Article 50 has been triggered. Should we celebrate?
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.
Theresa May signs the official letter signalling the United Kingdom’s intention to leave the EU