Who’s Leaving Whom?

by Andrew Stuttaford

The Daily Telegraph has an interview here with Owen Patterson, a rising star of the Tory right. This observation, in particular, will be well worth remembering as the wider debate over the future of the EU trundles on:

[Patterson] points to what is going on as a result of the euro crisis: the EU is forging ahead with integration as a way of saving the single currency and the European project. Far from Britain leaving the EU, it will be the EU leaving Britain. “If in order to resolve the Euro crisis there has to be this new arrangement that’s effectively creating a new country … from which we’re excluded, [then] we want to get our country back which means making our laws in our own Parliament.”

There’s been a lot of chatter recently in certain EU countries (Poland, rather prominently) arguing that Britain’s staying in the EU not only in the U.K.’s interest, but also in their own. The latter argument is based on the idea that the U.K. is the best hope that there is of preserving a relatively liberal economic order within the European Union, and, more generally, is a handy counterweight to Franco-German domination. That’s true enough, but the fact remains that these same countries are currently going along with the creation of some sort of superstate in which there can be no room for any nation that still wishes to be a nation in any real sense of the word. If they truly want Britain to hang around, they need to show that they too are serious about preserving their independence. Instead (in the case of the Eastern Europeans, stuffed with subsidies and beguiled by the illusion of Brussels-backed security) they are signing up for ever deeper immersion into a project that is an insult to democracy and an invitation to disaster.

They cannot really object if Britain chooses a different path.

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