A conservative case for voting 'in'

The Brexit camp want to risk decades of real peace and prosperity to attain a future full of implausibly rational statesmen

5 March 2016

9:00 AM

5 March 2016

9:00 AM

I open a dusty binder and look at my yellowing Spectator articles from Poland, Germany and Russia in the dramatic 1980s. And here’s one from Brussels in 1986, suggesting that Britain was edging towards finding its role in the European Community. Ho ho. Back then, Charles Moore was the editor and I was the foreign editor of this magazine. He shared my passion for the liberation of eastern Europe, while becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the western European Community, but he let me make the case for it. Now, 30 years on, Charles and I stand on different sides of a historic national argument.

This makes for a curious role reversal. I am a lifelong liberal (small ‘l’) but my argument for staying in the EU is fundamentally conservative (small ‘c’). It rests on a pessimistic view of human nature in general and Europe in particular.

By contrast, those who — like Charles — want out of the EU argue from a highly optimistic view of an alternative future, one in which rational self-interest makes the rest of Europe, and the rest of the world, offer favourable terms to an independent, dynamic, rejuvenated Britain. Of course the EU will give us easy access to the single market! They must want to export their BMWs to us. Of course the US and China will make free-trade deals with Britain as they have with the EU! This deeply un-Burkean kind of thinking, based on untestable claims about a future in which everyone behaves rationally, is more usually found on the left. Brexiters have seen the future and it works.

They are more optimistic than I am about European nations’ capacity to cope on their own. I think all these networks of cooperation are needed to prevent them falling back into bad old ways. Over the past thousand years, Europe has been the most culturally diverse, creative continent on earth. It has also been one of the most bloody. When I first started travelling in Europe, in the early 1970s, half the continent was still living under dictatorships of right or left. My roommate when I studied German in Bavaria was a Greek exile from the colonels; Portugal and Spain laboured under the tail end of fascist dictatorships. My East German friends were persecuted by the Stasi and my Polish friends would subsequently experience internment and a ‘state of war’. For all of them, the causes of Europe and freedom have marched together like brothers, arm in arm, and not, as many Brits see it, mortal enemies: Europe vs freedom.

The Europe we have today is the worst possible Europe, apart from all the other Europes that have been tried from time to time. The past 30 years have been an exceptional period in European history: exceptionally good. Although we have certainly paid a price in loss of sovereignty and idiotic regulations (some of them made significantly more idiotic by very British bureaucracy at home), this has also been a good period for Britain. A correlation between a good period for the British economy and membership in the EU does not necessarily mean the latter is the cause of the former — what about Mrs Thatcher? What about Tony Blair? — but a careful analysis in the Financial Times suggests that EU membership has contributed to our prosperity, opening up British companies both to the opportunities of the single market and to the bracing winds of continental competition.

I have no doubt that western Europe took a wrong turn after 1989. The ill-designed monetary union has been a disaster for the European project, dividing when it was meant to unite, impoverishing where it was meant to enrich. Instead of the euro, we should have developed a stronger cooperation in foreign and security policy, so we could more effectively address the causes of the refugee flows from the wider Middle East that are now shaking the European Union to its foundations, with barbed-wire fences being erected where once they were torn down.

But this also means that ‘ever closer union’ is a blast from the past. To be sure, there are people in Brussels who still bang on about it, some of them sincerely. And the eurozone does need some further deepening if it is to survive. But German public opinion has changed dramatically since unification: you will find almost as few Germans seriously embracing the goal of ever closer union as you will find Brits. The real danger today is not that the continent presses fast forward to a Napoleonic superstate but that it falls fast backwards to disintegration, national hostilities, xenophobia and illiberalism. In the brilliantly jarring words of Bertolt Brecht: ‘The womb is fertile still, from which that crawled.’

All the more reason, you might say, to cut ourselves free from this dark continent. Just vote to leave and in one bound John Bull will be free. Except he won’t. Again and again throughout modern history, Britain has been ineluctably drawn in to the travails of a troubled continent. Why should this time be different? Especially now, when the whole world is so interconnected, not least in economics and finance.

