The date is now set: 23 June 2016 – the day the British people will decide the future direction of this country. Are we going to once again become an independent, self-governing nation, or will we commit ourselves irreversibly to the European project?
Earlier this week, self-confessed “heir to Blair” David Cameron gave a performance in the Commons that even the New Labour propaganda machine would have been proud of. The prime minister attempted to sell his meagre “renegotiation” package as substantial, and tellingly received more support from the opposition benches than from his own. Despite the massive spin operation, Cameron’s deal has done nothing to dramatically alter our relationship with the EU, and the choice is now clearer than ever.
The fundamental principles at stake in this referendum are sovereignty and democracy. If, like me, you believe that the people who govern Britain should be elected by the British people and held accountable to them, then you must vote to leave. As it stands the majority of laws that pass through our Parliament come from the European Union. The only institution of the EU capable of introducing legislation is the European Commission, made up of 28 unelected bureaucrats whom we have no power to remove or replace. Who can name but one of these faceless bureaucrats? Yet they wield more power over our lives than David Cameron could ever dream of. Is this really what European democracy has become?
In a further blow to our sovereignty, as members of the EU our Supreme Court is no longer supreme. The European Court of Justice can overrule any decision made in British courts, as highlighted by its recent intervention to block the deportation of foreign criminals. We have surrendered control of our territorial waters, completely devastating our fishing industry, whilst EU laws and taxes are further destroying what is left of heavy industry in Britain. It is also illegal for us to sign trade deals with the rest of the world whilst we are members of the EU. And all this for the small price of £55 million a day!
The reason British politics has become so stale over the last few decades is because the big decisions of the day are no longer made in Westminster. Because Brussels controls every important aspect of policy, our politicians are left to squabble over minor and inconsequential issues to make themselves appear necessary. As long as we are members of the EU, no radical change in our politics is possible. Take for example Jeremy Corbyn, who despite supporting our membership of the European Union, would soon find that much of his economic agenda is illegal and unworkable under EU law. Whether or not you support Corbyn and his policies is beside the point, and anyone who believes in the principles of democracy and sovereignty should be troubled by this.
Another key area we have conceded to Brussels is our immigration policy, where we are powerless to control our own border. No sensible person is against all levels of immigration – it is simply the scale of migration and the lack of control we have that concerns people. Our public services are already at breaking point, and from a social and practical perspective it is simply not sustainable to absorb a third of a million new people every year. If we wish to continue with migration on its current scale, we must re-evaluate the existing model of the NHS – the two simply can’t survive simultaneously.
Whilst mass immigration may be great for big business seeking vast pools of cheap labour, and for metropolitan, bourgeois elites who enjoy cheap nannies and cleaners, for everyday Britons it has had disastrous effects. It has led to wage compression, a shortage in housing and school places, a declining health service, and perhaps most significantly of all, divided and segregated communities. And with Turkey, a nation far poorer than any other in Europe and one that shares a border with Syria, the latest country being fast-tracked to EU membership, this issue becomes all the more critical. Does anyone seriously believe an open door to Turkey will be a positive thing for Britain?
Unsurprisingly big business has come out in support of our EU membership. The crony-capitalism favoured by the EU means that big business is able to lobby EU officials towards setting the rules and regulations to which all businesses must comply. This compliance is of course very easy for giant corporations with armies of lawyers, but not so easy for small- and medium-sized businesses that find themselves suffocated by red tape and excessive regulation. The shady trade deal between the EU and America known as TTIP highlights the corporate domination of the EU, as corporations could find themselves suing governments as part of the deal, as well as other ludicrous clauses that transfer powers from the people to multi-national corporations.
The campaign to keep us in the EU, bankrolled by these corporations and the mega-banks, is as yet struggling to find convincing arguments. It has for the most part been relying on fear-mongering and vacuous claims, such as the notion that the EU has helped to keep the peace in Europe, which displays an almost laughable ignorance of post-war European history. Other than this, they argue that our trade with the EU would be hampered by our exit. This is a Thatcherite argument, and attests that the only thing that matters is money. Far more important than money is our freedom and our civilisation, and if there is an economic price to pay for this, then I for one am prepared to pay it. But that is a non sequitur anyway, as a nation needn’t be a member of political union with the EU to trade with it, as shown by nations such as Canada and South Korea who have trade deals with the EU without needing to have their sovereignty infringed upon.
The “Remain” campaign plays upon the alleged uncertainties of “Brexit”, and emphasises the risks posed by a vote to leave. However, as far as I can see, the risks of remaining far outweigh those of leaving. We know that the sole objective of the EU is to centralise power, and that it will by its nature continue to eradicate nation-state democracy. We know that the euro is a failed currency, and that it is only going to further weaken the European economy. We know that the EU now has expansionist aims in the East, and is developing foreign policy objectives as well as an army. The implications of this have already been seen in the Ukrainian crisis. The risk of Britain being dragged into conflicts over the foreign policy aims of the EU appear to me to be far greater than any alleged risks posed by an exit.
It would also be a big mistake to assume that a vote to remain is merely a vote to preserve the status quo. Instead, the EU and our political class will use this as a means of justifying an acceleration of European integration, and we will rapidly witness further powers being relinquished to Brussels. For how could we ever object? We would, after all, have just given our consent to the European project. There would be no turning back.
The alliance between the unholy trinity of the big banks, big business and big government is beginning to assemble to keep us in the EU, but encouragingly, so is the grassroots movement to get us out. Much like in 1975, this referendum campaign pits the establishment vs the people. But the establishment is not as popular now as it was forty years ago, and people are more suspicious of our ruling elites than ever before.
In four months time we will all cast the most important vote of our lives. It will have far greater implications for the future of Britain than any general election vote ever could. It is a choice between national independence and national destruction. It might be the last chance we ever get to save Britain.