Why We Brits Should Vote for Brexit

By Don Quijones of Mexico and Spain. Originally published at Wolf Street

As a Europhile British ex-pat who has spent most of his adult life living on “the continent,” as we Brits are fond of calling the non-British part of Europe, it might seem rather odd to be encouraging my fellow Brits to vote to leave the European Union.

Not so long ago — perhaps a decade or so — I believed that the interests of Britain would be best served if the country was a full-fledged member not only of the EU but of the euro zone. I was wrong, but it was a different time and I was a different, more innocent me.

Total Dependence

By the time the sovereign debt crisis hit Europe in 2010, the full extent of the EU’s ambitions was clear: to slowly, almost imperceptibly, weaken nation-state institutions to the point of total dependence on Brussels; and then have them supplanted with EU institutions. As I wrote in a 2014 article, it is the financial equivalent of death by a thousand cuts. The EU’s weapon of choice was the single currency.

Luckily for Britain, its government had not joined the euro. The Chancellor of the Exchequer at the turn of the century, Gordon Brown, knew that sacrificing the pound would have been electoral suicide. Preserving the national currency has provided the UK with some measure of economic independence and flexibility.

For many other European countries, their economic independence and flexibility died the day they joined the euro. As Spain’s economy minister Luis de Guindos recently put it, “the Eurozone is a club where you can check in but you cannot check out.” The main reason for this is that the euro is merely a means to a much more coveted end — political union, as Germany’s Finance Minister glibly admitted in a 2011 interview with Welt am Sontag:

Schauble: “We decided to arrive at a political union via an economic and currency union. We had the hope – and we still have it today – that the Euro will gradually bring about political union. But we’re not there yet, and that’s one of the reasons why the markets are distrustful.”

Welt am Sontag: “So will the markets now force us into a political union?”

Schauble: “Most member states are not yet fully prepared to accept the necessary constraints on national sovereignty. But trust me, the problem can be solved.”

As Schauble promised, the constraints on national sovereignty in Europe have been severely tightened since 2011. European banking union became a reality last year, transferring supervisory authority over the banking systems of the euro zone’s 19 economies to the ECB, an institution with even less transparency and accountability than the European Commission.

Manning the Borders

Now the EU is planning to use a brand new crisis to expand its powers – Europe’s refugee crisis. As the Financial Times reported on Friday, Brussels is set to propose the creation of a standing European border force that could take control of the bloc’s external frontiers — even if a government objected:

If the plan is approved by EU states, Frontex’s replacement will have a slew of new powers, including the ability to hire and control its own border guards and buy its own equipment. It will also be allowed to operate in non-EU countries — such as Serbia and Macedonia, which have become transit countries for people trying to reach northern Europe — if requested.

The new agency will be able to deport people who do not have the right to remain in Europe — a power Frontex lacked.

Even the pro-EU FT warily concedes, “the move would arguably represent the biggest transfer of sovereignty since the creation of the single currency.” After all, controlling one’s own borders is one of the core functions of a sovereign state.

Naturally, the country that will be piloting the new scheme is Greece, which is on the frontline of Europe’s refugee crisis. Once border agents from countries like Germany and Poland have been dispatched there, the project will no doubt be swiftly extended to all other EU states. Even non-EU countries, such as Serbia and Macedonia, could soon fall under the EU’s “protective” umbrella – but only “if requested.”

Thanks to their opt-outs of EU migration policy, Britain and Ireland will not be obliged to take part in the scheme. For now.

Highly Choreographed EU Dance 

Back in Britain the UK’s embattled prime minister, David Cameron, is desperately trying to convince recalcitrant British voters and euroskeptics in his own party that he is on their side. According to official accounts, he has been busy flexing his diplomatic muscles in Brussels in a last-ditch effort to deliver fundamental reform to Britain’s relationship with the EU. As City A.M.’s Brian Monteith warns, however, it is all an elaborate ruse, “a highly choreographed EU dance”:

It is a bittersweet fudge designed to fool the public into believing there will be worthwhile reform of the EU when the evidence of the EU’s Five Presidents’ Report demonstrates that it will only get more centralized, more expensive and more regulated.

In the coming months all manner of doom and gloom scenarios will be paraded to cajole British voters into voting the right way. Almost all of Britain’s elite institutions, including, of course, the City of London corporation, want Britain to remain in the EU. Even the US, Britain’s closest ally, recently got in on the act, warning London that if it leaves the EU, it would “be subject to the same tariffs, and other trade-related measures, as China, or Brazil or India.”

