To all intents and purposes, the UK is already out. We stayed still. Europe galloped away without us.
No doubt we can find some elegant formula to paper over the split. As my friend Daniel Hannan puts it, we could devise a Swiss arrangement while pretending that we are still EU members. No point frightening the horses.
For those readers who missed it, the UK is preparing to pull out of almost all areas of “Justice and Home Affairs”, the so-called Pillar III of EU jurisdiction. (Pillar I is the single market, and Pillar II is foreign affairs)
This is revolutionary. We are withdrawing from 130 directives, covering everything from the European Arrest Warrant, the European Public Prosecutor, to the European justice department… <emphasis mine>
As ever, this solid journalist logically yet succinctly makes his case; read here to gain its full impact. It brings some foreboding:
Meanwhile, the EU’s onward march to a banking union, a fiscal compact, and variants of fiscal union have simply left us behind. To whom – by the way – will the new banking union be accountable? To national parlia-ments and courts? Obviously not. It will “answer” to MEPs and the ECJ.
A whole superstate structure is coming into being. It cannot be democratic because there is no European political nation or shared political language, and all attempts to mimic the vibrant democracies of the ancient states have failed. The European Parliament has its charms but it is not a body that can hold a powerful executive to account.
Eurosceptics warned from the outset that EMU was unworkable as constructed. Monetary union would engender crises that forced ever more extreme solutions to keep the show on the road, acting as a powerful catalyst for full political union. They have been entirely vindicated. This is exactly what has happened.
Yet there is welcome relief to come for us in the UK because, in Ambrose’s opinion:
It is now clear that Britain’s decision to stay out of the euro at Maastricht was a de facto decision to leave the EU as well, as Britain’s political leaders feared even then. It has a taken two decades but we can almost all see now that a free and self-governing Britain can no longer be part of the Project.
This is the backdrop to William Hague’s speech this morning, his ‘cri de coeur’, his warning that anger over EU encroachment has reached boiling point. “A great machine that sucks up decision-making from national parliaments to the European level until everything is decided by the EU. [Click for report on Foreign Secretary’s speech in Berlin.] That needs to change. If we cannot show that decision-making can flow back to national parliaments then the system will become democratically unsustainable.”
Obviously, nothing is about to flow back. The EU is going headlong in the opposite direction. What Mr Hague is really doing is preparing the ground for withdrawal.
In concluding, he forecasts the next few years will probably be stormy, yet:
once the boil is lanced, we may find that our relations with Europe improve dramatically. The moment that the EU no longer threatens our laws, our parliament, our democracy, and our way of life – that is to say, the moment we take the stone out of our shoe – almost all hostility will drain away. We can all become lovers of Europe again. Good fences. Good neighbours.
YET, even so, I surmise that the trend towards global monetary union will not leave this nation to one side – unless the Living Lord God has other plans…