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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American Conservatives For Brexit, Part 4

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Brexit is very much in the American spirit of independence, and in no way harmful to long term US interests

In an excellent piece for Colorado Christian University’s Centennial Institute, James C. Bennett argues convincingly that the US national interest is no longer best served by pursuing the post-war policy of playing midwife to a terminally flawed United States of Europe.

Bennett begins by exposing the sheer implausibility of a stable, functional, democratic European state – the clear and unabashed goal of most EU leaders – ever emerging at all:

To begin with, the idea of a united Europe that would be genuinely federal, which is to say anything other than an empire of one culture over the others, is highly unlikely if not chimerical. To the extent Europe today works, it is an empire of Germans, with the French as their lieutenants, over the rest. The Germans try to be polite about it, unless money is at stake, but the reality is a bit too visible for comfort these days. The British who believe in the idea of their place in a federal Europe, tend to work as lieutenants to the Germans on economic matters, and allies of the French on security matters, except where it comes to cooperation with the US, where they have only minor allies from Eastern Europe, who do not count for much in Brussels.

As many critics of the EU have noted, democracy requires a demos — a distinct national community, which shares the language, institutions, memories, and experiences that make possible a meaningful discussion about the decisions that must be made through political means. There is no such European people, rather, a series of national communities who each have their own discussions. European institutions are therefore particularly prone to decision-making by consensus of elites, many of whom are distant and insulated from the opinions of the people they supposedly represent. However, it is also the case that decisions are often simply not made, and inertia rules, while problems are merely kicked down the road year after year. The Single Currency provides examples of all of these phenomena — it took a long time to come to the decision to launch it; it was only ever wanted by a few elites; popular opinion was almost universally against it; it worked better for some nations than for others, but poorly for most; and there is no momentum either for changing institutions to make it work better, on the one hand, or abandoning it on the other.

This point about the perennially absent European demos is absolutely key. Even if one were to wave a magic wand and instantly make all of the European Union institutions directly elected, properly empower the European Parliament and take other measures to correct what is understatedly termed the EU’s “democratic deficit”, it would not give those institutions any greater legitimacy.

If Britain were suddenly annexed by India and British citizens given a vote in Indian elections this would not be “democracy”, but rather the smashing together of one demos against another. British citizens would not feel part of the Indian state, would have no emotional connection to it and no great political interest in it. And so it is now that Britain is effectively annexed by the European Union. Even building a perfectly modelled federal government for Europe would not erase the stubborn fact that most British people do not “feel” European first and foremost, and therefore cannot participate meaningfully in its political life.

Bennett goes on to criticise the EU as a weak partner to the United States:

Furthermore, the EU is not turning out to be a useful ally for the US, nor is Britain able to influence very much in directions the US desires. To the extent it has ambitions in the security area, these typically create a rival and inferior capability to what already exists through NATO. To the extent it has ambitions in the foreign policy area, it is so hard to establish a consensus among European powers that its policies are usually much weaker than what Britain typically adopts by itself. The European federalists are now agitating for France and Britain to give over their UN Security Council seats to the EU, which will again substitute the weak and uncertain voice of the EU for the more assertive voice of the UK.

While the EU’s leaders clearly have dreams of wielding great influence on the world stage, they are constantly stymied in their ambitions by the fact that they are called on to reflect the squabbling and divergent interests of 28 separate member states. Floridians and Californians are happy to be jointly represented by the State Department because they owe their primary allegiance and affinity to the United States of America. By contrast, Brits and Swedes are not greatly thrilled to be jointly represented on the international stage by Italian former Young Communist Federica Mogherini. On paper, Mogherini speaks for all of Europe. In reality, she speaks only for an EU elite numbering in the thousands, not millions.

Bennett, like this blog and others of The Leave Alliance, believes that an interim EFTA/EEA (or Norway Option) Brexit path is the most likely outcome in the event of a Leave vote, minimising the economic and political risks by guaranteeing Britain’s continued access to the single market:

The international financial community would probably default to the second most desirable option from their point of view, which would be to press for British membership in the European Economic Area and the European Free Trade Association, the so-called “Norway Model.” Although in theory there are a number of potentially viable options for post-Brexit relations between the UK and the remnant EU, the EEA-EFTA model would be the most accessible, best understood, and least disruptive option, and therefore the one the financial interests would prefer. The major European leaders would then come under very strong pressure to announce their support for such an outcome. Once made, along with guarantees to expatriates and other interests, this would restablilize markets and probably become the signal for a sustained rally.

