Clare Foges, a regular Times columnist claimed that if was true that the Easter Islanders destroyed their own civilisation then it “is perhaps the only act of self-sabotage in history that rivals Brexit”. Let’s hope that her knowledge of Brexit is a little better than her Pacific history (Easter island’s population collapse was due to European diseases and Peruvian slaving).
Her main point is that Remainers should have known that the EU would always prioritise its own cohesion over economic rationality. She quotes Lord Hill as saying “people forget that for the Europeans their project is an emotional project-if we think in the UK that ultimately economic rationalism will win out in terms of the negotiation, that is to misread how the Europeans will approach this negotiation”. Also quoted is the former UK ambassador to Germany, Sir Peter Torry who says that “when push comes to shove, and its EU integrity or selling more cars….Germany will always plumb for the EU”.
She has a point in writing that the intransigence of the EU was greatly underestimated by pro-Brexit spokespersons both during and after the referendum. The warnings of Remainers like Nick Clegg were generally ignored, although to be fair it was difficult to sift the true from the false in the morass of project fear.
The main point for Brexiteers, and one that Clare Foges completely misses, is that the truth that the EU is an emotional project of nation- (or empire-) building makes it ever more important that the UK is shot of it. Many, like Professor Gwythian Prins on this site, predict that the EU’s political aims will end in tears anyway.
If the Germans are devoted to the EU as a salve for their unfortunate history and as a protection against the instincts of some of their own people, then we can sympathise, but we do not need to end our own long history of independent liberal democracy to be part of it. The fact that most other EU members are locked in by their mistaken decision to join the Euro is little short of a tragedy, especially for the youth in the southern members as B4B articles have shown, but again there is little we can do about that except to demonstrate in future how life outside the EU and Euro can be successful and prosperous.
It would, of course, have been nice if Clare Foges had made a balanced argument of this sort, but as we frequently find, Remainer arguments are often emotive. They too often assemble bits and pieces of fact and opinion to support the path which their emotion lead them. It is this that makes the Brexit debate so unsatisfactory and resembling ships passing in the night.