Brexit: The Flight 93 Secession

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Whether you believe that Brexit is a brave and noble endeavour or a rash, ignoble folly probably depends a lot on your perception of short and long-term risk

Imagine that in some surreal scenario you mysteriously found yourself on board a huge passenger aircraft flying a multi-stop, seemingly never-ending transoceanic journey to nowhere.

As the hours and days tick by onboard this strange vessel you begin to question where the plane is taking everybody, and who set the flight plan. There’s an old framed picture of the airline’s founder, Jean Monnet, hanging at the front of the plane above the sealed cockpit door, but the captain and the other passengers refuse to clearly state the destination themselves, even though they all seem very anxious to get there. Rather than being candid, they make only vague allusions to the potential destination and arrival time, and repeatedly emphasise the importance of travelling together in a big, stable aircraft to keep us safe from turbulence.

Then suppose that one day you question whether you want to be on this flight in the first place – your fellow passengers keep getting sick, the pilot stops randomly at tiny airfields in seedy-looking places to let a whole bunch of extra people climb aboard without even checking their boarding passes, and while every seat comes with its own plastic toy steering wheel giving the childish illusion of individual control, it is plainly apparent that the pilot is the sole person in charge.

You also have strong suspicions that a certain Lederhosen-wearing passenger sitting in First Class is the captain’s special favourite, and that this is why they get to control the cabin air conditioning, select the in-flight movie, dictate the meal choices for everyone sitting in Economy and sometimes even persuade the pilot to change speed and altitude. Back in 2015, a little scrawny passenger owed Lederhosen Guy some money and was being evasive about paying it back – now he rides in the unheated, unpressurised cargo hold.

So you finally speak up and ask why we are on this flight at all, this Airbus A380 on steroids, when out the window we can see other happy families zipping along in their Cessnas and small private jets, travelling together in a loose formation to reach their preferred destination but also preserving their individual ability to climb, descend, stop at an airfield for lunch or set a new destination altogether if they so choose.

And in response, some wiseguy across the aisle says that you have no right to complain because a mysterious benefactor bought your ticket armed with perfect information as to the plane’s ultimate destination. The travel agent certainly never lied to them, making the journey seem shorter and the destination more pleasant than the reality now unfolding – no, your benefactor apparently was apparently very firm in their desire for you to embark on this particular journey, and approved of every subsequent course change made by the captain, tacitly if not explicitly.

Many of the other passengers also take turns lecturing you that the era of private aviation is over, that only a fool would put his life in the hands of Westphalia Private Aviation Corp., that one family in one aircraft cannot possibly complete a safe and successful autonomous journey in this day and age, and that only by abandoning our trusty Learjet and boarding the enormous Airbus can we protect ourselves from dangerous pockets of clear air turbulence and other assorted perils of the sky. And if that means eating the same cheap airline food day after day, and giving the airline pilot total authority over us while in the air then so be it.

This is unacceptable, so you pluck up the courage and deliver an ultimatum: either the captain gives up his absolute powers and pays more attention to the demands of individual passengers – even if that means amending the route – or you will disembark, return to your own aircraft to fly on your own terms with your own companions in your own squadron, and with your own destination in mind. The captain laughs in your face. Lederhosen Guy stares at you with a kind of impassive curiosity, but says nothing. The aircraft continues humming along at cruising altitude.

What to do? You figure that storming the cockpit, relieving the captain of his duties and attempting to land the plane yourself is inherently risky, yet it seems preferable to reaching the plane’s ultimate destination and then realising that all of your worst fears and suspicions were correct – and that there is no return service.

If the aircraft will not change course and you are unwilling to accept the destination (or continued vagueness about the intended destination), then indeed storming the cockpit is the only option left. You don’t want to permanently hijack the plane and steer it exclusively according to your own preferences, nor do you want to thwart the captain and harm others by crashing the plane altogether. You just want to disembark peacefully.