However, most Brits don’t seem to be buying it, just as a majority of Danes were able to drown out the establishment’s fear mongering before voting against forging closer ties with Brussels in a recent referendum. In the latest poll of British voter intentions, 52% of respondents said they would vote to leave the EU – up from 27% in June!

Granted, polls can be deceptive. No one knows that better than David Cameron himself who, in May this year, rankled Brussels by winning reelection on a manifesto of reform and referendum. However, trying to deliver meaningful reform in the UK’s relationship with the EU is an almost impossible task, especially given that what Cameron claims to want — a little less EU interference in British affairs — is completely at odds with what the eurocrats in Brussels want — ever-increasing EU interference in everyone‘s affairs.

Since joining the common market in 1975 the people of Britain have been repeatedly told by europhile politicians in Westminster and eurocrats in Brussels that the European project represents no threat whatsoever to British sovereignty or democracy. By now, such claims have lost all credence.

The EU is Not Europe

At this critical juncture of European history, it bears remembering that the EU is not Europe and Europe is not the EU. The EU is a primarily a political project run by an unelected elite, with the so-called five presidents at the helm. As the British blogger John Ward eloquently notes, this elite routinely ignores the individual, ignores State sovereignty, ignores debt mountains, ignores currency realities, ignores poverty, ignores its responsibilities and above all, ignores every legal and constitutional obstacle in its way.

At the advent of each new crisis — often a crisis it itself created — it launches a new grab for power. Customs union, monetary union, banking union, defense union, digital union, energy union, fiscal union, political union… there is no limit to Brussels’ lust for power and control.

In the coming year or two, the people of Britain will have a once-in-a-generation chance to elude its grasp, to preserve its sovereignty. As a europhile British ex-pat who once firmly believed in the European dream but now sees it for the dystopian nightmare it has become, I urge them not to waste it.

And suddenly, French investment bank Natixis sides with the rebellious islanders. Read… Stunning Blow to EU Scaremongers over Brexit

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  1. Praedor

    The EU is a failed experiment in authoritarianism by technocrat elite. It never had any intention of being a democratic organization or government to rule by the consent of the governed. It has ALWAYS been nothing more than an attempt by bankers and corporatists to rule by fiat.

    The EU needs to go the way of Nazi Germany and all other authoritarian regimes.

    1. different clue

      As long as it exists, it is succeeding. The only way the EU can be said to have “failed” is if the nation-states of Europe can somehow exterminate the EU from existence and exterminate the Euro currency from existence, and go back to status quo ante.

      After all, the slow motion Holodomor under way against Greece is not an EU “failure”. It is an EU sucCESS, in that it is exactly what the EU WANTS to do and is having the effect the EU WANTS it to have.

      1. jon livesey

        No, the EU can be said to have failed if it does not meet its own goals. They can be summed up as “growth and stability”, a slogan the EU has used for years.

        And what do we see? Miserable growth and high unemployment, coupled with an unstable currency that threatens to come apart from time to time.

        That looks a lot like failure to me.

        1. fajensen

          Just re-scope “growth” and “stability” a little: Growth in the 0.1%’ers wealth has been tremendous and for Stability we see that neo-liberalism has been the outcome of any democratic election for the last 15 years, even in Greece!

          The EU-project is delivering and keeps delivering what it’s sponsors wanted, that’s a success.

  2. washunate

    Enjoy hearing the perspective from across the pond. You have my backing for Brexit. I think the UK itself would be best to split up. England has no business in Ireland, and Scotland looks incredibly close to separating from her as well over the next couple decades.

    But anyway, I’m curious about one particular statement:

    By the time the sovereign debt crisis hit Europe in 2010, the full extent of the EU’s ambitions was clear: to slowly, almost imperceptibly, weaken nation-state institutions…

    This makes it sound like integration was 1) recent, and 2) some kind of surprise or deception. Weakening the nation-state is the entire point, going all the way back to the ECSC (Coal and Steel Community) half a century ago. The rise of the nation-state (in the larger context of the breakup and various attempts at reintegration of the Frankish kingdoms or Charlemagne’s empire or whatever we want to call the heart of the continent) caused enormous preventable suffering in the 19th and especially 20th centuries. If France, Germany, and Italy could become so intertwined in the economics and resources of war that war itself could be rendered impossible, or at least much more difficult, it would be an enormous accomplishment in advancing peace and prosperity for hundreds of millions of Europeans.

