This was originally posted on Facebook two days before the referendum on whether or not to remain in or leave the EU was held in June 2016. Rather remarkably, the comments I made are still valid now just over two years later, in July 2018.
The European Union (EU) is not the same organisation that Britain joined all those years ago - and no, I didn’t vote last time either; I was too young. So my life has been influenced by an organisation that came into being, physically, materially, economically, politically, culturally and in every conceivable way, to prevent Germany, France, Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands and Luxembourg (its six original founding countries) from being torn apart by war, the six countries that have been most affected by continent-wide armed conflict. Twice.
Do not confuse this with the existence of NATO. The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s primary purpose was to prevent the Continent of Europe, including countries not in the EU (like Turkey, which is a member of NATO, along with the USA) from being attacked by what used to be the USSR. The purpose of NATO today remains the same; to protect and defend its member countries from any kind of attack, including, still, those not in the EU. NATO’s mantra has always been if you attack one, you attack all.
Which is not quite the same as the founding tenet of the EU.
The growth of the EU has come about for the same reasons as its six founders came together; to bind its members so tightly that none of them can ever be at war with each other again - and it is why Free Movement of Labour is so important to it (the key words are ‘at war with each other’).
The purpose of the UK referendum was actually very simple – UK citizens were asked: do you want your country to be a member of a Political Union or a member of a group of countries that trade freely with each other, including the freedom to move between those countries, erecting no barriers between them?
The actual question was even more simply phrased: stay in or leave?
If one’s choice was the first, the time to debate how that union actually works was always to be determined later (although by whom remains another matter). If one’s choice was the second, it’s a little more interesting.
Not one single argument put forward by the remain campaign – at the time of the vote or since - needs the UK to be a member of the EU. Take security; as an independent nation state, the UK will still be an ally of the EU. The UK will still share information regarding any threat made either to it or to any ally. To the best of my knowledge, nobody has suggested that the UK will erect any barriers to a French company owing a UK business, or that any barrier will arise to restrict a German company from selling its product to and within the UK. Nobody has suggested that a Spanish company will have to sell any business it may own or operate in the UK. EU citizens will still be able to come and do business or take a holiday here in the UK
There will still be two Japanese car manufacturers based in the UK, one in Sunderland and one just south of Derby. Rolls-Royce will still sell its aircraft engines to both EU based customers and to others around the world, as it does now. British Airways will still be a member of the International Airlines Group (IAG) the other members of which are Iberia and Vueling of Spain and the Republic of Ireland’s Aer Lingus, both countries still being in the EU.
A majority of people in the UK simply want to be able to control the numbers of people who wish to come and live and work here - and that is because the UK is already an overcrowded and over-populated country. Its also worth pointing out that the UK is not a member of the Schengen Agreement, which allows passport-free and unfettered movement between countries that are a party to it. EU nationals still need a passport to come here and UK nationals still need a passport to go to the EU. That won’t change, but as EU members however, what we can’t currently do is actually stop EU nationals from entering the UK.
We also want to be able to make and enforce our own laws and not have them decided for us by any body other than our elected Parliament.
On that particular issue, don’t be confused either by talk of ‘The European Court’ and the Human Rights Act (the HRA). The HRA is not a creation of the EU and is not enforced by the EU. It is based, almost word for word, on the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which the UK is also a signatory, and the UK was one of the HRA’s prime movers and designers.
Human Rights are not an EU issue.
In short, the UK will remain a close friend, ally and trading partner with the EU and all its member countries.
So why would the EU do anything differently? Why would the EU erect any such barriers?
That is a question you can answer for yourself.
By the way – just so you are aware of it, by birth, bloodline and marriage, I am directly related to people from England, the Republic of Ireland, Australia, China and Turkey. Only two of those countries are EU members and not being in the EU has never prevented or restricted any of my relatives from the other countries from coming to the UK and living, working and paying UK taxes here.
(More on the EU and Human Rights, along with other subjects, can be found in my book, ‘Comments of a Common Man’, available from Amazon £12.49)
© Kevan James 2016/2018