But freedom, you may say, always involves risk. Indeed it does. It also involves judgment and responsibility. In the Brexiters’ outwardly self-confident rhetoric of national liberation I hear the voice of Tennyson’s aged Ulysses:

                                 Come, my friends,

’Tis not too late to seek a newer world,

Push off, and sitting well in order smite

The sounding furrows.…

I hear that romantic voice of nostalgic optimism and thrill to its call. But Tennyson’s Ulysses almost certainly ended up five fathoms under, together with his crew. And he was not a good ruler to his people: he left that thankless work, ‘centred in the sphere of common duties’, to his son Telemachus.

The problem we all face in making this choice is that it is unavoidably based on counterfactuals: what would happen if…? At lunch in a central London restaurant the other day, I overheard two smartly suited gentlemen discussing The Choice, until one concluded, with a good swig of red wine: ‘What we need is a firm of accountants to cost the alternatives.’ But that is precisely what we will never have. Instead, we must exercise our own judgment, weighing the balance of probabilities.

In this article, I have tried to avoid rehearsing once again the familiar arguments, which are already as well-polished as schoolboys’ prize conkers. Of course there are experts and authority figures on both sides. But it is my judgment, based on the balance of expert analysis and authoritative opinion, that we would be worse off and less secure outside. If the English vote to leave and the Scots to stay, there is a high probability that Scotland will then vote to leave the UK and rejoin the EU. The Northern Irish peace settlement would be unsettled.

Since I spend much of my life talking to other Europeans in their own languages, I am even more confident in saying that they would not give us a second chance or a favourable deal if we left. In my other life, at Stanford University, I find those Americans who have thought about it are concerned that Britain should not further weaken an already crisis-torn Europe, and therefore the West as a whole, as we face an aggressive Vladimir Putin and bloody chaos in the Middle East.

I cannot share the blithe ahistorical optimism that sees Europe making a smooth segue from this imperfect union to a region of freely cooperating, prosperous liberal democracies. This has been an exceptional period in modern European history, and an exception whose durability is now bound up, like it or not, with that of the EU. And one thing is certain: inside, we still have a chance of reforming it, outside we have none.

Brexiters will predictably decry my argument as part of ‘Project Fear’, but European history, and human nature, give us plenty to be rationally fearful about. Giving due weight to rational fears, while having the courage to take calculated risks, is what good soldiers, successful business people, and wise women and men do. We should be brave but not foolhardy. This may not be a heroic, optimistic passage in the life of Europe, like that which followed the velvet revolutions of 1989, but no political community experiences only good times. There is still much to lose, and a traditional, pragmatic conservative would not jump, Corbyn-like, for such an uncertain alternative.

Unlike many elite supporters of the EU, I welcome this debate and this clear choice. I’m struck by how many people genuinely have not made up their minds and are trying to navigate their way through the maelstrom of claim and counter-claim. If you are among the great undecided, I say: please make a sober judgment of what is likely to be in the best interests of this country. Look at the facts, look at history. Be realistic. Be conservative. Vote to stay.


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Timothy Garton Ash is professor of European studies at Oxford and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.

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  • Rik

    Are you blind and deaf??At the same time that there are ever more calls for a closer union the barbed wire fences are going up all over Europe and Greece is to be abandoned to be a massive migrant holding camp as Mad Merkel reverses her insane invitation to the world.The EU is a beached rotting whale,time to leave and save ourselves from the stench and corruption.

    • Andrew Cole

      You forget that “staying with what we know” will only last for a few days because the place “we know” will continue on the path of closer union while we harp on about not being part of that ever closer union.

      Staying with what we know is not an option whether we vote remain or leave because what we know will not be what we know in the not so distant future!!

    • Pip

      Not blind or deaf just dishonest or stupid.

      • Jingleballix

        He hasn’t actually said anything at all……..

        • goodsoldier

          Garton Ash and other socialist, fanatically pro EU propagandists, have for decades been paid by the EU through Universities, to spout this ‘abstract garbage’. It all sounds so civilized and correct, but there is nothing that these people have to say except that you better keep on paying into the EU’s insatiable maw..

