Cameron In Context

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David Cameron recently made a speech propounding his desire for Britain to remain in a “reformed EU”. The problem for the Prime Minister is that the proposal is not his and the “vision” he outlines is of a third-rate country—relegated to the second-tier of a two-tier EU—without independent representation in many of the world’s important global forums.

Wrapping “associate membership” in the Union Flag—Cameron’s British Model of membership—does not make the prospect of Britain resiling from the global stage any less noxious. Sadly, David Cameron is just one in a long line of British managed declinists. This particular breed of politician like the “crutch” that “Europe” offers and are content to watch as Britain’s global power is gradually usurped by the Brussels-based supranational treaty union.

Beginning in 1961, when Harold MacMillan made Britain’s first representations to join the then European Economic Community (EEC), British politicians have lied to the British public about the true nature of this undoubtedly political project designed to bring the nations of Europe together under the control of a single supranational government. Indeed, the EU is almost universally misrepresented as an economic project, but while the elimination of tariffs and greater cross-border collaboration may have had a solvent affect upon the objective of “ever closer union”, the most significant part of the project is and always was the political objective of accreting ever greater control over ever more areas of policy (what the EU calls “competencies”) to EU institutions.

In accordance with the wishes of the so-called “father” of the “European project”, French diplomat and congac salesman, Jean Monnet, Europe should cease to be a continent of independent self-governing nation-states and should instead become a group of Member States subservient to a supranational authority under bureaucratic control.

The closing words of Jean Monnet’s Memoirs are as follows:

The sovereign nations of the past can no longer solve the problems of the present: they cannot ensure their own progress or control their own future. And the Community itself is only a stage on the way to the organised world of tomorrow.

This dismal vision was borne of the continental fear that, without such a system, democracy would lead, in all circumstances, inevitably to despotism and war. Britain, and England, in particular, with its long history of freedom under law and 300 years of largely peaceful constitutional evolution since the Cromwellian interregnum, never shared these early 20th century continental concerns and the British “establishment” instead embraced “le project” to asuage their fear that, shorn of the Empire, Britain would struggle to maintain economic productivity at the level to which the country had become accustomed.

This context, ancient history to most who will be voting in Britain’s EU referendum in (probably) 2017, is important because it aids understanding of where we have come from and therefore, hopefully, where we are going. Monnet’s fears and MacMillan’s fears were real, but the fundamentally different approaches needed to solve these two national challenges—Monnet, a Frenchman, fearful of another war with Germany—and MacMillan, an Englishman, fearful of insufficient economic productivity, what some have termed “the British disease”—were never truly compatible, and it is only due to the deception of Edward Heath (a passionately committed europhile and “true believer” in the project) and successive generations of British politicians, that this uneasy relationship has persisted for so long.

Now, with the need for greater political integration to resolve the problems that have arisen between incompatible economies in the eurozone (See: The Monnet Method), the British people find themselves at a “crossroads”. For perfectly reasonable historical, political, cultural and economic reasons, the British are disinclined to ever accept participation in the euro project or the borderless Schengen zone, so, unable to reach a satisfactory settlement, the politicians have absolved themselves of the decision. This referendum is a matter for the people.

The choice that we face is, in short: either we accept the Prime Minister’s proposal for Britain to become an “associate member” of a “reformed EU”—outside of “ever closer union” and the euro but still accepting the subordination of our political and economic institutions and EU representation on the world stage—or we leave the EU and rejoin the rest of the world, asserting our commitment to independent self-government, national democracy and intergovernmental agreement as the proper means for ordering our affairs.

NB: This is the first in a series of posts responding to the Prime Minister’s speech at the Royal Institute for International Affairs (Chatham House). The second is A Better Alternative.

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