UK Came & Went, Leaving Europe in a Mess

As Great Britain returns to the uncertainties of the open sea, it leaves behind a European Union that is bureaucratically governed to serve the interests of financial capital, writes Diana Johnstone.

(Christoph Scholz, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

By Diana Johnstone
in Paris
Special to Consortium News

Whew.  Finally, at last, the United Kingdom is formally leaving the European Union on Jan. 31.  Here in Paris, the champions of French withdrawal from the EU are celebrating. They see Brexit as the harbinger of a future “Frexit,” a French departure from undemocratic governance, and the beginning of the end of a failed project to unify Europe around the demands of neoliberal capitalism.

But the paradox is that the champions of European unification might be celebrating even more – if it weren’t too late. Because years of British membership have already helped shatter the original dreams of a united Europe, whether the aspirations of the federalists for political unity or the project of a European confederation of independent states advocated by Charles De Gaulle some 60 years ago. 

Way back then, when De Gaulle was meeting with the aged West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer to promote Franco-German reconciliation, the two old statesmen were thinking in terms of working gradually toward a partnership of core European states that would preserve their sovereignty within a confederation ensuring peace and cooperation.

French President Charles de Gaulle, left, and West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer in 1961. (Bundesarchiv, CC-BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

From the start, the question of British membership appeared as a thorn in the side of European unity. Initially, London was opposed to the Common Market.  In 1958, Prime Minister Harold MacMillan assailed it as “the Continental Blockade” (alluding to Napoleon’s 1806 European policy) and said England would not stand for it.  But as the project seemed to take shape, London sought accommodation.

De Gaulle warned from the start that Great Britain didn’t belong in a unified Europe, geographically, economically or above all psychologically.

The remark has become famous: in 1944, on the eve of the Normandy invasion, in a quarrelsome exchange, U.K. Prime Minister Winston Churchill reportedly told De Gaulle that if Britain had to choose, it would always go for “the open sea” rather than the European continent.

Of course, Britain long ago lost both Churchill and its empire.  Nevertheless, Brits remain psychologically wedded to their island status, the origin of their overwhelming maritime power that built the empire and has left traces of English-speaking nations and preferred trade relations all around the world.  They do not normally feel part of “the continent” and the traditional policy of their governments was always to keep the continent divided and weak.  This policy was passed on to London’s pupils in Washington, echoed in the description of NATO’s purpose: “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in and the Germans down” – the joke that tells the truth.

De Gaulle Envisioned American Trojan Horse

Sixty years ago, De Gaulle, who envisaged a European confederation as a way to achieve independence from the American liberators (who came to stay), saw very clearly that the U.K. would be America’s Trojan horse in the European community. That is called vision, the quality of a statesman – a breed that seems to have died out in the West.  He opposed British membership as long as he could, but the American influence was too great.  And curiously enough, the ardent European federalists joined in promoting British membership, seemingly unaware that such membership was totally incompatible with the political unity they desired.

British leaders, firmly attached to their parliament, their royalty, their class system, and their unique role in the world — now largely passed on to their heirs in Washington — never would consider genuine political unity with the continent.  But as a trading nation, they wanted to be part of a Europe that would favor free trade, period.

The United Kingdom first applied for membership in 1961, at a time when it comprised the central core made up of France, Germany, the Benelux countries and Italy.

But as long as De Gaulle was president of France, this was not possible, despite U.S. support (the United States has always supported enlargement, notably Turkish membership, now considered out of the question).  The United Kingdom joined the European Economic Community only on Jan. 1, 1973, bringing with it both Ireland and Denmark, another advocate of free trade.

Bringing in Britain was the decisive step toward making unified Europe into a vast free market, a step toward globalization.  This was indeed the program of Jean Monnet, a totally Americanized French businessman who plotted the path to European unity through purely economic measures, indifferent to political issues. But it took British weight to pull Europe firmly in that direction, away from the original Common Market idea (removing trade barriers only among Member States) toward an open market, with minimum trade barriers, extending the benefits of its “free competition” doctrine to such giants as the United States and China.