        • gtanyware

          “rampant barbarian brown males” – come off it, Mr I’m Not A Racist, why don’t you just call them “wogs”?
          I’m not going to defend them; they deserve the severest of punishment, but what in God’s name have they to do with the EU? They’re Pakistanis, from a country which if you know what a map is you’ll see is not part of Europe.

          • Jingleballix

            “What in God’ name do they have to do with the EU”? You must be as stupid as you are intemperate.

            The EU has procured this situation in a number ways;

            Firstly, it champions ‘borderless travel’ across the continent, so for 20yrs, countries forgot about the need to protect themselves from illegals.

            Secondly, they provoked Russia by fomenting insurrection in Ukraine, in return Putin has dumped bombs on Syria in order to flood the EU with ‘refugees’

            Thirdly, there is the issue of benefits, these people are not coming to work…….they are coming to live on the dole in nice houses and receive free medical treatment.

            Fourthly, Merkel the de facto leader of Europe offered an open door to any who made it to Germany……..and told other countries they MUST do the same

            Fifthly, under EU law, when these new Germans have been in Germany for 3yrs, they get an EU passport which means they can bring in there families and live anywhere in Europe – how many will be told to go to UK?

            Lastly, in handling the crisis the EU has shown itself to be utterly incompetent……if it can’t handle this, what can it do?

          • gtanyware

            In 1972 – before we joined the EU – Idi Amin expelled 60,000 Asians from Uganda. Most came to the UK. Nothing to do with the EU.

            Nobody enters the UK without a passport. Germany doesn’t issue British passports and it takes years for a immigrant to Germany to get a German passport.

            Half right about Russia, but it was the people in Eastern Ukraine who want to be Russian and hate the Western lot who started it. Most of them don’t even know what the EU is; they’re even more pig-ignorant than the British.

            Merkel doesn’t get to tell Britain what to do, except in the fevered imagination of people who have no faith in Britain. The rest voted Tory last year to make sure such a thing couldn’t happen.

            There is no EU passport. If there were I’d have one. There are national passports, each carrying an EU stamp that gives them rights to visit other EU countries. No automatic rights to benefits though; that’s up to the countries concerned. I live in Italy but have fewer rights than its citizens cos I haven’t paid taxes for long enough. Same in UK. Why do you choose to believe the Sun, who also tells you there’s a crashed B52 bomber on the Moon? Do you not have any judgement when it comes to spotting lies?

            The reason why rich stockbrokers and newspaper owners want us to leave is so they can repeal all consumer legislation and labour laws to create a super low wage economy for big multinationals to set up sweat shops, allowing them to get even richer while the British people work themselves to death. Along the coast from here is Monaco, stuffed full of super-rich people who want OUT so they can pay even less tax than they do now. Unless you’re one of them you can eat dirt. That’s what gets me angry.

          • Jingleballix

            Obviously, you are a complete ignoramus….you’ll be voting for Corbyn.

          • gtanyware

            Is that your idea of an intelligent argument to win over undecided voters in June?

          • PAUL BAKER

            Spot on there mate

  • A Guitar

    Honestly, reading this you would think that post Brexit residents of the UK will never speak to a person from a European Country ever again.

    The astonishing thing for me is that so many people seem happy to consider staying in the EU despite the truly horrendous crises that are not only rife, but that have no plausible solutions being posited from the EU, e.g. Immigration, terrorism, Greece, Islamisation, the Economy etc.

    I simply can’t see how a person could think ‘yep, these are the people we need to allow to Govern us, where do I sign?’

  • bob_joylove

    Better get to Reykjavik sharpish and tell the Icelanders of the poverty that awaits them if they leave too. Their GDP per person, 20% higher than ours, would be massively at risk.

    • tjamesjones

      they can’t leave, they’re not in the EU. you might think that’s your clever point, but we are in the EU and have been for 40 years. the onus on making a case for leave is with the leavers, and as a conservative, I need to be convinced. this sort of crack suggests that you don’t really have a strong case, just want to take a gamble, which is fine but not for me.

      • Ed_Burroughs


        • gtanyware

          Don’t be so hard on yourself.

      • milford

        The bottom line is: Why would anyone want to be ruled by foreigners? Surely it’s a no-brainer.
        Foreign rule generally means penury for the masses as the country is bled dry by the invader/parasite entity.

