My English friends, as it’s only you who are tempted by a ‘Brexit, don’t be won over by the arguments of the Remain campaigners, and vote Leave on 23 June!
I’ll be honest, it’s not really in your interest to leave the EU. It’s obvious that Brexit campaigners are lying to you in making you believe that, alone, you’ll get by better in a world that’s already dominated by the US, Asia, and soon, Africa, while the Europe that you vilify so much is largely in your hands ideologically, to the point where it governs 28 nations in your own language.
But I digress. Here, I’m defending the point of view of the EU, and it’s in its interest that you leave. If you stay, you will ruin our lives like never before: David Cameron will be the only European leader capable of winning a referendum on Europe and will therefore gain a central role in the EU game. He and his successors will then negotiate concession upon concession in order to completely bury the federal dream of the fathers of Europe and achieve the transformation of the Old Continent into a free-market zone with less and less backbone. Any hope of a European resurgence will be also be buried, definitively. The EU is already dying, despite the wish of European governments to go further. The national scene is now dominated everywhere by sovereigntists who have hijacked the debate and sometimes power itself, such as in Eastern Europe. European values have been blown to smithereens, as evident in the surrender of the right to asylum. And ruling parties think that an election can only result in victory for a eurosceptic wing (much as the Austrian presidential election proved the opposite…).
The sting of fear of an immediate politically and economically costly collapse of the EU will disappear following a Remain vote. But why take the electoral risk of conceding fresh divisions of sovereignty, as happened during the Euro crisis? Sure, the pooling of sovereignty won’t have any effect for years. Sure, we’ll just plod on with the EU acquis, in the face of daily increasing threats. Sure, my English friends, you staying in the EU will avoid an immediate crisis. But longer term it’ll drag the European project down towards its final disintegration. Europe, which aspired to wield heft in a world where the Occident will be of diminishing importance, will become nothing more than a Failed Project that raises a wry smile among leaders in China, India, or even America. Only your much heralded departure will allow Europe to bounce back.
A sacrifice for the European common good
I’m not a fan of the idea of a ‘beneficial crisis’, but Europe is already in a catatonic state, and only a shock on a grand scale can shake it out of it, and force the more visionary of our leaders (if indeed there are any left) to act to avoid a terminal dissolution.
Your sacrifice for the European common good would be of that scale, a sacrifice which – I acknowledge- could result in the disappearance of the United Kingdom of Great Britain itself, with the possibility of Scotland and even Northern Ireland seeking independence. But what it boils down to, is this would be the fourth time you would be rescuing your divided tribal European neighbours, after the war against the French Empire and then the two German Reichs, each time paying heavy sacrifices.
So, English friends, have courage! Let yourself be won over by such brilliant leaders as Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson, who in their hearts simply want what’s best for Europe. We promise we’ll let you back in in twenty years. On our conditions, of course, in sackcloth and rope : a small price to pay to save the European dream.
Written by Jean Quatremer. Reprinted from Liberation.fr.