This recognition of economic and political reality immediately puts James Bennett well ahead of serious American journalistic outlets including CNN, USA Today and the New York Times, all of which defaulted to the most apocalyptic and unlikely of Brexit scenarios in their effort to make the idea of Britain leaving the EU seem like a reckless risk with no potential upside.

However, Bennett’s assessment on the impact of Brexit on American interests is better still (my emphasis in bold):

From a short-term perspective, Brexit would have relatively little effect on American interests. Article 50 of the European Union’s current constitutional document, the Lisbon Treaty, provides for member-states to withdraw by giving a two-year notice of intent to withdraw, and mandates the EU to negotiate in good faith for free-trade measures during that time period. During that time period all rights and obligations of membership continue as normal, so US companies operating in Britain would continue to function as normal. The EEA-EFTA option would also permit such companies to operate as normal after EU membership was terminated. Most other US-UK cooperation, such as military and intelligence cooperation, is conducted under bilateral or multilateral agreements having nothing to do with the EU, and would continue to function as normal.

The biggest short-term effect will be on the American foreign policy establishment, in seeing the fundamental assumptions of their world view challenged. Some will cling to the past, and hope that the UK, humbled by life outside of the EU, will repent and ask to rejoin. This is highly unlikely, as it is more likely that the EU, now shorn of the most powerful and stubborn opponent of a United States of Europe, will proceed to greater centralization, although it is also possible that it will shed a few other recalcitrant members, perhaps including Denmark and/or Sweden. The Franco-German core, and the principal Eastern and Southern European dependent states will likely remain. However, this reduced remnant EU will still not become the capable and willing partner the US State Department has always craved. Rather, it will be a medium-large power with problems, somewhat like Japan but with a less capable military.

Exactly so. The only threat posed by Brexit concerns the outdated thinking of certain fossils and arthritic thinkers within the State Department, many of whom seem to be operating based on mental software which has not been updated since the height of the Cold War, when large regional blocs were both the norm and the key to the West’s victory against the Soviet Union. The world has moved on.

And in this age of globalisation, when regulatory harmonisation and convergence are key precursors to unlocking further economic growth, what matters most – though you may not hear many others speaking of it – is ensuring that ordinary people, through their national governments, have the ability to influence these standards and decisions when they are made, and on rare occasions to exempt themselves from them as a last resort. This applies as much to America as to Britain. But from the British perspective, the EU is an active impediment to this process, diluting our influence before we even get to the regional and world bodies which are the source of much new regulation.

And away from the trade sphere, it is self-evident that Britain will remain the only truly indispensable ally of the United States for the foreseeable future. Our shared history and overlapping cultures, together with the fact that Britain wields a military and diplomatic clout far in excess of any other European nation (though recent generations of meek political leaders have often failed to properly leverage this advantage) mean that the idea of Washington pivoting away from London and towards Berlin is pure fantasy. Simply put, you don’t ditch the partner which offers a blue water navy, a nuclear deterrent and a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, no matter how much certain wobbly-lipped EU apologists may suggest that Brexit would somehow damage the special relationship.

Ultimately, a realisation must eventually dawn on the American political elite and foreign policy establishment that the dream of a United States of Europe incorporating the United Kingdom – a term conjured by Churchill but never intended to include Britain – is untenable. A federal Europe may yet emerge from the “core” EU nations, but as James Bennett points out, this will be a distinctly medium-sized power beset with many intractable problems of its own and unlikely to be a great proactive partner to the United States, at least in military matters.

Thus a re-evaluation is necessary. Today, Britain is seeking to assert her independence from a terminally flawed and profoundly, deliberately antidemocratic supranational government of Europe. Americans once knew something about seeking independence from empire and asserting the right of a people to govern themselves, captured in the cry “no taxation without representation”.

America also knows something about turning up a bit late to important, existential fights. And so even at this late hour, it would be gratifying if more American leaders paid heed to James C. Bennett, sought to rediscover that spirit of independence, democracy and national destiny which has been increasingly absent of late, and lent their vocal support to the Brexit cause.