      • Aberrant_Apostrophe

        I believe bob was being sarcastic, especially given what he actually wrote.

        • tjamesjones

          I think I got the sarcasm bob, especially given what I actually wrote….

          of course the leavers need to make the case to leave, they (you) are the ones agitating for change. the default, and the correct conservative position on most matters, is to leave well alone. it’s not sexy, it’s conservatism.

  • sandy winder

    The biggest threat to peace of late has been caused by the EU itself trying to expand its territory and power eastwards. Putin was never going to stand for Ukraine being taken over in an anti-democratic coup by EU lovers. The EU needs to learn its huge limitations when it can not even control its borders from economic migrants from the Asia and Africa. So how would it cope with the growing strength of Russia that it has inflamed? We need to get out of the EU in order to destroy the EU empire builders of Europe.

    • Frank

      Must be cold in Moscow at this time of year. Do try to find a new refrain.

  • Andrew Smith

    That the Germans will want to sell their BMWs to Great Britain is not a liberal or conservative argument, its as close to a fact of life as we can possibly get.

    • gtanyware

      Nobody has claimed otherwise. Rather more to the point is that we want to sell our Toyotas and Minis to them.

      • Frank

        Since they sell more cars to us than we manage to sell to them, it would seem quite difficult for them to hit us with huge trade barriers (ditto the French, etc). Very boring to have to keep re-stating the blindingly obvious. In essence Britain has a significant trade imbalance with continental Europe, this is why trade barriers will not be imposed. As for the City, once it is freed from the EU and all its little anti-City rules, it will surge forward as continental European money seeks a better return than achievable in the EU.

      • Andrew Cole

        You prove the point in that very statement. The Germans will not want their BMW, Mercedes and VW sales hindered and therefore being the powerplayers in Europe they will insist on a favourable trade deal which will have to be the same for each way. Thus if they want a deal in place to sell us their cars it will mean we have the same deal to sell our cars.

      • TheJustCity

        Our Toyotas and (best of all) Minis to them’…. You couldn’t make it up!

    • gtanyware

      It’s always claimed that we can easily find replacements for EU
      customers. So can the EU for us, and unlike us they actually have products to sell that people want. They do not need us more than we need them because America, India, China and the Arabs also buy BMWs. In any case, we won’t be able to afford BMWs; look what just the thought of Brexit has already done to the pound. 20% down since last summer.

      • Aberrant_Apostrophe

        They do not need us more than we need them because America, India, China and the Arabs also buy BMWs

        One would hope that the Germans have already saturated those markets, so how exactly are they going to sell them the cars they would have sold in the UK?

      • David S

        We have a far better trade balance with the rest of the world than we do with the EU, and our exports are already more competitive as a result of the fall in the value of the pound. The Eurocrats will want to erect punitive trade barriers, but German car manufacturers and French winemakers will not tolerate it. Unlike us, they have real clout in the EU.

        • gtanyware

          1. 50% of our trade is with the EU. Do some simple arithmetic on things that add up to 100.
          2. Eurocrats can want whatever they like but they don’t make laws. Elected politicians do.
          3. Why do you have such a low regard for Britian? As one of the biggest players we are extremely effective at influencing policy. How can we possibly expect to do better shouting insults from the outside than we do cooperating from within?

          • Jingleballix

            Jeez you’re stupid.

            1. EU nations will NEVER stop trading with us

            2. Eurocrats DO indeed make laws – MEPs who are elected can debate, but not amend any law…….they can’t even propose a law. Only 25% of UK’s law is made in Westminster – 75% in Brussels.

            3. UK has next to no influence in Brussels, because that ‘s the way the Eurocrats want it – they just want our money.

            Why do YOU have such a low regard for Britain – we could EASILY make it on our own, making new alliances.

          • gtanyware

            There seems little point in arguing with someone who makes up facts to suit their own prejudices, ignoring anyone who presents evidence to the contrary. I will be laughing at you when after Britain leaves the EU your employer takes away your paid overtime, your supermarket replaces beef with horse meat in your burgers and your local authority compulsorily takes away your house to make way for a toxic waste dump. All things the EU works hard to prevent. I don’t care – I live outside the UK where I don’t have to deal with self-destructive morons every day.

