Over the last week we have been told that it is our duty to the rest of Europe to remain within the EU in order to keep Europe strong and under our beneficial influence, and indeed that it has been our destiny to come to the rescue of Europe.
I confess to having some sympathy with the argument. I thought long and hard about this question before deciding to throw in my lot with Vote Leave. The prospect of de-stabilising Europe further at a time when there is already a currency crisis, a migration crisis, and the Russian bear menacing Ukraine, troubled me deeply.
From this international perspective there may have been a more opportune time to hold our referendum, but the time is now, and it may not come again for a generation, or indeed ever.
I accept that we have a responsibility and a duty to Europe as a European power. Our history and culture is deeply intertwined with the European mainland, and I would not wish it otherwise. I have concluded however, that our duty to Europe is best served by leaving the EU.
I believe that the EU is on a disastrous path of increased integration. It is attempting to create a country called Europe with all the trappings of a nation state: a government (the Commission); its own parliament; a supreme court (the ECJ); its own currency; a flag; and a national anthem (Beethoven’s Ode to Joy). Whilst support for the economic benefits of the EU are much more widely perceived on the continent than in the UK, this political process is being driven by the elites and has very little popular support. Far from creating harmony amongst nations, it is actually generating the very opposite. One need only travel to Greece to feel the palpable and deeply distasteful anti- German sentiment. I have sympathy for both the Greeks and the Germans –it is, after all, the institutional processes of the EU that are driving them asunder.
When they have been given the democratic opportunity to do so, Europeans have voted to halt this process. In April 2005 the French voted in a referendum to reject the European Constitutional Treaty by 55% to 45%. A week later the Dutch rejected it by an even greater margin of 62% to 38%. Never the less, the constitution was ratified as the Treaty of Lisbon a without letting the French or Dutch have another chance. When will they understand that ‘No’ really means No?
The departure of the UK – one of the largest economies, largest financial contributors, a world power with a seat at the UN Security Council and the world’s 4th largest defence budget – will be, I believe, such a profound shock to the process of European integration as to halt it in its tracks. The best thing we can do to rescue the Europe from its current disastrous course is to vote to leave the EU on 23 June!