This article was originally published on The Commentator
On June 23rd — our EU referendum day — it is important to know there is no ‘status quo’ option on the ballot paper. It’s a choice to once more have an independent United Kingdom, or to progress into further integration with the European Union.
The Remain campaign scoff at this, saying there are no plans to move to a single unified federal EU state. If this was true, the EU would not have already developed its own equivalent of the Foreign Office — called the European External Action Service (EEAS). The EU has made its own foreign policy and now it wants an army to be able to enforce it.
The idea of a common EU foreign policy being of benefit to Britain is laughable. We already have territorial disputes with other EU Member States, either with Spain — which directly claims Gibraltar — or others who have been supportive of Argentina’s territorial ambitions over the Falklands.
Many of our other disputes are over small islands in the oceans surrounding Britain, with Ireland, Iceland and Denmark laying claim. If we lose the ability to defend our own claims to islands such as St Kilda and Rockall — and the EU gives them away — we would lose even more of our fishing rights.
Companies have also started drilling for oil and gas near these disputed islands. This would be valuable revenue we could lose because of the EU. It is far from certain the EU would favour Britain in these disputes. It is certainly not something the Remain side can or would guarantee.
It’s not just Britain which struggles with attempting to create a workable EU foreign policy. During the crisis with Russia and Ukraine, the response of the EU to implement sanctions on Russia was incredibly slow, despite many EU states being very keen to do so.
The problem was that Germany and other countries who were dependent on Russian gas were attempting to find solutions so they could protect their own gas supplies. This simply demonstrates how incompatible foreign policy interests of all the EU countries often are. This makes the prospect of a cohesive EU foreign policy almost impossible. But this has not stopped them from trying.
The EEAS has a truly monstrous budget of £1billion, so far. This is mostly spent on maintaining embassies and their staff all over the world, conducting foreign policy directly for the EU.
In doing so, they go over the heads of the member states. The only reason the EU puts so much time, effort and resources into building a global network of embassies and ambassadors like this is that they intended to use them. A mere trading bloc would have no need for a Foreign Office, but the EU clearly wants to become dominant in foreign policy in its march towards a federal superstate.
The next step is for the EU is to create its own army — a process it has already started. The President of the European Commission — currently Jean-Claude Juncker — has some military powers even now. Under the Lisbon Treaty, Juncker can ask any Member State to loan their military forces — in part or in whole — to the European Commission’s direct control for a period of time.
These powers also allow him to order this military force into any Member State of the EU, without needing the permission of the country concerned. Whilst this power has not been used so far, it is worrying. Recently, the Commission decided it is no longer satisfied with ‘potentially’ having to rely on this. It wants the EU to have its own dedicated military forces.
The EU army is happening. The political ‘will’ exists for it to happen. The European Parliament is bringing forward plans for a “European Defence Union”. To start off with, this means there would be regulation and state aid for the defence industry on a European level.
This would take Britain’s main defence contractor — BAE — out of the control of the British Government and into the hands of the European Commission. The EU would “harmonise” the defence industries, meaning Britain would no longer be able to set its own defence priorities to its major contractor. Instead, the EU would decide defence priorities for all Member States, including Britain.
Clearly, when a nation has no control over the composition and capabilities of its own armed forces, it has no means of defence for its people. Do we really trust the EU to defend British interests in the Falklands and Gibraltar? This is a risk simply not worth taking.
The EU would be in total control of more and more powers, slowly restricting our capabilities. We saw this precise strategy used in the build up to the Euro — the Exchange Rate Mechanism “harmonised” the various currencies of Eurozone Member States before control of currency and interest rates later on.
We saw what happened to the Greeks, Italians, Irish and the Portuguese when they gave up their economic independence to the EU. The results have not been pretty: vast austerity and suffering for their people. To hand over such crucial issues as foreign and defence policy would be reckless in the extreme – and would mean inviting the EU to ignore British interests in the future. This would be what a vote for Remain would mean.
The EU is busy ensuring the armed forces of the Member States already work together on an EU level. Many armies have already been reorganised so they fit more conveniently into EU battlegroups — including many British regiments.
Recently, they practiced on Salisbury Plain, with the EU flag emblazoned on the sides of the tanks. The eventual aim is clear — increased defence cooperation until it reaches the point where a full merger is the obvious choice. Stripped of our armed forces, we would be a nation completely dependent on the EU. It would be the final loss of our independence.
A vote to Remain in the EU would be a vote to lose control of our foreign policy as well as our armed forces. This would mean the end of Britain as an independent, powerful, proud nation. The EU has already proved incompetent on foreign policy. It is slow, unwieldy and indecisive in its actions and any move towards more foreign policy being decided at an EU level can only diminish Britain’s influence in the world.
This is unacceptable. To defend our independence and retain our place on the world stage, we must Get Britain Out of the EU.