          • Jingleballix

            ……….you are well-and-truly crass……..you say you live outside the EU, is it called La La Land?

          • gtanyware

            No, it’s called home.

  • JonBW

    Firstly, credit is due to Professor Garton Ash for being honest and open (and especially for acknowledging his position as part of the pro-EU elite); it makes a refreshing change from the bullying that seems to characterise the ‘stay’ argument so far.

    We’re surely not far from the assorted Sir Humphreys, Captains of Industry, American Diplomats, European politicians and Conservative politicans who have abandoned their professed principles telling us to vote ‘Stay’ or every cuddly puppy and kitten in the land will have to be shot.

    However, the argument here really doesn’t stand up to scrutiny: the most stable period in European history (from 1945 to the collapse of Communism) pre-dated the emergence of the EU in its current form and owed more to NATO and the balance of power during the Cold War than anything else.

    Since then we have seen the wars in the FYR (which the EU helped trigger through its rushed recognition of the break-up states; the appalling consequences of the Arab Spring (which the EU sought to encourage without taking responsibility for the consequences); the emergence of an aggressive Russia (which the EU has done nothing to check); civil war in the Ukraine (which the EU helped to prompt through blatantly partisan but utterly inept dabbling); the reduction of Southern Europe to penury through brutalist austerity measures imposed to prop up the Euro; and now an unprecedented migrant crisis.

    At the same time, we are seeing a resurgence of the Far Right, Far Left and Populism that the EU elite fears but which is ultimately the consequence of its own actions.

    Western Europe was a ‘region of freely cooperating, prosperous liberal democracies’ up until 1992; it has ceased to be such a region precisely because of the EU; and the fact that the rest of Europe, Russia and Northern Africa have not become part of such a region is exactly because Western Europe has failed to act as one ready to embrace others.

    Instead, Europe is now a region of a novel and disturbing neo-imperialism: bureaucratic, self-righteous, undemocratic but without (thankfully) the military power necessary to impose peace on our neighbours.

    We must leave for the conservative reasons Prof. Garton Ash bases his argument upon.

    • HJ777

      I agree. It is good to see honest arguments whether or not you agree with them.

      One of the problems with the EU is that it neither fish nor fowl. It is neither a loose association of states who cooperate freely or a state with all the ability to act decisively that a state has.

    • drumroll please

      Western Europe has failed to embrace everyone not in Western Europe is your fatuous reason for leaving the EU? In the meantime Croatia joined the EU, Estonia joined the Euro, and one million people demonstrated on the streets of UKraine before civil war broke out. We were too far from that hotspot at the time condemned to the position of observer/spectator, doesn’t matter what I call it so please go with that one. As a result we find ourselves on the fringe of EU political expansion which is making us feel less relevant yet it should not as it affects almost everything we do. What will also affect us far more than others within Europe are the up and coming elections in the US, which are hardly anything to write home about in any positive way conceivable.

      • JonBW


        My reasons for leaving are that the EU is profoundly undemocratic, extravagant and elitist.

        It has proved itself entirely ineffectual in maintaining peace and security beyond its borders and is unnecessary to do so within Europe. It is now drastically reducing its ambitions because they have proved impracticable and have alienated European Citizens.

        We would be much more effective on the World Stage operating outside the EU, because we would not have to balance the competing national interests at every turn before speaking or acting.

        As an aside, the US elections are unlikely to make much difference to US Foreign Policy whatever anyone says: Obama has, in practice been more isolationist than any post-war president and that will continue whoever wins.

        • Isaiah

          “It has proved itself entirely ineffectual in maintaining peace and
          security beyond its borders and is unnecessary to do so within Europe.”

          I want to be honest with you Jon, that makes no sense whatsoever.

          • JonBW

            Sorry; I expressed it badly.

            What I meant was: the EU has proved itself entirely ineffectual in maintaining peace and
            security beyond its borders; and the EU is unnecessary to maintain peace and security within Europe itself.

          • irina palm

            From a military POV you may be correct, on a human level you are not. Everyone knows what shagging a real French/Polish/Swedish gerlfriend does to you. It changes you, boy.

