• How Did We Get to Here?

    As the negotiations drag on and a no-deal Brexit remains a possibility, anti-Brexit opinion (for example, in the Guardian) asks, how did we get to this? The answer required to the question is presumably meant to be – by voting mistakenly for Brexit.

    But there is an alternative – and more accurate – answer to that question. We got to this point by joining up in the first place to an arrangement that was always (because it was intended to) going to disadvantage the UK. We eventually arrived at Brexit, with or without a deal, because our experience of EU membership had been so disastrous.

    Our leaders had misled us grievously by promising a future of sunlit uplands. But the arrangement was always a Franco-German stitch-up – perhaps a payback for the differing roles played by us and them in World War Two. For the supposedly great economic benefit of opening up our market to German manufactured goods, we took on the privilege of funding a huge outdoor relief scheme for French agriculture – known as the Common Agricultural Policy.

    These burdens meant the decimation of British manufacturing, a permanent rise in food costs, a hefty annual subscription, the tearing up of our links with (largely Commonwealth) trading partners who had provided us with efficiently produced food and raw materials and privileged markets for our manufactures, the loss of exclusive rights to our fishing waters, and the cession of the powers of self-government to European institutions like the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the European Court of Justice.

    None of these outcomes mattered greatly to the Euro-fanatics; they were obsessed with the notion of joining a romantic concept called “Europe” (something that only the bien-pensants could understand), as if we had not from time immemorial been historically, geographically, economically, culturally and politically an integral part of Europe.

    As the hollowness of the promised benefits, and the reality of a Europe that was a hard-headed and self-serving economic arrangement and a nascent super-state became apparent, and the costs (including the influx of cheap labour from Eastern Europe) mounted, it is little wonder that the British people leapt at the chance to say “enough!” The sequence of events since the decision to opt out has surely done much to reveal the reality of the “Europe” we have abandoned.

    The romantic “Europe” cherished by anti-Brexiteers has certainly not been much in evidence. EU leaders have shown little interest in a constructive post-Brexit relationship, based on mutually beneficial trade and on functional inter-state cooperation wherever it makes sense.

    Rather, the EU priority, reflecting their own fears and insecurity, has been to make life as difficult as possible for us, in case other members might also decide to leave and conclude that it is a relatively easy option.

    So, the answer to the question as to why the journey we undertook should have ended up at this destination, is that it was misdirected in the first place – something Euro-fanatics still refuse to acknowledge.

    Bryan Gould
    19 December 2020

2 Comments

  1. Tony says: December 19, 2020 at 7:17 pmReply

    Bryan, how much did corbyn betraying 30yrs of eu scepticism lose those of us in labour leave ,any chance of a hearing?

    • Bryan Gould says: December 26, 2020 at 7:19 pmReply

      Tony, you’re right – the whole of the Brexit debate has steadfastly ignored the important body of opinion on the left which opposed EU membership on the ground that it was an attempt to build a “Europe” that was “fit for muli-nationals”.