Fascists, Europhobes, deluded imperialists. Anybody would think Eurosceptics were advocating all out war
Never mind the Europhiles. Being aware of the world around you is not delusional; thinking Europe is the only answer is
The fall out from the EU Council Summit on the 9th December has opened up one heck of a row. With a plethora of knowledgeable Europhiles taking to the air in the aftermath of David Cameron's use of the British veto, I have listened to their arguments with interest.
Some firmly believe that the decision has left the UK isolated. Last week, my article compared this so called isolation to that of Switzerland. Almost instantly, I was called a little Englander. How on earth could I possibly suggest that the UK could be better off like the Swiss? Readers can make their own minds up.
One thing that has fascinated me though is how vicious the latest attacks on Eurosceptics have become. One Labour MP referred to Conservatives as 'Europhobes'. Another, as people who wear tweed jackets with military ties.
My favourite though has to be this from Roger Cohen in the New York Times. He said,"The thing about Euro-sceptics behind Cameron's Brussels bungling is they turn past glory into posturing theater. Their nostalgia for British greatness is often no more than the trumpeting of a bunch of insular snobs who seems to have a hard time restraining their inner-fascist."
Strong words indeed. Like many comments made by Europhiles, you know that the stronger the language they use, the more obvious it is that their arguments are being defeated. The Euro is the most obvious example of this. Even Monsieur Delors admits he had his doubts. Ouch.
For many of our europhilic friends, the eurozone crisis has been a time of great unease. Their political dreams and aspirations are failing in the way that many Eurosceptics predicted. I say this without an ounce of gloating because unfortunately, even if Eurosceptics, or realists as they should be known, were right, the current crisis will have no winners.
I take little issue with Mr Cohen of the New York Times criticising people like me as 'snobs and inner-fascists' because it is absurd. The majority of Eurosceptics I know tend to have lived and worked in Europe, speak multiple languages and have many European friends. It is more likely that you'll find a modern Eurosceptic in jeans than tweed or pinstripe.
As with my Swiss article, Eurosceptics are constantly told that we're posturing to a past era of nostalgic delusion. Again, it is important to remind people of what modern Britain is. The UK is the world's 6th largest economy. It had the 4th largest military spending in the world, the second highest power projection capacity with bilateral global partners, a seat at the UN Security Council, and a nuclear capacity.
There is a also membership of the G7, G8, G20, NATO, The OECD, the WTO, the Commonwealth, and the Council of Europe. We have the world's largest financial sector, the world's third largest currency reserve, an airport with the largest international traffic anywhere in the world, as well as being a leading scientific, cultural, and academic powerhouse.
Of course, as many do, this could be simply ignored and talked down. The UK has always been a global nation in the true meaning of the word, and this list serves to remind us that the EU makes up only part of our national strategy.
It is important to be under no illusions. The UK has an unprecedented level of public debt and an economy that needs to become more productive. However, when you consider the problems that the Eurozone is currently facing, anybody that says, "full steam ahead, more Europe is the answer" is clearly hankering after something that can't exist.
The world is changing at an incredible speed too. As The Tiger economies of the East and countries like Brazil and Turkey increase their output, the West must adapt. Being globally minded and open to business is only a start. 25 years ago, the European community made up over 30 percent of global economic output, in 10 years time, it is expected to make up 15 percent. Over the same time period, the United States will have remained at a constant 25 per cent.
Being aware of the world around you is not delusional; thinking Europe is the only answer is.
Anthony Pickles is a Parliamentary researcher and a Conservative activist. He tweets at @antpickles
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