  • PW

    This article misses one crucial point. From it’s very inception the EU’s main premise was for full political and monetary union even though it was originally sold to Britain as a Free Trade or common market only idea. In short we were lied to in the initial referendum. So when Timothy writes that ‘I have no doubt that western Europe took a wrong turn after 1989’ and then goes on to cite the reasons why he reinforces the case for us leaving. The other point overlooked by Timothy and virtually every other media source is that the EU are already drafting a new treaty which will lead to a ‘two tier’ Europe. Those who use the Euro and those who don’t. So David Cameron’s much vaunted ‘deal’ is nothing of the sort and as such is not worth the paper it is written on.

    • gtanyware

      “the EU are already drafting a new treaty” – there’s a plan to integrate the eurozone countries more closely, but that has nothing to do with Britain whether we leave or not. Talk about “a two tier Europe” is just a scare tactic that suits the anti-EU point of view. If the euro is such a bad thing why are you worried about the present members of it digging themselves an even bigger hole? Surely that’s cause for celebration?

      • Andrew Cole

        The remain side are pushing the premise that we know what we will get with a remain vote because we know what being in the EU is like.

        So the poster is correct. The eurozone is going to proceed on their ever closer union project and therefore the whole EU will change because part of it will move further and further away from those that are not.

        The position we hold the day after a remain vote might be the same as we know but it would very quickly change as the Fully integrated section of Europe moves onward.

        Neither the leave or remain side can proclaim they know what the future will entail because of this.

      • PW

        The only cause for celebration will be if we vote to leave in the referendum in June. The deal Cameron came back with isn’t written into a treaty. So when the new one comes out……after the referendum….he may well find that his ‘deal’ is in tatters and will not be recognized.

      • Roger

        The Euro is a bad thing and I pray that the EZ will form a FEZ asap, but I do not see any sign that Germany is prepared to share it’s treasure. We will see some quasi FEZ type of format that allows Germany to retain it’s treasures, but discipline those that do not conform to it’s imposed economic model. Yes there will be lowered risks with the EZ, but the EU will be dominated by that group. I do not see the role for the second largest economy in the EU which is based of a £Sterling Zone and foremost military power as an appendage in the EU. Best we leave and stop raising barriers to inhibit their desire for some quasi democratic nearly federalised nightmare. We have much better things to be getting on with.

  • SP_Davies

    This argument is not entirely based on “counterfactuals” as you state. The fact is Cameron has a “Neville” in his hand that he’s waving around claiming it stops the EU p@ssing on the UK. We are being aske to vote to remain based on trusting the EU never to renege on this agreement. An agreement that can yet be thrown out by MR Schulz and his fellow fanatics in the European Parliament. That is no guarantee of our treatment at the hands of Cameron’s “reformed” EU.if a majority of the British people vote to remain in the EU how do you think the EU will respond? “You British voted to stay, now accept ze consequences”.the EU will relentlessly move towards a federal state. That is it very reason for existing. Our own Parliament will be further undermined to the point of being an anachronistic tourist attraction. We cannot even decide what power kettles are sold in this country! How is that being in power? A supinated Britain has long been the fantasy of much of the world. They hate the fact that a country as physically small as ours has achieved so much. So much that we are taught to be ashamed of and regretful for by the Left. How interesting that it is the Leftist and so called centerists who are intent on keeping Britain chained to the sinking hulk of Europe. Still not managed to find any patriotism in your hollow souls?

    • tjamesjones

      no this isn’t true. this is the same specious arguments made by the horrible nicola sturgeon. If you vote to remain, you’re not voting for any deal done by Cameron or any promise made by anyone, you are VOTING FOR THE STATUS QUO. that’s a valid conservative option, and I say this as a conservative.

      • Andrew Cole

        But there will be no status quo very quickly. As those that are on the path to full integration move onward that will change things for us within the EU and therefore talking about a status quo or ‘we know what we get with the EU’ is false.

        We know what we get now. We know what we will get the day after a ‘remain’ vote. We do not know what we will get in the future because the actions that the federalist section take will have an effect on those of us that are not partaking of their dream.