Leon Brittan Enforced Neoliberalism 


Leon Brittan in February 2011. (Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Wikimedia Commons)

In 1989, U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher appointed Leon Brittan to the post of European Commissioner for competition, where he stayed until 1999 in charge of trade and external affairs. In Brussels his was the most powerful influence in confirming the EU’s role as chief enforcer of neoliberal policies. At the same time, Thatcher demanded “her money back” and strengthened the U.K.’s own freedom from European institutional constraints.

The U.K. never agreed to the Schengen agreement on EU borders and declined to scrap the pound sterling for the euro — a wise move, no doubt.  But also symptomatic of the essential incapacity of the U.K. to fully merge with the continent.

At the same time, the presence of London has certainly contributed to the total inability of the EU to develop a foreign policy that deviates from that of Washington. Britain supported the enlargement to the East which has made the EU more politically disunited than ever and has been the strongest supporter of the paranoid Russophobia of Poland and the Baltic States which pushes other European countries into a dangerous conflict with Russia that is contrary to their own interests.

EU Members’ Own Mistakes

Not that Britain is responsible for everything that is wrong with the European Union today.  A major mistake was made by French President François Mitterrand in the 1980s when he insisted on a “common European currency” under the illusion that this would help France contain Germany — when it turned out not only to do the contrary but to ruin Greece and cause ravages in Portugal, Spain and Italy.

And there are plenty of other mistakes that have been made, such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s invitation to come to Europe, ostensibly addressed to Syrian war refugees but understood by millions of unfortunates in the Middle East and Africa as meant for themselves. 

And certainly, there were and are a minority of U.K. residents who sincerely identify with Europe and want to feel part of it.  But they are a minority.  Britain has for too many centuries cherished and celebrated its uniqueness for that to be erased by complex impersonal institutions.

As Great Britain returns to the uncertainties of the open sea, it leaves behind a European Union that is bureaucratically governed to serve the interests of financial capital. Member States, such as Macron’s France, are governed according to EU decrees against the will of their people. British membership contributed to this denial of democracy, but paradoxically, the British people themselves are the first to reject it and demand a return to full national sovereignty. 

Even the ardent fans of European Unity increasingly insist that they want “a different Europe,” recognizing that the project has failed to produce the wonders that were promised. But changing this particular Europe would require unanimity between the 27 remaining, and increasingly quarrelsome, member states.

That is why the idea is growing that it may be time to give up this failed European union and start all over, seeking political understanding issue by issue between sovereign democracies rather than a nonfunctional economic unity as decreed by transnational capitalist bureaucracy.

Diana Johnstone is the author of  Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO, and Western Delusions.” Her latest book is “Circle in the Darkness: Memoirs of a World Watcher (Clarity Press, 2020). She is also author of “Queen of Chaos: the Misadventures of Hillary Clinton.”  The memoirs of Diana Johnstone’s father Paul H. Johnstone, From MAD to Madness, was published by Clarity Press, with her commentary. She can be reached at diana.johnstone@wanadoo.fr .

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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39 comments for “UK Came & Went, Leaving Europe in a Mess

  1. Clark M Shanahan
    February 3, 2020 at 18:31

    I lived in France from 1977 to 1996.
    I had hopes that a unified Europe would correct the post-WWII unipolar American hegemony.
    Sadly, that was a pipe dream.
    I remember Mitterrand & Kohl promising a “workers Europe” as, at the same moment negotiators were accommodating Thatcher’s Brittan for a business-friendly Europe.
    I remember the fall of the Berlin Wall and the rush to incorporate the ex-Satellites for an expanded market (and expanded NATO).
    As these new members had an open hostility to anything socialist; I anguished.
    I remember the Polish farmers taking a massive hit as French, German, and Brit farm products drove them out of business.
    I remember Germany selling submarines to the Greeks on credit (so they could be responsible partners in NATO at whatever cost).

    It became a full circle as the Brits rejected the EU for those same attributes Brittan had pushed on the EU.
    Sunday, George Galloway condemned Boris’ negotiations with Donald, saying that he didn’t fight for Brexit in order the UK to become the 51st state..

    one caveat, my struggling cabinet business in France did run into merciless competition with the East European (primarily Polish) woodworkers making their way into France in the underground market,,, I did not go National Front, but I did shake my head.

