BREXIT: Are We Really Here? (1 of 3)
On 21 February 1916, just over 100 years ago, the Germans attacked the French at Verdun. It became perhaps the bloodiest action of the Great War. By the end of March the French had suffered 89,000 casualties and the Germans just over 80,000. The battle raged on and off until December that year. This was perhaps a local French and German affair, but on 1st July the battle of the Somme began, and on that day alone, it is estimated that the British lost 20,000 men. This was a gallant, but disastrously conceived offensive to take pressure off Britain's allies at Verdun. 21 years later, Neville Chamberlain arrived back in Britain waving a piece of paper, famously extolling a deal with Adolf Hitler and 'peace in our time'. Unavoidable as it was, Europe was at war again for a further 6 years.
In 1963, merely 18 years after the end of that war, waged in other arenas as well, Charles de Gaulle, wounded at Verdun, signed a treaty with the then German Chancellor Adenauer binding two countries in an enduring nexus of co-operation. It was labelled as good, the future and above all a road to everlasting peace. It was the start of economic European integration.
In 1973 Britain entered this Common Market, latterly to become the European Union, by way of a referendum. Various negotiations since, mainly Maastricht in 1984 and now in 2016 have not altered the popular conception that this is not a trade agreement as originally designed but something more and perhaps even sinister.
Those with the pro EU argument cite the atrocities of war as a compelling argument to remain as a member. That since 1945 Western Europe has not been ravaged by such an event, albeit the Eastern European such countries, if they are to be included, have been from time to time.
If the Euro (often labelled the Deutschmark in disguise) is to continue, it is not beyond the realms of possibility to consider: - Social atrocities occurring in the poorer countries - Lack of economic growth in the weaker nations - A lack of government autonomy (ie control) within those individual states...
....could generate uprisings that will need to be suppressed by the stronger nations.
So, is the mere fact of tying nations together by currency and some legislative Union, without constitutional and sovereign convergence going to provide the scenic backdrop to a causality for new war? Will David Cameron return with a piece of paper advising, 'successful negotiation in our time' and proposing a 'stay in' vote, 'we can trust our European partners', as we did in 1914 and 1939 and ever since? With every argument and explanation put forward by any politician, we just do not know what a good deal is, were we to ever see one.
In my view, they don't either! A lack of transparency pervades secrecy, a lack of substance and detail and above all, complete ignorance for us all, which helps those politicians currently in power. As it seems a damn good thing at the time. Only reflection and hindsight alter the perspective.
If we were to exit, Brexit, then a statesman of Chuchillian magnitude is required to see it through. Please step forward. The job spec will be posted on the net some time soon.War is futile, there is no appetite, so the excuse that Europe will be plunged back to a war is weak, as no-one surely wants nor can find the popular vote for that class action.
Next week I shall discuss another side of BREXIT, highlighting the economic argument. In the meantime, have a great week ahead. Please share any comments you have on this post below.