Myopic Rejoiners can’t admit the EU is still a failing, unreformable basket case
I’m sorry to disappoint overexcited EU revivalists on Twitter, but the UK won’t be joining Brussels anytime soon. Brexit hasn’t brought enough yet, but it won’t be enough to reverse the great revolution of 2016.
There was one fundamental reason why the British establishment sought to join the Common Market in the 1960s. We were the sick man of Europe: our GDP per capita grew much more slowly than that of the then core members of the EEC after the end of World War II. There was a sense that Britain was outdated, that the Westminster system of government and the common law were outdated, that Europe was modern, brilliant, culinary and culturally excellent. European integration seemed inevitable, the end point of the bloody history of the continent, the cure for the “British disease”. Our ruling class yearned for a post-imperial outlet for their technocratic dreams and felt it would shine in Brussels.
It was a disastrously wrong call. By the time we actually joined in 1973, the period of dominance in Europe was already over. “30 years of glory” of Europe, as the French call it, is over, and a crisis started with the oil shock. Germany economic miracle was drying up, and Italy’s latest growth spurt is a misleading Overtaking 1987, when it allegedly overtook Britain before rolling back again, it was a false dawn.
Britain’s economic renaissance since 1979, our radical openness to the world in terms of culture, trade and migration, combined with the progressive sclerotization of Europe, has changed the situation: Britain has outstripped the continent for the first time since the 19th century. century. This paradigm shift took years to seep into the British psyche, accustomed to believing that the grass should always be greener elsewhere, according to guest worker bricks from goodbye pet.
In the end, however, Europe’s slide down the league table, the near-explosion eurozone, the violent crackdown on Greece, and the refugee crisis changed public opinion. The public realized that the continental way of life was no longer superior to ours, and that made Brexit possible: there were no big pluses left, so voters focused on a lot of minuses.
Nearly seven years later, parallels can again be drawn with 1973. The UK is in decline again, ruled by a second rate nomenklatura who can do nothing, refuse to reform and don’t really believe we can or deserve to succeed. But the situation is also very different from what it was 50 years ago: today, for all their lies, misconceptions and distortions, the “acceded” cannot credibly claim that the EU is in a better condition than we are. It is still in decline and not amenable to reform; all of its institutional and cultural pathologies are as bad as they were in 2016.
We are useless, just like them; we’re in a mess, but their mess is even bigger. Europe as a whole, not just Britain, is the sick man of the world. We may be on strike, but so is France with its protests against pension reforms. Our politics may be broken, but what about the conquests of the far left and the far right across Europe? Our crime rate may be out of control, but try walking through the Belgian suburb at night.
Or take economics. We are not doing very well, just like they are: reuniting with an equally poorly functioning Eurotechnocracy will not help us. Overall growth in the UK since 2016 has been about the same as in Germany (5.7%), although our Covid damage has been much greater, economist Julian Jessop has calculated; in 2022, real wages in Germany fell much more than in the UK. Our GDP last year grew faster than in France, Italy and Germany. Since 2019, food prices have risen by 19.9% in the UK, by 21.1% in the Eurozone and by 24.1% across the EU bloc.
If belonging to the single market was the most important – no, the only – answer to our sluggish growth, according to the question-begging “counterfactual” models built by the Rejoiners, why aren’t EU member states growing faster than we are? Why were our economic performance so poor after the 2008 financial crisis, despite being in the EU and hosting a record number of European migrants? The single market is marginal at best, and at worst useless or net negative. Domestic fiscal, monetary, capital and regulatory policies are what really matter.
As it turns out, so far leaving the EU has likely had little net economic cost as a result of the EU’s punitive, illiberal protectionist policies (under the guise of “defending the single market”). However, this could easily become a net economic benefit with the right domestic reforms.
In the meantime, the EU remains committed to the same rigid integrationist post-democratic ideology that drives it into endless cycles of failure without a mechanism to solve problems. The euro is still a universal design. The incompetence and viciousness of the European Commission was exposed during Covid when it tried to seize vaccine stocks and even lock down the UK. Regardless of the legality, we would not have launched our own vaccination program if we were still members of the EU, and many Britons would have died.
Contrary to the words of Guy Verhofstadt, the catastrophic foreign policy of Europe was revealed by the war in Ukraine. He showed how an independent UK can shine, psychologically unencumbered by EU membership. Meanwhile, Germany’s energy, military and trade strategy towards Moscow and Beijing is being exposed as catastrophically wrong and threatening its future as an industrial power. And Brussels remains a cesspool – the latest scandal in the European Parliament concerns allegations of corruption and the sale of votes.
Imagine a new referendum and all this is once again carefully studied. There won’t be a majority for reunification, especially if a better agreement with Northern Ireland shows that we can have a relationship with the EU that is neither capitulation nor hostility. Brexit also reduces the chances of Scottish independence.
Why are we suddenly again transferring billions to the EU, or letting others write our laws, or forcing hostile bureaucrats to make important decisions on our behalf in the early hours after endless humiliating conversations? And, most importantly, we will have to pay a high price for reunification, which will probably mean switching to the euro.
No I don’t regret anythingand you shouldn’t.