  2. Josep
    February 2, 2020 at 05:17

    Brits remain psychologically wedded to their island status, the origin of their overwhelming maritime power that built the empire and has left traces of English-speaking nations and preferred trade relations all around the world. They do not normally feel part of “the continent” and the traditional policy of their governments was always to keep the continent divided and weak. This policy was passed on to London’s pupils in Washington, echoed in the description of NATO’s purpose: “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in and the Germans down” – the joke that tells the truth.

    If this example is as good as any, I remember reading about how Margaret Thatcher opposed German reunification, saying that “we fought the Germans twice, and now they’re back!” I don’t know about you, but I find it symptomatic of this weird inferiority/superiority complex many English have towards the Germans. You know, “two world wars and one world cup” and all that. As an ex-Anglophile, I have yet to see any other European country gloat about the world wars as much as England. What makes it worse is the way the Anglo-American narrative whitewashes Britain’s role in starting both world wars, not to mention Russia’s role in defeating fascism in WWII.

  3. Seamus Padraig
    February 1, 2020 at 18:31

    At the same time, the presence of London has certainly contributed to the total inability of the EU to develop a foreign policy that deviates from that of Washington.

    It’s probably true that Britain has contributed to this problem, but I still think of the main cause as being NATO, which is almost totally US-dominated. Sadly, that could be a lot harder to break free of than the EU.

  4. Vera Gottlieb
    February 1, 2020 at 12:27

    With or without the UK, the EU has always been about looking after the rich. It is an East/West – North/South divide.

  5. Eugenie Basile
    February 1, 2020 at 06:06

    The UK having been the second largest net contributor ( just under 10 billion € net per annum ) to the EU budget , Brexit will make the coming multi-year budget discussion very interesting.

  6. Josep
    January 31, 2020 at 23:32

    Nevertheless, Brits remain psychologically wedded to their island status, the origin of their overwhelming maritime power that built the empire and has left traces of English-speaking nations and preferred trade relations all around the world. They do not normally feel part of “the continent” and the traditional policy of their governments was always to keep the continent divided and weak. This policy was passed on to London’s pupils in Washington, echoed in the description of NATO’s purpose: “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in and the Germans down” – the joke that tells the truth.

    If this is a good example, then it must be noted that Margaret Thatcher was a notable opponent of German reunification. She was quoted saying something like “we beat the Germans twice, and now they’re back!”. This high-and-mighty attitude of hers – not at all helped by a historical narrative that ignores Britain’s role in starting both world wars – made me lose all respect for her. To be frank, considering Britain’s traditional policy of keeping the Continent divided and weak, this is not as surprising as it was when I first read about it four or five years ago.

  7. Ragnar
    January 31, 2020 at 18:04

    Drew H. stated the facts beautifully! TallyHo to the Brits and God Save the Queen and Nigel Farage!

  8. Lily
    January 31, 2020 at 10:22

    May our politicians read this, think about it thouroughly and take it as an advice!

    If they start all over again I wish they would consider Russia and China as friends and built an Eurasian Union.

    Thank you, Diana Johnstone, for this great article. I do like what you write.

    Thanks to CN for informing us the way you do and giving us the opportunity to read good stuff like this.

  9. Anonymot
    January 30, 2020 at 21:55

    I agree with much of what you say. De Gaulle was certainly right about the UK as America’s Trojan Horse. He was the only leader in Europe who fully understood what America was up to, but he was for the economic’s of the Common Market. The only place where I really disagree with you is that during the early years of the Common Market there were 2 goals: the removal of intra-community tariffs and the right for all community citizens to freely move within member country borders.

    By the mid-Eighties those goals were achieved, but de Gaulle and Adenauer were already gone. It was then that the idea of political oneness crawled out of the woodwork. Political unity was the politicians dream. Kafka took over the organization of the system. The political world took over the money. Everything that went on from that point was a nightmare of corruption. The idea of including every country that could limp into Brussels was about graft, some subtle and complex, some not. That is what the Brits and a few others saw when they declined the Euro and Schengen rules.

    I watched this unroll from the very beginning and then become transfigured. It was as if the snake hypnotized the charmer – all 300 million of us. To be one with all other Europeans seemed such a marvelous idea; rather like Oh, let’s go to Mars for the weekend. Sure.

    Politicians killed Europe and the UK politicians did their part, but they sidestepped the worst of it. Mr. Barnum’s quote was the most applicable – and there is still one born every minute.

