Welcome to Little England, sovereign but the world passes us by.

“Britain and the EU could begin a new, and perhaps happier, relationship as sovereign allies.” James Forsyth in “The Times” today

Britain and the EU are in no way “sovereign allies” – this is a fundamental misreading of what the European Union is. The Union is an alliance of 27 sovereign states – it is in no way “sovereign” itself. It has no role other than to implement the decisions and the will of its members.

Sovereign – but the world passes by

Britain has not been negotiating with a sovereign entity but with civil servants of the EU Commission. The power lies not in the Brussels bureaucracy but in the governments of member states. These governments would all have to ratify any deal.

Throughout the Brexit process – before, during and since the Referendum – Europhobes have blathered on about “Sovereignty”. Sometimes as code to cover their xenophobia, sometimes as simplistic faux-patriotism – often as flag-waving populist nationalism. The truth, of course, is that at no point did Britain’s membership of the EU impinge materially on its sovereignty.

To believe that Britain once surrendered a significant part of its self-governing freedoms by being an EU member is preposterous exceptionalism. It requires the arrogant premise that 27 different and proud indendent nations – the French, the Germans, the Italians and the rest – are somehow less concerned about their sovereignty than Britain .

The modern world is interdependent to an extraordinary degree. No nation is an island entire in itself any more. This reality has to be governed by rules and codified in formal agreements. This incidentally makes us more secure – allies whether political, economic or cultural tend not to go to war with one another. Jaw Jaw is always preferable to War War.

Terminology so loosely used by Mr Forsyth is inflammatory but then the whole sovereignty argument was and is incendiary. Many who use the word “Sovereignty” know that it can be a classic bit of binary jargon despite the fact that the concept is so obviously a nuanced one. Societies at every level accept some restraint on their freedom to act. At a national level every treaty, every alliance, every deal leads to lost or pooled sovereignty to some degree.

For Britain to be the only country in Europe not in or not closely linked with the world’s largest bloc beggars belief. Even the Swiss, traditionally fiercely neutral, have strong formal ties with the EU. If they can give up a tiny fraction of their historic sovereignty why on earth can Britain not do the same? Welcome to Little England, sovereign but the world passes us by.

4 thoughts on “Welcome to Little England, sovereign but the world passes us by.

  1. The arch European federalist and former French president Valery Giscard d’ Estaing died yesterday aged 94. One of his last political roles was the creation of a European constitution that many believed paved the way towards Federalism for Europe. That constitution was firmly rejected by French voters in a referendum and has never seen the light of day since and nor will it.
    The point is that the fear of closer moves within the EU towards a Federalist state was touted by the Leave campaign as a good reason for Britain to exit the Union. It was a lie of course among many lies the public believed during that dishonest Brexit debate.
    In the years to come a slow dawning of realisation will reach even the densest of the British electorate. Already some are grumbling about the fact that after January 2021 they can no longer legally stay in Europe for more than 3 months in any one year.
    Once that realisation takes hold it’s an inescapable truth that the British will hold this Tory government responsible for their misery, isolation and poverty.
    The recently announced reduction in foreign aid will add to the contempt many none European nation feels toward petite Angleterre. Future international trade deals are likely to be tied to increased aid, not a reduction. So much for “global Britain”.
    I’m looking forward to the French President Emmanuel Macron giving a two-fingered salute to Johnson and an emphatic Non to any EU free trade deal next week.


  2. I worry you are right. After all, despite advances in education, science and human development a wide section of many developed societies still believe in medieval religions. For many Brexit is just that. A new belief system to be kept as faith.


  3. I have seen so many references to the EU as a ‘super state’. I have spent so long correcting the assumption by pointing out it is a trading bloc. The education of kids here is woefully inadequate. There needs to be FAR more on the importance of peace in Europe and the role and function of the EU and less on How We Won 2 World Wars on our Own while Writing Poetry.


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