By Brian Lait
So, Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty has finally been triggered by Mother Theresa, some 39 weeks after the referendum, and the UK will now start to negotiate EU exit terms with the bureaucratic, autocratic EU tsars in Brussels.
Amazingly since the referendum last year the sky has not fallen in and, no doubt much to the disappointment of the likes of Dave Cameron, war has not broken out and, to the best of my knowledge, ISIS has not been rejoicing in the UK’s departure from the EU.
Prior to the referendum, one comment on my fervent Brexit support by a typically myopic left wing luvvie was that to leave the EU was like driving over a cliff to see what happened. Well no, little man, because driving over a cliff will result in death, whereas leaving the EU will result in the UK being her living, breathing self and, believe it or not, thriving as an independent nation with her own sovereignty intact, just as she did for centuries before joining the wretched EU.
There are two very fundamental reasons why I intensely supported, and will continue to support, Brexit:
- The EU is both incompetent and corrupt. As Daniel Hannan (Conservative MEP for S/East England) rightly stated: “Every continent on the planet has outgrown Europe this century – even Antartica, if we count the increase in cruise traffic as economic activity”. (The astonishing ignorance of our politicians about this fact, how the EU actually works, what its rules are and the core principles that have always driven it is worth noting here);
- The UK is, slowly and inexorably, losing its sovereignty and having it transposed into the suprastate being created in Brussels, and I would never accept that. To anyone who has studied the EU’s ultimate aims (and there are precious few who have cared to read and learn about the history of its birth, development and intents as envisaged, formulated and advanced by the likes of Jean Monnet and Arthur Salter as far back as WWI), the creation of this odious suprastate is no surprise at all. To far too many (including the mass of ignorant politicians mentioned above) it is something about which they know (care?) little, or which they wish to ignore for personal gain to the detriment of the nation as a whole.
The referendum held on June 23, 2016 – which I now call Independence Day (ID) – is the nearest the UK comes to democracy. It was with great pleasure that I awoke on June 24 to see that common sense had prevailed, much to the utter amazement of the so-called ruling elite, ranging from our low quality politicians all the way through “big business” and on into the self-centred, self-worshiping financial wizards in the City of London, via the judiciary who have long worshipped at the feet of the European court with openly displayed consequential indifference to their own countrymen. All have religiously been trying to reverse the referendum’s result, or throw up all sorts of impediments to thwart the march of democracy. It is to Mother Theresa’s great credit that she has faced the lot down.
The “man in the street” has spoken at last following what I believe was the realisation that the profligate suprastate was not prepared to offer the UK what the UK would have preferred: a looser form of membership, a common (trading) market, not a common governmental system. The pivotal point here was, I think, Dave Cameron’s (rather pathetic) failure to get a renegotiated deal. Had he succeeded in that, I think the majority would have voted to stay within the EU. Former prime ministers Macmillan, Wilson and Heath (even when he was chief whip under Macmillan) were all very aware of the suprastate in process of development, but duped the UK people into believing we were just joining a trading bloc.
The UK political fallout post ID was of particular interest with the resignation of Cameron being a great relief and Mother Theresa coming out on top. She will I believe be a very competent (perhaps even great) prime minister, although the very testing times ahead will determine that. However, her behaviour to date certainly looks pretty good to me. I am also of the opinion that she has always been on the whole a Eurosceptic. Gove falling on his sword is now a distant memory, but consider who might have now been sitting in 10 Downing Street if he had not done so!
By voting for Brexit, the UK has now posed two very significant problems for the unelected bureaucrats in Brussels:
- There will be an extremely large hole in the EU finances, as the UK is the second largest annual financial contributor after Germany. Hence the “threat” by the likes of Jean-Claude Juncker (“Junk Mail” to his mates) that we will have to cough up some €50 billion as a departing “penalty”;
- The potential break-up of the EU, given the increasing dissatisfaction a number of member states are now feeling towards Brussels for various reasons. I believe that if a referendum on the EU was held today in Italy, Spain and France the Leave vote might well be the winner. The autocrats in the EU are more than aware of this (plus other “problems” such as Hungary’s refusal to accept refugees willy-nilly, and the massive cost and time consumption in propping up the wretched €uro).
So, what must we now expect from our friends in Brussels?
Over recent months there have been many bellicose noises issuing forth from Brussels threatening the UK with all sorts of retribution for leaving the EU (so why was Article 50 incorporated into the Lisbon Treaty if a member state is to suffer so much if they choose to leave?). The whole, to me, reeks of gangland, whereby the gang leaders expect their rules to be blindly followed by the members who, should they object, will be severely punished. Nevertheless, the unelected EU leaders fear for the future of their fiefdom and may well be just plain bloody-minded to the UK to serve as a warning to any other potentially errant members. The pathetic result of such an attitude could, therefore, result in the UK having no deal at all with the EU, with the EU completely screwed up as well.
What I would wish for both the UK and the EU as a whole is a completely different scenario in which common sense prevails on both sides. The UK is the EU’s largest customer with an annual trade deficit of over £60 billion. Will the EU want to lose that market? Close to half of that deficit is from Germany, which is hardly surprising as we buy over 12 per cent of their annual motor manufacturing (753,000 vehicles in 2016). Do Audi, BMW, Mercedes, VW and Porsche want to give all that up? We buy some 33 million bottles of champagne annually worth £341 million (33 per cent of the total champagne exported by France). And so the list goes on. Going the other way, all the wings and landing gears for the Air Bus are manufactured in the UK. Will the EU start to do all that in Toulouse? How long would it take them to set that up and get the appropriate expertise? What would happen to the Air Bus sales in the interim?
Can we all get a large dose of pragmatism and perspective in our lives, please, by realising that a) the vote to leave the EU was democratic and, most importantly, b) the UK is quite capable of both surviving and prospering outside the EU? It ain’t rocket science.
Brian Lait is a retired chartered accountant living in Cyprus, who has lived and worked in five other member states of the EU