Would it be nice if another Airbus A380 with a more amenable pilot was waiting at the next refuelling stop, ready for you and likeminded passengers to hop aboard and continue your journey in a more collegiate style, agreeing the destination and flight plan together rather than stubbornly navigating according to the old captain’s worn-out, anachronistic 1950s map? Yes, of course it would. But that’s not going to happen today. There is no alternative jet on the tarmac, and for all the money you have given the airline the small print on the back of your ticket is clearly marked “non-exchangeable and non-refundable”.

So you gather what support you can from among the other passengers, count to three, and charge the door.

At one point in 2016, some of the more extreme conservative political pundits in America began referring to the presidential campaign between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as the “Flight 93 election“, a reference to the United Airlines plane hijacked by terrorists on 9/11 and deliberately crashed into a Pennsylvania field after passengers learned of the attacks on the World Trade Center and mounted a fightback against the Islamist hijackers. This risible, overwrought argument posited that a Hillary Clinton presidency would be so damaging to the United States – effectively the equivalent of another 9/11 attack – that it was the duty of every true patriot to “storm the cockpit” of American government by electing Donald Trump president instead.

Britain’s 2016 EU referendum was not quite a “Flight 93 moment”, not only because unlike the 9/11 attackers, the EU’s motivations and trajectory (though severely misguided) are not deliberately malevolent, but also because the speed of European political integration is slow and incremental, not sudden and rapid. Unlike a hijacking situation, we therefore theoretically had time to think and form a more considered plan of escape. Unfortunately Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage, the ringleaders who nominally led the storming of the cockpit, failed to come up with any kind of coherent plan for what to do when they got their hands on the controls. And now they have handed over command to Theresa May, who sits with white-knuckled grip on the yoke, trying and failing to reassure we the passengers over the intercom by repeating the same worn out banalities. Our position, post storming of the cockpit, is therefore significantly suboptimal.

But ultimately, if the captain will not desist from a reckless and undesirable course of action and an orderly disembarkation is impossible then one is left with little choice other than to forcibly set the plane down, blow the emergency exit, jump down the inflatable slide and walk back to the terminal in search of alternative transportation.

With Brexit, as with all flights, there is an outside chance that the new pilots will crash the plane, resulting in total hull loss and our fiery deaths. There is a slightly higher chance of experiencing a landing so rough that there are multiple injuries, the undercarriage fails and the plane requires lengthy and expensive repairs. Right now there are probably even odds that the landing will be sufficiently bumpy that those who do not have their seatbelts fastened securely will get thrown around the cabin a bit and generally have a bad time. But of course, the corollary to this is that remaining on the aircraft despite not knowing its destination and having no individual control over the plane carries a risk of its own. The next stop may be Warsaw or Bucharest, but eventually the plane might head for Pyongyang, carrying us along with it.

The difference between Remainers and Brexiteers is this: Remainers do not seem to much care where they end up (or at least seem willing to smile and suppress any gnawing doubts that they do have) so long as they can be seen to be travelling happily and in total harmony with all the other passengers on the plane. In support of their position, Remainers can point to all of the aircraft’s previous stopovers – many of which were vaguely pleasant or at least neutral – to suggest that we are participating in a wonderful global excursion and would be mad to spurn the promise of future tropical delights.

By contrast, Brexiteers care deeply about the end destination, strongly disagree with the current direction of travel and are willing to go to extraordinary lengths to alter it. Leave voters can bolster their argument by pointing out the unprecedented scope of control passengers have ceded to the captain over time, and noting that ours is the only part of the world where people seem to have lost faith in private aviation and insist on flying together in a single huge aircraft. If abandoning our autonomy and climbing aboard the Airbus is so great, they argue, why are people in Asia, Africa, North and South America not following Europe’s lead?

Neither viewpoint is inherently evil. Rather, each view is formed by a different perception of reality and a varying sensitivity to short and long-term risk.

Or perhaps all Remainers are just flag-hating, anti-patriotic, virtue-signalling traitors who think that supporting the EU is an easy way to check the “internationalist” box on their checklist of trendy-lefty political opinions, and/or every Brexiteer is a harrumphing, xenophobic retired colonel who fetishises the British Empire, hates foreigners and wants to re-impose the social values and norms of the 1950s.