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The Deployment Of Jeremy Clarkson, Self-Described European Citizen, Suggests A Remain Campaign In Disarray

What was David Cameron thinking, allowing himself to be pictured joking around with an arch euro-federalist days before the EU referendum?

I strongly suspect that David Cameron will come to regret trying to enlist Jeremy Clarkson and the remainder of the ex Top Gear rabble to support his tawdry and deceitful campaign to keep Britain in the European Union.

For while it made a great photo op, our dashing prime minister ladding about with old Clarkson, unfortunately Jeremy Clarkson then opened his mouth and spoke. And what he said was very far from the official Britain Stronger in Europe line of “oh gee, the EU is awfully frustrating, but we have to stick with it because we are just not good enough to handle this whole independence thing”.

No, as we saw earlier this year, Jeremy Clarkson is a committed EU federalist – and to his credit, he makes no effort to hide the fact that he feels European first and foremost, and that he wants the embryonic common European state to hurry up and finish hatching so that he can be a true European citizen.

And so, just when David Cameron needed Jezza to come out with a suitably “Eurosceptics for Remain” soundbite, Jeremy Clarkson instead gave us this (my emphasis in bold):

Really, it’s my gut. My gut tells me, as you know, I feel European, and therefore I want to be in Europe – for no other reason.

Because I’ve heard some very compelling reasons for leaving, sitting next to people who want to leave. And they are quite compelling.

And then Clarkson’s sidekick, James May, joins in the unwitting sabotage:

If I’m honest it’s a gut feeling for me as well. It’s because I feel that Britain is naturally disposed, if we’re not careful, to being rather backward in its view on the world. And there are too many people who think that we’ll be alright because we’ve got the E-type Jag. But that’s just not true, and being part of Europe is part of moving on.

In other words, instead of “I hate the EU too, but we are stuck with it because it’s the only thing on offer”, instead Clarkson and May gave us “Britain sucks and we’re all European citizens anyway! Let’s strive on to complete the grand project!”. Which rather undermines every single thing that the prime minister has been saying since he launched the Remain campaign – namely that the EU is a benign club devoted to trade, cooperation and nothing more, with no intentions to further impinge on our democracy, as well as the already-tenuous idea that voting Remain is in any way the patriotic thing to do.

It also rather contradicts the Remain campaign’s claim to have all of the facts on their side, while we knuckle-dragging Brexiteers exist in a kind of Trumpian, Palinite post-fact world. After all, Jeremy Clarkson’s argument for remaining in the EU doesn’t even remotely touch on the economic scaremongering which is so central to Stronger In’s messaging, which rather calls it into question. If the economic question is key and the “expert opinion” so settled that Brexit would be a disaster, why is the prime minister doing a photo op with someone who couldn’t give two figs about the economy because all he cares about is casting off his hated Britishness and becoming a truly European citizen?

Watch David Cameron’s pinched expression as Clarkson goes on about how European he feels, and then when May waxes lyrical about hopeless, parochial Britain with its backward inhabitants. You can see in the prime minister’s face the suppressed annoyance of a man who realises that his clever photo op has just massively backfired, and that the video footage they are capturing will be of absolutely zero use during the remainder of the campaign.

Why? Because unsurprisingly, the remaining undecided voters in this EU referendum campaign are not themselves ardent euro-federalists. Indeed, almost nobody falls into this peculiar category. And the last thing that the Remain campaign wants to be showing undecided voters – most likely people with no great love for the EU, but with gnawing fears about the economic risks of Brexit – is a self-satisfied millionaire celebrity who probably spends half the year sunning himself in the south of France and who sniffs at Britishness and considers himself European.

But still, one has to respect Jeremy Clarkson for at least being honest, as this blog pointed out when he first nailed his colours to the EU mast:

Unlike an oleaginous Turncoat Tory, Clarkson does not feel the need to butter us up with constant anecdotes about how he hates Brussels just as much as we do, honest. And unlike those bland Remainers on the Labour benches, he does not just mutter inanities about countries “working together”, as though intergovernmental co-operation were not possible without the umbrella of an undemocratic political union.

No, Jeremy Clarkson owns his position, and has the guts to tell us that not only should we learn to love the European Union as it is now, we should actively fight for further political integration.

