After years of being in support of Britain’s membership of the EU when the referendum came I, (like David Owen the arch Europhile and former Labour foreign secretary and leader of the SDP) changed my mind and voted for Leave. The article I wrote on this went viral and was read by hundreds of thousands of people – some of whom contacted me to tell me that it had persuaded them to change their views as well.
Just before the EU referendum I wrote this article about my struggles with how to vote and why I eventually ended up opting for Brexit. It got an astonishing reaction being downloaded, read and passed on over 100,000 times. I have written other things on this topic but never anything on that scale…until today. I have heard lots of people asking about what is going on and, outwith the few committed people on either side, being quite confused about the claims and counter claims. So here is
Brexit for Dummies
Are you fed up hearing about Brexit? The arguments seem never ending, circular, meaningless and increasingly bitter. Claim and counter claim is made. Anyone who disagrees with the others point of view is treated like a heretic. I have tried (not too successfully!) not to get involved in social media arguments on Brexit because they are usually frustrating and pointless as people put forward their beliefs backed up by the best confirmation bias that Google can provide. There is little interaction, less thought and even less light. As some are aware I have had a keen interest in this and have followed the debates and discussions quite closely. I have begun writing numerous articles on various aspects and have decided not to finish them because I thought what is the point of adding yet more to the ever-growing mountain of verbiage on the subject. However I have been persuaded to give a (relatively) succinct summary of what Brexit is all about – a kind of Brexit for dummies.
Although I am pro-Brexit, I do not write this seeking to persuade those of a different point of view (I don’t think I can do that), nor am I seeking to justify my own view. However I do hope to provide information, encourage understanding and above all, from a Christian perspective, encourage Christians to pray…(I should add at this point that I am not writing this as THE Christian perspective. The bible tells us nothing about Brexit and the church should not be making pronouncements either way. Christians will disagree about this according to our politics, knowledge and circumstances, as we disagree about many things, but it is how we disagree, that is important. Above all Christians should show the kind of humility that comes from knowing that we know so little and that the future is not in our hands, but the Lords – this knowledge should prevent both hubris and despair). S
So here are the main points that I hope will be helpful for those trying to make their way through the morass of propaganda and hysteria on both sides.
1) The British People voted in the EU Referendum to leave the European Union
After years of being in support of Britain’s membership of the EU when the referendum came I, (like David Owen the arch Europhile and former Labour foreign secretary and leader of the SDP) changed my mind and voted for Leave. The article I wrote on this went viral and was read by hundreds of thousands of people – some of whom contacted me to tell me that it had persuaded them to change their views as well. Despite the fact that most of the major political parties and politicians, 80% of Big Business, 95% of Church of England bishops, 90% of University principals and the majority of media and ‘cultural’ stars were against Brexit; the majority of people in the UK voted to leave the European Union. 17,410,742 voted Leave (52%), 16,141,241 (48%) voted Remain. It was an astonishing and unexpected vote. One that the Establishment did not expect – if they had thought it was even possible we would not have had the referendum.
2) The EU is not just a trading arrangement and will not remain the same.
One SNP MP tweeted publicly in response to my statement that the EU was not democratic – that it did not really matter because the EU is a trading arrangement not a political entity. This helps us see a big part of the problem. The Big Lie on which British entrance into the EU was based and maintained.
Let me explain. I have just read The Great Deception: Can the European Union Survive? (Booker and North). It’s a stunning book that clearly and comprehensively demonstrates that the UK was taken into the EEC by Edward Heath on the basis of a lie. The EU is not, and never was, solely a trading arrangement. Trade is vital and recognizing that, those who wanted a United States of Europe, decided to use that route, rather than the political one. That is still the same today. One of the myths about the Single Market is that it is a free trade area whose purpose is to permit free trade. In fact it is a highly regulated protectionist regime whose purpose is to exclude those outwith and to ensure that trade can be used to control those within. The EU is not about free trade.
