What’s the attraction of EU membership?
One has to pay membership fees at any club. Just take my word for it: I belong to two tennis clubs, one in London, the other in Burgundy, and both charge for the privilege.
Weighing the debits against the credits, I’m satisfied that the balance is in my favour. In return for the modest fees, I can have unlimited court time at both clubs, and there’s no shortage of other members to play with – and have a beer afterwards.
The EU is a larger club than either of mine, and it costs more to belong. The membership fees are partly denominated in pounds sterling, at least £10 billion a year net – and that’s the least costly part.
My tennis clubs don’t try to dictate how I live my life outside their grounds, and nor do they prevent me from joining other clubs. The EU is different.
It insists that Britain surrender her sovereignty, including the right to join other clubs.
About 60 per cent of the new laws by which Britain is governed come down from the EU, and this proportion will reach 100 per cent when the EU becomes a single state de jure, rather than just de facto.
I’d say that any club demanding such exorbitant fees must be able to offer the kind of service that offsets the outlay. Moreover, that service has to be unavailable elsewhere, certainly not for free.
What is it then?
It can’t be the cash: the very fact that we pay more than we get knocks that argument for six.
It can’t be the chance to trade with other European countries. That service is useful, but, since we’ve had it for free since God parted the Red Sea, we shouldn’t have to pay for it.
It can’t be the chance to travel to the continent – ditto.
It can’t be relying on stronger economies to pull ours out of the morass by the bootstraps. That argument might have had some merit back in the ’60s and ‘70s, when Germany was a powerhouse, France not far behind, and Britain was in the doldrums.
But not now, when both countries are slipping into a major recession, their industrial output dropping – hope you’ll forgive a crude simile – like a whore’s knickers, and their employment rate not even a patch on ours. As to other EU members, most of them are the European answer to Venezuela (with a revolutionary potential to match).
It can’t be collective defence. On the contrary, belonging to a single European army, presumably led by Angie as generalissimo and Manny as the chief of staff, is sure to compromise our position in NATO, proven to be a reliable guarantor of our security.
And so on, so forth. I’ve been asking numerous EU fans, both here and on the continent, that same question for years – and never once have I received an answer whose intellectual content would satisfy even a 10-year-old with learning difficulties.
And that’s not all.
What’s the problem with the referendum result?
Now I’m opposed to plebiscitary democracy on principle, but that’s neither here nor there. My feelings are demonstrably not shared by those who called the referendum, those who took part in it, and those who vowed to abide by the result.
So what’s the problem then? The people were asked to speak; they spoke; job done.
Now we’re told that the result is divisive. I agree: of course it is.
But I’ll let you in on a secret: I’ve now lived in the West for 46 years, and I’ve taken part in numerous elections at different levels.
Yet in all this time I’ve never seen a single election yielding a unanimous result. And most of them were decided by a few percentage points here or there.
Thus any democratic election is by definition divisive: it divides those in the majority from those in the minority. Those in the second group swear, grind their teeth and go along with the result – that’s what democracy is about, isn’t it?
The election of every president or PM in my lifetime has been divisive, as has been every referendum I know about. That being the case, the word ‘divisive’ has no meaning whatsoever.
Uttering it in justification for neglecting the referendum result is tantamount to arguing against the very notion of plebiscitary democracy, or for that matter any other.
If that’s the point, fine. I myself have strong reservations about one-man-one-vote democracy, and have argued against it in books, articles and beery chats at my tennis clubs.
Yet those who decry the divisive referendum profess unshakeable faith in majority voting. Frankly I don’t get this.
What on earth does ‘People’s Vote’ mean?
Those who are impervious to the oxymoronic contradiction I’ve pointed out are demanding that the referendum result be ignored and another referendum, which they call People’s Vote, be held.
This can only mean two possible things.
One, the people didn’t vote the first time around. But they did: 17.4 million of them voted to leave the EU, more than have ever voted for anything else.
Two, those who voted in the first referendum weren’t people. Rather than homo sapiens, they represent some other, presumably inferior, species. At the time the EU was conceived, the term Untermenschen was in vogue, so should we resurrect it now?
Implicitly only those who want to stay in the EU qualify as full-fledged human beings, which startling anthropological discovery hasn’t been sufficiently documented to my satisfaction.
That’s another thing I don’t get. There are still many others; just tell me where to stop.
What makes leaving the EU so complicated that we’d better forget about it?
This claim is made by the very people who have tirelessly worked for over two years to make it so complicated.
That again strikes me as specious. Someone who stabs a taxpayer just for the hell of it is in a weak position to complain about knife crime being rife, or am I missing a logical point?
Once the people (I’m using this term in its traditional meaning) voted to leave, and Parliament voted to invoke Article 50, the whole thing became, or rather should have done, as easy as leaving any other club.
However – I’ve already used one crude simile, so I might as well use another – the EU seems to be like a certain part of a dog’s anatomy. Once a member is in, it slams shut and there’s no getting out.
Democratically elected people join forces to defy democracy, thereby making the canine simile work. Really, I don’t get it. Can somebody help me out please?