It’s hard to say.

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No, You Do Not ‘Feel European’

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Sorry, but enjoying spaghetti and Belgian beer is not sufficient cultural commonality with Europe on which to build a deep political union

It has long been a conceit of EU apologists and arch-Remainers that political union with Europe makes sense because we have “so much in common” with Europe, more so than with other countries, including those of the Commonwealth and the Anglosphere.

This tedious and self-evidently false argument bubbles up with regularity, with the Evening Standard’s Richard Godwin making a particularly glib and superficial argument as the EU referendum battle raged:

I just feel European. I’m part of a generation that has had easy access to mainland Europe for both work and play.

I like Penélope Cruz and Daft Punk and tiki-taka and Ingmar Bergman and spaghetti and absinthe and saunas and affordable trains.

As sentimental as it sounds, Europe represents opportunity, cosmopolitanism, modernity, romance, enrichment, adventure to me.

Cutting all that off — even symbolically — would feel both spiteful and arbitrary.

The same argument is occasionally expressed with slightly more intellectual rigour, most recently by Jonathan Freedland in the Guardian, who wrote on the day of the Dutch elections:

It would be an irony more bitter than delicious, but could Brexit be having an unexpected effect on the people of Britain – turning us, finally, and despite everything, into good Europeans?

The question arises because of a curious shift underway since the referendum last June. For many years, the intellectual bedrock of the Eurosceptic case was that there was no such thing as a European demos, no European nation underpinning what Eurosceptics believed was an emerging European super-state. The notion of a United States of America made sense because Americans were a true people, sharing a language and sense of common destiny. But a United States of Europe was absurd because Europeans did not see themselves as bound together in the same way.

[..] But look what’s happened since 23 June 2016. Today, the Dutch go to the polls, an event that would previously have passed with not much more than a brief mention on the inside pages. This time, however, the same pundits and prognosticators who last year obsessed over Trump v Clinton have directed some of that same energy to the battle of Wilders v Rutte, trading polling data on social media and arguing about the meaning of the latest move by the rival candidates.

Never has the pro-EU establishment media’s bias been on more blatant display than in this piece of self-regarding bubble-ese by Freedland. British public interest in the Dutch, French and German elections, to the extent that it existed at all, was driven almost entirely by weepy Remainers who took a short break from quoting Yeats on their social media timelines (“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold”) to vest their hopes in would-be saviours like Mark Rutte and Emmanuel Macron.

If we can agree that the man on the street – the kind of normal person with a life, who doesn’t spend every waking moment obsessing about politics – probably does not think much at all about the politics of other countries, then we should also be able to agree that those who are even slightly politically aware are far more likely to know about American politics and current affairs than those of various European countries, large or small.

Doubt it? Then simply watch the television or print news coverage on any given day. Only this week, British television news bulletins have been dominated by the ongoing feud between Donald Trump and various players and executives of the National Football League who have taken to kneeling during the playing of the US national anthem as a show of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

This news story has received extensive coverage on the BBC, Sky News, ITV News, Channel 4 News, the Telegraph, the Times, the Guardian, the Independent and many smaller outlets:

As well as featuring prominently ahead of domestic news stories in British television news bulletins, this tiresome culture war episode also seems to be exercising the minds of British political pundits and armchair moralisers up and down the country:

What comparable domestic political spat or policy debate in a European country would receive comparable press coverage in Britain? The answer is obvious: none. There is no other country whose day-to-day politicking is obsessed over by the British media and known by the UK populace in more detail as the United States. This is not merely a function of us sharing a common language – do the self-proclaimed “Citizens of Europe” really believe that British people would be fascinated with German or Portuguese politics if only we were not cruelly divided by language?

Nor is this a natural function of America’s hegemonic power making their every decision impactful on Britain – indeed, the rituals of American football could not be of less importance to the United Kingdom, nor concerns about police shootings of civilians in a country where most of the police are unarmed. Our deep interest in American news is primarily cultural, not borne out of any informational necessity.

