The EU Deserves what’s coming.
One of the main reasons to oppose brexit is that the UK doesn’t benefit from being “out” should the EU collapse. A disorderly break-up of the EU would damage the UK, independently of our status in or out. (any comment saying “it’s better to bail early” will be deleted as a failure of comprehension read the post, please, it’s that argument I’m dealing with). Indeed preventing a disorderly collapse should be the UK’s priority. And when we were in, a disorderly collapse was unlikely. The UK kept the lid on Brussels insanity. Not only has Brexit given free rein to some of the very worst people in the UK, it also removes a brake on the insane Federasts of Brussels.
Far from Remainers “talking the UK down”, Brexiters have been doing so for decades – talking down the UK’s influence in the EU to the extent we’re actually thinking of walking out of the UK’s proudest creation: the single market. It is now a shibboleth that the UK has “no influence in the EU”, whereas the UK drove the single market, kept half the continent out of the poisonous grip of the Euro and pioneered enlargement to the east following the end of the cold war. The UK drove Russian sanctions to this day. The UK was one of the Big three and on many issues, more influential than France. The UK largely writes EU financial regulation for example (as is meet and proper).
But the EU over-reached. Voters, especially in the UK resented the EU’s usurpation of the trappings of National sovereignty far more than the reality of “the laws made in Brussels” which was really just code for an underlying vision they (and I) don’t like. And what is true of the UK is true of France and the Netherlands and everywhere else. Remainers like to mock the Be.Leaver’s joy over the anticipated return of the blue passport. I however have long resented the words “European Union” above (ABOVE!) the crown on the front. It’s like the bureaucrats are trying to rub the British People’s nose in it. It’s a symbol of something burning in the EU’s core, which the average voter neither desires, nor trusts.
The ridiculous and unnecessary potemkin parliament with its farcical shuttle from Brussels to Strasbourg focusses the voters minds on the EU, without giving them any outlet to do anything about it. The EU looms much larger than it ought as a result of the charade of Euro elections. Democracy without a demos is pointless – what commonality do Socialist members from spain and the UK have?:
The EU was flawed, Thanks to the UK some of its worst excesses – the Euro for example were limited to countries that really wanted it. And now without a powerful country holding the reins and steering away from “ever closer union” the Brake that was put on at Maastrict and beyond will be removed. The EU will integrate itself to death, there will be chaos when the voters of Europe can take the tin-eared arrogance of Brussels no more. There was no need for all those millions of lives to be attenuated during that process. While leave voters will say “I told you so”, a better analogy would be jumping out of a moving car suffering broken bones and extensive skin abrasions, but saying “it would have been worse” because the lunatic who grabbed the wheel when you bailed steered it directly into a tree.
Spending 1% of GDP to write trade and some business law could much more easily be done intragovernmentally, with a humble and small central bureaucracy. There is no need for “Presidents” and parliaments which lead to grandiose visions; visions which slam painfully, like the Euro, into the unyielding wall of reality. Unobtrusively aligning business regulation and deepening economic integration is necessary. A parliament, a flag, an anthem and a head of “state” are not. The EU has paid the price for this arrogant and pompous grandiosity.
Both the EU and UK are and will be significantly worse off as a result of Brexit. And now, just as Brexit is a bad idea that will be tested, so too will European integration. Both Brussels panjandrums and the brexiters fed off each others’ fantasies. Both needed to believe integration was happening, even if it wasn’t. Ultimately, the costs will become apparent to the UK pretty rapidly. The EU will suffer much more slowly. It’s almost like co-operation is a non-zero-sum game, or something.
The EU car is, and was, most definitely going to crash, regardless of Brexit. Had Cameron managed to get real reforms, effectively a UK veto on the EU actively looking for trees to drive into, then perhaps that need not have been so. But he didn't. They want this, and will not be dissuaded. It might well now crash sooner with the UK out, which would be a pity. But us remaining would just delay the inevitable, and would drag us with it to our economic doom. If the UK can get back into diversified global markets before that happens, and reduce it's dependency on the failing EU, then we have a much better chance of weathering the downturn of EU/Eurozone collapse without the economic and societal collapse that is likely to sweep parts of the continent. So if the diminished EU now survives another 10 years instead of 20, we should be (relatively) OK. But if it collapses in 5 years instead of 10, then we'll still get very badly burnt. Better than being in to the end though.
Flag, anthem, President… currency, diplomatic corps, army…
The EU ambition was always to build by degrees a single sovereign (and non-democratic) European state. A "humble and small central bureaucracy" getting inflated with grandiosity, and therefore open to correction and deflation, it never was.
The lunatic, in your analogy, had the wheel all the time.
How this EU vision arose, what its roots were, why after two devastating European wars this behemoth seemed to be the answer to anything, appear to me good questions. Why couldn't the European nations conceive of the simple quiet intra-governmental commission you speak of?
"A disorderly break-up of the EU would damage the UK, independently of our status in or out."
It would help if you could indicate – possibly in a separate post? – how you think it would do so. (Personally, I can see ways in which things could go much better for us following the EU breaking up, as well as ways in which things could be worse.)
