Sunday, 12 June 2016
Jonathan Freedland poses a dilemma; if you had just one wish would it be to guarantee that Britain stays in the EU or that Trump does not become president. No doubt when he dreamed up this devious binary contract with the devil he imagined it would read as a masterly summation of the principle problems with which the world is grappling. But, like other so-called progressive missives to the little people, he hasn’t thought it through. Trump becoming president isn’t the end of the world and it has zero bearing on whether the UK stays subject to rule from Brussels. Like all Remain’s prognostications it offers a false choice; stay and prosper or leave and die.
But if we do leave the EU it isn’t principally the UK which will suffer, it is the whole EU project which is at stake. This is how it goes: We vote to leave. They try to punish us by imposing nominal tariffs and maybe even trade sanctions. We shrug, maybe suffer a dip in the flow of exotic goods for a while but then concessions are made because business – the German car trade for a start – will lobby to maintain its markets. As James Dyson has said, of course trade with Europe will continue and continue largely unchanged.
Others will watch and then the dominoes will begin to fall. Never entirely happy about their relationship, the Dutch will hold their own in/out referendum, closely followed by others and once nations begin to take back control of their destinies the EU will shrink back to become Germany and France propping up the poor eastern states and wondering what to do about Turkey. Greece is a lost cause, Italy is swamped by unwanted African and Middle Eastern immigration and the shutters are going up everywhere. When war comes there will not be the embryonic EU army to call on as each country will recall their own troops to defend their own borders.
There is a certain inevitability about war in Europe. As Freedland (rightly I believe) surmises, the EU has had a hand in staving it off. But only in the manner of a pressure cooker lid; the simmering resentments are still there, the old enmities only muted, not resolved. And as before, Britain’s true place is as a powerful ally, not a neutered lap dog. The longer we stay in the weaker we become until we are no use to anybody. It probably won’t be World War Three, as some in the Remain camp have tried to suggest, it will probably be more ‘Balkany’, but whether Britain is in or out the EU will be weaker still afterwards.
'Twas ever thus.
The options are not a clear cut stay for peace or leave for war; there are no such guarantees. But if and when war does come where do we want to be? On the inside, weakened as a nation, less confident and legally bound to send in troops against our own European fellow citizens? Or as a strong bystander, wielding diplomatic clout from the outside and able to choose if and when we intervene. Through history this has been our role; and history has a habit of repeating itself. Vote out, for the future of Europe.