I’m nailing my flag to the mast. I’m all for leaving the EU. But I’m not the right wing lunatic that Leave supporters are being polarised as.
I am not right wing. Or a racist. Or a fascist. I don’t like Nigel Farage, or Boris Johnson, or Katie Hopkins, or the BNP, or Britain First. I don’t hate Europeans. I am not a nationalist. I am not anti-immigrant.
I now feel I must make these qualifications as the EU debate seems to have shifted into a polarised debate about racism, immigration and the far right. There also seems to be a groupthink ‘shame by association’ with the prominent figures in the ‘Leave’ campaign.
I spoke with a very good friend recently who we shared our politically formative years with. He asked me how I was voting and was shocked by my response. He, like a lot of people I know, are voting to Remain. We discussed the whole campaign at length, neither of us tried to change each other’s minds. We just talked about all the issues. Both of us agreed on the central hypocrisies and stupidity of the arguments being made by both camps. At the end of the conversation neither of us seemed like we were going to change our opinion anytime soon. He commented to me that it was very strange that having grown up together and being very much on the same page in regards to our outlook on the world we still sit on opposite sides on this.
Immigration – Imagine That
I admit my views on immigration are pretty radical. I support the idea put forward in John Lennon’s Imagine:
Imagine there’s no countries,
It isn’t hard to do,
Nothing to kill and die for,
And no religion too
He’s right as well. It isn’t hard to do. All those imaginary borders aren’t really there, and can be imagined away. I think there should be open borders globally and people should be free to come and go as they please. That’s the great thing about the imagination. It can imagine all sorts of things. If we did collectively imagine Lennon’s notion, then there wouldn’t be any disputes about immigration, because there would be no such thing.
Immigration is a silly distraction. It is an argument about policy. We are not being asked to vote on immigration policy. We are being asked if we want to stay in or leave the EU. The question is very broad.
There are equally weighted arguments about the economy. These were central to the debate a few weeks ago, but have tapered off. The case on either side seems speculative and in truth we wont actually know until we get there. Remember how nobody seemed to predict the ‘credit crunch’. Presently, and in light of Jo Cox murder, the debate appears to pivot on Vote Leave = Racist, Vote Remain = Not Racist.
There are arguments from the Remain camp about the positive EU legislation, such as employment law and human rights. I agree that having proper rights enshrined helps to prevent freedoms being eroded. I think this can also be achieved by consensus not imposition.
There is also the argument we are ‘better together’. But leaving the EU doesn’t mean we are picking up our ball, running off and saying “I’m not your friend anymore”. I’m pretty sure that a vote to Leave will not alter Britain’s geography. It will still qualify as being part of the continent of Europe. It just won’t be part of the EU.
In regards to staying and changing the machine from the inside, I am less optimistic. While I believe anything is possible, I think this is an argument that relies heavily on non-apathy and educated political activism, which just doesn’t seem to exist in any great abundance presently. It can, and has, been argued that the reason why there has been such a surge in nationalism and the right wing throughout Europe, not least in the UK, is precisely because of the growing power of the EU.
Possibly the worst populist argument doing the rounds is that centering around the personalities in each camp. I have seen a Facebook post where a list of popular establishment figures are cited in the Remain camp and less celebrated members of society are cited in the Leave. With a clear inference this should influence the way we vote.
One of many examples of this personality debate was demonstrated by Ellie Goulding. The singer tweeted:
The message has since been retracted. I am not singling Ms Goulding out, merely highlighting a perfect example of the reduction in the IQ level of the debate. Is that all we actually need to know about Brexit Ms Goulding?
There are a number of celebrities that I am a big fan of, or have respect for who are Remainers. In some cases I have a deep affinity with their work; mainly musicians. Their work has had an impact on my development and my outlook on life. I find it awkward to be on the opposing side of their position on the matter. But hey, no one agrees on everything. And there ends the relevance of their opinion upon my own on the EU issue.
My position on the great EU debate centres on the EU itself. I think to understand anything it is important to learn of its genesis. How did it begin, and how has it come to be? If we understand that then we may have an idea where it may be going.
Path to the EU
There seems to be little reporting about the direction the EU is heading and one could be left with the impression that it will stay as it is. A much maligned argument from the Leave side is that the EU will evolve into a federal superstate. Some argue we are already in one. I have to admit that based on my research of the EU I believe there is some, in fact a great deal, of validity to this.
The idea of of a European Federal Union seems to have first been politically tabled by Aristide Briand, French Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, in 1929. It was not until 1952 when the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) Treaty formed a union between France, Germany, Italy and the Benelux countries. The ECSC was born from the Schuman Declaration, written by Jean Monnet, a man considered by some to be the ‘Father of Europe’. The Schuman Declaration begins with the words:
World peace cannot be safeguarded without the making of creative efforts proportionate to the dangers which threaten it.
It went on to state that through imposing a central authority governing production of coal and steel between France and Germany would make war materially impossible. As well as European Peace there was also an ambition to develop Africa. The stated long term goal within the declaration was to lay the foundation for a European Federation.
The ECSC evolved into the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1958. Under this framework attempts were made to implement indirect taxation, industrial regulation, agriculture, fisheries and monetary policies; a Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) was introduced in 1962.
The UK did not enter the EEC until 1973. The UK people were not asked if they wanted to join. In 1974 the terms of EEC membership came under scrutiny and a referendum was held in 1975. The British people were asked:
Remaining in the ‘Common Market’ was sold by the political class and the press to be financially beneficial to the people of the UK. The people unanimously voted ‘Yes’.
