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Much ado about Brexit

As an enthusiastic supporter of Brexit, I was surprised to be told that I had been asked to write this essay because EW wished to publish a “contrarian view”. Supporting the will of the majority is hardly contrarian, and for it to be widely regarded as such highlights the propaganda success of the real contrarians, the powerful and arrogant section of the British political, academic and media establishment (including the once proudly independent BBC) that has no respect for democracy and likes to justify its attempts to undermine Brexit by claiming that those who voted to leave the EU are “ill-educated”, “the lumpen proletariat”. Having a Cambridge doctorate, a professorship and a career in international banking and finance, I rather resent this!

In the nitty-gritty of negotiations, it’s easy to forget the principles for which the British people voted for Brexit. Quite simply, we want our independence, which is something that people in India will not find difficult to understand. We want to govern ourselves, have no interference in our legal system, control our own borders, trade with whomever and on whatever terms we wish, and stop paying huge net contributions to a vast, wasteful, self-perpetuating, unelected and anti-democratic bureaucracy in Brussels. What the EU has become with its call for “ever closer union” and a “United States of Europe” is far removed from the innocuous European Economic Community (EEC) that we joined in 1973. Nicholas Ridley was sacked from Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet in 1990 for saying that European economic and monetary union was actually a “German racket”, a means for Germany to achieve its ambition of dominating the continent without firing a shot. But he was right. Anyone with a sense of history knows that Britain is not really part of Europe at all. 

General de Gaulle, the arrogant and ungrateful Free French leader, who was hosted by Britain during World War II and became France’s first post-war president, was nevertheless right when he vetoed Britain’s first application to join the EEC: “England in effect is insular, she is maritime, she is linked through her interactions, her markets and her supply lines to the most diverse and often the most distant countries... She has, in all her doings, very marked and very original habits and traditions.” Historically, our involvement in Europe has meant appalling wars and loss of life and wealth. It’s only outside Europe that we have succeeded so brilliantly, not only in material prosperity but in giving so much of the world our durable language and our parliamentary, legal and commercial systems that help to explain why the sun is rising again so brightly in the East. 

The trading and commercial opportunities for Britain unshackled from the EU are huge, but establishment propaganda dwells only on the dangers of leaving Europe, despite the fact that all prognostications of economic disaster have been proved wrong. On the contrary, it is the EU that is doomed, and we should get off the European Titanic before it hits the iceberg. 

Many member-countries of the EU are in a political and economic shambles, migration is a burning issue everywhere and several eastern European countries are ignoring EU diktats by raising illegal barriers on their borders. But the UK is making a mess of Brexit. Before entering any negotiations, we should have heeded the embittered warning of Varoufakis, former finance minister of Greece who in his book Adults in the Room (2017) condemned the “anti-democratic, underhand and mendacious tactics” of the EU’s “deep establishment”. He predicted that if Britain entered into negotiations over Brexit, Brussels would browbeat us and it would be better to walk away than to get entangled in the grip of a monster with more tentacles than Scylla. How right he was! We were treated last month to the humiliating spectacle of our elected prime minister rushing to Brussels in the dead of night to meet three unelected Eurocrat babus to meet a deadline of their arbitrary choosing, and agree to a huge severance payment and other terms as a precondition to being allowed even to start trade negotiations. 

Any real leadership would have simply declared that we are unilaterally leaving the EU on a certain, early date — say March 31, 2018 — whereupon we shall declare complete independence in all matters and repudiate all EU agreements and treaties. This would enable us immediately to assume full charge of our governance, legislation, judiciary, economy and trade policy. There would be no severance payment of billions calculated from thin air, but we shall be happy to appoint — jointly with the EU — a firm of international accountants to do an audit of our relationship and determine how much is owed by each party to the other, any net balance to be paid upon such determination. As to trade, if the EU wishes to continue trading with us on a tariff-free basis (which would be to its advantage as the balance of trade is hugely in the EU’s favour), we shall agree to it, but if the EU imposes tariffs against us, we shall reciprocate. In any event, we shall trade with whomsoever and on and whatsoever terms we choose. 

Brexit gives the UK a unique opportunity for national revival. If we fail to make the most of it, it will be a tragedy. 

(Dr. Peter Greenhalgh is a UK-based former professor of classics and history and banking and business professional)

48 Views  | Posted on: 5 Jan,2018 Add Comment  Show Comments (0)