Uncle Sam needs to read his history

The US government is worried about the UK leaving the EU. The problem is that we are not European and the EU is not the US

The EU may want the UK, but does the UK want it?
Simon Miller
On 21 December 2012 14:17

In its munificence and wisdom, the US State Department has let it be know that it doesn’t want the UK to leave the European Union. Indeed, it points out that as its strongest partner in Europe, Britain’s departure would also reduce American influence on the continent.

There has always been this view that Britain is used as a bulwark against French desires for a controlled, protectionist economy in Europe - where we act in the role of the complainer, protecting the smaller nations that cannot do so because of their size compared with us, and reflecting the German need to stay above the continued defence of free trade because of historical and political issues.

But this would only work if Europe was a federated nation.

And this is where, I think, the US gets a bit confused. The EU started off with the idea of tying up France and Germany in trade so that they could never realistically go to war again. This morphed into the EEC and eventually the EU. It was never about federation. It was never about free trade areas.

The idea that individually free countries would come together in a federation of free trade and custom whilst maintaining sovereign specific laws was never the plan.

As soon as Beethoven started being played at sporting events, as soon as the flag appeared, the goal was apparent: it was about creating a nation. As a result, Britain was caught up in rules and regulations that were contrary to its own historical traditions and culture.

Through the Commission, trading standards were forced through which damaged British business. It didn’t matter if the goods were never bound for Europe, the standards had to be followed.

Of course, if you are exporting to a territory then you must conform to its standards but if you are selling to your own public then surely the standards that you use in your own country, relevant to your own trading standards, should apply?

And there’s further regulation. The mission creep of Europe continues and most particularly in finance: one of Britain’s strengths in the global world, and Europe wants it. I am not convinced that the new checks on the banking union will be sufficient to prevent a land grab by Frankfurt and Paris for the highly lucrative and profitable markets that run from the City. After all, remember the government is currently in court against the EU for the derivatives regulation that is contrary to the basic principles of the single market.

If you are a woman, from today you will now pay more for your car insurance under EU equality law, ignoring the fact that insurance works on probability and statistically women are less likely to crash.

In essence, this is a problem centred on the fundamental fact that we are not European.

Through default, we have developed a system of rule of law, of protection of property rights, and we see this clash between the Anglo-Saxon and Napoleonic traditions being encapsulated by the Human Rights Act.

Now, the Declaration of Human Rights was a fine construct. Mainly written by British lawyers and enthusiastically endorsed by Winston Churchill, it was a declaration based on the horrors seen in the Second World War. And that is the key to this. Take it into context. This declaration was a reminder to humanity of what we are capable off. It was never meant to be incorporated into the UK system of the rule of law.

The problem with introducing human rights into the Anglo-Saxon system is that, perversely, it restricts your freedoms. If a “higher authority” gives you the rights to some things, it, by default, restricts your freedoms to others.

For example, if a cleric can argue it is his right to live here, then you will find it hard to deport someone who preaches hate and is opposed to the very society that the cleric lives in.

Conversely, the rule of law allows you to be free to do what you wish unless your peers say it is against the wish of society. Bottom up, not top down.

And under rule of law, your peers, in the form of a jury, can test those laws that politicians have endorsed. It is ever evolving, always mutable, ever changing to societal attitudes.

Human rights impose on a people. Imposition creates restriction and allows for the very dictatorial relationships from the power makers to the people that the fine ideals of the declaration was meant to prevent.

Of course, no laws are perfect but our system has worked pretty well over the centuries and most often without the clashes we now see today.

The New Year is going to be vital for David Cameron as he reaches his climax in tantric politics with a keynote speech on Europe. Is it actually possible for us to regain our vital freedoms, bought about by centuries of trial and error? Or will it really be a case that the only issue is to stay or leave?

Meanwhile, I suggest the US State Department examines its own history. It wasn’t the tax per se that was the issue for the founding fathers, it was tax without representation. The tax was relatively tiny but, as we are finding with Europe, the representation is missing and we are slowly being absorbed into this corporatist, bureaucratic set up. This is why UKIP is seeing its ratings rise. The people are wondering whether they get a say in anything.

Further more, I suggest the State Department reads the Declaration of Independence before it decides on a suitability of a sovereign nation making its own mind up about its own future:

“When in the Course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume, among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the Separation.”

Sounds familiar.

Simon Miller is a Contributing Editor to The Commentator

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