  10. Digby
    January 30, 2020 at 20:21

    [The euro] turned out not only to do the contrary but to ruin Greece

    I’ve seen people say that Greece’s economic woes were self-inflicted from a corrupt, freeloading government. One such commentator said that all they just do is consume. Another commentator lamented their work ethic, or lack thereof.
    I am not doubting that the European Central Bank has played a role in ruining the Greek economy. But I am wondering to which degree these allegations (that Greece inflicted this upon itself) are true. Anyone?

    • Headache
      February 1, 2020 at 07:19

      I would advise you and others to read the latest interview with Michael Hudson, published on his own site, to better understand what debt in general, and the problems of Greece and others, are all about.

      /michael-hudson.com/

    • Seamus Padraig
      February 1, 2020 at 18:23

      And Spain? And Italy? And Ireland? A lot of countries have been reamed since the crash of 2008. Greece may have been hit the hardest, but it’s not the only one. Even the ‘good’ countries, like Germany and France, have experienced no or low growth for years, with stagnant and declining wages.

  11. Josep
    January 30, 2020 at 20:14

    Another thing:

    [Brits] do not normally feel part of “the continent” and the traditional policy of their governments was always to keep the continent divided and weak.

    Case in point: Margaret Thatcher was also an opponent of German reunification, but for different reasons. She was quoted saying “we [Great Britain] fought the Germans twice, and now they’re back!” or something like that. Her condemnation of a whole nationality made me lose any respect for her. What doesn’t help is the way the Anglo-American war narrative not only whitewashes Russia’s role in defeating fascism in WWII, but also Britain’s role in starting both world wars.
    It would not surprise me if Thatcher’s hand-wringing were merely from jealousy, that Britain would not wield as much economic power as it did before the reunification.

    On a similar note, when England lost to Germany in UEFA Euro 1996, the press was fondly remembering England’s victory over West Germany in the 1966 World Cup, and there was rioting in which German-made cars were wrecked and a Russian was stabbed after rioters mistook him for a German.

    • Digby
      February 2, 2020 at 22:44

      “Two world wars and one World Cup” – I’ve heard of that one too. To me, it reflects this weird superiority/inferiority complex many English have towards Germany. I have yet to find any other European country that gloats about both world wars as much as England does.

  12. Kiwiantz
    January 30, 2020 at 19:57

    Great article. The EU should be throwing a Good riddance Party for the soon to be, Dis- United Kingdom from the European Union? English people will soon say hello to Amerika Trade deals & confirmation of your official status as a stooge & vassal State of Amerika? So much for your own Sovereignty? And you better get used to more Privatisation, fracking, Monsata poisoned veges & eating chlorinated US Chicken & junkfood with Amerikanner style takeover of your NHS Healthcare with a rotten & lousy Amerikan, privatised model that’s now, absolutely guaranteed to happen! Europe has now thrown off & gotten rid of this Amerikan trojan horse vassal & saboteur called England & it will be better off without this disingenuous pain in the butt, sabotaging everything? The UK pocketed all the Trade benefits being in the EU even keeping its own currency & other undeserved advantages not afforded to any other EU member but without suffering the downsides such as austerity & massive IMF debt slavery! Good Riddance UK, it was not nice knowing you & Europe will be the better for this divorce!

  13. Lonkal
    January 30, 2020 at 19:54

    I knew it! We made the EU what it is and now we’re off, back to our dark island base, pirates pon the sea once more, ahhhghr!

    I was happy for Europe when we finally voted to kick ourselves out of it. I figure now they have a chance to really go for it. I think this says it best:

    youtube.com/watch?v=ZBR2G-iI3-I

  14. elmerfudzie
    January 30, 2020 at 18:45

    It was the fall of the Soviet Union that initiated this catastrophic descent into barbaric capitalism, a race to the bottom, competing for slave wages and to wit, across the board environmental de-regulation. I can only hope that Thatcher and Ronny Ray-Gun’s are burning together in hell for all eternity because their definition of what constitutes free trade policy caused great harm to so many in the middle and blue collar classes. Distortions of domestic labor laws and the destruction of unionized work forces will echo for decades to come for both Western Occident and Southern Hemisphere nations. The South American and African’s who relied on the disposable incomes in the pockets of Western Occident travelers and internet purchasing. This sort of beneficial free trade can only exist, IF the west can keep wages far above the minimum (currently $15.00 USD).

