As Britons vote tomorrow to Brexit from or Bremain in the European Union, three prominent Conservative members of the House of Lords strongly argue that Great Britain should exit the Brussels-based continental superstate. As it happens, many Americans know these lords, or at least their work.
“Brexit is about freedom,” says Lord Dobbs of Wylye. “That’s an American cry.”
Lord Michael Dobbs served as Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s chief of staff. A fortnight after he concluded his service with the Iron Lady, he began to write a trio of exceptional political thrillers about a ruthlessly and toxically ambitious member of Parliament. The first of these is one of the very best such works that I ever have read. It’s called House of Cards. That novel grew into a BBC series and then, of course, became Netflix’s flagship program, starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright as Bill and Hillary — uh, rather, Frank and Claire Underwood.
“The U.S. was built of the people, by the people, for the people, but tragically the EU is now something that’s done to the people,” says Dobbs, currently executive producer of the Emmy-winning Netflix series. “That’s why it’s not working and has become so unpopular across Europe. Its currency is incoherent. It has no effective borders, along with a desperately weak foreign policy and an economy in long-term decline.”
For the Fifth Viscount Ridley, the opportunity to flee the EU’s clutches recalls the collapse of the Berlin Wall.
“Britain’s bid to liberate itself from a centralized, top-heavy, command-and-control regime with a bureaucratic surplus and a democratic deficit, is a vital moment in world history. It’s a version of 1989,” says Viscount Matt Ridley, a trained zoologist and author of The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves, Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters and other recent books championed by libertarians and other free thinkers. His majestic home address — Blagdon Hall, Seaton Burn, Newcastle — screams, “Masterpiece Theater.”
“We signed a great charter, fought a civil war and hosted a ‘glorious revolution’ to establish the principle that laws cannot be passed nor taxes raised except with the consent of the people in Parliament,” says Ridley. “Yet today the wholly unelected European Commission originates 59 percent of our laws. That’s what we are seeking to change.”
For Lord Borwick of Hawkshead, breaking with the EU would let Britain escape absurdity.
“The Euro is central to the future of Europe, as laid out in the Five Presidents Report, the European Commission’s blueprint for the development of the EU,” says Lord Borwick. “A challenge to the reader is to name any successful organization in the world with five presidents simultaneously, let alone one which is actually proud of having five.”
EDITORIAL: Why Britons Should Vote to Leave the EU
Before he became an elected hereditary member of the House of Lords (really), Jamie Borwick enjoyed a successful business career, most notably as chief executive of Manganese Bronze Holdings. Though it sounds like a mining company, Manganese Bronze manufactures London’s stately black taxicabs. Borwick also was Tory-party treasurer.
These parliamentarians regard Brussels as a bottomless font of rules and regulations that are doubly noisome: They are imposed from overseas and usually are ridiculous, to boot.
Brussels’s War on Vaping has inflamed Ridley.
“The rapid growth of the electronic-cigarette market in Britain — where 2.8 million ex-smokers now vape instead — has been accompanied by an explosion of new small companies and new technologies to find the best vaping devices,” says Ridley. “It is saving lives on a massive scale. So what does the EU do? At the behest of the big pharmaceutical companies (which like making prescription products for tobacco replacement, like gums and patches), it passes a new directive trying to strangle this industry at birth.” Ridley adds, “The result is that the decline of smoking may stop or reverse, and thousands of lives will be lost. . . . These Brussels regulators just cannot help themselves; they have a mindset that everything which is not compulsory must be forbidden.”
#share#A different kind of steam has Borwick hot under his ermine collar.
“The EU’s plan to stop us from using high-powered kettles would significantly increase the time it would take to make a cup of tea,” says Borwick. “To an Englishman, that is sacrilege. A slower cup of tea may be preferable to tea ending up in Boston Harbor, perhaps, but this is a clear example of unnecessary meddling, seeking to curb our energy use.”
These three lords believe that Brexit would bring America and Great Britain closer together, in terms of economics and security.
The Anglo-American Special Relationship, will become “much more special, as we are going to need the help of our best friend when going through a messy divorce,” Borwick predicts. “Maybe you will advise that we never should have entered that dubious relationship with 27 others in the first place, and you will be right.”
“Leaving the EU would mean Britain no longer discriminates in trade, science, migration, and security against its oldest ally,” says Ridley. “We would find ourselves on the same side of most of the great issues in the world. We would be, once again, your staunchest ally. Never underestimate how much the Eurocrats of Brussels see America as their enemy.”
Brexit would help America win the War on Terror, these lords contend.
Brexit would help America win the War on Terror, these lords contend.
“Values! Ideals! Freedoms! Those are the weapons that will destroy militant Islamism, just as Western values of liberty, justice, and democracy helped bring Communism to its knees,” says Dobbs. “But we need strong defenses and strong borders, too. The EU doesn’t have them. It’s time to press the reset button. Brexit will make everyone think again, force us to ask if there is a better way. And the answer is, ‘Yes, there is.’”
“In the words of a former head of Interpol, the free movement of people in Europe is like hanging a huge welcome sign to terrorists,” says Ridley. “As we saw in Paris (twice) and Brussels, radical Islamic terrorism has taken root in Europe and is a threat to us all. Britain leaving would help to force the rest of Europe to take this issue more seriously.”
“Radical Islamic terrorism will only be defeated by trade and education, and the most powerful force for good ever devised, ‘Sex, and drugs, and Rock ’n’ Roll,’” says Borwick. “Wealth and education will expose the evil idiocy of medieval mullahs. So, rather than prop up the fatally flawed euro with all our political will, we should concentrate on making friends with people who need our help in the Middle East.”
RELATED: Brexit and British Exceptionalism
The pro-Brexit campaign was on a roll until June 16. That’s when an assassin named Tommy Mair fatally stabbed and shot Jo Cox, a Labour member of Parliament and vocal advocate of Bremaining in the EU. The killer reportedly screamed, “Britain first!” as he slayed the 41-year-old lawmaker. Campaigning on both sides ceased, but not before Mair’s carnage and nationalist slogan unfairly rubbed off on Team Brexit.
“The death of anybody at the hands of a nutjob – whether the victim be a policeman, a prison warden, an MP, or a person in a bar in Orlando — is a dreadful tragedy,” says Borwick. “The stress for Jo Cox’s family is not made any easier by her excellent history of dedication to good causes, but I’m sure her children will still grow up to be proud of her achievements.”
#related#Since this horrific tragedy poll numbers showed Brexit losing ground, although things now appear to have firmed back up to a virtual tie. However, these figures could be distorted by response bias: Voters may be giving pollsters the pro-Europe answers that they think are “fashionable.” But they may do the less “fashionable” thing once protected by their secret ballots. This could yield a Brexit victory.
For Lord Dobbs, the whole point of Thursday’s vote is reflected in the vote itself.
“Herr Schauble, the German finance minister, recently said that ‘Elections change nothing.’ And sadly, terrifyingly, he is increasingly correct,” says Lord Dobbs. “The Europe Union is run by officials and commissioners. No one elects them, and it’s almost impossible to fire them. I want people to get back that fundamental democratic right to sack their government — that blessed liberty to send in the removal trucks. As one elderly lady told me, looking me straight in the eye, ‘Better our idiots than their autocrats.’”