    We can argue that vision can’t work in practice, but I think it is selling the idea of Ever Closer Union short to deny the powerful insight at its core. And of course those of us in the Anglo-American world aren’t exactly neutral observers here. The USUK power structure benefits from preventing the rise of a united Franco-German power, especially one involving Rome as well.

  3. susan the other

    Trade agreements can’t be far behind. If the EU breaks up the TTIP & TiSA will be moot – which they should be anyway because the EU does not have the sovereign authority to join them as a block. But nevermind those pesky details. I can’t believe we would ever restrain trade the the UK, we’ll think of something. What is puzzling is that the City of London, the banking citadel, is in favor of joining the EU – I thought Frankfurt rejected all of their requests for special banking rights and they were not happy about it. Nobody seems to want to keep the EU, which means the Euro. And if everybody closes off their border, the Euro will not be very useful. It will take a while before the Euro is history because all the member states will have to go thru years of reinstituting their old currencies. Right? And then, of course, this leaves western Europe wide open to trade with Russia again.

    1. Clive

      Yes indeed, the EU has moved from being part of the solution to being part of the problem. If not, for a lot of issues, the problem. It started out (certainly this was the case until the late 1970’s if not throughout the 1980’s) as a classic Social Democratic institution, but — here as elsewhere — the neoliberal takeover is now more-or-less complete.

      The answer to why the City is so keen in EU membership is that within the EU free movement of goods and services is enshrined so other money centres (such as, as you say, Frankfurt or increasingly Berlin) cannot stop City subsidiaries operating. As soon as there’s a Brexit, Frankfurt will move quickly to impose barriers, part in retribution, part in simply money grabbing.

      (and as for me, I’ll be voting for a Brexit; no matter what the short-term costs, the EU is now firmly in the class of Global Menaces and needs either serious reform or to fall apart of its own volition. Ukraine is my “Exhibit A” on the rap sheet but there’s plenty more besides. And like you say Susan, any suggestion that the US would suddenly sever all ties is simply ridiculous. The UK and US financial web is far too interconnected to be shredded overnight. China, the oil states, other South East Asia countries are going to carry on regardless, made all the easier as we’re not in the Euro. Putting a load of sand in the TTIP and TiSA machinery would just be icing on a rather tasty cake.

      Sticking my neck out, I think the vote will end up being to exit the EU. The EU has made too many enemies on the right (has been against it for decades) and the left (previously vehemently pro-EU but now fed up of the ECB’s antics) of the political spectrum. Having voted for Brexit and made the “wrong” choice, we will however get asked again in another referendum until we vote the “right” way).

      1. JustAnObserver


        From the global, austerity, authoritarian, neolib perspective I’d agree that the EU on its current trajectory (tragedy ?) needs to be rejected. This wasn’t always the case but, sadly, with the advent of the Euro (aka DMark-by-another-name) its probably going to become increasingly a disaster zone.

        That said,

        Are there any remaining positives ? AFAICT the only one left is free movement i.e. anyone can go and work in any EU country without hindrance. As a safety valve its probably kept the Baltics/Ireland/Spain/Greece from complete social/political disintegration. What I’m not so sure about is to what extent this ameliorated the unemployment situation in Dear Old Blighty (As Lambert would have it) ?

        Since this pressure reliever is most likely to be used by those younger and more mobile my feeling is that Brexit or not-Brexit will come down to how much of the 18-35 cohort turns out to vote. For them free movement is a positive whereas for the 50+ UKIP fans its a negative. For them all immigration is, by definition, bad esp. all those cabbage eating Muslim plumbers coming in from Poland & taking our jawbs.

      2. Brooklin Bridge

        I think your observation, “[…]we will however get asked again in another referendum until we vote the “right” way.”, is particularly accurate assuming the vote does indeed go for the exit.

        This pattern has become almost the default here in New England with it’s town meetings whenever the construction industry, to name the worst but by no means only offender, wants to exploit towns people with a new school they don’t need or the development of a tract of land that is under conservation easement. Just keep the town voting on slightly different motions (using a combo of carrot and stick) until the poor inhabitants come to their senses and heap on another absurd project that will ultimately end up being paid for by higher taxes in combination with the sale of public assets, peeling off yet another layer of the elderly population with each successive heist, and generally creating more poverty and better conditions for more-better corruption.

