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Have they even been selling EUrope in Europe?

Following Brexit, an interesting area of agreement has emerged between members of the two contending teams, by which I really mean between Brexiteer me and Daniel Korski, who recently penned a Politico piece entitled Why we lost the Brexit vote. We. His team lost. His discussion of why his team lost strikes me as well worth reading.

Korski was for the EU, and for Britain being in the EU. He describes it as:

— an extraordinary project of continental peacemaking and economic liberalization —

However, those dashes at the beginning and the end of that quote are because that is a parenthetically pre-emptive addition to a long passage in which Korski tells us many of things that have been wrong with the EU, especially recently. The EU …:

… has become increasingly distant from voters. It has struggled with the contradictions laid bare by the euro crisis and come up against the limits of its attraction, in Turkey and on its border with Russia. The resulting impression is of a Continent lurching from crisis to crisis. …

There is much more in a similar vein. Read it all, if you are the sort that relishes unflattering descriptions of the EU. The …:

… the impression of the EU across the Continent was of an enterprise no longer delivering for Europeans. …

The word “impression” occurs twice during this peroration, and again in one of the subheadings that Korski, or someone, has added. But it all reads like a lot worse than just an impression.

Korski also bitterly describes the truly terrible press that the EU kept on getting in Britain, and indeed it did. But he echoes many of these denunciations himself. His EUro-enthusiasm comes over as very lukewarm, which is the accusation that Korski himself makes against his old boss, David Cameron. Cameron, says Korski, failed to put, during the referendum campaign, any positive case for the EU to the British people.

Korski rightly traces Cameron’s lacklustre performance in the referendum campaign back to the decades of deceptions that the British people had been subjected to by Britain’s EUrophiles, who instead of urging us to love the EU, the way we had formerly loved Britain and its various global appendages and offshoots and adventures, instead denied that the EU was what it clearly was, or that the EU was ever intended to be what it was clearly intended to be from its inception: namely the United States of Europe. The EU was founded to abolish the separate nations of the old Europe, and replace them with one big USE. Everyone knew this. Yet Britain’s EUrophiles spent half a century denying it, and consequently failing even to try to explain why the actual EU as it really was might be a good idea, worth actually getting excited and enthusiastic about. The EU, for Britain, never got past being a “deal”, but because it never was a mere deal, this deal was always a lie.

It is therefore not surprising that, come the Brexit referendum, the EUrophiles were unable to allude to any positive British feelings of EUro-patriotism or EUro-enthusiasm, for such feelings simply did not exist in Britain on the required scale. To most of us, such sentiments were most offputting. Instead the EUrophiles could only focus on negatives. If you vote against the EU, then (a) you will be pushing the British economy off a cliff, and (b) you’re all a bunch of racists.

The more I ponder the referendum result, the less surprised I become about the size of the Brexit vote, and the more baffled I am that so many voted against Brexit. What the hell were they thinking? I hope, although I promise nothing, to do other posts here in the future that supply some actual answers to what is here merely a rhetorical question. See postings like this one for some clues about what my explanation will be.

In amongst Korski’s focus on the Brexit referendum and on why his team lost it, there is to be seen a larger, EUrope-wide question, concerning the very survival as a serious project of the EU itself. Korski does not merely denounce the leaders of EUrope for pissing off us Brits, with their arrogant meddling in minutiae and their blatant political manipulations. He accuses them of having pissed off the whole of EUrope.

Tomorrow evening, my last Friday of the month speaker at my home will be Antoine Clarke. In addition to being an occasional contributor here, Antoine is bilingual in English and French, this latter fact making him an excellent person to tell me and my guests about “The Consequences of Brexit for the rest of the European Union”.

The question that I will be putting most keenly to Antoine will concern how seriously the case for the reality of EUrope has been put to the rest of the EUropeans. I know, because I live here, that it had never been seriously put to the British. Only translated rumours of EUro-bosses telling it all as it actually was told us what was really going. But I had always assumed that, in EUrope, it had always been different. There at least, there was widespread popular understanding of the true nature and true purpose of the EU, and widespread belief that this purpose was noble and worthy. Wasn’t there? Now, I am starting to suspect that all those linguistically divided peoples have been quite extensively lied to as well, in much the same way that we in Britain were, each by their own little gangs of local EUro-enthusiasts. That’s what I’ll particularly be asking Antoine about.

I think that my question bears directly upon what will be the EUropean impact of Brexit. In one world, Brexit will be a bunch of rather tiresome people who never believed in EUrope anyway finally doing what they should have been doing all along, namely being out of it, leaving EUrope to the people who are serious about it. Put like that, Brexit becomes an exercise in house-cleaning, and EUrope will be all the stronger for it. Maybe that is how things will turn out.

