The Risks of Remaining

Many fear the potential risks of leaving the EU, but remaining may be even riskier. However, it’s not just about risk; it’s also about who controls our destiny.


The EU is going downhill, and may drag us with it. (Photo: www.debatingeurope.eu)

The EU is going downhill, and may drag us with it. (Photo: www.debatingeurope.eu)

For a eurosceptic such as myself, it is extremely disheartening to hear people declare themselves “reluctantly” for remaining in the EU. These people understand and agree with all the major eurosceptic arguments, but no amount of reasoning allows them to overcome one powerful emotion: fear. They are worried about the risks of leaving. The British are renowned for a natural conservatism; the “Remain” campaigners recognise this, they know that fear is their strongest card, and so they play it again and again. It’s time to fight fire with fire. Remaining in the EU is not the safe option, and only a full understanding of the risks of staying in will be enough to sway those who think so.

As part of his deal with the European Commission, David Cameron received formal confirmation that the EU is, and will remain, a multi-currency union. Whether or not this deal is legally binding is a matter of intense debate, but let’s assume for the sake of argument that pound sterling is here to stay. Britain does not have to be in the eurozone in order to be affected by its crises. Despite British taxpayers being told multiple times that they would not have to contribute to Greece’s third bailout fund, the UK did end up loaning Greece £850 million. The Commission has promised the PM that this is the last time the UK will have to contribute to a eurozone bailout. Whether you believe this depends on how much you trust the Commission. Remember: this is the same Commission whose rules were supposed to prohibit eurozone bailouts in the first place.

Entrepreneur Jim Mellon, who has been called “the British Warren Buffett”, believes that remaining in the EU exposes the UK to an unacceptable degree of risk. When we think about the crises of the euro, we tend to focus on Greece, Spain and Portugal—Southern European countries with fragile economies. Mellon is more concerned about France and Italy. Their indebtedness, he argues, is just as insurmountable as Greece’s. The difference is that a bailout of France and Italy would be impossible without assistance from countries outside the Eurozone. Germany simply won’t have enough money, and the ECB won’t be able to buy enough government bonds. Given a choice between rescuing the euro, and breaking their promises to David Cameron, the Troika will likely opt for the former. The shock would be enough, Mellon believes, to send the UK into a recession.

David Cameron’s deal is also supposed to exempt Britain from the euro-federalist ideal of “ever closer union”. Again, whether or not this assuages your fears depends on whether you trust EU officials (and their successors) to keep their promises. Personally, I don’t see why they would. Both sides have made it clear that this referendum is a one-off event. Once the British public have voted to remain, what incentive does the Commission have to placate the British people? MPs lose their seats if they blatantly disregard the opinion of voters; commissioners do not. A British “Remain” vote would be seen by euro-federalists as a green light for accelerated political integration.

Political philosopher Hannah Arendt, who believed democracy was giving way to unaccountable bureaucracy. (Photo: Hannah Arendt Center)

Political philosopher Hannah Arendt, who believed democracy was giving way to unaccountable bureaucracy. (Photo: Hannah Arendt Center)

The ultimate goal of the integrationist program is a United States of Europe: an entire continent with one flag and one central government, with former nation states reduced to mere administrative regions. The United States of America is the obvious model for such a political structure. I doubt however that the USE will come to look anything like the USA. A united Europe will not be a free, democratic, constitutional republic with decentralised power and robust checks and balances. It will be more like 19th Century Prussia or Austro-Hungary: a massive, unaccountable, immensely inefficient bureaucracy—what Hannah Arendt called “rule by nobody”. It will be absurd, Kafkaesque chaos, and all of us will have to endure it.

One of the more immediate risks of remaining, whose recognition seems to be the main reason why the polls have been turning in favour of “Leave”, is the risk to security. Britain is not part of the Schengen area, but that doesn’t stop us being exposed to the risks of a near borderless Europe. Anyone who gets an EU passport (and anyone who comes to the EU can eventually get an EU passport) will have the right to come to the UK. When Turkey completes its accession to the EU (which is expected to occur sometime within the next ten years) the EU will have borders with Iraq, Iran and Syria. If the EU is incompetent to stop illegal migration from these countries when they are still separated from it by the Mediterranean, how much worse will the situation be when these countries are right on its doorstep?

Britain has reached a crisis situation with the EU, and every crisis is fraught with risk and uncertainty. Whether the UK leaves or stays, there are going to be some considerable risks ahead of us. The crucial difference is that, if the UK does vote for Brexit, the risks will be our risks, and we will have the power to address them. In the event of a Remain vote, control over Britain’s destiny will remain in the hands of the European Commission. The question is not “do we want to take risks?” but rather “whom do we want to take the risks: our elected Members of Parliament, or unelected commissioners?” A Leave vote is not a vote for absolute security, but it is a vote for democratic control.

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Adam Fitchett
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Adam Fitchett

Editor-in-Chief at Filibuster
Adam Fitchett, our Editor-in-Chief, is a 21-year-old student of neuroscience from Worthing in West Sussex. He describes himself as "arguably libertarian" because he believes that increasing personal freedom and decentralising power are prerequisites for human fluorishing. In his spare time, he enjoys badminton, industrial music and improv comedy.
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