        Indeed, conservation easements have become little more than real estate holding pools to keep competition down for future development stock by and for elites, but the main point is that a democratic process that was once highly successful even if very inefficient (or successful perhaps because it was inefficient) has been perfectly gamed over time though it did take time to do it. Though originating, I imagine, in many places besides just small New England towns, the process has been exported to Europe or would it be the other way around?.

  4. Plutoniumkun

    I’m on the way on the same journey. I was a very enthusiastic europhile for a long time and I would have scoffed at the sort of arguments above as recently s 5 years ago. I was perfectly aware that there was a long term project to ‘integrate crisis by crisis’, but I did think that on balance, domination by Brussels was better for most countries than the alternative. Certainly, from an Irish perspective, the EU has forced a raft of progressive policies on my country that would have been much slower to come about by itself. And we must never forget that the EU was born out of catastrophic war.

    But I see more and more terrible policies coming from the EU that the question is not straightforward anymore. Its not just the idiocies of austerity – every day when I step out onto my street I have to wade through garbage caused by the privatisation of waste collection forced by an EU directive – in a street with lots of houses in multiple occupancy having competing waste companies is an idiocy – which is why waste collection was one of the first things local governments took upon themselves in the 19th Century – because a free market simply didn’t work. I can see no reason why it makes sense for Brussels to tell local Councils how to organise waste collection (of course, it was private industry lobbying which led to the directive).

    I do think Brexit would, however, be bad for the UK, but maybe for good reasons. I strongly suspect that if it happens it would be a huge blow to the City of London – the EU (French and Germans in particular), will not be able to resist the urge to undermine London based banks in favour of their own. And it will give a much stronger lift to anti-tax avoidance measures within the EU without the UK being able to manipulate the EU in favour of the City.

    1. Deep Thought

      Genuine question – do you know which EU directive has privatised your waste collection to multiple collectors?

      In the UK we still have a single contractor working for the local councillor. Still have waste problems mind, but at least we get to shout at our councillors when the contract is up for renewal!

  5. kevinearick


    Funny, how life works, and nothing else does.

    History, cutting off the front end and placing it in back, dooming itself to the replication of derivative symptoms, chasing their own tail and always getting further behind, doesn’t. Like Waterloo, it is always tripped up by its own unforeseen circumstance, opportunity lost. Judgment is the illusion.

    The artifice of collective security is a gravity buffer, which can only recognize and consume itself. Even now, the creatures hope against hope that issuing credit to legacy capital in one direction and legacy capital and the middle class in the other, the artificial business cycle, will reboot itself. A sixth grader could write a program to regulate artificial real estate inflation, make-work for the majority, and probably is.

    Walk across Mendocino County, occupied by Government, and see them still selling redwoods to Asia for particle board houses, to maximize profit on imported real estate inflation. LA, its import/export bank, empties 600,000 kids onto a population of millions in a shiny ghetto, encrypting itself. And you open the Court door, to see the courtiers breeding stupid by the millions, with Silicon Valley as the printing press.

    What more do you need to see?

    Whether the majority replaces itself with machines, bombs itself, or shoots itself in the head is irrelevant to the kids leaving stupid behind, in a rear-view house of mirrors they do not need. Only a fool enters the circus of Family Law, saying one thing and doing another, under a constitution of mythology, because some carnival barker profits on conferring Ph.Ds on fools. Once again, Russia has set the same damn trap, a derivative built by morons to catch a bear.

    Tesla was no fool made by History, but instead stood on the shoulders of Archimedes, as so eloquently described by Hugo. That humanity is a self-absorbed bug is of no great surprise. The past belongs to empire and all those who seek it; the future belongs to none, except those capable of swimming, in and out of the current.

    Grace is not trapped by the communists; the communists are trapped for lack of Grace. Nor does a heartless bastard marry Pollyanna to teach his children the stupidity of History, which they can readily see for themselves, but rather to confirm the unique identity of Grace, a teaspoon of sugar to make the medicine go down. The artifice of equal outcomes, different colors with the same self-shorted brain, doesn’t produce inequality by accident.

    That brain in your head is an antenna, folding in on itself with cephalization, to produce a conscience. Assuming the universe lacks consciousness, for the sake of tuning in the same damn channel, day after day after day, to reinforce groupthink, has only one outcome, war with itself, in a mirror built for the purpose. Denial, anger and depression, the state of Nation/States, is the same wherever you go.