But what if the feelings of the British electorate are widely shared by EUropeans generally? What if the EUro-enthusiasts have been lying to all the other mere people also? In that world, Brexit becomes something far more portentous, namely EUrope losing the future. So much of politics is about momentum, about things that are far more important than merely desirable, namely about things that are inevitable, whether people merely want them or not. Until Brexit, EUrope, for all its faults, faults many of which Korski describes so eloquently, was The Future, that we all had to learn to live with. (More about that from me in this earlier posting.) How people merely voted wasn’t going to matter. And then suddenly, us pesky Brits had a vote which – the horror – actually changed the direction of things. An alternative inevitability, a new version of The Future rose up like a monster out of a lake, namely: not just Brexit, but the principle that anyone could, and in due course, one by one or perhaps even in a concerted rush to the door, would … Exit. In that world, as quite a few have already argued, Brexit has the same feel about it as the fall of the Berlin Wall and the subsequent collapse of Soviet Communism. As that latter event illustrates, what might then happen in Europe is anyone’s bet.

My own bet is something in between those two scenarios. EUrope will continue in being, but as a force in the world it will fade. Germany, France and the rest of them will continue to be Germany, France and the rest of them. (Too much momentum.) But, what do I know? I’m looking forward to Antoine’s talk. Email me (top left here) if you want to know more about that.

27 comments to Have they even been selling EUrope in Europe?

  • Andrew Duffin

    You mention the Berlin wall, and indeed the parallel is a strong one. Remember how we were assured for years that Socialism was “historically inevitable”? Until suddenly one day, thanks to Maggie and Ronnie and JPII (and with a lot of help from the oppressed of Eastern Europe), it wasn’t inevitable any more. Maybe we’ll look back on the current brouhaha as being the moment when suddenly the EU wasn’t inevitable either. One can hope.

  • See you and Antoine tomorrow night 😉

  • Runcie Balspune

    what might then happen in Europe is anyone’s bet

    What “the hell were they thinking” might just have been what WONT happen in Europe if we leave, what catastrophes we avoid, and what precious little liberties we may hang on to that would have otherwise been taken.

    It is as plain to anyone with half-a-brain that the The Project was a disaster, and this was not a recent sentiment, even I can remember Thatcher and Major battling with the Eurosceptics back in the day and it was probably going on longer before then. As time moved on the hope was things would get better, but that corner never came, and the EU lurched from one tragedy to another, garnering power and authority on the way, it simply did not improve, not when Scandinavia joined, not when Iberia joined, not when Eastern Europe joined, it just got bigger and rotted,

    Quitting now was the surely best option and by virtue of our glorious political elite, we were only given one chance, I think the urgency and rarity of the vote was what essentially pushed it towards leave, it certainly was not by dint or encouragement from the lackluster and downright disastrous campaigning. People didn’t know what they were getting from leaving, but they certainly knew what they weren’t going to get if they did.

    People don’t like change, in most circumstances they prefer to leave things as they are, it takes courage to change and it is testament to the bravery of those who decided that it all happened – personally I was gobsmacked they actually won, I considered apathy would rule that day.

  • Mal Reynolds (Serenity)

    I disagree that there are no positive British feelings of EUro-patriotism. However the issue is that most people who feel this way are just Europe-patriotic and muddle Europe together with the EU in their minds. I am still not convinced that the majority of Remainers really realise the EU is not the same as Europe.

  • Brian Micklethwait (London)

    Mal Reynolds:

    I didn’t say “no”. I said “did not exist in Britain on the required scale”, and “offputting”.

  • Patrick Crozier

    I think Brian nails it. For the French and the Germans the EU is about preventing war. For the British it was about prosperity. When it was an aid to prosperity it was a good thing, when it was not an aid to prosperity it was a bad thing. And, yes, the Leave vote should have been much bigger.

    There is another aspect to that article – if it is the one I think it is – that I would like to raise. Korski spends a lot of time on the “renegotiation”. It was a disaster from start to finish. Britain did not ask for enough and when it became clear that there was no way Cameron was going to walk out, his negotiating position – such as it was – collapsed. And yet Korski thinks it was a huge success. I have seen this before. It is amazing how people involved in protracted negotiations can lose touch with reality.

  • Mal Reynolds (Serenity)


    Sorry, read it too quick 🙂

  • Johnnydub

    I think the social consequences of Mad Merkel’s invitation will cause such destabilisation that the EU will disappear up its own firmament. It simply just doesn’t have any answers for the EU’s current problems, and an agenda that simply wont wash with the European demos.