    Brexit will not alleviate the various stresses of EU integration demanded by un-elected bureaucrats in Brussels. However even elected officials in both the UK and USA permitted banksters to persist in their errors by not proscecuting for financial misconduct! One need only tune into Ross Ashcroft’s interview with Ian Fraser, author of a new book release titled-Shredded (all about RBS). He, Ian Fraser, was at one time Police & Crime Commissioner (UK) has a good deal to say about banking regulations and the bankers who should be behind bars. The same lack of responsibility continued with blatant malfeasance on the part of all three branches of our government here in the USA and of course this includes the UK parliament and House of Lords. All this legislative bungling furthers a social and financial disenfranchisement not experienced since the Great Depression. For example, Obama signed a Presidential Directive prohibiting prosecution of Goldman Sachs (GS) Board members and too, where were the Brussels bureaucrats when a clique from GS fudged the GNP of Greece so as to bring it (unlawfully) into the EU? Again, those pesky social effects such as skyrocketing drug abuse, corrosion of the nuclear family and free floating anxieties, covered over by every sort of distraction away from reality, the list is endless but here are a few, lost weekend alcohol abuse, sporting enthusiasms, more workaholic personalities, incessant travels (for those who can) grasping at any pair of rose tinted glasses for those rank and file proles desperately trying to chill out. However the financial weaknesses are not so easily managed or disguised. Milder climates on both the west and east coasts of America, bring out the eyesores that oh, so visibly show streams of homeless, unemployed masses living out of their cars, all they own in this world bagged in those grocery carts they use like walkers. The numbers of street people are not going away and Brexit ain’t gonna fix it!

    Come on down to my town Mr Trump, take a long ride along Interstate 5, pull over into any city over 200,000 and I’ll show you a situation that can be described in just one word, despair. UK citizenry at large, hold on! you’ve yet to witness the droves but they’re coming your way too..

  15. Ken H
    January 30, 2020 at 14:05

    A thoughtful article about Brexit by someone who understands how the people feel. So many articles I read have the corporate view.

  16. Drew Hunkins
    January 30, 2020 at 14:01

    Just so we’re clear — the E.U. is a major part of the exploitative capitalist global empire.

    The E.U. is part and parcel of the parasitic financial elite and their global capitalism which is intent on austerity across the entire industrialized world. The IMF, Wall Street, City of London, World Bank, E.U. and the Fed will do absolutely nothing for everyday working people struggling with exorbitant housing costs; low wages; shoddy infrastructure; non-existent workers’ rights; debt peonage via credit cards, student loans and child care. They sat back and didn’t do anything in the face of the stunning inequality that’s been growing across the industrialized world. In fact they fostered it.

    Deaths of despair are up and so are hedge fund profits.

    The E.U. is a villain regardless of how many all-knowing cool-headed liberals tell you otherwise. These same intellectuals NEVER lifted a finger to call out the rapacious exploitation we’ve been suffering under since the 1970s. They never uttered a word when our manufacturing jobs were shipped abroad, when our unions were destroyed, when our public schools were underfunded and the social safety net was eviscerated.

    • John Wright
      January 31, 2020 at 18:28

      I think that if you check the record you’ll find that both the Germans and the Japanese were quite alarmed when Reagan instituted polices encouraging the off-shoring of U.S. manufacturing and made their concerns known loud and clear.

      I was studying economics at the time and recall numerous articles highlighting this folly, many citing the grave concerns German and Japanese economists. They predicted, quite accurately, exactly what would happen should Reagan’s de-industrialization policies be followed.

  17. Litchfield
    January 30, 2020 at 13:32

    Another great contribution from Diana Johnstone.
    She always hits the nail on the head without wasting words.

    I wonder, whom will Brexit empower more to press their agendas: Macron, or the Gilets Jaunes?

  18. Republicofscotland
    January 30, 2020 at 12:32

    As we leave the EU tomorrow, I can only hope that Scotland exits the UK, and returns to the EU.

  19. Bob Van Noy
    January 30, 2020 at 12:12

    Diana gets this completely right, so Many Thanks Diana and Consortiumnews.