    Trading wealth, meaningful work, for money, only to be then traded for control, over nothing but the illusion of itself, is a waste of time. Computers trading 1s and 0s with themselves, with humans chasing the derivatives, is not life. Throw your kids right in, and let them see for themselves, the sooner the better.

    Invent yourself, and everything else will take care of itself. That’s life, the future you build while others talk, amongst themselves. All limits on imagination are self-imposed accordingly.

    The gate to the universe is in your head, not in a book or on the Internet, or anything else you may purchase from the latest and greatest new world order, issuing rights and privileges by arbitrary decree. Grace is Grace. There is no other.

    Funny, my brood is Kristie, Ashley, Elizabeth and Grace, and the feminists working for chauvinists, dividing and conquering so-emasculated males and masculated females, think they stand a chance, calculating probabilities to nowhere, hedging one against the other, crack me up. Me against Government – of , by and for the majority; I’ll take that bet every time, twice on Sunday. And I’m not alone.

    You may not want to declare war on an AI programmer, or not. Suit yourself.

    1. different clue

      This reads like you had/have some specific problems in the family law/divorce legal arena; and are sharing your personal pain and grievance with us over and over and over again.

      1. Barmitt O'Bamney

        Resist the urge to interpret Dadaist artworks. Resistance is futile of course. The brain by nature and habit must seek sense in chaos. It’s as automatic as breathing underwater, or above water. Yet the struggle to fend off interpretation, when confronted by the DaDa or even in the presence of fully intentional artworks, provides an AC/DC of delayed gratification and fulfilled expectations. Let it go and let yourself merge with Dadaverse which is the world as we know it.

    2. susan the other

      I feel the same way. I’m ever-more speechless as I realize again and again how ill suited we are for planning our own lives and futures. We are a bunch of nitwits indulging ourselves in a lotta wishful thinking. Depressing. I really like your definition of consciousness above – “That brain in your head is an antenna folding in on itself with cephalization.”

  6. Erwin Gordon

    Thank you for saying succinctly the heart of the problem with the EU. It’s close to the most undemocratic institution on the planet. The really funny thing is that you often hear people talking about the need to stay in the EU to have a say on policy!?! It’s laughable. Directives get dropped like little bombs on the population without any regard for what the populace desires. And if they populace are unhappy and want to call a referendum, they are ignored. Even the European Parliament can be ignored by the council if so desired. But the public have been so brainwashed that they don’t make the connection between all the problems that are taking place and it’s direct link to the EU. Syria, Libya, Iraq and the refugee crisis being the latest example, but we must not forget the trade agreements such as TTIP and TiSA along with the attempts by the EU to shove GMO foods down everybody’s mouths.

    What’s amazing is that I have Greek friends who have blinded themselves to the levels of humiliation being experienced by their country because they think that if Greece leaves the EU, they will have to move back to their country despite being people at managerial or even director levels in global companies. I have a french friend who believe that the economy is getting better! Why because he happens to work for a company that specialises in automation and as anyone who follows what is going on in France and across Europe, business is booming! But that is Europe, people are so scared and so myopic that they are indifferent for the most part of their liberties being stripped away because the overwhelming majority don’t know what democracy is nor what civil liberties are! They hope without too much effort on their part, that if they close their eyes and click their heels, it will all improve. And trying to have a real discussion with them, forget it!

    1. Minnie Mouse

      Kind of like the WTO overruling U.S. COOL (country of origin labeling) laws for meat. Trade deals are not about trade.

    2. vteodorescu

      Yes, this is the root of the breach in our defenses… As someone on another forum said, the people love the handle of the whip that whips them. The Eurocrats just use this for their own ends, as powerful powers that be always did… The Eurocrats seem to be better at hoodwinking intelligent people than the powers of yore… :)

  7. jon livesey

    Nice column, but really that link to WolfStreet just isn’t worth following. The author just trots out stuff you’ve read a hundred times, and the comments seem to be from people who last read a newspaper sometime back in the Thirties.

    On the issue, I’m not sure what there is to debate. We started to leave the EU the day we declined to join the euro. That’s it, really. The euro is the skeleton around which the “real EU” is being formed, and we’re not in it. The rest is just the task of putting it in writing that the UK and the euro area are separate beasts. We’ll leave the EU in little steps, on tip-toe so as not to frighten the other members. Cameron’s job is just to be terribly polite and diplomatic about it.