        • tjamesjones

          oh dear. a vote for ‘remain’ is a vote not to make any change. It isn’t a vote that says nothing will ever change.

          I know there are UKIP true believers, you need to up your game if you’re going to make a case for ‘leave’ that appeals to >50% of voters in the referendum.

          it’s fine to say the EU’s a bit crap, that isn’t a case for leave, it’s a case that says the EU (like most things) is a bit crap.

          you can talk about full integration, but it’s not true, the UK is not on that path, the UK is not a member of the Euro, it is not a member of Schengen.

          • Andrew Cole

            I’m a Tory and not EU. Cameron is constantly claiming “we know what we will get if we stay in the EU” when that is a blatant lie. We know what we will get straight after the referendum however as those countries within the EU do move forward to ever closer union that means that we will not know how that in itself affects us and the others outside of that group.

            Its BS and both sides need to just state that there are no facts and stop trying to portray scaremongering as fact.

            Leave or remain – we have no idea what will happen in either scenario and you can take your pick of the predictions from the gloomiest to the most optimistic on both sides of the argument, they cannot be all correct.

            It is a downright lie to portray a remain vote as voting for the status quo and the only thing I agree with you on is it isn’t a vote that says nothing will ever change because we already know that once we do vote remain the cogs will continue to churn and we will increasingly be on the outside of the club with them chipping away at any advantages we have while we are unable to do anything about it.

            They will make EU wide policies that will stop non eurozone countries being able to counteract them if they favour eurozone countries.

          • tjamesjones

            Nothing here really amounts to a case for change. You’re not in an argument with Cameron, you’re in an argument with the status quo, that the UK is a member of the EU.
            You can point out correctly that the EU is a bureaucratic mess, and that’s not great. But it’s nice not needing a visa to visit, and it’s definitely useful to London businesses to have staff coming in from the EU. I’m unconvinced on the case for change, this case seems mainly the special property of true believer kippers who if I’m honest I find a bit on the nose.

          • Andrew Cole

            Do you think the farmer in the rural areas get more votes than the low skilled working classes? How do you think the Tories do so well in the rural areas?

            Because low skilled working classes in these regions do vote Tory and through the last decade they started to lose jobs and their wages slowed down to the point they were back to the NWM.

            The rural areas in the midlands has suffered immeasurably from EU migrants because the employers chose to ditch their UK workforces for a cheaper EU workforce that worked to will no matter if it does infringe their ‘workers rights’.

            Not needing a Visa to visit? Something that many of us do once a year (if we can afford it) is more important than people not being able to get a job or having seen their wages reduced in real terms over the past decade?

            I would quite agree that it is useful to London but then we are surely talking skilled workers for London hospitals, The City, the banking sector? All skilled jobs. Are you suggesting it has been useful to London because office cleaners are hard to come by?

            What about the UK citizens that local authorities are refusing to pay the housing benefit to and telling them to move out of London?

            This is about the whole of the UK and low skilled people across the country are the bulk of the out vote and we saw that with the Northern Labour councils losing a lot of their votes to UKIP. The traditional Tory voters in the north returned to them because they were promised a referendum. Not many up north were at all bothered about the Sturgeon/Eds risk. Up here it has been all about the EU for at least a decade.

          • tjamesjones

            I don’t disagree that it is possible that low skilled people see it in their interest to leave the EU. I don’t know if they’re right about that – it’s pretty hard to say what the impact will be, and it might not make them better off.

            But I don’t see that as much of a case. You don’t win the argument by illustrating that some relatively small segment of the country might be better, or worse, off by making a massive change to how the country operates.

          • Andrew Cole

            You may be right and I am not overly optimistic about a leave result however I think you underestimate just how large that segment of the country is. It isn’t just a couple of million displaced workers. It is their parents, their children (if old enough to vote) their friends who all hear first hand what has happened and quite often add that experience to many very similar ones they have heard from other friends etc.

