“ A country controls its borders and should be able to kick out those who govern it. The arrogant European Commission is an affront to democracy.” Iain Martin in The Times today.
Same old, same old. We are back in the Free trade and tariff debate of the mid 19th Century. The world moved on over the decades, sadly in Europe having to endure two ghastly Wars before Churchill’s maxim that Jaw Jaw was better than War War eventually won.
If you want open borders for trade as, for example, Margaret Thatcher enthusiastically did, those borders have to be open otherwise as well. The greatest triumph of European unity was the negotiation of the Four Freedoms – something that the United Kingdom was very much party to.
To call the European Commission “arrogant” is just ignorant abuse. The Commission is empowered by a democratically elected Parliament. What it does it is authorised by that Parliament to do it. And if a member state objects it generally has a right of veto.
Churchill argued for unity – he had seen twice in his lifetime what raw nationalism could do. International cooperation is infinitely preferable to go-if-alone faux-patriotism with all its dangers of grandiose flag-waving self-regard.
Cooperation requires compromise, and rules. We are in the world of the “greater good” here. Not everything in a Treaty such as Maastricht could be equally beneficial to all its signatories. But overall the benefits for all, jointly and severally, outweighed the downsides for some. And Britain even negotiated opt outs that gave it a preferential position.
The acid test of any proposed action is to compare it with what others in a similar position do. Of the then 28 nations of the European Union Britain was the only nation to leave, indeed the only nation to contemplate it. The world has moved on from closed borders and closed minds. Except in this sceptered isle. Here Little England triumphed over Global Britain and sadly it won’t be rolled back in my lifetime.