Of course, this failed photo op took place before the tragic murder of Jo Cox MP changed the atmosphere of the referendum campaign. But it provides a snapshot of a Remain campaign not functioning as well as it should, and making bad tactical decisions – like wheeling out an ardent, unapologetic euro-federalist to try to reach a group of voters with significant doubts about the EU.

Whether or not the Remain campaign has used the past few days to steady the ship and reassert some sensible decision making will probably become clear on Monday, when both campaigns spin back up to full speed. But little vignettes such as this do paint a picture of a Remain campaign in disarray, if not outright panic – which can only be good for Brexiteers.


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The American Establishment, Having Lost Faith In Their Own Country, Naturally Oppose Brexit Too

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How quickly they forget

If there was one country in the world which you might think would understand the importance of democracy, the right to self determination and freedom from unaccountable government, it would be the United States of America.

And so it has been particularly depressing to watch politicians and commentators from the United States dutifully line up to support the European Union and condemn Brexit as some sort of frivolous and deliberate act of economic self-harm with no potential upsides whatsoever.

Latest to join the fray are the Washington Post (in a piece now being widely shared on social media by Remainers) and the New York Times, both of which condemn Brexit as an isolationist fantasy without showing any evidence of having researched the issue in any detail.

First, the Washington Post, which claims that advocating Brexit is to “flirt with economic insanity”:

Countries usually don’t knowingly commit economic suicide, but in Britain, millions seem ready to give it a try. On June 23, the United Kingdom will vote to decide whether to quit the European Union, the 28-nation economic bloc with a population of 508 million and a gross domestic product of almost $17 trillion. Let’s not be coy: Leaving the E.U. would be an act of national insanity.

[..] What this debate is really about is Britain’s place in the world and its self-identity. Britain has long been of Europe but also apart from it. The British Empire was once the world’s largest. To be simply another member of a continental confederation, albeit an important member, offends this heritage. The nostalgic yearning is understandable, but it is not a policy.

Ironically, leaving the E.U. would confirm the U.K.’s reduced status. The U.K. would have to renegotiate its trading agreements with the E.U. and dozens of other countries. A deal with the E.U. is essential. For the U.K., the best outcome would be to retain much of its preferential access, which — as a practical matter — would mean continuing contributions to the E.U. budget and abiding by most E.U. regulations. The status quo would survive, except that the U.K. would have no influence over E.U. policies. Anything less than this would have the E.U. putting its own members at a competitive disadvantage.

One could drive an entire convoy of trucks through the holes in this argument – like the implied assertion that maintaining EEA access would require “abiding by most EU regulations” when in fact it would only mean following those directives and regulations which pertain to the single market (well under half of the total).

Note, too, the dismissive attempt to make euroscepticism sound like a nostalgic hampering for empire. What is really outdated, though, is the WashPost’s antiquated belief that membership of “continental confederation[s]” or giant regional blocs is somehow necessary for national prosperity, despite the Cold War having ended a quarter of a century ago. The Post has made no effort to actually understand what motivates Brexiteers – be it the “liberal leavers” like this blog, or the more traditionalist types in UKIP – and instead falls back on a bed of platitudes and outdated assumptions.

This is the New York Times’ distilled view of Brexiteers:

The euroskepticism that has led to the British referendum, and that forms a strong component of the right-wing nationalist parties on the rise in many European countries, is not about efficiency or history. It is about ill-defined frustration with the complexities of a changing world and a changing Europe, a loss of faith in mainstream politicians and experts, a nostalgia for a past when nations decided their own fates and kept foreigners out. To those who hold these views, the European Union is the epitome of all that has gone wrong, an alien bureaucracy deaf to the traditions and values of its members. Not surprisingly, Mr. Trump and the French politician Marine Le Pen both favor Brexit.

What a condescending view of all Brexiteers, with an insidious Donald Trump comparison as a snobby garnish. The Times is utterly oblivious to the real world of global trade and regulation, and the slowly emerging global single market which is making the EU obsolete, as this blog pointed out yesterday while criticising the Economist’s unsurprising decision to support Remain:

The bloggers of The Leave Alliance in particular have exposed the fascinating world of international trade and regulation, and the slowly emerging global single market – comprised of the real global “top tables” – of which Britain could be a part, if only we had the national confidence to stop hiding behind the euro-parochialism of Brussels.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post concludes:

Viewed this way, Brexit is an absurdity. But it is a potentially destructive absurdity. It creates more uncertainty in a world awash in uncertainty. This would weaken an already sputtering global economy by giving firms and consumers another reason to pull back on spending.

