying European demos. I am happy to identify as European, but I do not regard German or French people as my fellow countrymen. Although we are all born of the same civilisation, our different languages, cultures, customs and traditions makes us foreign to one another. The kind of solidarity needed to constitute a demos cannot be forced or faked and it is simply not present at the continental level. I am British first, not European.

As a result, the idea that the European Parliament represents the people of Europe is absurd. European elections are not really European elections so much as snapshots of how discontented a given people are with the politicians in charge of their respective national governments. Turnout in European elections is low, not only in Britain, and very few people take the results seriously. The European Parliament is the weakest of the five most important EU institutions: the European Commission, the European Parliament, the European Court of Justice, the European Council and the Council of the EU.

Lost Leonardo then goes on to detail how the strength and breadth of the EU Commission’s power alone is proof that the system was deliberately designed to lift power and decision making as far above the heads of the people as possible:

There are three features of the EU system which cement the European Commission’s dominance. First of all, the EU is the supreme law-making authority in the Member States. The precedents for this are long-established in European and English law. EU law trumps British law, and where the two conflict, the judge will find in favour of the EU. In the event that a decision is disputed, the final judgement is made by what is, while Britain remains in the EU, the highest court in the land, the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

Second, the European Commission has sole “right of initiative” within the EU. No new EU law can be proposed, amended or repealed without Commission involvement and approval. This is the key to the anti-democratic character of the EU. There is no way to “reform” this aspect of the EU because no initiative can or will progress without Commission consent. There is no mechanism to compel the Commission to act; legislative proposals put to the Commission by other EU institutions are advisory only.

The Commission is the executive arm of a supranational government, but the commissioners are not directly accountable to anybody. The European Parliament has the power to unseat the entire Commission, which has happened once, but there is no mechanism to hold individual commissioners to account.

Third, the Commission itself is comprised of political appointees who swear an oath of allegiance to act in the interests of the EU as a whole rather than representing the interests of any particular nation-state. Thereby does the Commission protect the body of EU law from democratic accountability.

This is the inverse of the British idea of freedom under law which is founded on the principle that no Parliament may bind its successor. Under the EU system of governance, every law is sacrosanct unless or until the Commission says otherwise.

Some EU apologists will try to hold up the fact that there is always a British commissioner as some kind of safeguard or firewall protecting our interests, but as Lost Leonardo points out this is entirely misleading – their allegiance is to the European Union only.

Tony Edwards of The Brexit Door blog gives us an overview of the type of calibre individuals which often make it to the European Commission:

Our present commissioner is Lord Hill, his role is in the financial stability portfolio. He has never been elected to any office in the UK. Other commissioners have often been failed or deposed politicians, none so more that the UK representatives: Mandleson, Kinnock, Patten, Jenkins, Brittan. Others were totally unelected at any stage such as Baroness Aston who was held the foreign affairs portfolio during the failed Ukraine adventure.

Which is less than ideal, because:

Individual commissioners cannot be removed by anyone but the commission or the council. The entire commission can be removed by a no confidence vote in the parliament.

So in essence the executive is almost unassailable, has prerogative on all legislative matters and its members are unelected. Not only that, they cannot be removed by the will of the people unless the parliament is willing to unseat the entire commission – a very unlikely scenario.

And Edwards rightly concludes:

The structures of the EU are in a sense democratic in one feature, in that they hold elections. But the power of the people is incredibly far removed from the real holders of power, the commission itself, which is not democratically elected nor removable by the people directly. It is not democracy in any form that would be acceptable in the UK institutions, and the people are largely voiceless in it.

Not only that, the bodies are constituted in such a way that those who are against the general direction of further federalisation are always in the minority. In effect, once a competence has been passed to the EU, there is no mechanism for it to be returned. The ECJ, by activism can also extend the role of the EU through interpretation of the treaties, and this transfer of competencies is also irreversible in practice. Any move to repeal legislation must realistically be made by or sanctioned by the Commission.

Reform of the EU is therefore impossible. It is designed with only one purpose, to integrate more and more power to the Commission which then acts as the head of a European Superstate. The commission makes the law and sets the direction of travel with little resistance from the EU representative structure.

But still, Remainers love to suggest that it is the United Kingdom which is democratically broken, and the European Union the white knight come to rescue us. Of course our British democracy has its flaws. The unelected nature of the House of Lords. The fact that Britain ranks alongside Iran as the only other country to have unelected clerics sitting in its upper legislative chamber – a literal theocracy.

But these are reasons to take back power first from the European Union, and then set about reforming our broken government in Westminster. We need root and branch constitutional reform to unpick decades and centuries of patching, fixing and bribing, so that at long last we have a constitutional settlement we might be proud of (or at least less ashamed of having to explain to perplexed foreigners).

