Having watched Farage and Cameron tonight on ITV, I continue to be utterly frustrated at the repeated failure in debate after debate to look at the longer term in scrutinising the European Union. Cameron and Osborne keep on quoting the economists, financiers, central bankers, foreign country leaders, UK academics and large business chief executives who all argue we will lose out economically if we vote leave. They are all looking at the short term impact of a vote to leave. Not surprisingly, I suppose, the economists, financiers and central bankers are examining the impact of uncertainty in the weeks and months following a decision to leave. Their pay, bonuses and exits will be based on months or a few years so they will find it hard to look long term. The foreign country leaders are part of a cosy club that is bound to support the members in maintaining that cosiness. The academics are thinking about the potential loss of EU largesse and the impact on their cosseted way of life in the cloisters and high tables and they clearly assume such largess will continue providing we vote to remain but that depends on the ability of the EU to survive and thrive. The large company chief executives are worried that their monopolistic power might be lessened if a leave vote leads to more free trade and greater freedom for the multiplicity of small businesses to thrive.
None of then are trying to answer the longer term question about the viability of the European Union. A union of 28 nations as different as those comprising the EU cannot possibly operate effectively and efficiently. Every decision has to be a compromise that will take months if not years to resolve. A federation that cannot agree a trade agreement with the United States; that cannot resolve the issue of illegal immigration; that cannot stop Russia’s Putin and his aggressive treatment of Ukraine; that cannot agree the use of cancer preventing drugs; that cannot work at the speed the modern world needs is bound to fail. The only questions are when will this happen and do we want to be part of an organisation that is bound to fail?
If the European Union is to survive, it has only two choices:
- to reduce to a core of similar countries with a common economic quality and social basis and to become an inner core that eventually becomes a United States of Europe; or
- to drive forward an agenda of ever closer union to create a United States of Europe with a strong central direction that is impervious to democratic accountability
We don’t want to be a part of either of these options so the sooner we leave the better. When we do, I am quite sure other countries will give serious thought to their own position and I suspect they will demand wholesale reform or elect to follow our lead. We would have done all of these countries a huge failure by leading the way.