We are also culturally part of Europe
09 August, 2019
• I AM sure both Clem Alford (The European gravy train) and Paul Bonny (Let’s not have an outdated Euro federalism) – Letters, August 1 – knew what they wanted when they voted leave – but they could not have known what they were going to get.
The leave campaign did not have a manifesto and had no authority to make commitments about what Brexit the government would actually negotiate.
Information put out at the time of the referendum, for example the Treasury’s economic assessment, included options in and out of the single market.
The only pre-referendum poll I can find about voters’ expectations showed two-thirds of prospective leave voters expected to retain full access to the single market.
Presumably they believed Boris Johnson would enable them to have their cake and eat it. No-deal only entered public discourse long after the referendum.
Even now we do not know what Brexit means. Theresa May’s deal? Johnson’s revised deal? No-deal? A customs union? The advocates of Brexit cannot agree among themselves.
Once it is finally settled what Brexit means we should all have a vote on whether that one particular Brexit is better than staying in the EU. No decision is ever final until there is a plan that defines what it means.
The EU was never just a trading agreement. The purpose was to preserve peace in Europe. Every aspect of the EU is a means to that end. And it’s worked, with an unprecedented period of peace among member states.
There would be advantages in an EU army. It would be more effective than the patchwork of national forces. But that is not where public opinion is.
The EU is a creature of treaty. It may only do what member states have given it the power to do. So there is no EU army and there will not be one unless all member states agree by treaty to set one up.
There is inter-governmental co-operation on defence; good, that should reduce cost and increase effectiveness. NATO is a strictly military alliance. For defence to work countries have to co-operate outside NATO structures too.
There has never been an EU-related referendum when people have been “made to vote again because they ‘voted the wrong’ way”.
Nor is the EU trying to stop the UK leaving the EU. It has no power to stop the UK leaving. Under Article 50 of the treaty, exit follows with the conclusion of a deal or on expiry of the time limit. The only entity that may stop Brexit is the UK.
We are not just economically but also culturally part of Europe. British people who turn their back on Europe repudiate part of our own heritage.
The EU has only the powers given to it by sovereign states acting in a voluntary association. So it is not a federation.