    This essay represents the dilemma we all face in adjusting to or blending populations or the concept of commonality and Sovereign Rights. We can clearly see the differing politics, monetary needs, and aspersions each country has, but the trick is to blend or separate those needs when necessary. In our American democratic experience, foreign policy has never openly been put to a vote. Powerful individuals within government and transnational capitalist bureaucracy have often decided these things without external discussion. Now with the press too seemingly marginalized, we find we are without a voice on such significant matters. Internal banking is also a huge problem and it seems that public banking is far superior to the financialization neoliberals prefer…

  20. January 30, 2020 at 12:01

    Thank you for this very well written article Diana Johnstone.
    My wish and hope is for an eastward turn of the EU – and eventually to the formation of an “Eurasion” entity.

    • John Wright
      January 31, 2020 at 18:51

      That eastward turn of the EU is very much under way. The Chinese Belt and Road Initiative already reaches deep into Europe with massive projects in Greece, Italy, Romania and now Germany. The completion of Nordstream2 will further align Europe with the growing China/Russia alliance (BRI+ and SCO).

      I think we will see the Europeans eager to join the new global financial system being created by China, Russia and the rest of the BRICS later this year. Many EU countries have indicated this by both repatriating their gold and increasing their gold reserves, clearly anticipating a global currency reset in the not too distant future.

      One key question in this global financial shift will be what the Swiss bankers choose to do. I think they will ultimately throw in with the BRICS, possibly quite soon in an effort to have greater influence over its makeup, although it is almost as likely that they will choose to remain independent and try to broker the coming competition between financial systems following the coming crash of the U.S. PetroDollar.

    • Josep
      February 3, 2020 at 21:41

      My wish and hope is for an eastward turn of the EU – and eventually to the formation of an “Eurasion” entity.

      I surely hope so. But will this involve abandoning the euro and restoring the pre-euro national currencies, especially the Deutsche Mark?

  21. Dave
    January 30, 2020 at 11:23

    Ms. Johnstone’s summation about European politics is as good as it can get. The U.K.–such as it is—is essentially the USA’s 52nd state, after undeclared 51st state—-Israel. Johnstone’s analysis is as clear-headed, articulate, and concise as any I have read. It’s time for the educated middle-classes globally to band together and utilize their combined political and economic clout to right the various ships-of-state that have come adrift during the neoliberal period of unregulated capitalism.

    • jack flanigan
      January 31, 2020 at 16:27

      53rd grand state you left out Australia but then again there is nothing “grand” about the antipodean banana republic police state.

    • Seamus Padraig
      February 1, 2020 at 18:27

      I thought America was Israel’s 51st state!

    • JWalters
      February 1, 2020 at 20:57

      And to “follow the money”, behind this blend of UK, US, & Israel there is its financial control center.
      war * profiteerstory. * blogspot. * com/p/war-profiteers-and-israels-bank.html

      [To use above link, copy to browser address field, & remove asterisks.]

  22. DW Bartoo
    January 30, 2020 at 08:03

    An excellent summation and accurate history.

    Both very much appreciated.

  23. Vivian O'Blivion
    January 30, 2020 at 06:46

    The author’s contention as I understand is that; the “European Union … is bureaucratically governed to serve the interests of financial capital …” and that the UK is free to plot its own course.
    Leave aside the first part of this contention as there are far too many uninformed comments arising State side who remain wilfully unaware of EU regulations regarding workers rights, environmental protection, animal welfare, food standards, etc..
    The second element of the author’s contention (UK free to plot its own course) is not disputed, but what course? Johnson has already stated his intention, “Singapore of the Northern hemisphere”, EU Working Time Directive (an element of workers protection) to be scrapped, environmental standards to be downgraded, privatisation of (scant) remaining State assets, etc..
    Just this morning Johnson has demanded that all Government departments slash 5% from their budgets. The decision to give the go ahead for a £100 billion high speed rail line into London is imminent. The whole of England will be subservient to the City of London. The whole economy will be dependent on the money laundering, Ponzi schemes and industrial scale tax evasion that is the stock and trade of the City.

    Observing from a distance, the author can be forgiven for considering the UK as a homogeneous entity. Brexit has revealed the gaping fractures between the four elements of the “United Kingdom” as never before. In the referendum, England voted to leave the EU by a factor of 7%, Scotland voted to remain by a factor of 24%, so a compound differential of 31%. Polling released yesterday suggests that this differential in sentiment between Scotland and England has grown to 42%.
    The socialist, internationalist sentiment of the Scottish people will lead inevitably to an independent Scotland once again linked by trade and custom to continental Europe before this decade is out.

