I give my consent that you may govern in my name, and assent to be bound by the actions you take in my name as if they were my own.
However, the authority to govern that you possess in consequence is never to be leased out to a third party, and I will not deem those actions as were they my own.
What it boils down to is who ‘us’ is.
Am I a European? Why yes, how could I not recognise, respect, and admire the nations that have in so many ways shaped what is the UK today. Do I not desire the peace and harmony among peoples that is bred by cooperation and collaboration between us? But of course!
Why do I not love the EU? Because I celebrate the differences, and believe that – post Mastricht – the peoples of Europe have become enslaved by conformity. Arguably, the eurozone periphery has become enslaved by poverty too, given the unwillingness of participating nations to surrender to the logical consequence of their shared currency; economic and political union.
It is a technocratic machine that has no understanding of the concept of Demos, and in attempting to assume the mantle of Kratos, is failing to be both representative of and accountable to the people[s] of Europe.
As I said in one of my very first posts on this blog, back in 2010:
The crucial feature of indirect democracy is the perception of representation, the collective trust in shared aims and expectations that allows the people to put their destiny in the hands of another, safe in the knowledge that even if ‘their’ man doesn’t get the job then the other guy will still be looking after their best interests.
The manner in which this trust is built is the knowledge that you and ‘he’ have a history of cooperation, and that your respective families likewise have a shared social and cultural history of cooperation, all of which allows you to trust that when adversity strikes ‘he’ will act in a predictable and acceptable way.
This cannot be achieved when the aims and expectations of the peoples of Europe are so divergent that every policy response is a protracted argument resulting in a lowest-common-denominator solution. It is a recipe for indecision, aimless triangulation, and unhappiness. It is the ultimate example of the principle-policy puzzle.
Back to first principles. What do I want?
- The supremacy of Parliament, and a Supreme Court that acts only to make sure that the Executive acts in accordance with the laws that Parliament makes.
- I want a happy and content Europe, that allows the UK to focus its energy to the best of our ability on ensuring the rest of the world is likewise happy and content.
- A low taxation/low regulation society, able to continue with our Negative Liberty bent, happily between the extremes of the continent and the US.
- An interventionist Foreign Policy, with both the means and will to see it employed in the pursuit of our enlightened national interest.
We have the principle. How does this translate to a problem?
- The interference of the EU and its supporting bodies is breeding discontent at home, and encroaching on our fundamental sovereignty.
- In forcing the smaller nations of Europe to march in lock-step towards ever-closer-union it breeds discontent that dissipates our focus on the wider world.
- Eurozone convergence with consensus managed by QMV will see our taxation and regulation ‘harmonised’ upwards, and our society more beholden to Positive Liberty.
- The EU fails to understand that an interventionist Foreign Policy requires direction and purpose, the decision to spend blood and treasure cannot be ‘calibrated’.
We have the problem. What is the solution?
- For the UK, a Europe that is interested in cooperation and collaboration, through trade and other means, via the intergovernmental method.
- For the nations of Europe, to choose individually an identity that fits their aims and expectations, whether that results in more integration or less.
- For us to continue with a society that is more individual than collective, a liberal democracy that celebrates eccentricity rather than merely tolerating it.
- For Britain to avoid supranational constructs that bind both our capability and our will to intervene, and pursuing instead bilateralism and multilaterlism.
Hold on, you say. This does not require us to leave the EU, surely?
- No, the UK could determine the application of the ECHR via subsidiarity and the margin for appreciation… if the EUropean zeitgeist rejected judicial activism.
- No, Sweden and Poland could de-jure back out of euro-accession, and Denmark Schengen membership… if the EU zeitgeist respected national autonomy.
- No, the UK could continue within the EU as a fundamentally individualist liberal democracy… if the EU zeitgeist respected national autonomy.
- No, the nations of Europe could continue to cooperate and collaborate effectively through NATO… if the EU zeitgeist respected national autonomy.
But, none of these things happen. For the EU is a stasis-machine, trapped by its inability to represent the interests of its people[s], and so it must further remove itself from accountability to those same people[s]. It cannot move forward, and it cannot move backward, all it can it do is breed resentment in its compromise.
What is needed is rupture.
To paraphrase text more familiar to the discussion of climate change: “that the EU has been chaotic and quasi stable long before the euro and schengen crises arrived, and that the real argument is whether eurosceptic input is disruptive enough to re-position Europe into a new and wholly desirable quasi-stable state.”
What is needed is an EU that does not force non-eurozone nations to constantly guard against encroachments on their fundamental sovereignty, thus freeing the eurozone to integrate to whatever degree necessary to provide stable and legitimate governance. What is needed is an EU that does not force new and existing member states to march up in lock-step with every integrationist measure, regardless of whether they would willingly choose it or otherwise. Achieving this will move Europe beyond lowest-common-denominator solutions, to a place where selective collaboration through shared interest produces a stronger outcome.
A core able to integrate, a periphery happy to cooperate.
Do we have to leave to enable this rupture? No, perhaps it is enough that we vote to remain on a wafer thin margin, but, what cannot happen is a decisive 60/40 vote to remain. For the good of Europe.
For the avoidance of doubt, things that don’t matter:
- Straight bananas. Soft law only implemented at EU level.
- Strasbourg. Symptom, not cause.
- Immigration. Insomuch as I care, it is only because HMG is forced to unfairly discriminate against Commonwealth countries.
- EU budget. It’s chicken-feed in the grand scheme of things.
These matters are best determined by ‘us’ regardless of whether the ‘us’ is Britons, Poles, Swedes, or a new federal state comprising the regions of France, Germany, Belgium, etc..