This is not an argument for Britain to become the fifty-first state of America rather than the twenty-eighth state of a United Europe; it is merely to point out that cultural affinity – which is arguably much stronger between Britain and the United States than Britain and Europe – does not automatically recommend (let alone necessitate) political union between countries, while enforced political union between diverse states does not necessarily ensure that a corresponding cultural merger will occur to form a coherent, cohesive demos.

And culture aside, economic interdependence likewise does not mandate political union, as the United States and Canada, the United States and Mexico, Australia and New Zealand as well as the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland can readily attest. Economic alignment and interdependence is a necessary condition for political union, but not nearly a sufficient one.

Indeed, the history books are littered with examples of such grand enterprises – using economic interdependence or geographic proximity as an excuse to force political union on an unwilling or ambivalent population – failing miserably. In recent history we need think only of the Soviet Union, which sought to achieve through terror and totalitarianism what the European Union today seeks to bring about with the aid of technocracy, managerialism and corporatism – using anything as an excuse for more political integration except a full-throated cry from European people to be part of ever-closer union.

It is this ever-closer union which we are seeking to leave, as evidenced by the Lord Ashcroft poll taken in the immediate aftermath of the EU referendum, showing that the primary motivation for the Leave vote was a desire to reclaim sovereignty and democratic accountability. It was the continual efforts of political elites in Britain and Europe to build a political union spanning dissimilar cultures, in direct contradiction of this desire and without specific democratic consent, which ultimately made Brexit inevitable.

The EU’s “if we build it, they will come” approach to legitimising itself – creating institutions and giving them vast powers at the expense of the nation state, all in the hope that a European demos will magically appear in a puff of smoke – is pure wishful thinking. And as EU and member state political elites insist on responding to growing public dissatisfaction by pledging “More Europe”, they will only create a bigger and more unsavoury backlash, yet they seem unable to envisage taking any other course of action.

None of this is to insist that Britain should continue in its current form for a thousand years, or that the nation state remain the basic building block of human civilisation in perpetuity. But in the age of universal suffrage there is no good reason why we should continue to blindly execute a dated, anachronistic 1950s blueprint to fulfil a century-old aspiration of European political union when we should instead be creating new systems of meaningful international cooperation which work with human nature rather than struggling obstinately against human nature. Institutions which enjoy sufficient public support that they can operate in the light rather than work in the shadows, relying on voter ignorance.

Democracy means more than the existence of universal suffrage, elected legislatures and executive offices. These things are a necessary condition, but they mean very little if the demos – the body of people whom the institutions purportedly serve – does not also see itself as a cohesive demos. If Britons were suddenly able to vote in Japanese elections, and share political institutions with Japan, a cohesive British/Japanese demos would not automatically pop into existence sharing a common culture, concerns and aspirations. The same goes for the attempt to create a European demos by imposing a parliament, flag and anthem.

This is why Remainer protestations that the EU is “no less democratic than Westminster” are ignorant at best, and deliberately misleading at worst. While some starry-eyed euro-federalists clearly do see themselves as European first and foremost, they are incredibly lacking in number, and certainly nowhere near a majority. And until this changes there can be no European demos of sufficient strength and depth to sustain the kind of powerful, permanent institutions mandated by the EU.

This is where we must at least partially defer to human nature in this regard, and that’s why it is ludicrous to maintain that a political union including Britain and Lithuania could long survive when none can exist between Britain and Australia or Britain and the United States.

And that is why one Guardian columnist’s love of Daft Punk and Penelope Cruz movies can never provide a strong enough foundation to hold aloft the European Commission, the European Parliament, the European Court of Justice and all the vasty institutions of Brussels.

 

First published at LeaveHQ.

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Little Englander Conspiracy Theories, Eh?

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It isn’t difficult to discern the trajectory of the European Union over the next decades. Just listen to the words of the EU’s leading political figures from past and present

Leave Alliance blogger Paul Reynolds has published an excellent retort to claims by assorted Remainers and EU apologists that those of us who warn of the impending European state are somehow indulging in paranoid fantasies.