"It is now a shibboleth that the UK has 'no influence in the EU'"
Not with me – but it is true that the majority of the EU seem to either have mostly different objectives to us, or to be willing to accede to those countries which have different objectives.
"whereas the UK drove the single market"
To some extent, back in the 1980s.
"kept half the continent out of the poisonous grip of the Euro"
Not exactly – when the Euro was brought in, 11 out of the then 15 countries joined in (and Greece got in soon after). Membership is currently 19 out of 28 EU countries, with all but two (us and Denamrk) of the remainder obliged to join when they meet the necessary criteria.
"pioneered enlargement to the east following the end of the cold war"
Yes (mostly in the somewhat forlorn hope that it would reduce the impetus towards ever close union.)
"The UK drove Russian sanctions to this day."
I don't think I have heard that before. If so, not necessarily a good result – sanctions rarely work as intended.
"The UK largely writes EU financial regulation for example (as is meet and proper)."
If this is true, we would never have had to worry about FTTs being imposed.
Skipping over a lot of stuff I heartily agree with (on the EU overreaching itself – although this is inevitable given the underlying philosophy of the EU)…
Our relationship with the EU is comparable with four people arguing about where to drive on a day trip from Birmingham – with three of them wanting to go to the Lake District, and the fourth wanting to go to London. So they compromise by going to Manchester.
In some ways, Manchester has more in common with London than it does with the Lake District – but it's also a hell of a lot closer to the Lake District (and in the opposite direction) as a destination, than is London.
I think what you want is the UNECE.
Oh, we've already got it so why the EU?
The clue is in the preamble to the Treaty of Rome, the 'ever closer union' bit that you think can be ignored.
I'm afraid I rather disagree with your contention that the UK has been a moderating influence on the EU. I don't think it has had much effect; such insanities as the concept of a currency union preceding a political union were not at all impeded by UK involvement in the process.
In this article, one of the architects of the Euro project can be heard to decry the behaviour of the European Central Bank, and in particular how the Euro project has tried against all sense only ever to expand.
I think that the Euro and EU are ultimately doomed. I think the primary driver of this doom, apart from fiscal insanities like the Euro, is the overwhelming amount of regulation the EU puts out, and the degree to which this is corrupted by large players to favour large companies over small ones. This regulatory overhead acts to lock small players out of business, which is ultimately toxic.
After an economic downturn, economists generally think that economies recover and grow by means of small companies growing into slightly bigger but still small outfits; big multinationals do not grow in this way but instead expand by taking over smaller companies. By inhibiting a lot of small company growth, the EU ultimately seals its fate.
A symptom of this lack of small companies is the high level of youth unemployment in much of the EU. Young people are generally willing to work for low wages, so a high level of youth unemployment, especially when low oil prices ought to be stimulating economic growth, is indicative of something preventing this pool of cheap labour being exploited effectively. Cheap migrant workers, under this regime, will only make the unemployment worse rather than stimulate the economies.
What I think will kill the EU is a mixture of economic stupidity and over-regulation; side-issues such as democratic insufficiency and rampant inefficiency like the whole Brussels – Strasbourg thing are merely symptoms of a lack of intelligence on the part of EU politicians. Similarly when it got into trouble Greece really ought to have been summarily booted out of the Euro for its own good, and as a salutary reminder to the rest of Club Med that this Euro thing was grown-up stuff and no pillocking about was going to be tolerated.
The EU fudged that one, and will continue to fudge its way from crisis to crisis, getting ever-more desperate as time goes on. At some point, when bond-buying and QE start failing, it will resort to tricks like pension fund raiding and haircuts on bank deposits, just before everything ultimately collapses. The key indicator to watch for here is Russian oligarchs high-tailing it out of town.
Brexit is a rational response when you look at the EU as a whole. It is doomed and yes, we're going to catch quite a bit of it when the shit hits the fan, but as long as we're fairly separate from the EU's banking system, we ought to miss most of the smelly. Brexit isn't a panacea for all ills, merely the least worst option out of a range of unpalatable ones.
The idea of the UK having a moderating influence on the rest of the EU is debatable. The very fact of the euro going ahead, with all the disastrous consequences of said, and the inevitable pressures that brings for further integration and buildup towards a federal state, undermines that "moderating" impact. It may well be that at times the UK voice has counteracted the more dirigiste momentum from France in particular, but this has come at the price of the UK being constantly made to think of itself as an awkward country, pushing against idiocy and hubris. It is also draining on our energies. And then there is the fact that our being in the customs union of the EU means the UK has not had the liberty to set its own trade deals and expand FTAs with countries that are growing, rather than stagnating.
I don't see why the UK should pursue some sort of self-sacrificing role of propping up an entity that has long since moved from being a free trade zone into something far less benign. The unwinding of the EU will be painful, but the lion's share of the blame for the mess must lie with the continental European political class, which even today is in denial about the challenges the region faces.
Better off out.
Incidentally, Jackart, have you seen this article by Daniel Korski?
I think you'll find it a lot closer to your viewpoint than much of what I would say. Personally, I found it very enlightening about what was happening behind the scenes.
(Found via Samizdata: http://www.samizdata.net/2016/10/have-they-even-been-selling-europe-in-europe/ )