Britain at the heart of Europe is the only sensible choice
More than three months after the EU referendum in the United Kingdom was announced by Prime Minister David Cameron and less than a month before the British people give their verdict and after countless debates, speeches, articles and commentary, there can be no doubt that the Leave campaign has completely run out of steam. Having lost the argument on every substantive issue in this campaign, the Brexiteers’ strategy, if it can be called a strategy at all, can now be distilled down to two words: immigration and immigration.
They have lost the economic argument. They do not even know whether their alternative solution is to be in or outside the single market. They have lost the security argument. They have lost the sovereignty argument. They have lost the peace dividend argument. They have lost the influence and leverage argument. They have lost the internal unity of the United Kingdom argument. The truth is that they do not care about the integrity of this union.
According to them, we have to dismiss the views of the Bank of England, the President of the United States, the sitting Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Word Trade Organisation, the International Monetary Fund, the G7, 99% of the 350 FTSE companies, HM Treasury, the Institute of Fiscal Studies, every living former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, five former NATO SecretaryGenerals, a host of Commonwealth leaders, former heads of MI5 and MI6, the leadership of the official opposition, the Financial Times, and many others.
Yes, we have to ignore all of these authoritative voices and we should listen to the ‘pretender to the throne’ who has been going around uttering inane platitudes about reclaiming Britain’s independence and ‘taking our country back’. As if this country, by virtue of its membership of the EU, has forfeited its sovereignty and independence. Nothing could be further from the truth. Britain has never given up its independence. Whether in relation to foreign policy, economic policy, defence policy, the United Kingdom remains completely sovereign in its affairs. Britain, of course, is not a member of the Eurozone; nor is it within the Schengen area, so it maintains control of its borders.
Membership of the European Union does entail a pooling of sovereignty and sharing of power and resources in certain areas which are inherent in the collaborative nature of the Union. But that is the price we have to pay if we want to take advantage of the single market and to confront transnational problems requiring transnational solutions, whether these relate to geo-strategic challenges, trade, job creation, security and intelligence, public health issues, crime, terrorism,
immigration, worker and human rights.
We live in a multipolar world in which leverage and influence are defined by a country’s partnerships and alliances. The contention that isolationism, xenophobia and pulling back from the world is the way forward for a country which has, throughout its history, built its power through building bridges and creating networks is utterly senseless and illogical. Britain maximises its leverage, power and influence as a leader in the European Union by sitting at the table and determining the future of the continent, whose destiny it has always shared. Britain will always have more, not less, influence by being at the heart of Europe and not on its periphery.
The pooling of sovereignty, to the extent that is applies to the United Kingdom, is not a zero sum game. The European Union is built on the principle of quid pro quo and the exchange entailed by this principle in the relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union is manifestly in the interests of the former.
Bluntly, it means that Britain is stronger, safer and better off by being a member of the European Union and a leading voice on the continent of which it is an integral part by virtue of geography, economics, politics, history and culture. Not only does the sharing of sovereignty in this instance not detract from the UK’s influence in the word, it actually magnifies it. Contrary to sensationalist falsehoods propagated by the Brexit camp, even in the areas where we have pooled sovereignty with the EU, important decisions are taken unanimously and so the UK holds a veto, for instance in respect of the accession of new countries such as Turkey.
The United Kingdom is a great country and it will survive and eventually thrive even outside the EU. But that is not really the question here. On every measure of success in an interdependent world, the United Kingdom would do better and not worse by being at the forefront of Europe.
The Leave campaign could have made a rational case for Britain’s exit from the EU which would have entailed an admission of the economic pain which the country would suffer upon departure from the Union, as illustrated by countless independent analyses.
But when you have the spectacle of a senior member of the governing party and the Brexiteers’ leading light comparing the European Union to Hitler and the Third Reich and seeking to undermine the intervention of the President of the United States, which was made in good faith, by reference to his half-Kenyan origin, you know that there is something sinister about the motives of those who are bent on cutting the UK adrift from its strategic alliances on the continent.
The European Union is an imperfect institution and the Eurozone is currently failing in its mission. The mismanagement of the Eurozone crisis has affected national