It would be better for the U.K. to stay in the E.U. It would also be better for the E.U., because Britain provides political and intellectual balance. Finally, it would be better for the United States, which doesn’t need a major ally — Britain — to go delusional.

Ah, so that’s what this is really all about – stability and predictability for the United States. It would have been much more honest if the Post had simply admitted this upfront, rather than squandering credibility by feigning concern for Britain’s economic and geopolitical welfare – and then advancing the bizarre notion that America’s strongest and closest ally should continue to tolerate infringements on her democracy which the United States would never accept for itself.

But in one sense the Washington Post is quire right – Brexit would indeed cause some short term uncertainty. That is inevitable when we are dealing with such consequential matters of state. It’s just that some things matter more than the fear of precipitating a period of short term uncertainty. Why should Britain, like a frog placed in cold water, remain fearfully in situ as the temperature increases and the water starts to boil? Because jumping out of the water into dry land would be a “leap in the dark”? Because it would be a departure from the status quo? Well, yes, so it would. But the EU, a relentlessly integrating political union beset by crises of currency, mobility and democratic legitimacy is the proverbial vat of boiling water. “The devil we know” hardly seems to apply here.

The New York Times is no better, beginning with a most ludicrous proposition:

It was Queen Elizabeth’s official 90th birthday celebration last Sunday, and tables for 10,000 guests were set along the Mall in central London. Steadily the rain fell, dripping out of the tubas of the bands and softening the sandwiches, but Her Majesty’s subjects munched on with stoic British spirit, standing up to cheer as she passed.

In her fuchsia coat and matching hat, she waved and grinned as if nothing had changed and never would. But next week, a very great change may come.

On Thursday, Britons will vote in a referendum on whether their country should stay in the European Union or leave it. If a majority opts for “Brexit,” a long earthquake begins. It will topple the old facade of Britishness. It will disrupt, perhaps mortally, the foundations of European unity. The sense of a fateful moment suddenly peaked on Thursday, when, the police say, a young Labour member of Parliament named Jo Cox was shot to death in her West Yorkshire district by a man who is said to have shouted, “Put Britain first!” and to have been involved in the white-supremacist National Alliance in the United States.

All campaigning was suspended for a day of appalled mourning, amid fears that widespread anxiety about European immigration was being inflamed into violent racialism. Ms. Cox was a rising star, admired in and outside Parliament for her selfless energy on behalf of refugees and the poor. Her friends hope her death may cool referendum passions, reminding sullen voters that “not all politicians are in it for themselves.”

Royal ceremonies offer a brief, reassuring illusion of continuity, but at the back of many minds on the Mall was this thought: Could we be saying goodbye not just to this beloved old lady, but to a certain idea of nationhood? An outward-looking, world-involved Great Britain may soon shrink into a Little England.

It is frankly hilarious that the New York Times is trying to portray Brexit as some kind of grievous departure from the proper trajectory of history by referencing the Queen, when Queen Elizabeth II was on the throne several years before the European Coal and Steel Community was even formed, and decades before Britain finally joined the European Economic Community.

In other words, it is the European Union and its hateful, antidemocratic model of supranational governance which is the departure from historical norms, and Brexit the antidote which aims to restore the nation state as the proper guarantor of our basic rights and freedoms. That the New York Times is unable (or unwilling) to admit this only shows just how deeply they buy into the carefully cultivated “inevitability” of the EU.

The venerable Times tarnishes its reputation even further as it moves on to the topic of immigration:

Is it a baseless panic? Many European countries tolerate far higher levels of immigration. Scotland, with a new community of some 55,000 Poles, actively encourages it. In England, support for Brexit and for the xenophobic U.K. Independence Party is often in inverse proportion to the scale of the problem: The fewer immigrants there are in a town, the louder the outcry against foreigners. In contrast, polling in inner London, where about four out of 10 inhabitants are now foreign-born, shows a clear preference for staying in Europe.

