This blog was first posted on The Commentator.
With the In/Out European Union referendum nearing, more fears are being spread about Britain’s position in the world. However, Brexit is not about less co-operation and less clout on the international stage, but more.
A report published by the think tank Carnegie Europe claimed leaving the EU would be a diplomatic step down for Britain. This falls victim to the false view whereby regaining national autonomy somehow means a nation will be less credible on the world stage.
Many forget Brexit will stop Britain’s international reputation being overtaken by Brussels, because the EU’s global strategy is to be the sole speaker for all of its Member States.
There are two gaps in the logic in the report originally from the Centre for Security Studies.
Firstly, it appears that its great concern about Brexit is how it will negatively affect the European Union’s military capability. This is evident as the paper admits Britain would clearly remain a significant military power. Perhaps the right question to ask here is why a trading organisation needs a global foreign policy in the first place?
If the British people had known that the European Economic Community was going to transform into the present EU, the 1975 referendum on membership would not have passed. The public voted originally for a free trade area, not the aspiring federal superstate we have today.
Secondly, how exactly will Britain ensure it is a global player if its strategic interests are represented by Brussels and not Westminster? Britain has already lost its place on the World Trade Organisation to a single EU seat. In addition, we witness the expansion of the European External Action Service, which is essentially the diplomatic corps of Brussels.
It is entirely misleading to say influence will be lost because Britain has never had an isolationist or protectionist world outlook. The main aim of Brexit is to look beyond the constraints of the EU.
However, there is one issue which needs addressing. Unlike the false economic arguments suggesting the world should compete in giant economic blocs, on a geopolitical and strategic level it makes sense focus on the region in which we live.
This is why Eurosceptics do not advocate a withdrawal from NATO — the real guarantor of our mutual defence in Europe. Any advancement of the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) will simply duplicate the resources of NATO which already has the experience, ability, funding, and, most importantly, the consent of the British public.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair held the view Britain was in a unique position on a strategic level. It was said Britain could act as the middle-man between the EU, the Commonwealth and United States. This is no longer possible because the mask has fallen from Brussels — federalism and integration will forever remain central to the expanding EU superstate.
Only this week did the EU take a major step to grow its own army. With the vote passing in the European Parliament by 406 to 212, plans will begin to create an ‘autonomous security and defence capability’. An unnecessary duplication of what already exists with NATO then.
During the last referendum on our EU membership in 1975 (then the Common Market), Britain was deemed the sick man of Europe. Many of our politicians held a defeatist attitude in which attaching ourselves to the European project seemed our only hope.
Compare the 1970s to now, and we see a reinvigorated Britain which is pulling ahead of Europe. We are now the 5th biggest economy in the world, and we are set to overtake Germany and become the biggest economy in Europe by 2030. In addition, the latest defence review shows Britain is living up to its NATO commitments by ensuring 2 percent of GDP goes on defence spending. Only three other European nations are doing the same (Greece, Estonia, Poland).
While Ministers close to Prime Minister David Cameron play their games about whether to support Remaining in or Leaving the EU, they should consider this: how on Earth could Britain be more influential if Brussels would like to merge Britain’s and France’s UN Security Council Seat into a single EU one? Just as we lost our place on the World Trade Organisation, the federalists will always seek to trespass on the independence of Member States.
While the majority of EU Member States are already in NATO, why is it hard for Brussels to realise Britons are unhappy with such an ideological expansion of the European project? Astonishingly, the European Commission’s own words do not even hide the fact they seek to use any crisis as a vehicle for federalism.
“The political economy of defence, coupled with security crises beyond the EU’s borders, could lead to deeper cooperation between Member States, and thereby boost the CSDP”.
When an EU official said Britain’s hesitancy towards European integration was a sign of ‘stubbornness’, it clearly shows the European project has no plans to halt its expansion and has no respect for the United Kingdom.
A Britain which looks beyond the EU shows global ambition. The EU’s drive for a federal superstate weakens our reputation abroad. If we really want to protect our diplomatic influence, we will Get Britain Out of the EU.