When I am asked for my view of Europe (which is not very often) I always answer that I can’t see it from here. Any deeper significance in my reply is usually lost; but then why should it not be? I, after all, represent a passing generation. I am not, it is generally thought, in a position to judge.

But I am, you see. I really am.

I was among millions of Britons who voted for The Common Market, who agreed to suffer the idiosyncrasies of French agriculture and the ingress of Spanish trawlers as the price of a trade agreement that benefited the strike-torn economy of nineteen-sixties Britain. For a while I was an enthusiastic European. After all, my Liege-Lords for the last three hundred years had been German, had they not? And it was all so inspiringly liberal and democratic! I felt certain of the Euro, too, had we joined the currency in the early days. Not now, of course.

Oh no, not now.banker 2

Why? Well, gone are those democratic visions. The Euro has become a political tool of federalists who see Europe as one great nation (and for ‘federalists’ read ‘bankers’ and for ‘one great nation’ read ‘several component nations among which speculators may engage in uninhibited play’). Please, don’t misunderstand me: nationalism is dangerous, and there is nothing wrong with tearing down walls between nations: a common currency is a great way to start. But to the federalists the Euro-zone, and especially its outer fringes, is a chess board upon which to execute some particularly profitable moves. In short, even on a wet Sunday in a fog it would be difficult to find a bunch of more disparate nations to unite, and these people are simply not the ones to try it.

Their spores have spread like fungus in the decaying democracy of a group of member nations which not only have nothing in common, but do not share a common language, and in many cases are combatants in blood feuds centuries old. The pot of member states is now so large and political interests so diverse that conflicts are inevitable and insurmountable. No-one wins, nothing gets done.

The political engine of Europe is misfiring; its mechanisms are cumbersome and slow. It is going precisely nowhere fast.

Yet this is at a time when quick, decisive action is needed. Whether or not we are aware, a major migration is taking place, originating in Africa and sweeping across Europe. It is stimulated, maybe even motivated, by the ‘open borders’ policy said to be at the heart of Europeanism. And while that policy is in place we have Canute’s chance of holding it back.

Meanwhile, the engines of change in our own country have signally failed to leave the station. We still drive on the opposite side of the road to other member nations. We adhere stoutly to our Pound Sterling and yearn for all else that was Sterling. The mile, the yard, the ounce, the inch. Even after more than four decades of ‘Decimalization’ and ‘Metrication’ if I ask the Automobile Association’s route finder to calculate a distance for me it gives the answer in miles, with the kilometer distance in faint, small print underneath (for the foreigners, I assume). When I purchase wood from a wood yard, I am likely to be asked for my requirements in foot runs.

According to British law, road signs, speed limits and the speedometers that record those speeds must be quoted in miles or miles per hour.

Edicts from those very federalists who constitute the backbone of ‘Brussels Bureaucracy’ are deeply resented because they are measures conceived undemocratically, and by colleges of thought outside our own nation, who often calculate to satisfy interests that are of no benefit to ourselves.

At some point in the next year or so we will be asked to vote in a referendum – should we be in, or out, of Europe. But the decision will be taken long before then, as the spinners and grafters steer the argument. Our political engineers are masterful manipulators of public opinion and they will do their work. They have already scored some early points. There is much more to do and they have a lot of time to do it.

I am anti-Europe, though I may be open to persuasion. Our Prime Minister is seeking ‘concessions’ from the member states which may make continued membership practical. The trouble, if I may be frank, is my instinctive mistrust of our Prime Minister – well, no, it is more than instinctive. So far the promises he has broken outweigh the promises he has kept. He has far too many concessions to deal with: our over-run borders, our plundered fishing industry, and our disadvantaged agricultural interests to name but a few. Even if he told the nation he had resolved these issues I would have trouble believing him. But then, these are not the reasons why I am likely, on balance, to vote ‘no’.

I am British. I am a member of a fiercely independent nation which has few friends on the international stage, apart perhaps from the United States. Certainly we have no friends in Europe and make no mistake, were we ever to hazard the Euro as a currency we would be savaged by the same lupine pack that currently has its teeth buried in the neck of Greece, and will move on to Portugal or to Italy in their turn.

I believe our advantage and our future – our trading, our cultural and our political future – lies not within the turgid mire of European bureaucracy, but with the wide diversity of nations waiting outside our door. Nations ready to trade. My argument is that which applies to the majority of divorces: irreconcilable difference. We have tried to make it work, but we are an insular people whose relationships within Europe have always been adverse, perverse and sometimes downright abusive. English is our language in common with much of the free world, and very little of Europe. We are notoriously bad at learning other tongues, but, I’m sorry, that is something of which I refuse to be ashamed. As a couple we are fundamentally unsuited, and some things are impossible to change.

And we get to keep the kids! So, my child, though for a while you may be persuaded otherwise, rest assured you are not European, you are British. It was a nice idea while it lasted, this Europe thing, and maybe one day it will be so again, but in the meanwhile I hope and trust we will vote intelligently so your island can stay afloat in the storm to come. If we don’t, I’ll keep a place for you: third lifeboat on the left.