This is just appalling journalism. Does UKIP attract a slightly higher proportion of xenophobes than other political parties. Yes, probably. But does that make the party “xenophobic”, as the New York Times casually claims? Absolutely not. One wants to ask Neal Ascherson (the author of the piece) how UKIP’s policy of a points-based immigration policy which stops discriminating against mostly white Europe in favour of a level playing field for immigrants from all countries can possibly be xenophobic. But of course, he would not be able to answer. It is received wisdom that UKIP is a borderline racist party, and so prestige publications like the New York Times are happy to print as much.

The New York Times then makes its own patronising reference to empire:

But there are deeper motives here than anxiety about the exchange rate or banks in London decamping to Frankfurt. Behind Brexit stalks the ghost of imperial exception, the feeling that Great Britain can never be just another nation to be outvoted by France or Slovakia. There’s still a providential feeling about Shakespeare’s “sceptred isle” as “this fortress built by Nature.” Or as an old Royal Marines veteran said to me, “God dug the bloody Channel for us, so why do we keep trying to fill it in?”

And swats away growing public dissatisfaction with political elites as an inconvenient nuisance:

English nationalism, though inchoate, is spreading. For older generations, it was cloaked in British patriotism. But now, having watched the Scots and the Welsh win their own parliaments, England — with no less than 84 percent of Britain’s population — feels aggrieved and unrepresented. And so the English have gone in search of their own identity politics, finding common cause with the general impatience with old political elites that is flaming up all over Europe.

For now, their angry sense of powerlessness is aimed at the European Union. But the truth is that it’s from bloated, privileged London, not Brussels, that the English need to take back control. The Brexit campaign orators, themselves members of that metropolitan elite, have carefully diverted English fury into empty foreigner-baiting. In France this month, English soccer hooligans’ chant was “We’re all voting Out!” as they beat up fans from other nations.

Presumably the New York Times supports the American system of government. One might think that this would lead them to reflexively support a strong and independent nation state organised on the federal model – or something like Brexit followed by constitutional reform to give equal powers and representation to the four home nations of the United Kingdom. And yet in this snivelling OpEd, they search instead for every reason imaginable, however slight, to criticise Brexit and overlook the manifold failings of the European Union. And they deny the independence and model of government which they themselves enjoy to the inhabitants of their strongest and closest ally.

And then comes the “convenience for the United States” argument, underlined with a threat:

It is certain that Brexit would do gross damage to both Europe and America. For the United States, it would mean the failure of many years of diplomacy. Britain would become at once less useful as an ally and less predictable. Washington would turn increasingly from London to Berlin.

Really, to Berlin?

Which is the nation with a blue water navy and armed forces capable of projecting global reach?

Which nation hosts the world’s capital city and leading city of finance?

Which nation is the declared nuclear power and UN Security Council P5 member?

Which nation shares a language and many elements of a culture with America?

There’s been a lot of bluster in this EU referendum campaign, but the notion that the United States would turn away from its only real dependable (and contributing) ally in the world to shack up instead with Germany is, frankly, laughable.

Both of these editorials – Washington Post and New York Times alike – seek above all to problematise the Brexit process, to burden it with what-ifs and doubts and problems while furiously overlooking the many problems with the status quo and the soon-to-be problems about to beset the European Union. They do not begin from a place of objectivity and a willingness to follow the facts. They do not even do justice to America’s own founding values, which would rightly balk at ever joining a democracy-sapping supranational government like the EU.

But most of all, they make it sound like Brexit is just too difficult. That whatever the merits, difficult things are now beyond our capabilities and that we must muddle through with the failing mid-century institutions bequeathed to us by our grandparents. This is fatalistic and depressing in the extreme, but it accurately represents the viewpoint of the establishment in both Britain and America, both world-leading countries which have markedly lost their way in recent years.

President Kennedy once entreated Americans to go to the moon and do the other things not because they are easy, but because they are hard – and because the striving toward an ambitious but difficult goal would be the best way to organise and measure the capabilities of the nation. And before that decade was out, Americans had walked on the surface of the moon.

Now, the two most prestigious newspapers in America are frantically counselling Britain not to reach for the metaphorical moon, not to reach for independence from a suffocating and failing European political union, not to do anything which might in any way rock the boat or stem our slow decline into euro-parochialism and global irrelevance, because doing so would be difficult and would create (shock, horror) a period of uncertainty.

