For a long time, I’ve been hesitant to express my thoughts about the EU. Months ago I published a short piece on the topic, but in it I simpered and tamed my ideas to make them more palatable to those who may be undecided on the issue of Europe. That was before the referendum.
Now, those of us who supported EU membership have been proven right. The warnings we issued to the British public were not heeded and the suffering we predicted is materialising. People don’t need to be persuaded by sugar-coated arguments, they are demanding truth – and the truth is what I will give you.
Brexiters even now continue to peddle the fantasy of a ‘global Britain’. A Britain engaged in the world, not limited to working together with the rest of Europe. They say that Britain should be trading with the rest of the world rather than Europe, because the vast majority of future economic growth will happen outside of the continent. What they fail to grasp is the entire concept of international politics. No one is in the game to play nice – they’re in it to win. Every trade deal and agreement is an opportunity to get one-up on your enemies, neighbours and allies. In the grand scheme of international politics, you can’t afford to act simply out of the goodness of your heart. Those states –such as Russia, India and China- who are set on becoming international superpowers will certainly not be acting with fairness on their minds.
A ‘global Britain’ is a Britain acting alone. A Britain that is dwindling on the internationally stage. Even the act of voting to leave dropped the UK down the economic league table, placing us below France. Alone, we simply cannot negotiate with China, India and the USA with any real credibility. Why would China sign a deal with us, if we get more out of it than they do? If we leave, then we will need these trade deals far more than the countries with which we will be negotiating. When China and India say they want to trade with us, what they mean is that they want to take the opportunity we are offering them. They are not out to play fair or to stand up for British sovereignty. They are out to further their own interests.
So how do we get fair trade deals? We work with the rest of Europe. The EU trade block is the largest economy in the world. Countries like India and China are desperate to secure a trade deal with it – to such an extent that the EU can gain leverage over them, rather than the other way around. Alone, we can be exploited. Together, we can exploit. There is unfortunately no other option.
Since the fall of the USSR, the global order has been on a spiral of destruction. Without the standoff between the USA and USSR to bring some semblance of global stability, global conflict is escalating rapidly. The West looks to the USA as the soul upholder of the global status quo, and opponents to that status quo (e.g. Russia, China, extremists around the world) are no longer afraid to challenge the single world superpower. The world is not the stable one that many of the older generation will have grown up in. It is changing and we cannot count on our big brother across the Atlantic to have our back anymore. Europe needs to take it’s destiny into it’s own hands if we wish to survive the coming century.
Another major issue of the referendum –which did not receive nearly enough attention- is that of defence. If the referendum result made one person happy, it was Vladimir Putin. It’s no secret that Russia has designs on Eastern Europe, but Putin’s plans extent far further than that. He wishes to create a world in which sovereign nationalist states compete against each other for territory and power – in short, a world that hyper-nationalist Russia can dominate. The idea of a European super-state runs perpendicular to that dream. So by peddling the fantasy of a Europe of sovereign states working together, Eurosceptics have been promoting the kind of world Putin is actively trying to create.
Even amongst Eurosceptics however, it is almost universally agreed that Russia needs to be restrained. We have heard time and time again that NATO is the international organisation that will protect us from Russia, however even now the stability of NATO is being called into question. Trump has actively stated his wish to pull out of NATO –effectively destroying the alliance-, and even if he doesn’t win the election NATO is still likely to lose a member as Turkey drifts further from the alliance’s democratic ideals. As I have stated time and again, we cannot rely on NATO and the USA to defend Europe anymore.
But for the sake of argument lets say that NATO remains whole in the event of a full-scale conflict with Russia. How effective would the alliance really be? NATO has never had to fight a war against its principle rival, and it’s effectiveness in protecting the borders of Europe can be called into question.
The idea of an alliance of sovereign European states creates still more problems. At the risk of quoting a popular fantasy TV show: what’s the bigger number, 28 or 1? One army, with one purpose united behind one command will always be more successful than 28 armies with 28 different agendas. When push comes to shove, we can’t even guarantee that all 28 countries will come to our aid, considering how much Eastern Europe relies of gas from Russia. An alliance simply isn’t going to be effective when it comes to fighting an enemy like Putin, and all the other enemies that may appear after him. If we want to be able to truly protect Europe’s borders and our democratic ideals, we have to be united.
What’s more, the future holds far worse than Putin. The rising star that is China – a country completely ideologically opposed to Europe, a country that has no reason to sympathise –and plenty of reasons to be very upset- with Europe looks to become a world superpower to rival the USA. The major geopolitical battle of the coming century will likely be between Eurasia and the Atlantic. Whether Europe should be dominated by the USA or China. I say instead we choose neither. Europe has a chance to break free from the wishes of the world’s superpowers. By becoming a superpower ourselves, we take our destiny back into our own hands.
Brexiters tell us that 90% of economic growth in the next century will come from the developing world, and they’re right about that. An ever-growing union in Africa looks to become another of the future’s major players. A major international player with considerable historical grievance with Europe and with only fourteen kilometres of water to separate us. In a country obsessed with our imperial past, it seems ironic that such a past will be something we soon regret.
I make no secret of my wish to see Europe united into a single state. Others will accuse me of scaremongering, but the reality is that the world is not a happy land of sunshine and rainbows where everyone wants to play fairly. The world is harsh, cruel and will not hesitate to smash a country that thinks it can go it alone. Together we will always be stronger. Do not believe the fantasy that Eurosceptics peddle – the next century is not going to easy for us. We have to think pragmatically, think realistically and realise that only when we are united can we stand up for ourselves and hold our own. For us, there is no other option.