Monday , June 17 2024

Brexit Fallout: Fear And Loathing (Of Democracy) In Brussels

The hysterical response of EU officials to Brexit (as opposed to national leaders, who have been more pragmatic and conciliatory) shows why we were right to leave the European Union, and why no lover of democracy should be happy so long as it continues to exist as a supranational government of Europe

Among a number of my fellow liberal-minded Brexit supporters I sense a reticence to attack the European Union now that we have most unexpectedly won the EU referendum. This, I think, stems from the admirable and earnest desire to do the right thing for Britain, ensuring that we negotiate the best possible secession deal with Brussels without needlessly antagonising our European partners. All of this I understand and agree with.

But I cannot retract nor temporarily suppress any of my earlier criticism of the European Union, and nor should any other Brexiteer not intimately involved in the Brexit negotiations feel compelled to pull their punches.

The EU was and remains an aloof, arrogant and insulated escape pod for failed national politicians, dreary bureaucrats and starry-eyed euro-federalists to govern nearly an entire continent without the first shred of democratic legitimacy. The EU is an answer (the eventual common European state) without a question, a solution without a problem and a glaring anachronism from a bygone age.

The EU is a succubus, draining the life and capability for self-governance from its member states (as the British government is now belatedly finding out, facing the prospect of having to think and act independently on the world stage), replacing the potentially positive outcomes of intergovernmental cooperation with the fudged, amateurish, self-inflicted calamities of unstable supranational governance.

It therefore follows that just as I believe EU membership is wrong for Britain, so I believe it is wrong for other EU member states too – and it should be up to the national electorates of each country to validate their continued partnership in this project by voting to leave or remain in their own national referenda. If the European Union had any shame or dignity it would positively welcome such a step in order to finally affirm its existence through popular support, rather than doing what it always does – hiding behind staunchly pro-EU governing elites in each country.

And it is this fear of further referenda in other countries which is now spooking many of the EU’s most senior leaders, though they remain utterly divided as to their reaction, with Donald Tusk and the Council favouring a “steady as she goes” approach and EU Commissioners and Parliamentarians like Jean-Claude Juncker and Martin Schulz wanting a reformed (read: more) Europe.

In a speech to the European Parliament, Guy Verhofstadt declared in a speech directed at Donald Tusk, President of the European Council:

…the reaction of the European Council to this political earthquake, because an earthquake it is, what happened in Britain. The only reaction I have heard of the Council was that we should not change anything, that it’s just a question of implementing the existing European policies. I find this shocking, and I find it all so irresponsible. I don’t think you understand what is happening.

It’s not only a Brexit referendum. Before that there was the referendum in Denmark, negative. There was the referendum on the Ukraine agreement in the Netherlands, negative. Now in the UK. What are you waiting for? For the next referendum in France? The next referendum in Italy, maybe? When will you recognise, when will the council recognise that this type of European Union of today, you can not defend it any more? And that Europe needs to be reformed. And in my opinion that the new vision, the new approach should be presented to the citizens of Europe.

Of course, Verhofstadt then goes wildly off key, claiming that the results of a recent Eurobarometer poll somehow represent a seething public desire for a common European army, intelligence service and indeed a true EU government:

The real problem today [..] is intergovernmentalism. A loose confederation of nation states based on unanimity can not work. That is the reality of today, that you don’t recognise until now.

So More Europe, then. Even now, after the loss of the EU’s second largest economy and strongest diplomatic, cultural and military power, the elites sitting in Brussels and Strasbourg wish to press ahead with implementing their vision. The only reason for its widespread unpopularity and rejection by Britain is, to their minds, the fact that their vision remains incomplete. If only we saw the common European state standing finished in all of its glory we would learn to love it, so those countries which remain must hasten to bring it about.

What dangerous garbage. This is why any lover of democracy and any supporter of the nation state as the last line of defence and supreme guarantor of our freedoms should be implacably opposed to the European Union, now and always.

Out of necessity we must maintain warm, cordial and productive relations with Brussels, especially as we begin the delicate work of unpicking 40 years of incessant political integration by stealth. But if the happy day finally comes when the EU collapses under the weight of its own sanctimony, misconceived sense of destiny and glaring internal contradictions then the world will be a better place, the cause of democracy will be better served and nobody should shed a single tear.

Let’s not lose sight of that.

The post was originally published by the author 6 July 2016.

About Sam Hooper

Sam Hooper is a former management consultant turned political commentator, currently living in London with his Texan wife. Sam can usually be found somewhere online, droning on about politics, free markets, civil liberties, classical liberalism and classical music. Sam is a proud conservatarian, blogs at and tweets @SamHooper.

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