Brexit can end managed decline, forge new global Britain

The British establishment adopted "managed decline" after Suez, viewing the EU as a crutch to sustain us. It was a historic mistake for many reasons. But Brexit means we have a new opportunity. We must seize it

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Ryan Fiske
On 6 August 2016 06:42

For over 50 years, the mindset of the British establishment has been of “Managed Decline”. But the idea Britain is no longer good enough to maintain past glories and achievements, and the best we can hope for is to manage our fall with as much grace and dignity as possible, is quite ridiculous.

This position undermines British achievements, and limits the UK to an increasingly minor role in the world. With Brexit, we now have the opportunity to break this mentality and see the UK stand confident on the world stage once again.

This has been a rot which set in after the Suez Crisis. While the failure of Britain to maintain control of the Suez Canal toppled the Prime Minister of the day, Anthony Eden, it also toppled the establishment’s faith in Britain.

To them it signalled the end of the UK as a world power; a country reduced in size and stature to the extent it was no longer capable of being able to shape events in the world on its own. We now have a chance to reverse this historic mistake through the Brexit vote.

So why is Brexit so important in ending Managed Decline and for the UK to no longer see itself as a failing nation?

Europe -- and what was then the European Economic Community (now the EU) -- was the crutch the politicians reached for. Why they made this choice is fairly obvious. Germany and France were booming economically, whilst Britain was becoming known as “the sick man of Europe”.

In their panic over Britain’s flailing economy, they turned to the European Community, and in doing so abandoned the global trading outlook which had served Britain so well in the past.

Tying the UK into the European Community has not been a success. A predicted export boom to Europe never happened, with Britain importing more and more from the European Community. Our Balance of Payments has never recovered and, to this day, we still import far more from the EU than we export to them. The UK joining the European Community was far more of an economic bonus for the EU than it has been for the UK.

Managed decline through the EU has entailed more than the economy. On the international stage, there has been a lessening of Britain’s role, and on many occasions it’s been a retreat to hide beyond the EU despite its repeated incompetence.

It is true, on some issues Britain has stood strong, but often only after suffering through the failures of the EU. The humanitarian efforts in Kosovo were eventually a success, but only after Britain acted outside the EU framework, acting as a global nation and not merely a European one.

The foreign policy interests of the EU will always be limited. With the possible exception of France, no other country within the EU has the same global outlook the UK has. Yet, because of our EU membership, we have progressively regressed, with our world view becoming smaller and smaller, less global and more focused on Europe.

This is what managed decline looks like: a nation in retreat from its global role and responsibilities.

Our membership of the European project may have started as an unnecessary leaning post for politicians whose faith in Britain had been shaken by the difficult times of the 1950s and 1960s, but over time it began to hinder Britain’s growth. Economically and internationally our abilities and national self-belief have been degraded. It has been a self-fulfilling prophecy.

In believing the UK is failing, decisions and policies have been made which reflect this. We do not need to accept this, and Brexit is what can break this mindset.

Brexit is acting as a sharp shock to the political establishment. No longer able to lean on the crutch of the EU, they cannot continue to follow the path of managed decline through it. The biggest problem was indeed our EU membership. Now we are on the way out, it would be impossible to continue in this vein anyway.

So, what is the alternative? The return of the UK as a global trading nation is a start. No longer hindered by the EU, the UK will forge trade deals with nations around the world. Not even a month and a half after the Brexit vote, countries from every continent have already come forward with requests for trade deals with the UK.

This is just the start. Outside the EU, issues such as aid, security and migration will once again be in the control of the British government. These are issues which are, by necessity, global in nature if we want to be a leading nation in the world.

Brexit forces politicians, no matter how unwilling, to embrace this role again. They simply have no other choice, as they will no longer have the EU to act on their behalf in these matters. The Great British Public are rightly proud of their country and can now demand our politicians act in order to develop Britain as a global nation rather than a country in decline.

With the right policies and by engaging with the world at large again, Britain can reclaim her rightful place in the world. For too long we have allowed politicians to dumb Britain down.

Now, once we finally Get Britain Out of the EU, the excuse that we are not good enough on our own will be exposed as the falsehood it truly is. From now onwards, politicians will have to do their utmost to live up to the potential of the UK and not fall for the easy path of managed decline.

Ryan Fiske is a Research Executive for the cross-party, grassroots, Eurosceptic campaign Get Britain Out

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