8 Comments

  1. It is really, really interesting to read what you have to say about all this. As an American, I am naturally less affected (but nevertheless affected) by what happens in Europe, but I have been very interested in following the news there. What struck me most about your views is that despite the fact that you are geographically much closer to Europe than we are over here across the pond, our cultural attitudes are very similar even almost 250 years after we revolted and left England behind. Despite being a nation of immigrants from all over, American DNA seems to be still largely British—if you look at the same independence and stubbornness and resistance to change that you describe. And I thought only Americans refused to learn foreign languages! Long live the mile, the yard, the inch! (Not really, but at 62 I am getting even more resistant to change!) But really, could you guys please get over to the right when you drive? 🙂

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    1. I agree, the driving thing is serious! You are so right when you pick out the similarity in thinking and attitudes between the citizens of your country and mine. If I want to start a lively conversation at a party I have only to suggest we would be better served by becoming the fifty-first State than by compounding an awkward alliance with Europe. We too, remember, are a nation of immigrants from all over, and this becomes more important with every day that passes.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I never think of England as historically a country of immigrants, unless you consider the Saxons and Normans, etc., immigrants. I know that since WW2 that has changed, but I guess (perhaps mistakenly?) I thought of England as quite homogeneous.

        But hey, I think we’d let you guys in as a 51st state if you’re willing to renounce George III and all his successors. 🙂

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      2. I believe we renounced George III quite a bit while he was still alive, and personally I feel no affinity or loyalty to Frau Lizabet and Zorba the Scot, so I can tick all the boxes there. As a nation, though, I don’t think we can claim to be free of a criminal record, so you probably wouldn’t let us in.

        Immigration is in danger of becoming rampant. (I am not racist, BTW, simply spacist – I want some elbow room). After WW2 we had a major phase of immigration from the West Indies, after Idi Amin we had a Kenyan Asian influx, and currently our population is being expanded by citizens from Pakistan, refugees from Africa, and from the Middle East. Any visit to London these days will demonstrate just how much of a multi-racial society we have become. This is wonderful, in that it expands the horizons of the mind and introduces vibrancy for which, candidly, Britain in the past has not been famous: we should recognize, though, how easy population shift has become with the lack of border control – and how dangerous.

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  2. I was one of the nay sayers back in the day as I was convinced we just didn’t have the temperament to be European. Our little Island had been independent far too long. I became more distressed as time went on and though (to me) things didn’t seem to be working, we seemed to be more embroiled by the day.
    The policy of giving benefits to the unemployed of Europe over here didn’t seem to work in the way that giving benefits to our unemployed over there worked.
    The policy of them setting targets for our immigration didn’t work as we did as we were told yet they didn’t have to. I was rapidly forming the opinion that Germany had found a back door to do what it had failed to do in two world wars.
    There we are not part of the Euro but bailing out those who are by the billion.
    I’m happy to trade with Europe given a fair trade policy but I miss my old friends of the Commonwealth.
    When the referendum comes round I’ll be waiting to see what get out clause the pro-Europe Government have left themselves, and how many promises they’ll make. But for sure I’ll be voting to leave unless by then the TTIP agreement has sold us as the 51st State to American business.
    Hugs Frederick.

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    1. As a youth reeking of idealism I saw a united Europe as an ideal, and working together I still feel it might be possible; unfortunately, though, I reckoned without the relentlessly acquisitive instincts of the Germans, which keeps the component nations at each others’ throats as surely as any war, but so far without the carnage. However, the signs of rift are already there, and just between you and me I have filed my application for the Home Guard…

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  3. As a north country lass who grew up in Durham and is now a US citizen I enjoyed this light hearted discussion which makes a serious topic more palatable. I left the UK right when metrification was being introduced and was glad to re-embrace feet and inches when I got here. One thing which astonishes is that, to my knowledge, stones have never been used in the US; as many Americans are overweight I’d have thought that they would have loved to measure in lesser numbers like stones. I reject even the light-hearted suggestion that the UK might be akin to another state the differences are as great as those between the European continent and the insular UK, although I agree that it could make a great cocktail party icebreaker topic. The UK is geographically and historically part of Europe but this doesn’t mean that the British need to change their driving habits or get into bed with Europe.

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    1. And I, a West Country yokel who now lives in Durham heartily concur. We are.certainly, geographically a part of Europe, though I wish (see my next post) we could throw a hawser over our bows and accept a tow ten miles further North. Ethnically and philosophically Europe and UK are probably further apart than they have ever been, yet we are forging trading links that go against the natural tide purely in an ill-conceived desire for profit. I have entitled this ‘Canute Syndrome’ (patent pending). Just as an example, suppose in the depths of disillusionment and despair UK elects a left-wing government with a mandate to re-nationalize? Imagine the reaction of the French, who own most of our power-generating companies and not a few of our nuclear power stations!

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