Dave hasn’t so much declared his hand as confirmed it: he’ll campaign for staying no matter what.
If the Commission demands that the Queen abdicate, Dave will campaign for staying. If the demand is that Britain transfer her whole nuclear deterrent to the EU, he’ll campaign for staying. If we’re told to accept at least five million Muslims next year… well, you get the picture.
Without impugning Dave’s character more than I’ve already been doing for years, let’s look at the arguments put forth in support of staying – and pretend they’re offered in good faith.
Let’s start with the economy. Britain has managed to stay out of the euro for the time being, but not out of the on-going drive towards closer union. In fact, Dave’s role model Tony still thinks we should join the single currency – which ipso facto is a strong argument not to.
The theoretical case against merging vastly diverse economies into a single entity is overwhelming: a country like Germany or Holland can’t easily accommodate Romania and Greece into its own economic model.
But forget theory for a second. What about the practical results of closer integration? Can’t everyone see that EU economies are a basket case? That, for no reason other than staying out of the euro, Britain is pulling further ahead of even Germany and France, never mind the low-rent part of Europe?
Theory and practice come together to blow the economic argument out of the water. As to the trade argument, it doesn’t even get as far as the water.
We need, the argument goes, to dissolve our sovereignty in some collective contrivance in order to be able to trade with Europe. Really? Since when?
Since the time Britain practically invented the modern version of free trade centuries ago? Since she ran the greatest trading empire the world has ever known? Who invented the bizarre idea that a nation has to divest itself of its sovereignty to be able to trade with others?
On the contrary, as anyone who has ever conducted multi-partite negotiations will tell you, the fewer parties to the deal, the better it is. Wouldn’t it be better for us to have one trade deal with Holland and another with Poland? Rather than getting agreement from 27 member states?
A related argument is that, should Britain leave the EU, it would be so enraged that it would impose punitive tariffs on us.
That may be. No one can accuse the concocters of the frankly idiotic single currency of putting economics before politics, and reason before ideology.
However, punitive tariffs beget punitive counter-tariffs. Hence, for example, if the EU introduced sanctions on us, our countersanctions could conceivably add £10,000 to the price of every German car.
As a result, at least half the sales currently enjoyed by Audis and BMWs will go to Nissan and Toyota. In a country that lives or dies by exports, what do think would be the electoral prospects of the Chancellor responsible for devastating the country’s principal industry?
Considering that the EU enjoys a huge trade surplus with Britain, I’d say that sanctions would be highly unlikely. And if they did happen, we’d be in an ideal position first to retaliate and then to take up the slack by increasing our trade outside the EU, which already accounts for 60 per cent of our exports.
Another argument that’s embarrassing for serious people not only to make but even to listen to is security. It’s only thanks to the EU, say its advocates, that there have been no wars in Europe since 1945.
Of course, when the French or the Germans say this, they don’t mean no wars in Europe. They mean no wars between France and Germany, and the rest of Europe might as well not exist.
But it does exist, and since 1945 blood has been gushing with various intensity in Poland and East Germany, Hungary and Czechoslovakia, the Ukraine and Georgia, Bosnia and Croatia, Serbia and Kosovo. And in each case the response of the EU, or whatever it called itself then, varied from feeble to nonexistent to treacherous.
In any case, but for NATO and the US nuclear umbrella, the EU would now be called the EUSSR, and it would be a vassalage of a still powerful Soviet Union.
Looking at the EU now, does it look very secure to you? How long before AKs in the hands of murderous fanatics are replaced with nuclear, chemical or biological devices? How long before the EU becomes a caliphate in all but name?
The Schengen Agreement and the euro are both EU flagships. They are also arguably the greatest disasters Europe has ever experienced at peacetime – and it’s ongoing. The effect is that of a snowball getting bigger and bigger as it rolls to – and then over – the edge of the abyss.
The arguments in favour of staying in the EU range from spurious to unsound to mendacious. Still, throw a few billion of EU funny money behind them and they may well carry the day at referendum time.
For we are no longer blessed with a population capable of gathering facts, analysing them and drawing logical conclusions. So Dave’s smug mug may stay with us for years to come.