Over the last few weeks I have used this column to question the economic case for ever having joined the EU in the first place, and to demolish the arguments made by the ‘fear-mongers’ who warn that we will suffer economically by leaving. In or out of the EU, our future prosperity depends upon how competitive we are at producing goods and services.
I have argued that, on the balance of probabilities, we are likely to me more competitive out than in. The world offers no nation a free ride however, and we will have to work to earn our keep. Out – at least, we can do so without one hand tied behind our back.
So, I don’t believe that in order to reclaim our self-determination as a free and independent nation we have to sacrifice any of our prosperity. I know many others however, fearful of the consequences for prosperity, who have therefore, and with a heavy heart, decided to opt to stay in the EU.
As John Adams, one of the founding fathers of the USA, observed: a man who is prepared to sacrifice his liberty for prosperity, deserves to have neither.
In the end the EU is a political institution determined on an ‘ever closer union’ between its member states. Democratically expressed opposition to its proposals have proved completely ineffective: the Irish, the Danes, and Dutch have all voted in referendums to reject the relentless process of integration, only for the proposals to be driven through anyway.
The Prime Minister has negotiated a declaration, to be inserted in any future treaty, that the UK is no longer to be bound by this principle of ever closer union. To secure this concession however, he had to sacrifice our trump card in any future negotiation by signing away our ability to impede further integration within the Eurozone. Without that possibility, we go into negotiations armed with very little that we can bargain with.
The record of our resistance to adverse changes is instructive: on the 74 occasions that we have pushed our opposition to the vote in the European Council, we have been on the losing side on every one of those 74 occasions.
Time and time again, we have been told that the latest concession of power from the UK to the EU represents the high water mark of integration, and that it will go no further. Only for the process to continue relentlessly. If we vote to stay in the EU, I have no doubt that it will give new democratic legitimacy to the project, with renewed and accelerated impetus to integration. On the other hand, we have on 23rd June the possibility not just to bring it to a halt, but to put it into reverse.
Take back control!