Glen Ruffle: Forget Brexit, the UK must plan much further ahead

All eyes are on Brexit, but the UK government needs to look further ahead. Without the UK, the EU is doomed to hyper-integrationism. This will not end well.

Without Britain to speak sense, the states of Eastern Europe, so recently free from communist oppression, will find their nations stripped of power, subject to diktats from a new master in Brussels.

Without the UK, the Commission’s power-hungry quest to accrue military and economic power will gather momentum, as movements towards a Euro-army already show.

Without Westminster and UK MEPs, democracy in Europe will be reduced to rubber-stamping the Commission’s requests, and fundamentally tip the balance of power away from the people towards the elite.

We know this because the Treaty of Lisbon, Europe’s governing constitution, tells us so. The preamble commits the EU to “ever closer union”; Article 24.2 aims for the ever-increasing convergence of Member State actions; Article 32 requires Member States consult and cooperate in foreign policy so as to assert a united EU position; Article 42.3 demands that Member States make available civilian and military capabilities to the EU; Article 167 TFEU commits the EU to promoting heritage common to all EU states; and Article 165 commits the EU to common sporting events. The list could go on and on…

The Commission’s desperation to create European champions, businesses that will trumpet Europe’s power to the world, will erode and remove national industries, replacing them with politically-supported international conglomerates. This will move industry away from the people, fuelling the divide between haves and have nots.

The Euro – chaining different economies together that should be free to let their currencies rise or devalue – will eventually prove too much for some of the states with great debt or on the periphery. It might be Italy, it might be Spain, it might be the Greeks, but some states will finally give up on the idealist dream and face the reality of how that dream has created for them poverty. They will leave, devalue their new currency, boost employment, and work to pay off their debts.

A recent Demos poll showed that, joining Denmark and the Netherlands in their suspicion of the EU project, we now have 57% of Swedes backing an exit or reduction in EU powers, 55% of the French, 41% of the Spanish, 40% of Poles, and even 39% of Germans. Both France and Holland could elect leaders that will deal death blows to the EU.

Euroscepticism is not withering; but neither is the obsession that drives the Euro-elite to build their new state. The UK needs to be in a strong position to pick up the pieces when it goes wrong.

Firstly, the UK needs a good Brexit. Few voted to Remain in the EU out of love. Fear drove their vote; hardly a vote of confidence. All parties in the UK should give up posturing and back Brexit. Business needs to shut up and look at the great potential now available in the entire world, not just the declining EU.

Secondly, let’s keep the good things. The market part of the EU was good: how can Britain foster this with the Commonwealth and other states, and with EU members and non-members? Can we create a new market-based organisation? Will we be ready to welcome other states exiting the EU?

Thirdly, security must be guaranteed. Eastern Europe primarily saw the EU as an additional NATO. Enhancing NATO will enhance cooperation with Eastern Europe and continue Britain’s strong relations with the east, eroding their need for the EU.

Fourth, we must be prepared to monitor and deal with the highly-integrated rump EU that will likely emerge, probably driven by Germany and France at the centre. This structure will seek to exert global influence, though could be unstable.

A confident, ambitious Britain, unafraid of dreaming and making plans, can continue to prosper and excel in the modern world; but we must be ready to intervene to save other European countries from strife as the EU reaps its own rewards, and to offer them a better way forwards.

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