This article was first published on The Commentator
Europe is not the European Union – this is obvious. It almost insults the intelligence to make this statement. It is, however, a distinction which appears again and again to be conflated, muddying the water significantly when talking about what Britain’s new relationship with the EU will likely be.
The UK voted for Brexit – to leave the European Union – ie the EU. Many Remainers interpreted the decision as a narrow-minded rejection of the things which have led to much of the progress on the continent since the end of World War Two: intergovernmental cooperation, free trade, and a general decreasing of xenophobia. A typical response came from British Nobel Prize winning scientist Michael Kosterlitz: “I feel strongly about Brexit and do not wish to be associated with a country which is so insular and narrow minded”. This view is entirely foolish.
To deal with intergovernmental cooperation first, Brexit is viewed by some as the UK abdicating its position on the world stage, and in a more local sense will no longer be cooperating closely with Europe. However, we are not leaving Europe, we are leaving the EU – which is a rather large distinction. Our close links will be maintained in all important senses. Norway, for example, a non-EU member, cooperates on EU projects relating to science, health, food safety and police training. It seems unrealistic to think we won’t be able to forge a deal which would allow the UK to share knowledge and certain people, such as scientists, with the 27 remaining Member States – given the depth of expertise we have in areas relating to defence and science in particular. Cooperation is always mutually beneficial – EU-style ‘command’ and control is less productive.
The same applies to trade. Many Remainers saw, and indeed still see, the Brexit vote as a thoughtless rejection of an economic arrangement, which has only benefitted the UK. Leaving the EU and the Single Market is, to them, a sign of a country turning away from the globalisation which made it, and the world, so prosperous in the last half century. Much has been said to refute this position, but it is worth reiterating. As prominent pro-Brexit MEP, Daniel Hannan has recently argued, the most recent General Election has put into Parliament the most pro-Brexit House of Commons ever. What exactly this Brexit will look like is unclear as it stands, but it is most likely a mutually beneficial trade deal will be made. A deal which allows the UK to turn to the rest of the world and make trade deals with countries outside the EU – as well as those within. The UK leaving the EU isn’t us turning inwards, but, in fact, is an attempt to become more outward-looking as a global trading nation.
The crux of both of the above points, and what most Remainers never seem able to fathom, is the fact one can both love Europe and disdain the European Union. The Eurosceptic position was never an anti-European one – as much as Remainers screamed about ‘xenophobia’. As negotiations are set to begin on Monday, pressing this point home is extremely important.
Europe as a continent is full of culture, innovation and history. You could give a thousand clichéd examples from German engineering to French wine, to Italian pizza. The European Union on the other hand is an institution which not only holds the UK back, but it does the same to all its Member States. Whether it’s the democratic deficit, the inherent corporatism, or excessive regulation, there are many reasons why the EU is a drag on the European continent. This is a hugely important point because, from this perspective, to be anti-EU is to be pro-European. As much as it boggles the minds of Remainers, Eurosceptics want Europe to thrive. At Get Britain Out we just don’t believe a huge restrictive bureaucracy is how you bring peace and prosperity to Europe.