Little England has triumphed over Global Britain – it won’t be rolled back in my lifetime

“ 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.

2 thoughts on “Little England has triumphed over Global Britain – it won’t be rolled back in my lifetime

  1. Do not despair Paddy. The single factor that will force through a shift and a change in attitude towards Europe will be economics or rather trade. It was the driving motivation originally for Britain to join the EU. The country was desperate to increase its share of world trade.
    The current Chancellor, Rishi Sunak is an arch anti-European. He believes Britain will prosper outside the EU and accepts the guff of Britain as an independent global trading nation. It was always a global trading nation like Germany and France and enjoyed unparalleled access to European markets, free of red tape.
    After the pandemic, the UK’s debt pile reached £2.17tn at the end of April 2021, or about 98.5% of GDP the highest national debt since WW11.
    It falls to Sunak, now hoisted on his own petard to create ways to repay what is by any standard an enormous debt pile. The time has arrived for his political philosophy to deliver to the British people.
    He needs global trade to effectively double and economic activity revenues to increase considerably to avoid massive tax hikes or the unthinkable, austerity.
    It ain’t going to happen. Were Britain still part of the single market there would have been decent chances of achieving it. Making free trade deals with countries like Australia just won’t cut it. As things stand hearts and minds will change when the country faces the unthinkable. An Argentina-style default of its debts or an IMF back to the seventies bailout.

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