First off I do hope all readers had an eventful and enjoyable Christmas.. I know I certainly did! I have decided today to write about an issue close to my heart: Europe. As I write this I am sitting at our ‘2nd home’ on the outskirts of Amsterdam (so the location for a blog such as this couldn’t be better) Its bloody cold yet the sun is shining. The frost I feel accurately represents Britains relationship with Europe. Now the common catchphrases of the left include “All Tories are racist and hate Europe”, “Tories have never wanted to play a part in Europe” and “Tories hate Europeans”. None of which are true. Conservatives have always had what I would refer to as a respectful suspicion of closer European Integration that encroaches on the United Kingdom, but ultimately have never been opposed to the idea of a United Europe… for Europeans. Chruchill as far back as 1930 stated:
Every step that tends to make Europe more prosperous and more peaceful is conductive to British interests however we have our own dream and our own task. We are with Europe but not of it. We are linked, but not comprised. We are interested and assosciated, but not absorbed
I agree with him. Britain enjoys a unique geographical position which in turn gives us unique strengths. We lay between 3 interlocking circles – those of the Commonwealth, the Anglo-America relationship and Europe. Thus the argument that Britain needs to take a great role within Europe “or get left behind” I feel is hollow. Britain in truth will never get ‘left behind’. If we did pull out of the European Union then it would be of no great detriment to us. Do you really think the Europeans wouldn’t trade with us? Do you feel our diplomatic relations would deteriorate? Because I certainly don’t. Quite the contrary. It is very rare I say this… but I feel General Charles De Galle who so opposed Britains entry summed up why Britains role in Europe will never be constructive:
England is… insular, maritime, linked through its trade, markets and food supply to very diverse and often very different countries. Its activities are essentially industrial and commercial and only slightly agricultural. It has… very marked and origional customs and traditions. In short, the nature, structure and economic context of England differ profoundly from those of other states of the Continent… It is foreseeable that the cohesion of all its members, who would be very numerous and very diverse, would not hold for long and that in the end there would appear a colossal Atlantic Community under American dependence and leadership which would soon completely swallow up the European Community.
De Gaulle was half right: Britain is different. No matter how cooperative British politicians try to be toward Europe we find ourselves consistently at odds with them. Even when Blair became Prime Minister he strived for closer relations with Europe but as history has shown even with the best of intentions his policy fell by the waist side. There remain certain irreconcillable differences between the British and the Europeans and as far as I am concerned this latest treaty (Lisbon) is a clear indication as to why Britain has gone as far as it can go with the EU. The time will come in the non too distant future where we will have to decide whether we wish to remain a part of it any longer and the more time passes the more I realise my vote would be to pull out all together.
Britain has missed the Euro-train, which incidently is not a bad thing, as much of Europe is too closely integrated for Britain ever to play a major role anymore. Much of Europe, even Ireland, now have the Euro as their curency. We do not and thank god for that. I believe that Britains future in Europe will now be determined by our response to that skulking question: Should we join the Euro? If the answer is no as I suspect it will be then we have to seriously question our future in Europe. We will reject the Euro because Britain can and will prosper without the single currency and without being a part of the EU. The British business cycle is far more in harmony with the US than Europe. Unlike Europe Britain is a major oil producer. Much of our trade is with non European countries. However perhaps the biggest load of hogwash as to why we need a single currency is the argument that not being a part of one would inhibit free trade. NAFTA ring any bells?
NAFTA, comprising the US, Canada and Mexico, works perfectly well without a single currency and Britain can too. Further more, despite initial gloomy predictions, the City of London since the birth of the Euro, has thrived and dominated the Euro trade. This is mainly because of the business friendly tax and regulatory regime which exists in Britain despite, not because of, the EU. To add to this Britain is was and will remain the most popular destination in the EU for foreign investment with its share rising for 25% to 27%, almost double that of France and three times that of Germany. So what is the point of this you may ask? Well the point is the facts outweight the fiction. Britain can and will succeed with or without Europe. If Europe wants to become a superstate let them. But we don’t have to be a part of it.
To become a superstate each member will have to surrender what makes them distinct as a nation. To join such a body would be in my eyes tantamount to admitting defeat: They cannot compete effectively on their own and thus must ‘pal up’ in order to prosper. Britain can compete on her own and our independence will be of benefit not detriment to our relations with our European counterparts. Ultimately they are as sick as we are of Britain being the “European stumbling block’. We are an obstacle to them as much as they are an imposition to us. In this day an age war on the continent is all but unimaginable. Britains relations with Europe will not drastically sour and Britains economy would not suffer if we were to opt out of the EU altogether. I think its time we realised Britain and the EU is a match made in hell. We’re just too different. For both our sakes we need to make a clean break.