For while everyone in the Remain campaign, from the prime minister on downwards, may be shouting “move along, nothing to see here!” while the scaffolding for a single European state continues to be steadily assembled behind their outstretched arms, any objective person can clearly see what is going on.

Among the examples given by Reynolds, in a piece entitled “A Profound Choice”:

“We have sown a seed… Instead of a half-formed Europe, we have a Europe with a legal entity, with a single currency, common justice, a Europe which is about to have its own defence. ” — Valery Giscard d’Estaing, President of the EU Convention, presenting the final draft of the EU Constitution, 13th June 2003

“The proposals in the original constitutional treaty are practically unchanged. They have simply been dispersed through old treaties in the form of amendments. Why this subtle change? Above all, to head off any threat of referenda by avoiding any form of constitutional vocabulary!” — Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, 2007, referring to the the Lisbon Treaty achieving the aims of the rejected EU constitution

“The Constitution is the capstone of a European Federal State.” — Guy Verhofstadt, then Belgian Prime Minister, now an MEP

“The European Union is a state under construction.” — Elmar Brok, Chairman of the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs

“Of course the European Commission will one day become a government, the EU council a second chamber and the European Parliament will have more powers.” — German Chancellor Angela Merkel addressing MEPs,  November 2012.

“We need a true political union … we need to build a United States of Europe with the Commission as government and two chambers – the European Parliament and a “Senate” of Member States … European Parliament elections are more important than national elections … This will be our best weapon against the Eurosceptics.” — Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission, January 2014

“For my children’s future I dream, think and work for the United States of Europe” — Matteo Renzi, Italian Prime Minister, May 2014

 “I look forward to the day when the Westminster Parliament is just a council chamber in Europe.” — Kenneth Clarke, Conservative Chancellor in International Currency Review Vol 23 No 4 1996

Reynolds then goes on to show how this was the plan all along. As it was in the beginning:

Nor should anyone believe that this is a recent development. The EU was always conceived as a vehicle for supra-national federal union, dating right back to its founding organisation, the European Coal & Steel Community (ECSC) established in 1951:

“Through the consolidation of basic production and the institution of a new High Authority, whose decisions will bind France, Germany and the other countries that join, this proposal represents the first concrete step towards a European federation ..”
 — The Schuman declaration May 1950

“By the signature of this Treaty, the participating Parties give proof of their determination to create the first supranational institution and that thus they are laying the true foundation of an organised Europe.” — Europe Declaration made on 18 April 1951, at the signing of the Treaty of Paris establishing the ECSC

Is now:

“Do you really want to participate in a common state? That’s the question.” — Francois Hollande, French President, addressing UKIP leader Nigel Farage in the European Parliament, 2015

And forever shall be:

This is reinforced by the proposals for the next EU treaty, The Fundamental Law of the European Union, published by the federalist Spinelli Group of MEPs, through the Bertelsmann house in late 2013. The preamble contains a telling paragraph:

“This proposal for a Fundamental Law of the European Union is a comprehensive revision of the Treaty of Lisbon (2007). Replacing the existing treaties, it takes a major step towards a federal union. It turns the European Commission into a democratic constitutional government, keeping to the method built by Jean Monnet in which the Commission drafts laws which are then enacted jointly by the Council, representing the states, and the European Parliament, representing the citizens. All the reforms proposed are aimed at strengthening the capacity of the EU to act.” 

European Political Union without end, Amen.

The time for childish, wistful self-deception is over. The British people need to wake up and make a decision – as Francois Hollande rightly exclaimed last year, in a moment of rare candour – about whether we want to participate in a common European state, or whether we wish to be independent, like every other major country in the world outside of Europe.

Ignorance about the intentions and trajectory of the European Union is no longer excusable. These quotes are not difficult to be defined. Neither can their existence be denied or countered in the way that the various economic claims on both sides have been subject to ridicule. These statements all exist because the real political leaders of Europe really do intend to take the European Union in this direction. Today’s EU institutions stand as testament to their vision and their determination to make it a reality.

