Wednesday 7 September 2016

Europe as a super power?

Albert brought us the Christmas tree and supported a young queen in becoming an effective ruler. Victoria’s mother was German. Yet it didn’t stop two major conflicts within Europe with the UK and Germany on opposing sides. The Great War in fact was sparked by a noble couple being assassinated.
Most conflicts within Europe have come about as a sort of family falling out amongst the royals. To the extent that the Battenburgs were so embarrassed that they changed their names to Mountbatten.  
We mustn’t forget good old Henry: he almost created his own EU in order to get his little nut tree to bear fruit.    
Ironically after the Eton mess that was 23 June 2016 we’re getting the most sympathy from the German chancellor.
It does seem that it works better when it’s left to the people. There has been some squabbling, some jokes about crooked bananas, and lies about why we pay money to the EU but on the whole it’s been extraordinarily good for us, not least of all because we’ve had over 70 years of peace within Europe. You make the effort to understand when you value the trade links you’ve set up and when you’ve actually formed meaningful friendships on a personal level. We’ve bailed out Greece a couple of times. And complained, but what about when we need bailing out? We’ve sympathised and been able to help when France has been attacked by terrorists. And if like me you live in Greater Manchester, you may wonder what our tram system would be like without the EU.
A poll was published in the Sunday Times a few days after the referendum. It showed that several other states would vote to leave the EU. Yet their politicians don’t offer that opportunity because they know that it’s in the best interests of their electorate to keep their nation in. Don’t let your people shot themselves in the foot. Don’t let your child wander into the bonfire.
In the week leading up to the referendum, many of our European peers flew the union flag and posted messages saying “please stay”. Europe wants us in. We are valued. We’ve just slapped the other Europeans in the face.  
The Soviet Union has disbanded but Russia remains aggressive. The US will probably always be our ally but occasionally needs reigning in. We’re opening up to China and Japan but need to be seen as strong. We’re Better Together – that phrase is useful here as well. What if we negotiated with Europe – we’ll stay if you agree to trade freely with these countries? Wouldn’t that make us and Europe a lot stronger?         
Occasionally, one forms a union and agrees to abide by certain rules. Then something comes along and bites at the conscience.  I so wanted to allow Tony Blair to have been in that position over Iraq.  Even worse than the war itself was how it divided the United Nations. Simply put, they were no longer united. It wasn’t right. We know that now.
However, I think we have a different scenario here. I absolutely believe in democracy but did not find the referendum democratic. The 48% “losers” have no representation. Brexit was sold on the back of some despicable lies. Most MPs didn’t want it. They have a duty of care to their electorate.
Finally, the world needs the UK in Europe. I don’t believe as some do that the UK is so great that it can thrive alone. However, I do think we have a lot to offer. Yes, the EU needs some reform. So let’s do it. Let’s let Europe become a super power. Ironically, Tony Blair, of all people, is saying pretty much what I’m saying here. Am I about to forgive him?       

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