  8. TheCatSaid

    The various EU treaties were sold similarly to the most recent CalPERS attempt to change its strategy statement: read on its own the words seem innocuous and believably to offer future benefits; but the insiders alone (i.e., not the general publics of previously sovereign countries) fully understood the implications–the destruction of democracy, the slow-motion moves towards further power consolidation out of the reach of citizens, the multitude of horribly efficient wealth transfers from the bottom to the elite at the top.

    People thought the EU / EZ would reduce corruption but it hasn’t done that, it has just covered up the ginormous shitpile of corruption with thousands of pages of snow-white paper covered with bureaucratese.

  9. Jabawocky

    I for one will not be voting for brexit. We all know why the right want brexit, to repeal the working time directive and other EU employment laws, plus abolition of the human rights act.

    I for one fail to see a single argument here for how Britain will be better off if we leave. Of course the EU has problems, but most were avoided by not joining the euro. Britain would end up like Norway, having to follow all the EU rules for trading purposes but gave less influence in them.

    What is this fetish for national sovereignty? Try telling a scot in Inverness that government in London is good for them, or a steel worker from Teesside.

    1. econoclasm

      Look up what EU regulations actually consist of in practice. It’s mostly stuff such as, you must transport meat in a sanitary fashion. Stuff like that. I’m all for it. The right wants to transport meat however they damn well please. And the same goes for labour conditions. I’m glad that Jabawocky points this out.

      It’s really weird that people on the left are starting to repeat the old hat of the Eurosceptic right. “Eurocrats in Brussels” and so on.

      Of course the EU has screwed up bigtime with the euro, austerity and so on. But Brexit won’t change any of that. What it will do is unleash the sociopathic right in the UK.

      1. OIFVet

        So your prescription for change is to support the status quo, or so it appears to me. Because the Eurosceptic right is against it. You even acknowledge that they may have a point. But you and Jabawocky like certain regulations, and so do I. Given the neoliberal bent of the EU and the push to pass the TTIP, how much longer do you think you will get to enjoy these regulations? Cecilia Malmström : “I do not take my mandate from the European people.” Refreshingly honest for an eurocrat, non?

        1. econoclasm

          Put it this way: there are 2 ways to dismantle labour/environmental protections.

          The slow way is to adopt TTIP and wait for corporations to start court proceedings.

          The fast way is Brexit, and let Westminster get on with the job.

            1. econoclasm

              That’s referendums for ya!

              In elections, I advocate voting for 3rd-party candidates* (although don’t blame folks for voting tactically lesser-evil in marginal constituencies).

              * not UKIP

  10. William C

    Well, I am in the other camp because, though the EU has many faults, I believe that British politicians would ensure that, outside the EU, the outcome for UK citizens would, in the long term, be worse than now.

  11. TheCatSaid

    The profoundly undemocratic & non-transparent decision-making aspects of the EU are valid reasons for Brexit.

    The morass of EU legislation/regulation means absurd regulation where not required (except to very effectively limit appropriate choices–whether for kinds of natural medicine one chooses to use, length/shape of banana, who can/can’t butcher meat, how many sinks are required to be able to have a B&B–such that small-scale local enterprises are forced to close and one is left with high street chain shops. Not to mention other more “serious” kinds of things–yet while not protecting things that should be regulated to avoid exploitation of humans or environment.

    Rather than the specifics of any particular decision I might want or not want, it’s the process of decision-making in the EU that is the main problem. Unfortunately, in the EU as designed that is a feature, not a bug–but not one that citizens were informed about. We’ve all had to learn the hard way.

    It’s a concern I have about Varoufakis. He wants to change EU institutions and create more democratic / transparent / accountable institutions and structures. That’s laudable. But is this realistic when the mostly unstated objectives (that is, not stated publicly at the time) were to deprive nations of their sovereign rights and the fundamentals were all about concentrating financial power? Is it really the best approach to try to reform something which has corruption and power-grabbing at its core? This is why I have grave doubts about trying to “reform” the EU, at least now the way it looks right now.