Contrast the determined long game played by the euro federalists (the quotes selected by Paul Reynolds extend from 1951 through to 2015) with the flimsy, ethereal, cosmetic efforts of British politicians to supposedly win “concessions” from the EU. David Cameron’s renegotiation was nothing more than a grubby little fraud perpetrated on the British people, securing meaningless nods of assent from various heads of government acting in their own capacity, not the EU’s, most of whom will soon have moved on and been replaced by successors who do not feel bound to honour the various tidbits promised to Britain.

And leftists are no better. The once proud and principled tradition of left-wing euroscepticism is virtually dead, stabbed in the back by the likes of Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Jones (was the guilt and shame of this betrayal – and he knows he is betraying his true values – the reason why Owen turned in such a weak performance on Question Time last night?). And the leftists are now queueing up to talk about their utterly unachievable pipe dream of hands-across-Europe socialism, pretending to themselves and the rest of us that the EU can somehow be “changed” into a perfect socialist vessel. The EU’s founders and current leaders have been working toward a common state for nearly a century! What gives the likes of Owen Jones and Yanis Varoufakis such misplaced confidence that their little socialist tugboat can alter the course of the EU’s giant oil tanker, steaming at maximum knots toward economic and political union?

No, there are only two choices available to Britain – leave the European Union and seek to become a self-governing democracy once again (like every other major country in the world), or remain in the European Union and continue down Francois Hollande’s path toward a common European state.

There is no third way. David Cameron’s renegotiated settlement is not worth the used napkin on which it is scrawled – as far as the EU is concerned, a “Remain” vote mean that Britain is all squared away and ready to continue the march toward political union.

And those who continue to fatuously claim that the EU is simply about cooperation, trade and sharing cookies with one another are lying – to themselves, and to the British people. That benign version of “Europe” is not on offer in this referendum. We have a choice between independence and re-engagement with the world as a confident, powerful player on the one hand, and continued participation in the journey to a common European state on the other.

Do you really want to participate in a common state?

As Britons step into the polling booth on 23 June, this is the question which should ring in our ears.

 

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The Guardian, The EU Referendum And Britain’s Entrenched Sense Of Inferiority

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A cake-filled misery-laden grey old island…

When does the Guardian become an enthusiastic, uncritical cheerleader for US foreign policy?

Why, when the US president jets in to lecture us all on the importance of voting to remain in their beloved European Union.

Meanwhile, we know exactly what the Guardian thinks about Britain from this giveaway paragraph in their article hailing Barack Obama’s arrival:

The importance of the UK as a key figure inside the EU club will be symbolically underscored when Obama again meets David Cameron, Angela Merkel, Mario Renzi and François Hollande in Hanover, Germany, on Monday to discuss Syria, Libya and the consequent migration crisis. The implicit message is that the UK outside the EU would not have been invited to such a high-level transatlantic conclave.

Oh gosh! How kind of Italy and France to allow Britain to take part in their Super Important Meeting with Germany and the United States. Of course, puny little Britain – the fifth largest world economy and pre-eminent European military power – would never normally be allowed to sit around the table with François Hollande and “Mario” Renzi, but for the fact that we are part of the same supra-national political union.

Is the Guardian serious? Sometimes it is hard to tell whether this dismal, miserablist attitude toward Britain is entirely genuine, or an attitude which is affected purely for the purposes of keeping our self-esteem just low enough that we don’t get ideas of national independence above our station.

The trouble, though, is that the Guardian is very much a thought leader in this area. Where the Guardian sighs, tuts and shakes its head at the hopeless prospects of puny, pathetic Britain, so many of its readers have been conditioned to automatically do the same. I’m frequently amazed by the number of conversations I have with otherwise intelligent, knowledgeable people who genuinely believe that Britain is a small and inconsequential nation.

It is almost as though someone distilled Britain’s despairing psyche when we were at our 1970s nadir into its purest, bleakest form, and then injected that dismal serum into half of today’s population. Once the infection takes hold, the feeble country that these National Inferiority Virus sufferers hallucinate bears absolutely no relation to the objective reality of modern Britain.

