A few years ago it would have been unthinkable for Stephen Fidler’s article to have made the esteemed pages of the Wall Street Journal. But times have changed in the European Union and Great Britain; so much so that it is a now regular topic of discussion whether Britain can get out of the EU. It is not a matter of if the UK leaves the EU but when.
It is not unusual to see scare stories coming from the Commission in order to keep us in the EU and keep our contributions coming. Their arguments, however, do not meet scrutiny. They mock the outside relationship of Switzerland and Norway, yet both send more goods per capita to the EU than the UK does. Clearly EU membership is not a barrier to trade for these nations.
Article 3 of the Lisbon Treaty compels the Union to contribute to free and fair trade with its neighbours and the wider world. It is currently negotiating a free trade agreement with Japan. No-one is seriously going to argue that Japan should join the EU. So why must the UK, with its global trade links and Commonwealth bonds, be bound to the EU? Is it just geography?
Barroso says we are more influential inside the EU. But it has already been shown that the Prime Minister will be unable to gain a cut in the EU budget. If he cannot negotiate a cut in a budget, how can he be expected to repatriate sovereignty of fishing, farming and other competences gained by the EU through successive treaties? A majority of MPs in Parliament voted for a cut and this will be ignored, raising the potential for a constitutional crisis when the Prime Minister returns.
Outside the EU we will retake our seat at the World Trade Organisation. We maintain our permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council. Our NATO membership keeps us tied to matters of international security and peace. That is not a bad index of influence for one of the world’s leading economies.
To renegotiate is to re-write the whole acquis communautaire, the entire EU body of law. It is a mammoth task and will take years. To leave the EU would be easy. We need only pass a bill of 3 to 4 lines repealing the 1972 European Communities Act and send a letter to Brussels confirming our departure.
Even under the EU’s own rules in the Lisbon Treaty, there would be a 2 year process to disengage and negotiate a free trade deal respecting and acknowledging EU standards in trade and goods.
Either way, this would give us the relationship we want, one solely based on trade. It is about recognition, not harmonisation.
Norway has that relationship. Its position outside the EU makes it free to repeal EU laws it has made its own. We do not have that choice, which is why we want to Get Britain Out of the EU.
It is also becoming clear that British exit is what the EU wants. They have never made it a secret that they want ever closer Union. The solution to the problems of the Eurozone is always “more Europe”. They have a point.
The middle-way Europeanism of successive British governments has slowed down the necessary EU integration the Eurozone needs. You cannot have a common currency and expect prosperity without a single fiscal policy. Fiscal policies need mandates and governments behind them. The continental Europhiles have not hid this ambition.
But our political class at home has always been coy, engaging in wishful thinking, hoping they can argue against decades of integration.
Guys, they mean it. They want full European Union. We should simply let them get on with it, engaging in peaceful cooperation outside the political union the Europhiles have always wanted. The question the Great British Public needs an answer to is – are we all in, or are we out? There’s no middle way, no status quo. The option is clear to us, we want to Get Britain Out.