    1. jabawocky

      OK, I agree they are valid arguments against the current set up of the EU, but the EU still offers major protections for citizens not available at the national level. Of course thew EU is not perfect, we all agree on that. But the real point is what would britain look like after brexit: would it be better than now? I argue not because Britain would look like this:

      1. Minimum holiday entitlements removed, in the name of flexibility.
      2. Maximum working hours legislation repealed to support employees who deserve the choice to work hard and get on.
      3. Protection against state intrusion into private lives removed, because we need these powers to keep us safe from terrorists.
      4. Abolition of the human rights act, because the british giovenrment is the world’s best protector of human rights.
      5. Abolition of EU laws preserving the right to union recognition.
      6.Ending the attempts of the EU to regulate hedge funds. This is why all funding from Brexit campaigns comes from hedge fund managers.
      7. Still it keeps all the EU rules, because EU countries refuse to trade otherwise.
      8. Still the same number of foreign workers because they are needed for economic expansion and maintenance of low wages.

      our course there are major efforts underway to erode employments across the eu. |But even if these were standardised this would currently benefit UK citizens because bristish laws are so much lamer than states such as Germany and the Netherlands.

  12. RBHoughton

    Absolutely right Donkey – and we have seen the way the Euro has been used too often now to have any doubts about it.

    I was living in Portugal in 1980s when talks were continuing and the Escudo was still current. We had European money pouring in to build infrastructure – roads, bridges, tunnels, ports – all sorts of improvements. The low VAT rate for necessaries was preserved, the government’s water and telephone monopolies were continued, and it appeared we were dealing with a friendly and understanding Union. Then the Euro came in, the Escudo ended, prices of everything doubled overnight except wages. Discontent started.

    The political Union is a great idea, social unity is commendable. Its the financial arrangements of EU banks that are objectionable and overly expensive – that has to be stopped. Germany, France and the Netherlands must be satisfied with their national financial business, nothing more. As Schauble said recently of the Portuguese election when denying the people had any voice in the matter of the Euro – “elections are one thing, but we have rules.” We should recognise that the Euro is not compatible with national democracy.

    As regards the British political wish to preserve all sovereignty in London, I suspect there will be difficulties. The problem is the female half of the population. UK successfully maintained men’s lawful superiority until EU Law obliged us to treat women fairly and we had to change ancient statutes to conform. We hated that but half the population got the equal rights that were their due and they are unlikely to forget how it happened. I think we should bear that in mind when the political classes start pulling the London editors’ strings with nationalist propaganda.

  13. notjonathon

    Enough of foreign rule.
    With a Brexit, will butchers be able to sell meat by the pound?

    BBC reporters, when reporting from America, invariably use degrees Fahrenheit, weight in pounds and ounces and distance in feet and miles. Curious.

  14. Paul Tioxon

    I am not sure I understand how regularly, it is argued that the UK is the worst example of the TINA neoliberal takeover. The attack on unions, the erosion of the Labor Party to a career post with no solid opposition to the steam rolling of the working class of the UK and the stealth transformation of the National Health System, the crowning achievement of post WWII Labor Policy.

    As an American, I am not worried about my state, Pennsylvania not having the final say or sovereignty, its own currency and a standing army to protect us from New Jersey or Delaware. And the history of the move to a strong centralized national government, that you can not leave and must have laws consistent with the US Constitution as a nation, has the power to tax and issues the only currency for all of the states and territories, does not seem despotic or totalitarian.

    The incrementalism in the integration of European national entities, some as small as Malta or Cyprus, has come in a haphazard manner with 3 non integrated authorities, The EU, The Monetary Union or Eurozone and Nato. These 3 distinct authorities can have one nation in all 3 or 2 in any combination. Britain is in NATO and the EU, but not the Eurozone. Findland is in the EU and the Eurozone but in deference to Russia, will not join NATO.

    Conceptually, the march toward a United States of Europe is not going well with the diplomatic courtesy to allow nations as much integration as they choose from the 3 authorities, without creating too much friction. Now what I do not understand is that to integrate the individual nations into ONE NATION, composed of states that have to cede most sovereignty, is what would make Europe a nation state, unitary indivisible territory with a central government with all of the authority Moscow and the Kremlin has over all of Russian territory or all the power and authority the Washington DC and the Federal Government has over all of the territory of the USA.

    And despite the American Civil War and the occasional rantings of the Republic of Texas cornball jingoism, nobody seriously thinks that the 50 states having to follow Federal Law, use the USD and send its State National Guard off to war in Iraq is tyranny. It is the structure of our governmental authority. In Europe, without commensurate integration of the Euro, the borders and the military under a centralized government, say in Brussels, with representation duly elected into some sort of parliament or congress or whatever is agreed upon, exactly what is the expectations of the various citizens of the various nations that are under the jurisdiction of their national governments, and the Eurozone managers, and the EU and NATO, which includes nations of the North Atlantic completely outside of Europe?