And these are the people who will be voting in the referendum on 23 June. These are the the pessimistic, resigned views which millions of people sympathetic to the Guardian’s position will carry with them into the polling booth. Citizens of a nuclear power, a P5 UN Security Council member, the world’s fifth largest economy and home to the financial and cultural capital city of the world, who nonetheless believe that it is only our membership of the EU which gives Britain’s prime minister the undeserved privilege of being in the same room as the leaders of Germany, France and Italy.

God help us.

 

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Thanks For The EU Referendum Advice, Mr. President. America Should Give Supra-National Political Union A Try

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An open letter to Barack Obama, responding to the American president’s heartfelt intervention in our EU referendum debate

Welcome back to Britain, Mr. President. It’s always a pleasure to have you here.

Thank you also for sharing the fruits of your wisdom on how we should vote in our coming referendum to leave or remain in the European Union. Your deep respect and affection for the United Kingdom (and the countless small ways in which you have honoured the special relationship since taking office in 2008) is well known here, and we are sure you would not have made this intervention at David Cameron’s personal request unless you sincerely believed it was the right course of action, and had our country’s best interests at heart.

But before you jet back to Washington DC on Air Force One, Mr. Obama, please allow us to reciprocate by sharing some words of advice for your own country and fellow citizens. We offer this advice in exactly the same spirit with which you blessed us with yours.

Mr. President, it is time for the United States of America to admit that the age of the nation state is over, to let go of excessive pride and patriotism, and form a political Union of the Americas. Don’t waste another moment. Assemble the heads of state from North, Central and South America and immediately sign and ratify a Treaty of Tijuana creating a political and customs union between your respective countries. For this is the only way that the great prosperity which Americans have known in the twentieth century can possibly be preserved in the twenty-first.

Now, we know what you’re going to say. The United States is still the world’s pre-eminent military and economic power. That’s true. But the same was said of the United Kingdom a mere century earlier, and look what a beating Britain took in the first eighty years of the 20th century – a huge expenditure of blood and treasure defending freedom in Europe, a global empire lost and an economy which went from being the world’s largest to smaller than that of Italy.

It was only by the election of Margaret Thatcher joining the European Community that a battered and declining Britain managed to staunch the bleeding and halt the decline. America should seize the initiative, recognise that – like Britain – her best days are firmly in the past, and hedge against the scary and uncertain future by dissolving the political ties which separate her from Canada, Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Suriname, Colombia, Argentina, Venezuela, Peru, Paraguay, Uruguay, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Guyana, French Guyana and Brazil.

Consider: America’s economy will soon be overtaken by China in terms of raw nominal GDP, as will that of our own blessed European Union. And the population of the United States is dwarfed by both India and China, two developing countries with nuclear arsenals and strong regional interests which are often at odds with America’s. If you wait too long to band together into a regional political union based on your shared continental values it may be too late – China will divide and conquer the continent.

No one country from the Americas can hope to stand up to China or wield the leverage to sign the amazing trade deals that one of your potential successors is promising. Only by binding your fate inexorably to that of Venezuela and Ecuador can the United States hope to secure a fair deal. Remember: united you stand, but divided you fall.

And speaking of being united, isn’t it about time that any citizen of North or South America was able to live, work or retire anywhere they please? The new American single market for goods, services and capital is incomplete if there is not also a single labor market, and so the very first act of this new Union of the Americas should be to abolish national borders and establish passport and visa-free travel across the entire continent.

Now, some may object to this with shrill warnings about national security, but consider – as part of this new Union, the United States will have access to the world-class intelligence services of Peru and Costa Rica. As we all know, national security cooperation is only possible through full political union, and so by joining this Union of the Americas the CIA and FBI will for the first time ever be able to share information with Mexico and Canada for the prevention of crime and terrorism.

We anticipate that your labor unions will also kick up a fuss at the thought of millions of economic migrants from South and Central America moving to the United States in search of work and higher living standards. But if you give Tony Blair a quick call, he will tell you that it is possible to overcome these objections by furiously ignoring them and labelling anybody who gets angry about the suppression of wages and conditions as a racist or xenophobe.