  • Alsadius

    I think the biggest causes of Bremain votes were, in no particular order, hatred of the sort of rural English who were most strongly Brexit voters and their belief systems in general(particularly in Scotland), fear of possible loss of the free trade zone(particularly in central London), a general belief in the obsolescence of nation-states and the importance of unification(particularly among the young), a desire to have the ability to move freely around Europe whenever they want(particularly among the young and the elite), and a general sense that they’re closer to the elites running Europe in outlook than they are to the sort of people likely to hold power in an independant UK(particularly among the non-union left).

  • Mr Ecks

    1–“hatred of the sort of rural English who were most strongly Brexit voters and their belief systems in general(particularly in Scotland), ”

    –That is supporters of Socialism. A creed that has murdered 150 million human beings and ruined the lives of millions more. As it will ultimately ruin the lives foolish enough to support it. Except for tyrannical elites who run it of course Not admirable people.

    2-“Fear of loss of Free-Trade zone”

    –So supposed businessmen whose horizons for the marvel of the market consists of bullshit privileges granted them by political scum. Corporate socialists in other words. Part of the problem not any solution.

    3- “a general belief in the obsolescence of nation-states and the importance of unification (particularly among the young),—

    –If said young supported–lets say Doug Casey style “individual uber state” beliefs –fine. But a group who vote for and want the EU’s brand of cultural Marxist/corporate socialist tinpot minutiae-meddling bureaucratic tyranny are scum.

    4-“a desire to have the ability to move freely around Europe whenever they want(particularly among the young and the elite)”–To hell with the elite and also with a youth that prefer tyranny to bureaucratic hassle–when support for the EU equals love of such hassle everywhere else in life. Young snot “I’m-alright-and-enjoying-my-pleasures-so-you-can-go-screw-yourself” crew.

    5–“and a general sense that they’re closer to the elites running Europe in outlook than they are to the sort of people likely to hold power in an independant UK(particularly among the non-union left)”

    —Scum in other words.

    The majority of remainers were status quo supporters who didn’t want the boat rocking. They usually win such votes but the EU have long since shown what dictatorial trash they are so they lost. Those people I have some time for tho’ they are misguided and needlessly fearful.

    The other reasons show the remainers as a bad crew indeed. Totally oblivious to sense and reason at best. Dross if they have taken the time and effort to knowingly embrace their betrayal. Not just of this nation –but far worse– the cause of freedom itself.

  • Real life cannot be compressed into a zip file.

    This from the Why We Lost The Brexit article.

    Of course it can. Life sucks, then you die.

    100% compression.

  • Lee Moore

    Mr Korski’s efforts read like that river in Egypt.

    That wall of anti-EU press ? Has he never heard of the BBC, whose media presence is about five times the size of the whole UK print media put together ?

    Cameron et al not pontificating on the joys of EU membership, to avoid upsetting Tory-UKIP waverers ? There’s a reason why British pols have lied to the electorate about the EU/EEC since before we joined – they’re a minority trying to foist their views on the majority. Tory voters have been agin the EU ever since Mrs T’s Bruges speech, and yet 75% of Tory MPs were Remainers. You lie because the truth will hurt you – duh !

  • Alsadius

    Mr Ecks: Wow, who pissed in your cornflakes? First things first, merely disagreeing with you on politics does not make someone “scum”. They may be wrong, but most of them are in it for the same reasons as you – they think their ideology is the one most likely to bring prosperity and happiness to society in the long run. Feel free to disagree with their judgement on this, but they’re not generally in it to be jerks.

    1) Yeah, I’m not a fan of those people either. But not all of it is socialism, some are nationalists or misguided romantics or what have you.

    2) They’re worried about government putting up stupid anti-trade laws that get in their way. Free trade isn’t about privileges to most business types, it’s about taking down barriers.

    3) Likewise, I’m not a fan of the EU. But if you think nations are stupid, you’re more likely to be Bremain. I have several friends who are good right-wing folks in most regards but who simply cannot wrap their head around the idea that national sovereignty is a real thing that some people actually care about.

    4) Likewise, I think you have this crowd totally wrong. Free travel is an important and valuable option for everyone, they’re just the ones more likely to use it, and thus more likely to value it more highly.

    5) People whose identity is not tied to geography. I feel more kinship to a British libertarian than a Canadian socialist(I’m Canadian) in most ways, and I suspect the reverse is true of you. Why should we be surprised that others feel similarly?

  • The article’s ability to describe the many failures of the negotiation while treating it as an achievement (that was merely not presented well enough) was hilarious. I especially liked the repeated mention of “worked tirelessly”. I guess that, where the writer comes from, that’s an acceptable alternative to “achieved anything”. 🙂 As Patrick Crozier (October 27, 2016 at 2:20 pm) notes, he seems to have been too involved to see the obvious.

