The curious thing about “Brexit” (the Referendum on whether Britain should stay in or leave the so-called European Union) is that it is a debate between Institutions that I dont like and Individuals who I dont like.
On one side there are the “banks” and “big business”. On the other side…Boris Johnson MP (Tory Mayor of London), Nigel Farage MEP (UKIP) ,Kate Hoey MP (Labour) and Sammy Wilson MP (DUP) My vote will put a smile on some very unworthy faces.
The thing about “Europe” is that it might be very pragmatic but it is impossible for me to “love” being European in the same way that I love Ireland. When I am sitting up all night to watch the Olympics, I wont feel any empathy with French cyclists, Romanian gymnasts, Polish pole vaulters and British anything. I wont be getting emotional over any Flag or Anthem but my own.
“Europe” is a failure. Whether or not it is better to be “in” or “out” is a different question. I voted “NO” in the 1970s to something called the Common Market and I have opposed every single measure that advanced political integration. It did no good of course. We are where we are…possibly too integrated to disentangle the project without causing too much pain.
If anyone is to persuade me to vote “YES”, the only argument to which I will listen is the one that tells me that I cant turn back the clock. Dont try and tell me it is all a great idea. Like the “good ole rebel” in the Confederate song, I fought it all I could. .”I aint a gonna love it…now that it is certain sure”.
The European “project” reached its nadir when it expanded from fifteen to twenty-five nations. With recognition that Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia and more so Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia had moved from the Czarist/Soviet/Russian sphere into the Western sphere, the power balance in the world has changed. Putin’s aggression in Ukraine is a direct consequence.
The collapse of so many economies (notably Greece) after 2008 and the migrant crisis has worsened things.
It is impossible to look at the TV news and see dead children washed up on beaches, the conditions in camps on the Greece-Macedonia border or shanty towns being demolished on the French coast…and feel good about being “European”.
I am not a big fan of the young single men …economic migrants. But it is clear that entire families are on the move….a mass migration, unprecedented in modern times.
And Europe is panicked. Germany and Sweden might well have had the right humanitarian instincts but they have finally been overwhelmed by the numbers and undermined by the rise of Racism.
Understandably people fleeing human rights abuses are attracted to countries with a good human rights records. And that makes pre-2005 EU a better prospect than the expanded EU after 2005.
We have the bizarre spectacle of David Cameron, whose Tory Party used migration trying to take the toxic issue out of the Brexit Referendum. We have the bizarre spectacle of Vernon Coaker, the British Labour spokesman coming to Belfast to campaign for a YES vote. That would be the same Vernon Coaker who voted to bomb Syria….and that conflict is the reason for children are drowning in the sea between Turkey and Greece.
Ah Turkey….now thats not exactly a human rights success story. Last week, the Turkish government took over the country’s leading newspaper. And tonight in Brussels, “Europe” is bribing Turkey with billions to accept refugees sent back.
Of course that is only the beginning. Turkey wants to be a member of the European Union. Leaving aside the absurdity of a mostly Asian country joining “Europe”, is there anyone who seriously think that Turkey will be converted to Decency? And of course, freedom of movement means Turkish people will migrate to …..Germany, Sweden, Britain.
Has it got so bad that Europe courts Turkey?
And is Turkey claiming to be European any more absurd than Israel claiming to be European?
There are at least two strands within Europe…and the NATO members cannot dictate the pace for the neutrals like Sweden, Finland, Austria and…Ireland. It is a simple fact that our instincts and history are better than mainstream European values. It should not be a matter of Ireland rushing to accept the European mainstream.
Of course there are practicalities. If leaving Europe is bad for Britain….then I am certainly tempted to vote to leave. Britain’s difficulty is Ireland’s oppprtunity. Nor does the thought of the break up of the “United Kingdom” fill me with a morbid fear…an English “NO” and a Scottish “YES” amuses me.
But ultimately, I see it thru an Irish prism. Has European integration helped or hindered the integration of the North of Ireland with the South of Ireland? Will Britain leaving Europe divide Ireland further?
If you seek to persuade me, dont tell me what is good for Europe…..cos I dont give a damn.