So how should this Union of the Americas work? Well, we humbly suggest that you model it on our own European Union, whose institutions are so beloved by all European citizens and whose founding fathers are no less well-known and revered than Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and Benjamin Franklin.

Of course you will need a government for this union. We have found that a Commission of 28 mostly failed politicians from our respective countries serves this purpose very well indeed. This body will be the only one which can propose new laws for your union, so finding the right calibre of candidates is important. It’s the strangest thing, but former prime minister and presidents who left office under a cloud of scandal and popular dissatisfaction often turn out to make amazing commissioners. We don’t know why it works, it just does.

You will need a Parliament for your union, too, in order to act as a rubber stamp for new directives and legislation. But it is no good having each country voting along national lines – remember, the goal is to gradually weaken and erode national identity so as to gain public acceptance for our new Union of the Americas. So each member state should be divided up into regions, with each region represented by a number of MAPS (Members of the American Parliament). You might think that the United States is already ideally divided into fifty such constituencies in the States, but this is entirely the wrong way of thinking. The regions should be arbitrary places to which nobody feels any sense of connection or belonging. Geographic descriptions like “North East” and “South West” are always a good choice, because they help to break down peoples’ backward and antiquated feelings of patriotism and pride in their home, and finally begin to see themselves as the pan-American citizens that they are.

And we can’t forget the judicial branch. Your new Union of the Americas must uphold the rule of law and ensure that national governments, corporations and individuals are in compliance with foundational treaties and Union laws and directives. The American Court of Justice (ACJ) will fit nicely above your own Supreme Court – and of course, any decisions which the US Supreme Court makes are subject to review by the ACJ because lovely though your own Constitution may be, Union Law must have primacy if this new arrangement is to work.

The goal, as you can probably tell, is the gradual accretion of power and responsibility at the supranational level, so that key decisions are taken in Tijuana rather than the capitals of each member state. National identity is so anachronistic, and stubbornly clinging to outdated concepts of nationhood will doom the American peoples to a lost century of relative decline. Now, naturally you may encounter some resistance to all of this from the voters, which is why it is actually best to talk about the whole enterprise exclusively in terms of trade and co-operation. If anybody accuses you of harbouring grander plans for political union, just dismiss them as cranks and conspiracy theorists. It works really well.

And don’t worry – you can keep all of your institutions. Congress, the Supreme Court, the office of the presidency, all of it will still exist under the new Union. It’s just that various powers and responsibilities will need to be outsourced to the supranational level to ensure the smooth running of the new Union. We think you will quickly come to like the arrangement – having dedicated civil servants in Tijuana administering social policy, negotiating trade deals and hammering out a common foreign policy will free up so much time for partisan grandstanding, political fundraising or a few more sneaky rounds of golf.

We know how tiring you have found the partisan gridlock in Washington. Well, by signing the United States up as a founder member of the Union of the Americas, you don’t have to worry about it any more! Democrats and Republicans can continue to posture, argue and filibuster about a whole range of largely symbolic issues, while increasingly all of the governing that actually matters moves to the supranational level. It’s a win-win situation.

I hope that by now you can sense the excitement we feel for the potential of this new Union of the Americas. And frankly, from a selfish European (I nearly said British – old habits die hard) perspective it would make our lives much simpler, too. It is rather time-consuming and expensive to maintain embassies and consulates in so many countries and cities across North, Central and South America. And at times of crisis, I know that Federica Mogherini, our incredibly well-qualified and able High Representative for Foreign Affairs, would find it so much easier if she only had to dial one number to speak to the Americas.

Nation states are a thing of the past. And good riddance, too – they have brought us nothing but war, misery and shame (as our French and German compatriots keep reminding us). So, Mr. President, let your parting legacy to the United States be setting in motion the process of her abolition.

But we do not need to convince you of any of this. After all, it is you urging us vote to remain in the European Union, because you understand the advantages of post-democratic, supranational governance better than many of our own stubborn, backward citizens.

And of course you would never recommend anything for your closest ally that you do not also consider good enough – and earnestly desire – for the United States.

Would you, Mr. President?

 

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