Image: Flag of the European Coal and Steel Community
Foreword: In light of the hysteria that has taken hold of Brexit since June of last year, and the forthcoming triggering of Article 51, over the next couple of weeks we will share a 5-part series about one individual’s reasons for voting to leave the EU.
By Pat Geary
These essays were written between the dates of June 19th and the date of the vote, June 23rd, 2016.
“Post-national, welfare-state, cooperative, pacific Europe was not born of the optimistic, ambitious, forward-looking project imagined in fond retrospect by today’s Euro-idealists. It was the insecure child of anxiety.”
Out of the rubble of World War II in Europe came an idea and a collective desire by the major powers of the region to work together, to ensure that they would never be in armed conflict with one another again.
This started with the European Coal and Steel Community, formed in 1952 and followed up by the Treaty of Rome in 1957, which formed the European Economic Community. This involved Italy, West Germany, France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. By the 1970s the UK, Ireland and Denmark had joined. Then in the 1980s things began to get carried away. The Schengen agreement for free movement of people and the inclusion of Portugal, Greece and Spain opened the door to an octopus with tentacles that were beginning to grasp far beyond its natural abilities.
I am a student of history. Although I never was around during the post-war era in Europe, it is very obvious to me that two world wars had decimated the soul of the European. There was no more fire in which to rise from. There was fear at the time that Germany would rise again and begin to overpower its neighbours as it had done repeatedly since its unification. I do not believe this to have been possible, no matter the fears.
I believe the original intentions for the unification and cooperation of the major powers in Europe was good for the rebuilding and growth of its economies. I believe once they began to establish a parliament and a political body, it was doomed to fail. More importantly, I do not believe the EU was necessary to prevent further conflict in Europe.
One of the most common arguments in support of the EU is that there has been no conflict among the major powers in Europe since 1945 and we have the EU to thank for that. I do not think the creation of a European parliament is the beam holding the peace together. The Second World War was so destructive to the European people, that there was no conceivable way for any of the participating nations to support a military buildup in the same fashion as before. There was a desire to want a “normal” world, free of political fanaticism. The people never would have allowed militarism in the 1950s, the economy could not support it and the politicians were as weary as its people.
Secondly, by the previous logic, if the EU is responsible for peace in Europe, then by that extension, anyone not in the EU must be a total war zone or a threat to peace and requires the EU to save them, right? Is that why the EU continues to expand in the 21st Century? Why include Poland and Lithuania? Why look to Albania, Serbia and Macedonia? What wars are we stopping by including these nations into the EU? These nations are no Germany, with a history of threatening its neighbors. They have been victims. It can be argued that the inclusion of these nations into the EU actually threatens peace in Europe by, firstly, threatening the security of these Eastern European nations. The increasingly brazen EU expansion onto Eastern borders and Slav territory is a direct threat to Russia. The EU is determined to bring in the Ukraine into its sphere, void of any empathy for the Ukrainian people or Russia’s views.
This is what happens when an idea becomes political, things always seem to get out of control. When something political becomes so big, its lust for power will serve no end, without any regard to the threat this may pose. The leaders in Europe in 1952 may very well have envisioned a United States of Europe, but if you had told them that one day those states would include Poland and the Ukraine, I think they may have cowered in fear. The United States of Europe idea made sense if it was contained, but this idea is no longer contained. The EU is ever-expanding without any consideration for the threat its expansion poses to European security. It is a nice idea to think that by staying in the EU, Britain can help change the EU for the better. While you may have a point about that with other issues or topics related to Britain’s relationship with the EU, it is too late for that in this context I am writing about. You can’t undo this expansion; individual nations must choose to leave until it is no more, or reduced to a less significant size. Then you can proactively rebuild, instead of having to reactively rebuild, such as in 1945.
Thus, my biggest reason for voting for Brexit is due to a rejection of the threat the EU poses. My main reason isn’t related to micro-issues such as immigration or financial, this is macro, and it is about the ultimate big picture. The pan-European idea was built from the bombed out cities of Europe to, firstly, secure a way to help ensure peace in the region. The expansion of a powerful European state on Russia’s doorstep (that is ideologically opposed to Russia) is something that, as history has shown, can lead to massive conflict. This is no longer a project that looks peaceful.