Sunday, 21 February 2016

Britain and Europe

The Prime Minister has returned from mammoth negotiations, with a set of European concessions that do not inspirit and inspire. It's much as expected really. I don't think anyone in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland ever thought that Mr Cameron could achieve a startling breakthrough, and he hasn't.

It was perfectly clear that he was up against the leaders of an implacable array of twenty-seven semi-federal states, who - whatever they said - were content with the European Union as it was, and wanted no tinkering. For them, the EU was a big country-in-waiting, a potential super-state resembling the USA. It had grown over decades to become integrated, centrally planned, with overarching executive, judicial and fiscal institutions that transcended the lesser internal mechanisms of its member states. It was already beyond major change. New members could join the EU, but had to abide by its rules. It was essential to uphold the treaty that bound every part of the EU, and to insist that all states fell into line on core principles and goals.

Britain had been a member since 1973, but had always been a malcontent. Britain was the Eternal Troublemaker, and yet too powerful to be openly rebuked. I think that Mr Cameron's aggressive bid to wrest a degree of independence from the EU was felt to be a good opportunity to bring matters to a head. To let Mr Cameron see that Europe was ready, if need be, to let Britain leave. No matter what diplomatic regret might be publicly voiced. As regards the 'negotiations', why should the EU offer anything at all? Accordingly, there wasn't much on the negotiating table. Really only sops. Mr Cameron has taken them, but they change nothing much. Britain's relationship with the EU hasn't been fundamentally repositioned. Frankly, it's failure.

So do we accept the EU's authority with good grace, and pitch in, heart and soul? Or do we now secede from the Union? The Referendum is on 23rd June. The focus will shift from what the politicians think and say, to what the general public will do when it votes.

And not before time. There has been too much high-blown political and economic argument, too much media and business-leader scaremongering. I think the public have had quite enough of being pushed around and influenced, and will vote as their gut feelings dictate. Meaning that deep down many people - most perhaps - have already made up their mind. Well, after all, if they are my age, they've had forty-three years to consider the matter.

I am not a follower or admirer of the strident and (in some cases) obnoxious political people who insist we must get out of Europe. But I do want this country to have full control over its own affairs. Specifically:

# I don't trust distant, impersonal bureaucracies. I think a fully-empowered government close to home would be better than any kind of government on continental Europe, no matter how benevolent.

# I want our own present and future governments (of whatever colour) to have complete freedom to decide what our laws and policies should be.

# Let the EU be 'our friend across the English Channel', but not our master.

# I think that standing apart from the EU will enforce fresh thinking on how to revitalise our economy. And we would be able to pursue an entirely self-sufficient energy policy.

# I want pressure taken off the things that suffer when immigration is uncontrolled and the population gets too high, or too weighted in ways that place strain on, say, the NHS. So I'd certainly like to see much better border control.

Hmm. It looks as if I have shifted from being an uncritical fan of EU membership to being a fan of friendly independence from mainland Europe. Of course, such thinking is typical of an older person who cherishes what she likes about the The British Way Of Life. And that may seem awfully fuddy-duddy and out of touch. But it's still a point of view. And I am very keen to vote. Politicians please note.

6 comments:

  1. Did we not sign up to a trade agreement which the French clearly did not want us to be part of? There are now so many countries and languages involved that the translators often have to go through a second language, there are just not enough translators with varied languages to cope. Someone not long ago stood up and asked which law they were supposed to vote on since they had read the proposal in several languages and they did not say the same thing!

    Sucked in too many unsuitable countries with unintegrateable cultures which have failed to come together. The head in the sand reaction to uncontrolled invasion from the south has shown how little the EU is able to work.

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  2. I'm still trying to make up my mind. I know that there is going to be a lot of scaremongering from both sides of the debate. Listening to the Prime Minister this morning I found myself countering ever one of the arguments he was giving for staying in with my own for leaving. And as I don't have enough knowledge yet of the benefits if I can do that then they have got their work cut out to pursuade me otherwise

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  3. I've realised of course that most of the points I list for not liking the EU as it is could be said by Scotland in support of its own independence!

    I really did once believe in the EU, but now it seems overlarge and ineffective.
    And I don't like to see the decisions of our parliament and our courts getting overturned.

    I just hope nobody assumes I'm in bed with the likes of Nigel Garage and George Galloway, or even Boris Johnson!

    Lucy

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    1. Bit awkward that! They are not the sort you would want associated with any campaign...

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  4. Whoops. That's actually Nigel Farage...you know, the beer-swilling UKIP chappie.

    Lucy

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  5. Nigel Garage, the well-known mistake. I like that one!

    I am presently undecided on how to vote in the referendum. I guess it depends on how successful I think we may be in negotiating trade deals with the EU. I know that many foreign companies have set up here because of our twin attributes - English speaking and open access to Europe. But then, if the EU want favourable access to our markets, they'll have to come up with something.

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Lucy Melford