We should devolve power equally to the four home nations of the United Kingdom, giving Wales, Northern Ireland and England the kind of policymaking and fiscal autonomy currently enjoyed by Scotland. Tax should be devolved even further, with a low base rate of UK income tax to fund the functions of the federal Westminster government – things like defence and foreign affairs – topped up by the home nations, regions and local authorities as they see fit, according to local needs and priorities.

But even if you disagree wholeheartedly with this suggested approach, these are decisions that Britain should make as an independent, sovereign state, not as a vassal of the European Union, which exists solely to act as a ratchet towards political union and for whom good governance is very much an afterthought.

But as Pete North darkly warns, we should be under no illusion as to what will happen if we fail to take this opportunity to wrest back power from the European Union as the first step toward revitalising our democracy:

Having failed to break the political deadlock the referendum will be used as an excuse to ignore the dissent and resentment bubbling under the surface. They will be free to do as they please as though a remain vote was a mandate. The cycle of introverted navel gazing will continue among our political class while the vitality of the media continues to drain away and journalism slides into the abyss.

And having surrendered the substance of government we shall see a further abdication from grown up decision making. We will have lost any kind of effective early warning system by way of having totally dysfunctional politics and we will be forever be on the backfoot, responding ineptly to crisis after crisis without the means to defend ourselves and lacking the political intelligence to formulate policy.

In that regard, one might have some sympathy with the remainer view that Britain does not have the capacity for self-governance. We have already squandered much of it. And if that be so, and the verdict from this referendum is that we should simply surrender and fade into obscurity, travesty though that will be, then this really is the end of Britain as an independent nation.

And what then?

There is a fork in the road. One road leads to a reboot; a collective reorganisation of everything to reshape our country to meet the challenges of the future. The other road leads to subordination, irrelevance and the quiet death of democracy.

In this, should we choose to remain, I don’t expect to see a big implosion. Just a very gradual crisis of competence. Things will break down without anybody quite knowing why – or even noticing that they are broken. Taxes will go up, prices will go up, the number and quality of services will decline. We will find ourselves paying for that which we assume we have already paid.

Corporates and government will do as they please to us as they will have figured out that all of the power is theirs and we won’t resist. We won’t rock the boat. We won’t risk anything radical. We will do anything to preserve the status quo and not let anything difficult intrude on our lives. Obedience is always the path of least resistance.

In that, you will be free in your gilded cage. Free so long as you live within the margins and pay your bills on time. If you make a stand individually you will be picked off. The whole weight of the system will come crashing down on you. You will have no democratic recourse. No day in court. No defence. No justice.

The European Union exists first and foremost as a ratchet process toward the full economic and political union of its constituent member states. You don’t have to take my word for it, or anyone else’s – the EU’s founders and past and present leaders openly admit as much. Only in Britain do we bury our heads in the sand as to this crucial fact.

This is the EU’s first and only priority. And if achieving it means dooming the south to permanent recession, exacerbating a worsening migrant crisis or committing any other kind of governmental vandalism, so be it. The EU certainly has no particular desire for individuals and communities to gain more control over their lives and the decisions which affect them – indeed, the entire structure of the EU reflects an enormous fear and disdain for the sentiments and priorities of ordinary people among the sainted “founding fathers”.

So whatever flaws may exist in our imperfect British democracy, do not believe for a moment that we shall transcend them by fearfully voting to remain in the European Union. We shall not.

And if you think things are bad now, wait until our Westminster parliament is truly just a council chamber in Europe.

 

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Greece Capitulates, And The Euro Project Claims Its First Victim

 

Much of what Guy Verhofstadt shouted at Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras in the European Parliament the other day – captured in the video above, which has since gone viral – is perfectly true.

Yes, Greece has dragged its feet making necessary pro-market economic reforms, not just over the past five years but since that country joined the European Union in 1981. Yes, tax collection is not what it should be in a modern western economy. Yes, there remain too many closed industries, stifling competition with their restrictive practices and deliberately insurmountable barriers to entry. Yes, corruption is still a real problem in some cases. And yes, the Greeks voted in a left-wing Syriza government well endowed with socialist rhetoric but less so with reforming zeal.

And yet when you watch a democratically elected leader – the prime minister of one of the EU’s own member states – being lectured and belittled in view of the whole world by a European parliamentarian, something does not sit right in the stomach. Unlike Britain, Greece is an enthusiastic EU member, viewing their membership of the organisation and the single currency as a marker of national progress and development. But must this be the price of their ongoing membership, their leaders summoned to Brussels for public rebuke and their ministries thrown open to clipboard-wielding EU technocrats?

As was perhaps inevitable, Greece has largely capitulated in the ongoing standoff with their creditors and the European Union. Austerity measures, even more than were demanded before the “Oxi” vote in the Greek referendum – which itself tells you a lot about the real motivations behind the EU’s negotiating strategy, not seeking a sustainable deal but wanting to punish a small member state for not immediately doing what it was told – are now being willingly accepted in the latest Greek proposal.

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