In a scene that could have been lifted from a John Le Carre novel, a British official and a European ambassador are overheard speaking frankly about Brexit in a café in Washington DC.
The upshot was that the unknowing public would ultimately be presented with a stark choice: accept Theresa May’s ‘Deal’ or stay in the EU.
Fact not fantasy, as journalist Ian Birrell told the BBC back in the summer.
At the time, we might have been wondering if what we heard was merely the wishful fantasising of overzealous Remainers. The current deal shows that it was indeed a real Le Carré moment, a secret conversation about high political games.
This “Great Game” seems to have been leading us here all along, to this impasse characterised by the Italian business paper Il Sole 24 Ore as “a deal which… represents a resounding victory of the EU over the subjects of Her Majesty”.
Now the choice can be put in front of voters: either you accept a deal which, for all practical purposes, equals vassalage, or there will be another referendum where you can vote this time the right way to keep your membership, your frictionless trade and the illusion of national eminence in the family fold of the EU.
Maximum pressure is exerted to portray the third option of leaving without a deal as a disaster.
The arguments put forward for EU membership generally rest on two main planks. One is economic. Britain is unable to succeed alone on the world stage and would suffer serious economic losses without “frictionless” trade with the EU. The other is political: the EU represents unity, peace, democracy, progress, a higher form of life, and Britain would regress into the darkness of savage barbarity outside its benign influence.
The economic doomsday scenario outside the EU has been pressed upon us by most government institutions, academia and politicians. Alternative models and calculations have largely been ignored. Yet, we have seen official forecasts proven shockingly wrong in the past.
Politicians and even business leaders admit that Brexit-related putative economic disruptions would be short-term. Such disruptions are absolutely normal when a country disentangles itself from an “ever closer” union of 40 years. These short-term problems can be managed with clear thinking and expertise; however, long-term structural and fundamental problems stemming from being shackled to a troubled entity will come back to haunt the country in the future.
This is the crux of the matter. There is scarcely any analysis contemplating the eurozone’s less than promising long-term economic prospects. The eurozone economy is brittle because the euro is a structurally flawed currency. It was created as a political project for a political goal with disdainful disregard for the lack of necessary economic criteria and institutional framework.
The introduction of the euro and the grievously inadequate handling of the eurozone debt crisis since 2009 have exacerbated the structural gap between North and South.
Italy’s open budget fight with Brussels is just one manifestation of the failing structure. This debate is not simply financial any more as the Italian discussion concentrates increasingly on the generally dismal impact the euro has had on the Italian economy and the potential remedy – economic sovereignty. What the euro was introduced to eliminate, the nation states’ focus on national sovereignty, has come back with a vengeance.
Enjoying the good fortune of having kept sterling, the UK may think that all this is of concern only to the eurozone. This view is naive. A weakened UK in the permanent limbo of an undefined transitional period would be susceptible to the impact of eurozone-centred regulation and policies.
Europhiles often choose to overlook these economic worries in favour of concentrating on the “peace and prosperity” the EU has allegedly provided. They extol the Union’s merits in holding up democracy and being the repository of humanitarian and progressive ideas. Yet, as the nation considers her long-term future, it is crucial to see clearly what the EU represents.
The post-war planning of today’s European Union aimed at weakening and eventually abolishing the nation-state. This, of course, was always going to be a fraught process. The European Union – or empire – had to be built in stealth.
The EU leadership has a mission and, to reach its goal, it sacrifices democracy and transparency. Collateral damage includes Italy, Greece, the Merkel-inspired migrant flood, and past contempt for unwelcome referendum decisions.
Some may think that all this does not matter for the British Isles. It does. Those who argue for continued membership are advocating being tied to a fatally flawed economic structure which happens to be an empire-building project riding roughshod over any resistance or attempt to secede.
The hope that during the transitional period the EU will strive to conclude a “deep and special” partnership with the UK is a delusion. The EU does not want an agreement; it wants to thwart Brexit.
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