Numerous eminent persons including American State officials have been alerting the British people of the folly of voting in the June Referendum to leave membership of the European Union. They, however, are in the fortunate position of not themselves being subject to the directions and whims of the officials running the Commission which largely determines now how we in Britain are now governed.
We still have, it is true, our own Parliament and Government but about two-thirds of its time is spent interpreting the directives received from the Commission into our own law. (In the last 10 years some 100,000 “items” have been sent to us from Brussels!) That is the current position which will remain “in perpetuo” if we vote to “Remain” in the Union.
Before considering how the Union and, hence, our well-being and life-style might change in the next few years it might be constructive to recall what the leading exponent of the “Remain” cause, Mr David Cameron, has been attempting in the past year. Above all he has been seeking to stem the flow of citizens from other EU countries from taking up residence here. Since freedom to live and work anywhere in the Union is a fundamental right of all EU citizens, he has not succeeded in achieving his objective despite meetings with the heads of all 27 other EU states. At the time Mr Cameron stated that if he was not satisfied in securing such changes he would recommend that we vote to leave the EU. One wonders what has changed his mind.
There are two major issues which will continue to threaten to disturb life for EU citizens. The first is the Euro currency. The problems its creation has raised are well documented: a group of countries of widely differing economic characteristics cannot live together if they are not free to alter their money exchange rates to reflect the ups and downs of their relative.economies. What, currently, suits the strong German industrialised economy does not fit well with rural ones such as Greece’s. The Commission’s solution is “ever-closer union” or a United States of Europe. Even in the USA this is not a perfect solution: some American states are perpetually broke and have to be baled our by the Federal Government. The one good action by Mr. Gordon Brown was to stop Mr Blair signing up to the Euro. With continued EU membership would we forever be able to avoid ever closer union and loss of the pound?
The second worry lies with the sheer diversity and disparity in size, history, wealth and life-style of the inhabitants of the 28 countries. Currently Germany, France and Britain are the three which the other 25 largely rely upon for their well-being and moral support when faced with potential threats from Russia. For their actual defence most depend upon NATO which is independent of the Commission. Recent history has demonstrated the instability of unions such as the EU: the Austro-Hungarian and the Ottoman empires did not survive the 1914/18 war. The question for us in Britain is do we want to be around when the EU collapses either for economic reasons or because of its diversity?
It is no answer to say that we can always leave when we want; in difficult times that may not be that simple.
Anthony Hinds studied natural sciences and metallurgy at Cambridge where he met the late Geoffrey Howe and Patrick Jenkin, along with several others who became ministers in the Thatcher government. Anthony was an early member of the Bow Group serving as treasurer and chairman of branches. He has written a short book on the nationalised industries (Concerns of State).