  • Runcie Balspune

    The default attitude that the vote result was perceived as “a bad thing”, and anything good that happens afterwards (like positive growth) is considered “despite” the result, is an opinion that needs to be consistently challenged. It is obvious that the EU was not going anywhere even after long decades of evolution, and no-one ever seemed to demand whether there would be an improvement, we just got used to the inevitable failures. The remain campaign focused on the (now imaginary) disaster of leaving rather than the continued benefits (mainly because there were none).

    It’s like saying “the West German economy continues to grow despite the Allied Victory”.

  • Paul Marks

    The European Union is not about keeping the peace – that is NATO.

    And the European Union is not about liberalisation – it is about imposing regulations.

    I dislike mists of words that are designed to obscure basic truths.

  • bobby b

    How many people, though, view the EU simply as a NATO not dominated by the US?

  • Regional

    Nothing much will change in Britain after Bretexit other than the substantial reduction in Subsidies paid to the Ponzi scam known as the E.U. will cease, Trubble at Mill.

  • Adam Maas

    Paul Marks:

    NATO was designed to keep the peace between Europe and Russia.
    The EU was designed to keep the peace between Germany & France.

    And before you argue that NATO was designed to accomplish the latter, remember that France was not a member for much of NATO’s existence.

  • Alsadius: 3) Likewise, I’m not a fan of the EU. But if you think nations are stupid, you’re more likely to be Bremain. I have several friends who are good right-wing folks in most regards but who simply cannot wrap their head around the idea that national sovereignty is a real thing that some people actually care about.

    I am kinda sorta one of the former, i.e. vaguely ‘right-wing’ (whatever that means, apparently in Turkey I would be classed as centre-left) who is rather “meh” on the whole ‘national sovereignty’ thing, at least in some ways. I opposed the EU on the basis that if states are bad, super-states are super-bad. I have few illusions about how spiffing British political culture is, I just think it is better than EU political culture (admittedly a fairly low bar to jump by First World standards).

  • Alisa

    I just think it is better than EU political culture

    ‘Less bad’ would probably be a better (heh) term.

  • Derek Buxtont

    The only “culture” in the EU is of the bureaucrats building their own empires, at our expense. It was designed in the period between the two World Wars and works exactly as designed, a socialist, non free trading block with all that such would lead to disaster. Voters were not required, they are messy and do not have the intelligence of their bureaucratic betters. It could not change or evolve, that was as required. The People were just to shut up and listen to the lies and deceit. They did not know that “1984” was a warning not a book of instruction, and still don’t.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Alas I cannot make it but look forward to any write-up about what Antoine has to say.


  • staghounds

    I like the despite thing.

    Bernie Ecclestone married Fabiana Flosi despite his great wealth.

    Fabiana Flosi married Bernie Ecclestone despite her appearance.

    Bertillon is always Staghounds’ first stop in Paris, despite the taste of the pear sherbet.

  • Mr Ed

    Adam Maas,

    The EU was designed to submerge both France and Germany into a pan-European superstate, more than to merely keep the peace.

    France has been a member of NATO throughout, it just withdrew its forces from the NATO command structure and then banned non-French NATO forces from France, and presumably hoped to re-Vichy itself when they First Shock Army started singing ‘Go West!’. They did keep some forces in West Germany during the Cold War, and of course kept their sector in West Berlin.

  • Paul Marks

    Adam Maas – what keeps the peace between France and Germany is two things.

    Firstly the American and British army in Germany – there were no large scale allied forces in Germany in the 1930s (indeed Mr Hitler ordered that if a single allied soldier opposed his reoccupation of the Rhineland in 1936 – the whole operation was to be cancelled, but there was no resistance nothing at all).

    But also the defeat of Germany in 1945 – the mistake of 1918 (the mistake supported by the dreadful Douglas Haig and so on) of accepting an end to the fighting with no march into Berlin, was not made in 1945. Germans after 1918 could pretend to themselves “we were not really defeated” – that could not be pretended after 1945.

    The ideology that dominated Germany long before 1914 (indeed since at least the death of the Emperor Frederick in 1888) was utterly discredited in 1945 – the dream of German World Domination (a dream of Imperial Germany – not just Nazi Germany, the little Austrian Corporal, indeed not really even a Corporal, did not invent ideas he just took up ideas that were already fashionable in Germany) was over.

    The whole claim that the European Economic Community (now the European Union) is somehow connected with peace between France and Germany is false – utterly and completely false. For the real reasons for peace between France and Germany see above.