    • Litchfield
      January 30, 2020 at 13:43

      “The second element of the author’s contention (UK free to plot its own course) is not disputed, but what course? Johnson has already stated his intention, “Singapore of the Northern hemisphere”, EU Working Time Directive (an element of workers protection) to be scrapped, environmental standards to be downgraded, privatisation of (scant) remaining State assets, etc..
      Just this morning Johnson has demanded that all Government departments slash 5% from their budgets. The decision to give the go ahead for a £100 billion high speed rail line into London is imminent. The whole of England will be subservient to the City of London. The whole economy will be dependent on the money laundering, Ponzi schemes and industrial scale tax evasion that is the stock and trade of the City.”

      The British people now have the opportunity to deal with these political and national policy issues as a sovereign state. That is what politics is for. Johnstone is no dummy and she does not assume that the UK is a “homogeneous entity.” Anymore than France, Germany, or any other country is!!

      Oblivion seems to assume that the Brits are incapable of seizing the starring roles on the political stage and working for what they want through their own political system—or, indeed, by changing it if that is seen as necessary. Instead Oblivion seems to think that all gifts, especially regulatory gifts, come from Europe. Well, EU membership has not helped the NHS, has it. If the Brits want to save the NHS, they will have to fight for it.

      They made the right decision. Staye tuned for Frexit, Italexit and maybe even, finally, Grexit.

    • T.J
      January 31, 2020 at 05:15

      Well said. Whereas all is not rosy in the EU, your contribution is a necessary balance to the above article.

    • Diana Johnstone
      January 31, 2020 at 12:23

      I do not consider the UK as a homogeneous entity. That is why I frequently used the terms England, the English and London in my article.
      It is true that many on the left in Britain fear being left alone with their own ruling class. But surely the people are strong enough to impose basic beneficial regulations by way of British parliamentary democracy without being forced to do so by Brussels bureaucracy.

    • SteveK9
      February 3, 2020 at 12:36

      ‘The whole economy will be dependent on the money laundering, Ponzi schemes and industrial scale tax evasion that is the stock and trade of the City.’

      Possibly, or it could mean a revival for British manufacturing instead. e.g. George Gallaway …
      See: rt.com/op-ed/479595-brexit-eu-uk-future/.

      The country still has a lot of talented people (beyond the finance parasites). I don’t know if that can happen … it’s up to them now.

  24. Josep
    January 30, 2020 at 04:10

    [Mitterrand] insisted on a “common European currency” under the illusion that this would help France contain Germany

    To this day many Germans still yearn a return to the Deutschemark, and as of 2012 there were still 13.2 billion marks in circulation. Some even view the euro as some anti-German plot (larouchepub.com/eiw/public/1998/eirv25n19-19980508/eirv25n19-19980508_004-exposed_the_anti_german_plot_beh.pdf). I recall reading an opinion poll saying that only around 29% of Germans were satisfied with the switchover to the euro. There was even a funeral in Lower Saxony back when the euro replaced the mark.

    Question 1: of the countries that switched to the euro, which ones had a majority vote in favor, if any?

    Question 2: why is the European Central Bank headquartered in Germany (Frankfurt am Main, to elaborate) when all the other six institutions are headquartered in Belgium and Luxembourg?

    Question 3: if the euro didn’t exist, then what would Saddam Hussein sell his oil in to replace the US dollar? (My best guess would be Deutschemarks, though yours is as good as mine)

    • Exiled in Ard Mhaca
      February 1, 2020 at 09:38

      It’s February 1st Brexit is done and I don’t feel any different than I did on the 31st of January. Whats next Boris? Where’s Boris? Anyone seen Boris? Where’s that £350 million for the NHS? Are you going to send the Foreign nationals back home? Said that you wouldn’t but that seems to be a lie to. I got work colleagues who got no idea if they will be allowed to stay here. If they go our economy is banjaxed.

    • Josep
      February 3, 2020 at 19:24

      @Exiled in Ard Mhaca
      I don’t think that answers (any of) my questions, sorry.

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