    This enmeshment in so many authorities which do not seem to work well together as described, much less in the day to day reality of good times and the bad is not a structure that can last. Either there is a breakup of the parts when times get tough followed by making up when things settle down or move to plunge into a unitary single nationstatehood, permanent and indivisible. But it seems to be there now is half way there at best with nations opting for their temporary best interests. Nationhood is not a corporation with mergers and divisions spun off. The continuity of territory under one set of expectations for everything from military policy, to economics to political power is what make nationhood an improvement over the shifting allegiances that Europe suffered under every time some duke or earl of something became king of Spain or France or Prussia or England and the territory would swing back and forth among governmental authorities, plunge into wars and devastation and take generations to recover.

    If there is a Brexit, can Europe ever hope to become a nation or just a morass of treaties that can be left behind with no hard feelings, like some joint venture among corporations?

    1. OIFVet

      “As an American, I am not worried about my state, Pennsylvania…” Mistake #1 right there, comparing apples to oranges. The US may have been founded as a collection of 13 states, but these states’ populations were quite homogenous to begin with. Such is not the case with Europe. Indeed, within many nations regionalism is not yet a thing of the past, even in geographically small nations. Italy and Germany only became unified nations in the 1860s. Throw in the added baggage of long history, and any talk of a “European nation” or “Unites States of Europe” becomes delusional. Unaccountable Brussels bureaucrats (Brussels being the capital of a “nation” that is constantly at risk of falling apart into its constituent regions) spend a lot of time blowing hot air about “common European values” and such, but the fact is that the values ain’t common, and the “democracy” part of said “values” is particularly grating given the diktats of eurocrats that often clearly go against the democratically expressed will of the populations. By doing that they try to create a “European nation” out of thin air, and it clearly is not working and only drive more and more Europeans into the camp of the skeptics. Which is fine by me, much better that the eurocrats themselves prove the lunacy of their own project…

    2. different clue

      The American colonies and then the United States were an English-based ethnic settler-state group of mono-lingual colonies and then states which spread by conquest and forced demographic-balance changes by mass settlement from the conquering states. “Europe” is a group of wildly unrelated language and culture groups. The comparison between Settler Conquest Monolingual America and multi-lingual Europe seems preposterous on its face.

      And the attempt to “make it so” starts off with the quiet Holodomor against Greece and will proceed step-by-step against every country under the EU yoke. Unless the EU can somehow be exterminated by violent force. Because no group of central racketeers will let such a sweet racket fall apart of its own accord.

      1. Paul Tioxon

        The Roman Empire and Christiandom was the not so wildly culturally divergent social order of Europe. The disintegration of Europe into smaller polities has always been seen as a degraded state of affairs with a number of historic leaders from Charlemagne to Napoleon attempting the grand unification of Europe. It’s not some sort of egghead project, but a Eurocentric longing for reestablishing a Great Civilization that was real and enduring for centuries.

        1. OIFVet

          That’s some serious revisionism, Paul. Or astonishing ignorance, I am not sure which. Charlemagne and Napoleon were uniters?! That which you call a “Eurocentric longing for reestablishing a Great Civilization” is yet another attempt of establishing an Empire.

          1. Paul Tioxon

            Yeah so what, you’ve done your bit for our Empire, now you’re Mr Morals and Ethics? I suggest you check your blood pressure, you just seem to look for a fight where there isn’t one. Pax Vobiscum.

            1. OIFVet

              I suppose Veterans for Peace are the same ‘hypocrites’ as me, then? I am not looking for a fight, but I can’t ignore your ignorant version of European history. If you take that as me looking for a fight, well, I can’t help that. That large chip on your shoulder is your problem, not mine. Thanks for your concern about my health, BTW.

  15. /L

    Europe’s golden age (for the commons) is gone, it happened before the intensified EU integration with Euro and economic rules.
    General welfare with good education and health care and infrastructure and so on was a product of post war “socialist” western Europe with full employment, but with neoliberal onslaught and its EU integration things have gone in reverse mood.
    There is a common illusion that post war western European “socialism” was some sort of free market capitalism. But now it is in error so we have to sacrifice to appease the market gods. Nothing could be more wrong, what is is the real thing.
    It will probably come with a cost to dismantle the evil empire racket but is there a choice?

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