Ar­ti­cle 50 has been trig­gered. Should we cel­e­brate?

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - SAYS STEPHEN POL­LARD Stephen Pol­lard is editor of the JC

THE ONLY thing that stops me de­scrib­ing this week as the hap­pi­est of my po­lit­i­cal life is the knowl­edge that our ac­tual de­par­ture from the EU will not hap­pen un­til 2019. But I re­ally never thought I would live to see the day when we de­liv­ered for­mal no­ti­fi­ca­tion to the EU of our in­ten­tion to leave, so I’m happy enough to cel­e­brate two years early.

When I went to work in Brus­sels in 2001, I was con­vinced that the way for­ward lay in re­form­ing from within. We had al­lies who shared much of the Bri­tish out­look, and we could surely work to­gether to change the EU.

I was soon dis­abused of that idea when I saw the all-en­com­pass­ing ar­ro­gance of the Brus­sels elite. De­spite all the fre­quently ex­pressed anger of vot­ers, all the ob­jec­tions and all the lost ref­er­en­dums, they have only ever had one con­cern: mov­ing the fed­eral project for­ward. The na­tion-state is thought of as an anachro­nis­tic ex­pres­sion of xeno­pho­bia. Only the Euro­pean ideal has the moral high ground — and so by def­i­ni­tion any­thing which hin­ders that ideal should be swept aside.

That means they be­lieve they

are act­ing from the best mo­tives when they ig­nore op­po­si­tion. Their op­po­nents are back­ward and small­minded.

And it means they care not a jot about the hu­man con­se­quences of their plans, whether it is the in­abil­ity to con­trol im­mi­gra­tion, or the im­pact of the euro on those caught in the eco­nomic cross­fire. They are all a price worth pay­ing for the Euro­pean project.

I fi­nally re­alised that with­drawal was the only way to end this sub­ver­sion of democ­racy when I was asked to de­bate an ad­vo­cate of leav­ing. As I con­structed my ar­gu­ments I saw that his ar­gu­ments beat mine.

Ob­vi­ously I re­spect the views of those who wish we were re­main­ing. But I think they are pro­foundly mis­guided — es­pe­cially if they are Jewish.

The fun­da­men­tal prob­lem with EU mem­ber­ship is that it ren­ders vot­ers in any one na­tion pow­er­less to change many of the ba­sic as­pects of their gov­er­nance. That’s not just ar­eas en­shrined in treaties, such as free move­ment, but also the vast ter­rain cov­ered by EU com­pe­tence — a def­i­ni­tion that has grown ex­po­nen­tially since we joined in 1973.

We can al­ready see the con­se­quences in the rise of the far-right across the con­ti­nent. When vot­ers are ig­nored and told they have to do what their bet­ters de­mand, they turn to a sup­posed saviour.

Marine Le Pen’s rise in France is a prod­uct of this. So too is the rise of the Ger­man AfD, the Five Star Move­ment in Italy, Golden Dawn in Greece and so on. As Jews we know who bears the brunt of such “saviours” who prom­ise to rep­re­sent the views of the hith­erto ig­nored.

Brexit is not the pro­gen­i­tor of in­tol­er­ance but its an­ti­dote.

PHOTO: GETTY IM­AGES

Theresa May signs the of­fi­cial let­ter sig­nalling the United King­dom’s in­ten­tion to leave the EU

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