In 1979 the European Monetary System (EMS) was introduced. The long term objective of the EMS was to form a single currency and an Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM), where exchange rates between member states would be fixed.
In 1992 the EU was formed under the Maastricht Treaty. The treaty came into effect in 1993 and created common foreign policy, security policy and power over domestic policy and judicial matters. The framework for introduction of the common currency was also introduced. The EU grew in size from 12 member states in 1993 to to 27 member states by 2013.
In 1999 the Amsterdam Treaty came into effect creating further policy and directives. The treaty of Nice came into effect in 2003, which reshaped the EU infrastructure.
In 2005 an EU constitution was rejected by France and Germany and the replacement Lisbon Treaty came into effect in 2009. The Lisbon Treaty provided further power to the EU over the member states.
This short history (please take the time to research it yourself) demonstrates that the EU has evolved from a fairly innocuous trade group into a far greater statutory body, affecting huge areas on our individual lives. The progress towards its current state has been quicker and greater with each successive treaty. The EU today is nothing like the ‘Common Market’ my parents agreed the UK should remain in. It has been driven from the top down, not the bottom up. It has come about through imposition rather than debate and democratic representation.
I do not believe for a moment that this is something we will be able to change once we endorse it with a Remain vote. I worry that once endorsed the march towards a federalised Europe will be swift and virtually unstoppable, greater expansion of the EU will happen, an EU army will be formed, the EU central bank will become the presiding power over our economies and TTIP negotiations (I implore you to research this) will be successful.
If this seems like hyperbole then I concur. I find it a worrying prospect. I refer you back to the genesis of the EU, which cited a goal to create a Federal Europe. Jean Monnet is widely quoted to have written in a letter to a friend in 1952:
Europe’s nations should be guided towards the superstate without their people understanding what is happening. This can be accomplished by successive steps, each disguised as having an economic purpose, but which will eventually and irreversibly lead to federation.
This appears not to be something Monnet actually stated, rather it a misrepresentation of Adrian Hilton’s text in his 1997 book The Principality of Power in Europe. For context the full text reads:
One of the founding fathers of the EU, Jean Monnet, also a devout Roman Catholic, totally rejected the idea that Europe should consist of sovereign nations. He believed in the Catholic vision that Europe should become a federal superstate, into which all ancient nations would be fused. ‘Fused’ is the word he used in a communication dated 30th April 1952, and is wholly consistent with the language of the Maastricht Treaty. For this to be achieved without the peoples of Europe realising what was happening, the plan was to be accomplished in successive steps. Each was to be disguised as having an economic purpose, but all, taken together, would inevitably and irreversibly lead to federation.
The sinister Monnet attributed quote clearly has its origins in a distortion of Hilton’s text. It would be unusual that Hilton, himself a Eurosceptic, would word his text so closely to the more sinister Monnet quote yet not quote it directly. What is more, this 1997 text appears to be the earliest citation I can find of anything representing Monnet’s quote.
Generously giving the benefit of the doubt, it appears somebody has misunderstood Hilton’s text and took it to be a direct quote from Monnet’s 1952 letter. The only word Hilton actually was quoting was the word ‘fused.’
Misdirection aside, it is clear from other verifiable Jean Monnet quotes that his intention was to form a Federal Europe in the same vein as the USA. Monnet is quoted and referenced by Christopher Booker and Richard North in The Great Deception as saying:
the current communities should be completed by a Finance Common Market which would lead us to European economic unity. Only then would … the mutual commitments make it fairly easy to produce the political union which is the goal.
This quote demonstrates the sentiment, albeit in a less conspiratorial tone, that the path to a European Union should be achieved in small steps rather than giant leaps. The Schuman declaration, written by Monnet, overtly states a Federal Europe is an ultimate goal.
Monnet’s motivation for a unified Europe is widely quoted as being in the pursuit of peace. This is noble and something I support. What makes me uncomfortable is that has been imposed not agreed. Monnet is not overtly standing on a soap box championing peace and prosperity for Europe. He seems to have been instrumental in manipulating events towards a preferred outcome of a political elite.
This blog post is already too long, and in the spirit of expedience I will not go into the background of Monnet and his associates, but he is worth reading around to get a greater understanding of his and his associates motivations. From my reading the motivations are not benevolent and are part of a far broader and long term agenda.
Regardless of the stated aim of peace, my objection to the European Union remains. I believe if we keep moving forward with this European project it will become a European Federation as intended. I believe that peace is dependent on those in power, not those who comprise the armies. If our political masters want war, they will have war. I do not believe that a Federal superstate on the doorstep of Russia is conducive to peace.
I believe that we are all sovereign beings. We have the power to guide our own individual futures and we must be held to be responsible for all our own actions. I believe that growing centralisation of state power attempts to absolve individuals of their own responsibility to themselves and one another. I believe that a powerful European state, coupled with the growth of global surveillance does not equate to freedom. This is why I will be voting to leave the EU.
The cynic inside me says the whole referendum is a political manipulation, designed to give the illusion that we actually have a choice. I do not believe even if we vote to leave the EU we will actually leave the EU. I suspect we will enter into further negotiation, some small details will change and we will be asked to vote again. In much the same way the Irish were asked to hold a second referendum on the EU constitution in 2006.
The EU referendum is asking us to vote on a belief. We have to search our own conscious on the day and do what we believe is right. There is no one who can tell you what that is except you. My only hope, and it seems a vain hope, is that people base their vote not on stupid rhetoric, but upon their own proper research.