A €urophile makes the case for Brexit

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Sometimes your opponent can make your case better than you can.

Earlier today I attended a lunch debate in Brussels on Britain’s position in the EU, in the context of Cameron’s renegotiation attempt – or to put it more succinctly, on Brexit.  I’m afraid it was Chatham House Rules, so I am unable to tell you either the name or the affiliation of the gentlemen whose story I’m about to recount – but it’s a good story nonetheless.

I suspect that I was the only eurosceptic in the room.  This was Brussels, and almost everyone there would have been making a living out of the EU, one way or another (OK, fair enough, including me).  As I have heard Dan Hannan remark, “It’s exceedingly difficult to get a man to admit that he is wrong, especially when his income depends on his being right”.

The second speaker, a distinguished British businessman, made no secret of his support for British membership, and repeatedly referred to “winning” the referendum (when he meant voting to stay – I’d call that losing).  But he was clearly concerned, and perhaps disheartened, by the way things are going for the “IN” campaign.  He said (quite rightly) that recent developments created “an unfortunate background”.  Then he set out to warn his audience of the arguments that would be deployed by the “OUT” side.

First of all was the question of immigration.  He well understood that free movement within the EU was not at all the same thing as the current wave of migration into the EU, but equally (and rightly) he recognised that the public are concerned about overall immigration numbers, which include both “EU Citizens” and in-comers from outside the EU.  The UK population was increasing by half a million a year – about the population of Luxembourg.  That put great strain on social infrastructure.

Moreover the EU’s inept handling of the immigration crisis tended to confirm the view that the EU institutions and structures simply couldn’t deal with crises.

Secondly, he cited the UK’s peripheral position, inside the EU but outside the eurozone.  He recognised that there was no prospect of the UK ever joining the euro, but suggested that many would feel we’d lack influence as part of the EU’s out-group, as it were, and would be better off as an independent country.  Indeed.  One of the other speakers (whose name you would know instantly if I were free to reveal it) said “Britain is quite isolated (in the EU) and has few friends on the European Council”.  But I thought we were told we had to be in the EU to avoid being isolated?

Third, these days major companies have global supply chains.  A sprocket might come from Turin, but it might equally come from Taiwan.  In a globalised world, what is the special relevance of an area defined merely by geographical proximity?

Fourthly, the EU gets a bad press, especially in the UK, and the institutions are not well loved.  For this reason, it is becoming extremely difficult to motivate Britain’s brightest and best young people to pursue careers in the EU.  This has the further effect of diminishing British influence.

And fifth: in hard cash terms, Britain’s contribution in the last five years has quadrupled from £3 billion to £12 billion – an amount which would offset most of the spending cuts the government is currently making.  This (said the speaker) will feature mightily in the campaign.

I shook hands with the gentleman after the show and congratulated him on making the case for Brexit better than I could have done myself.

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13 Responses to A €urophile makes the case for Brexit

  1. Jane Davies says:

    I can assure you Roger I am doing my best to educate my facebook friends, mostly here in Canada but a few also spread around the world, as to the shortcomings of the EU disaster! They are left in no doubt about the complete horlicks that is going on in Brussels and many were surprised at first that this whole miserable organisation is going down the tubes. Also my fb friends all now know about UKIP being the only party who can restore the Great back into Britain, you are going global!

  2. Well done Jane! Keep up the good work! Do you ever come this side of the water? If so, the tour of the Heart of Darkness — sorry, the European parliament — is yours for the asking!

  3. Brin Jenkins says:

    Brilliant Roger, keeping your cards close to your chest paid dividends.

  4. Brin Jenkins says:

    One of my relatives works for the CURights and believes implicitly. Of course as you said, how can he ever admit to being so wrong if his salary depends on his approval?,

  5. Peter Adams says:

    “I shook hands with the gentleman after the show and congratulated him on making the case for Brexit better than I could have done myself.” Your comments would have dismayed and upset him even more Roger. Well done!

  6. Ex-expat Colin says:

    BBC R4 Today came up with a poll on small business Brexit this am. I had to listen but no longer hear. Need a radio remote control really and a radio that I can selectively filter junk phrases/terms. Digital radios…still not up with modern Britain (whatever that is?).

  7. afwheately says:

    Re Point Three: I have often contrasted the current EU focus, in these days of international jet travel and the World Wide Web, with the making of the British Empire in the days of sail. Out of Europe and into the World, indeed.

    • Jane Davies says:

      What goes around comes around……with the destruction of Zimbabwe will we have to go back there and sort it all out again I wonder?
      (tongue in cheek emoticon needed!)

    • Ex-expat Colin says:

      Truly Jane…and we have seen it with WW1 and WW2, both requiring fixes by the likes of us. Only this time I don’t know what the likes of us means. Seems the looneys arise between wars and here we are with the looneys again, in Brussels…Merkel, Holland,Junker and his mate Delors, and so on. Russia sits patiently while being slagged off constantly. The Elton John piece is, well….LOL. He and Putin (he said) are going to have a chat to fix the worlds problems..thought the EU was doing that?

      So does anybody know what President (in-waiting) Trump thinks of Russia. Need to identity the “likes of us”. I know about NATO (having been in it), but barely recognise its wayward madness now.

      Zimbabwe…he needs to have his assets grabbed and not only the paper/metal/brick ones.

  8. Ex-expat Colin says:

    BTW O/T:
    Parliament will debate this petition (stop immigration).

    https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/106477

    Yeah right…we debated it…and?

    While your’e there look at All Petitions in the footer. Especially the one about letting more in. Just who signed that I wonder..over 400k

    • Jane Davies says:

      The 400 are made up of the people already there! Oh and the Christian do gooders who do not yet realise that the majority….once in will turn around and kill them just like those poor souls who were thrown overboard from a refugee boat by Muslims because they were Christians.
      Sorry if that sounds like hate speech but I’m getting really peed off at being taken to the cleaners by people who do not pay their way and think they are entitled to every thing. I feel compassion for genuine refugees but will they expect the host countries to build more Mosques and demand halal food and Sharia law? This has to end…come to a Christian country then don’t expect all of that!
      I hate any form of religion because it’s all about control. And hypocrisy……

  9. Ex-expat Colin says:

    Having had a lot of us batter him because of our misunderstandings. No surprise really! I’m for out except trade….thats it forever. Oh..no more fees! Thought I saw that Oxford Uni has taken a very big dip into the EU trough?

    The state of the renegotiation with the EU
    By JOHN REDWOOD | Published: SEPTEMBER 18, 2015

    http://johnredwoodsdiary.com/2015/09/18/the-state-of-the-renegotiation-with-the-eu/#comments

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