That is why when people say those who voted to leave did so not knowing what they were leaving for are right but also wrong. Wrong in what they did not say; that they also did not know what they were voting for. Because one thing is for sure the EU is not going to stay the same. There will be greater political as well as economic harmonization. There will be an EU army. And there will be political upheaval as the Far Right continues to gain in France, Austria, Germany, Poland, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Hungary etc. because of the refusal of the political and cultural elites to deal with the issues that are affecting many poorer people who don’t have the comforts of the establishment to protect them. The idea that Britain could be part of that but opt out is a deception – by definition that can only last so long. It can only be a temporary measure. If we are so tied into the EU that our economic, academic and political systems are dependent on them, then ultimately any other vestiges of sovereignty and independence will be gone.
3) The British Government is weak and the EU Commission is strong
The EU is run by three groups – the Council of Ministers (from individual governments), the European Parliament and the EU Commission (consisting of one Commissioner from each of the 28 countries. What people do not grasp is that the political executive of the EU, and thus the group with almost absolute power, is the Commission. It alone can propose laws. The parliament has an advisory and veto role – the latter giving it some power. But it does not elect or appoint individual commissioners and can only sack the whole commission – something that is highly unlikely.
Some would argue that the commission is ultimately controlled by governments because they each have a representative – but again that is to misunderstand the nature of the EU. It is not a representative, parliamentary or presidential democracy. It is not a democracy at all. It was not designed as an ‘intergovernmental’ body – where the governments can overturn, veto or refuse the decisions. It is not an equal partnership. The EU Commission is a supranational body – above national parliaments and institutions. The Commission uses national parliaments and institutions to enforce their decisions, but they, in 80% of cases, do not have the right to refuse to accept EU laws – which in the UK’s case are anything from 13%-67% – depending on who you ask!
This is significant when it comes to understanding issues like the Irish border. The EU Commission are using Ireland – just as they ignored them before. This article by Brendan O’Neill (an Irish citizen point out the hypocrisy) is essential reading if you want to understand what is really going on…
“As an Irish citizen currently mortified beyond description by the the weaponisation of Ireland’s border concerns against Brits’ democratic vote for Brexit, I have only one thing to say to this EU love for Paddies: pass me the sickbag. The EU respects Ireland’s borders and national integrity like a shark respects a seal. Is the crisis of historical memory now so pronounced that we have forgotten how the EU treated Ireland when its people had the temerity to vote against the Nice Treaty and the Lisbon Treaty? It was the polar opposite of ‘The Irish request is the EU request’; it was more like ‘The Irish request is pig ignorant and must be ignored by all good people’.
What most people don’t realize is that the EU Commissioners are NOT there to represent national interests– they are there to represent the Commission to their governments. Indeed they take an oath to that effect. Their priority has to be the needs of the EU, not the needs of their own countries.
Why is all that important? Because – as the EU Commission is not democratic and is not directly answerable to any electorate, it has much more power and can be much more authoritarian. This of course is the whole problem with the EU. Its what Tony Benn pointed out- “if you cannot vote out those who make your laws you do not live in a democracy”. So the EU Commission can play hardball with Britain (as they did with Greece and as they have done with every country that has dared to go against them) because they don’t have to answer to the electorate.
On the other hand the British government do. Combine that with a divided nation, a weak and ineffective Prime Minister who stumbles from one disaster to another, a fanatical and furious anti-Brexit elite, and you can see who has the stronger hand. The EU is able to use the threat of trade sanctions, Ireland and UK citizens, whilst the weak UK government will cave in on every one of those issues because they have to have a ‘success’ in order to be re-elected. The EU Commission can play hardball with impunity (witness their disgraceful treatment of Dundee and other UK cities applying for the European City of Culture) knowing that they can get away with it, and knowing that their apologists here will excuse them almost anything. Like supporters of King Herod claiming that the massacre of the babies in Bethlehem was really their fault for being born where the wise men were stupid enough to reveal the location of the Messiah!
Summary – the British Government is weak because it is a democracy and democracy is getting weaker in Western society. The EU is strong because it is a bureaucratic authoritarian technocracy which has no qualms about using issues like the Irish border ( to get what it wants. In my view if we do not leave then democracy in the UK is effectively finished. We would be as well voting for our MEPS as our MPs – largely a waste of time as neither would have any real power.