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Bravo to the British for giving voice to what a great many disillusioned and disenfranchised European citizens think, and David Cameron (a prime minister I never particularly liked) is to be applauded for doing the noble thing and falling on his sword.
I’m surprised at how many ordinary Irish people have condemned the British for their principled stand. We would rather be gutless, obsequious, and subservient.
Do critics of the British result not remember the role of the EU in heaping crippling, private bank debts upon the general populace of Ireland, as well as of Greece, Spain, Italy, and Portugal? When member states wanted help, all they got was a rebuff. Now, a major player in their club has given the EU a long-overdue rebuff.
The EEC, a previous incarnation of the EU, was useful, and arguably did much good in the period post-WWII. However, in the last couple of decades the union has become host to the free-market orthodoxy that took over the western world after 1980. More recently, a perfect storm of globalisation, EU dominance, and eight cruel years of crippling austerity have cemented that.
The EU institution grew, and morphed into something wholly unrecognisable from its earlier incarnation, which was a vehicle for improved trade opportunities, economic stability, and peace.
The demography of those who voted to leave speaks volumes about the thinking behind the decision; predominantly working class, north of the Home Counties, and from an older generation.
These people can recall pre-Thatcher and pre-EU dominance. Whatever benefits have flowed from the EU would have passed them by. Add to this a feeling, amongst many British citizens, that Germany is the tail wagging the dog in Europe. They see an entity detached from the common man; an autocratic, unaccountable monolith, whose primary remit is furthering the interests of a European elite. Furthermore, the EU itself has done nothing to dispel or temper this perception.
It would be nice to think that this surprise result might prompt reflection and a reassessment of the route ahead, a chance to promote, and display, a more democratic face. The British result represents real democracy, in an era when the concept’s currency has been debased.
However, my cynicism tells me that customary EU intransigence will persist. Witness European Commission president, Jean Claude Juncker’s response to the British decision. He said “there will be no renegotiation of treaties”.
In the coming weeks and months, grey folk in grey suits will carve up secretive arrangements in closed rooms, while they attempt to preserve the status quo, in the shape of the European Union, and nothing meaningful will be learnt from what should be a wake-up call. All their actions, both past and present, indicate this.
Now that the British people have voted, the question is — ‘will the UK be asked to think again, or will the UK ask the EU to think again?
Ireland might not have won football’s European Championship, but when it comes to banking debt, we are Barcelona, Bayern Munich, and Manchester United all rolled into one, with Real Madrid for a bench. Germany might have run Ireland close in the nominal amount of banking debt, but when it comes to a proportion of GDP, it is just pennies behind their sofa. For Ireland, it’s the entire house.
The Irish people have paid 42% percent of the total cost of the European banking crisis. We may be minnows in population and economic size, but we are the whale in the pond of banking debt. The European banking crisis, to date, has cost every person in Ireland €9,000 each. The average throughout the EU is €192 per capita. Thus, we can proudly say ‘We Are The Champions’.
A great many people worldwide are perplexed by the democratic outcome of the Brexit referendum in the UK. There were just two possible outcomes to the vote and the ‘unthinkable’ one occurred. We want to leave, said the British electorate — well, the English and Welsh, anyway.
Is EU the right club to be in, in its current form?
Being the only club in the game does not make it the right club, regardless of populist thinking. Is the EU the best show in town? I think not. This momentous result for European democracy has shown the EU to be the emperor’s new clothes.
It’s time for wholesale reform in the EU — the people of the world’s fifth-largest economy have spoken and said the emperor is naked. They have unveiled the myth of the EU. Brexit will, hopefully, be a monumental catalyst. The EU is flawed and the British people have called it.
Perhaps, in the future, historians will view David Cameron as either (a) the ill-judged British prime minister who began the avalanche that resulted in the dismantling of the ‘United States of Europe’ project or (b) as the inspired, courageous architect of one of the greatest European political reforms in our time. That reform began peacefully, by democratic mandate, on the eve of the 100th anniversary of the battle of the Somme, in which thousands of Europeans died as a consequence of another, failed EU political experiment, imperialism.
Perhaps this is one manifesto pledge that Mr. Cameron will long rue delivering, or else history will see him as a political genius. History alone will write such stories. The EU claims to be a democracy, and yet has shown its displeasure at previous member-state rejections of its political treaties. It is an unchecked political experiment of regulations and directives that trumps legislation. Has democracy triumphed in Brexit? The scare-mongering can stop — the world won’t end, the financial markets will recover from the shock. Bring back the crooked bananas, I say, and let the straightening-out of the European political experiment begin — given that a sovereign people have voted to leave the European party, perhaps it is only now that European and international, political and democratic common sense will prevail.
The Brexit vote for Britain to leave the EU shatters the stability of the continental unity forged after WW2. It also dilutes the 70-year-old ‘special relationship’ Britain has with the United States, and strains the strong ties to its nearest and oldest trading partner, Ireland. (‘Profoundly in Ireland’s interest to stay in EU’ Taoiseach, Irish Examiner, June 24, 2016)
The British people who voted to divorce the EU must have suffered acute amnesia. Nearly one-half million US soldiers, and 10,000 Irish ones, died to save Britain and Europe in WW2. The EU, also known as the Common Market, was born out of that experience, so that there would be no war again among its member states. Winston Churchill’s victory broadcast, on May 13, 1945, underscored the US contribution. “But never since the United States entered the war have I had the slightest doubt, but that we should be saved and that we had only to do our duty in order to win.”
Who will the Brits call when next they are in trouble? During the Emergency, thousands of Irish crossed over to save Britain and Europe. History Ireland magazine reported that, “In April, 1995, the then Taoiseach, John Bruton, spoke movingly of the 150,000 Irish people, from north and south, who volunteered to fight the Nazis. He pointed out that 10,000 had died while serving in the British forces. This had a particular significance, he maintained. ‘In recalling their bravery, we are recalling a shared experience of Irish and British people…We remember a British part of the inheritance of all who live in Ireland’.” (Issue 1, Spring, 1998) This Brexit carcass of empire leaves an unpleasant aroma wafting across the Atlantic, as well as the Irish sea.
The majority of British voted to leave the European Union. Why should the majority be ridiculed by the minority, over this decision, when other questions put to the people have resulted in the minority voices being successfully shouted down?
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