In other words, the American establishment is looking upon Britain as though we have taken leave of our senses even by having this referendum. They, having lost faith in the strength and capability of their own country, expect Brexiteers to similarly write off our own.

But it is not we Brexiteers who are flirting with insanity, as the Washington Post so arrogantly claims. It is America which has lost its way, and the American establishment and political class which could learn something from the scrappy, underdog campaign to free Britain from the EU.


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The European Union’s Long Game

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The dream of a federal Europe is not dead, or even resting. European political union is a long game – watch closely on a day to day basis and you will notice nothing moving. Only when viewed at a distance of years and decades does the direction of travel become crystal clear

Pete North warns people against complacency:

One political meme travelling around academia at the moment is that the vision of the EUs founding fathers has stalled and will never become a reality so it’s ok to remain in the EU because there is a different destination of concentric circles bound under a loose alliance. It’s actually a convincing argument when you look at the reality on the ground, but it’s a piece of creative writing which ultimately ignores the nature of the beast.

The founding fathers were savvy in their design of le grande project. They always knew it could never be done all at once because the central vision would never secure a mandate. Integration by deception has always been the modus operandi. It salami slices powers little by little, so gradually that few ever notice. And you’d never see it unless you know what the game plan is. They were long term thinkers. They knew it would take a generation or so to advance their agenda and they had a roadmap to do it.

It has always used funding of local projects to manufacture consent. It’s why you’ll find EU logos emblazoned on any nature reserve or community hall or obscure museum out in the shires, to convince the plebs that their benevolent EU guardians cared more for them than the London government. It is why it funds universities too. Every strata of civil society has an injection of EU cash. Education, NGOs, you name it. And it works.

It is important to rebut the claim from EU apologists that Brexiteers are somehow exaggerating or indulging in conspiracy theories – often a sneering Remainer will say that eurosceptics have been warning about the coming European superstate for decades, and the fact that it has not yet quite arrived means that we are somehow wrong.

While the EU’s “founding fathers” were not exactly shy about their intentions for the nascent union, they also realised that supranationalism and the various tenets of statehood could not be spoken of too often in relation to the EU for fear of scaring people off. The process of integration would have to take place in stages, inching forward at opportune moments and often using crises as a pretext for the transfer of more powers (as we now see with the euro). Richard North and Christopher Booker’s masterful history of the EU, “The Great Deception”, draws on primary sources to spell this out in clear detail.

Pete continues:

The founding fathers always knew a day would come where the legitimacy of the EU would be questioned. And now you see how well their pernicious scheme worked, with the entirely of the civic establishment coming out in favour of remain. They have made idle supplicants of our institutions, robbing them of their vitality, curiosity and dynamism.

And those who speak up about this are often labelled cranks or conspiracy theorists. Except it is a conspiracy and one they published in full. They even founded an academic institution to promote it: “The Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies is an inter-disciplinary research centre at the heart of the European University Institute”. The hellmouth of europhile academics and functionaries.

The modus operandi is encoded into all of the treaties and articles of the EU. It is worked into the philosophy of the institutions and it is designed to resist any kind of reform – especially anything which may introduce democracy. There it lies, dormant in the system, but sufficiently restraining in order to prevent deviation from the path.

It may stall, it may go quiet, but the agenda is always there with the noose ever tightening – engineering for irreversibility. That is why the remains make such an issue of how we leave the EU. It was never meant to be easy. It was always a quicksand trap for democracies. The harder you pull away the more it sucks you in.

And so when we hear the ignorant prattle of cosseted and sinecured LSE academics telling us it’s safe to stay because the dream is dead, they are speaking from a position of naivety and ignorance. The Ghost of Monnet lives on. The ghoulish servants of the ideal still roam the corridors of Brussels and an infest social media spreading their poison, sewing doubts and rewriting history.

The more people learn about the history of the European Union, the more eurosceptic they become – almost every time. And part of that history is a shameful and profoundly undemocratic legacy of integrating slowly and by stealth, patiently overcoming obstacles (like referendum “no” votes) and grinding away to achieve the ultimate objective.

We should certainly not allow a bunch of highly self-interested and fundamentally untrustworthy academics to lull us into a false sense of security at this late stage.


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