“Brexit,” the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union, should be an easy choice for UK voters, but it will not be. That’s because the campaign against Brexit will be led by the man who should be campaigning for it, British Prime Minister David Cameron, head of the Conservative Party.
Months of negotiations and a last-ditch summit that ended on Friday left Cameron with a deal that papers over the problems the UK has with the EU without solving any of them. Voters will decide on Brexit in a June 23 public referendum.
The EU traces its origins to the 1957 Common Market agreements which bound, at the beginning, a few nations into a super-sized free trade area. (If you research that concept thoroughly you’ll encounter the outline for a German-dominated European free trade area for coal that appeared in a 1925 book entitled Mein Kampf.)
The 1993 Maastricht Treaty, eventually signed by twenty-eight nations, formed the European Union. That treaty mandates the pursuit of an “ever-closer union among the peoples of Europe.” The EU has done that by forming its own parliament, a governing commission, and an enormous bureaucracy that regulates everything it can think of. The EU has its own economic, foreign policy and defense policies, a European Central Bank, a Court of Human Rights with the power of overruling members’ governments and courts as well as other accoutrements of national power.
The EU pretends to be a nation but it doesn’t function like one. Henry Kissinger once asked, “Who do I call if I want to call Europe?” There’s still no number to call because for all its supposed unity, the EU treaties don’t create a nation with the ability to do so. Not that it isn’t trying. And that’s where Brexit comes in.
The British have been rebelling, less and less quietly, about the EU’s accretions of what used to be British sovereignty. The EU regulates peoples’ rights and safety usually without regard for the UK members of its parliament.
For example, the European Court of Human Rights frequently overrules the British government and courts mandating that terrorist suspects can’t be deported. Radical cleric Abu Qatada was finally deported to the United States to face terrorism charges after years of litigation in the EUHCR. In 2012, the Daily Telegraph reported that the EUHCR had blocked more than 900 attempts by Britain to deport terrorist suspects, more than had been blocked for any other nation.
The EU tells the British people where they can smoke, what ingredients are permissible in cosmetics, and how much fat can be in a sausage. (It hasn’t yet tried to rename the British sausage an “emulsified high-fat offal tube.” That was the plot of an episode of the brilliant 1980s BBC comedy Yes, Minister.)
The UK delegation to the European Parliament is outvoted so often that they should be excused if they stopped trying.
The movement toward Brexit has been building for years. The EU is entirely undemocratic and has taken over so much of British sovereignty that anyone would rebel against it.
Cameron’s promise to hold a public referendum on the U.K. remaining in the EU won him the 2015 elections. His re-election campaign promised a renegotiation of Britain’s rights and sovereignty under the EU treaties.
The promises were: to undo the “ever-closer union” treaty requirement; to give the British parliament the ability to opt out of EU legislation; an exemption of London’s “City” — one of the world’s banking and financial capitals — from further EU regulation; and creating an “emergency brake” that would prevent the UK from having to pay immigrants welfare and unemployment payments as soon as they arrive.
Cameron achieved none of those goals.
The British Parliament will only be able to opt out of EU laws if the British government is able to get 55% of the other EU nations’ parliaments to join it in cancelling the law. That, as I wrote last week, isn’t sovereignty: it’s servitude.
The London financial community can’t be exempted from EU regulation unless the British government can prove that the regulations discriminate against the City. The “emergency brake” against welfare for immigrants can only be applied for four of the next seven years.
The exemption from the “ever-closer union” requirement is supposed to be accomplished the next time the EU treaties are redone, a process that can take years to accomplish and may never be agreed to.
To top it all off, none of the agreements Cameron made can be implemented unless the EU parliament approves them after the UK referendum in June. Which it may or may not do, and which it imposes its own changes to before approving them.
Cameron’s deal has to be placed in context with the existential issues facing the EU whether or not Britain remains a member. When those issues are assembled, it’s difficult to understand why British voters wouldn’t want to approve Brexit overwhelmingly. Here are a few of the biggest EU problems.
The EU is being torn apart by the influx last year of more than a million refugees fleeing Syria, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other terrorist-riddled countries. It’s winter now, so the flow of refugees has slowed. But the dam will break again in the spring, spilling hundreds of thousands or even more millions of refugees in via Greece, Italy, and the Balkans and then into countries such as Germany, France, and Spain, or wherever else they choose to go.
Given the fact that the EU can’t agree on how the refugees should or shouldn’t be admitted or to which nations they should be parceled out, there’s no reason to believe there will ever be an end to the tsunami of refugees until the immigrants have some strong motive to not enter the EU.
The refugee crisis is destabilizing most of the EU and governments, including that of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, are likely to fall because of it.
Meanwhile, the EU’s shared currency, the euro (which Britain is fortunate not to have adopted) is still in danger of collapse because of the weakness and profligacy of the Greek and Italian governments. As the Keynesian liberals of the Economist write this week, the European Central Bank may not be able to save the euro because it has run out of resources to do so. To save it, says the Economist, governments may have to increase borrowing and spending massively, just printing money to falsely stimulate the Eurozone’s economy. And that Keynesian remedy never works.
Britain has enough of its own problems. But to choose to continue as an EU member is the equivalent of choosing to remain chained to a lung cancer victim who still smokes two packs a day.
In short, Britain’s interests will best be served by ending its membership in the EU. That may hurt trade and cost millions of dollars and many jobs. But that will be easier and less costly to deal with than remaining part of a failing pseudo-state that cannot maintain its borders or currency.