Debating the State of the Union and Brexit

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©The Kremlin
Jean-Claude Juncker

ON Wednesday September 14 2016, the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, will deliver his State of the Union address at the European Parliament.

President Juncker will take stock of achievements of the past year and present the priorities for the year ahead. The President will also set out how the Commission will address the most pressing challenges the European Union is facing and there will no doubt be reference to Britain’s decision to leave the EU.

There can be very little doubt that the major factor which lead to the positive vote for Britain to leave the European Union was due to widespread fear on uncontrolled immigration tinged with a little xenophobia with regards to external control by ‘Johnny foreigner’.

In hindsight, the European Union has been the architect of its on undoing with its apparent blind need to control without taking due responsibility for the fact that unelected ‘commissars’ are effectively deciding on the future of all of the member states.

What should have been a friendly and co-operative community of like-minded Europeans who had survived two major world wars has turned into a monster which believes in pure federalism and is even now pushing forward the concept of a federal army rather than looking to support NATO.

Eastern European countries fluttered like moths around the EU flame and together with Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain were desperate to grab as much money in the way of handouts as they could from those economies which were better off.

Things have changed now, money is not so easy to obtain and those who have been pouring it in to the European economy have suffered financial cutbacks themselves hence some major soul searching not only in Britain but also in France and Germany as well as some of the more senior community members.

The activities undertaken in the Middle East and the Maghreb states (North Africa) have been catastrophic both from a point of view of human suffering but also from the displacement of so many individuals. Britain must shoulder part of the blame for this as it was involved in the invasion of Iraq and the bombing of Libya as well as Syria.

Only a hypocrite or one who is completely deluded can suggest that Britain’s actions led to a better, freer world and it must have been more acceptable to live in a country which despite being authoritarian allowed the majority to live and work in some form of comfort and safety. Of course there was persecution of minorities but the current scale of death, destruction and homelessness doesn’t compare.

Germany effectively opened the floodgates by inviting refugees and migrants to make their way into Europe and this has led to even die hard supporters of the community such as France considering whether they should follow Britain’s lead.

The concept of Schengen, which Britain never joined, has flown out of the window as more and more of the new members simply close their borders to refugees whilst Italy and Greece have borne the brunt of new arrivals, many of whom are from West and Central Africa and there is the so called ‘Turkish threat’ of the scrapping of visas in return for better policing of migrants.

Spain doesn’t help as although it has a good history of turning back potential entrants via its enclaves in Morocco, it fast tracks Spanish speakers from Latin and South America to obtain Spanish passports and then move across Europe with right of settlement.

The Scots are still banging on about joining the EU in their own right but have just discovered that their current financial deficit in percentage terms is greater than that of Greece and even assuming they achieved independence, they couldn’t afford to join the club anyway!

There are a lot of soundbites coming from the British government but little concrete information! The prime minister says “Brexit is Brexit” and we won’t move too quickly whilst the minister in charge of the Brexit negotiations told parliament that the vote showed that the British wanted to control their own destiny, which was something of a given!

Maybe, we need to ask the Swiss for advice as they have a fairly good economy with 130 separate trade agreements with the EU and they have recently voted to make it more difficult for EU passport holders to work in that country but they decided not to join the EU generations ago and didn’t have to finalise everything within two years.

All in all, it’s a bit of mess and it doesn’t really look as if anyone knows what to do. As one wag put it, “Only Britain could colonise half of the world and then leave the EU because it doesn’t like immigrants!” Or perhaps in the words of the writers of Dad’s Army it’s either “Don’t panic Mr Mainwaring” or “We’re all doomed”.

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