          • Brian Jones

            As a lifelong Conservative I don’t really care if I need a visa to visit a European country , I already need one to visit the US and Australia, the same applies to remaining in the EZ, changing my currency is the least of my problems. The stay lobby seem obsessed with the economic risk and while I accept that the economy is important the UK is so much more than an economy and I want the freedom to sack my governors every few years if I’m dissatisfied with their performance but even though I get to vote for the farce that is the European Parliament that vote has no impact whatsoever on the way I’m treated as it’s the appointees on the commission that rule , and overrule , national parliaments.

          • tjamesjones

            Yep, visas are not the end of the world. But don’t worry about what the ‘stay lobby’ are saying – the onus on stay is simply to make objections, whereas the burden of proof on leave is to unite behind one clear alternative. Arguing about what Cameron has said is a sign that leave is hoping the debate will be reduced to one of emotion, but I think this country is too instinctively conservative to fall that way.

      • Conway

        There is no such thing as the status quo; the EU is always changing in the direction of ever closer union. People voted on a common market in 1975, thinking they were voting for a status quo and then look what happened!

        • tjamesjones

          there is a status quo, it’s a vote not to change anything. that doesn’t mean nothing will ever change, and I don’t know that needs spelling out, but so it seems.

          • Brian Jones

            It would appear that your idea of the status quo is restricted to the day after the referendum while most people mare looking beyond that. It doesn’t need spelling out at all.

          • tjamesjones

            this is how conservatism works: don’t change anything unless the reasons to do so are clear compelling. there is an emotional case for ‘out’ which isn’t bad, but there isn’t a compelling description of what will replace the current imperfect situation (because that is both unclear and also contested – there are no doubt a whole range of visions shared by outers, pulling in quite different directions. Yet there can be only one reality). Conservatives are comfortable with current imperfect situations, socialists are the ones keener on grand visions and 5 year plans.

          • Andrew Cole

            I think most Conservatives are sparkling examples of what convservatism is. They think that what will come next is a step too far and if the only way to avoid it is leaving then so be it.

      • goodsoldier

        You are voting to be capriciously ruled by Brussels and outvoted by 28 other countries who do not have the best interests of the UK at heart. You are voting to permit your justice system to be further harmonized and subsumed by EU law. This will all develop at a swift pace once the EU feels it been given the power to get away with any dictat they want. Authoritarians like Merkel will wreak further havoc across Europe and we will have no power to resist all that the EU forces upon us. Politicians like the EU because it removes their accountability and promises them lucrative EU jobs with vast salaries in future. It is the Politicians versus the British people and their interests.

        • tjamesjones

          yes of course, now it’s clear.

          • Brian Jones

            Sarcasm always loses against the truth.

  • 6Story5

    If “ever closer union” is just a residual lost cause, then we should have no problem in revising the terms of the UK’s membership of the EU. Rather than Cameron having to traipse around the continent begging for agreement about insignificant welfare provisions for immigrants, he could stay in London and have the 1972 Accession Act revised.

    Section 2.1 states clearly that EEC/EU law prevails over UK law, in other words that the European Court of Justice, according to parliament, is the EU’s supreme Court. At the time, Gaullist France was the dominant power in western Europe, Pompidou was President, and the Gaullists were in power. The gaullists had rejected, rightly, the ECJ’s claim to primacy in 1964, as without treaty basis and no more than judicial activism. The ECJ still has no treaty based powers. The Lisbon Treaty relegates the ECJ’s powers to an annex, and states categorically that it has no treaty based powers.

    So if ECU(ever closer union) is a lost cause, and the ECJ is no more than a convenience, there is no problem in the UK government simply rephrasing Section 2.1. to the effect that the Crown in parliament is sovereign?

    Stating that the Crown in parliament is sovereign does not mean that all EU proposals would be rejected, just that parliament would once again exercise its historical right to amend, revise, or reject any proposals, policies or commitments flowing from treaties signed in its name. A proposal deemed reasonable by parliament would be accepted. Policies long past their shelf life, like fisheries, would be rejected, to the great benefit of fisheries all around the coast of the UK.

    So why is it that Cameron has preferred to beg for crumbs rather than take the shortest and easiest route via revision of the 1972 Act? I have had two answers: one reported response from a former attorney general that this was too risky as it would give power to Sir Bill Cash and friends; and the other from Sir John Redwood, who emailed that there is no need for such a revision because the Outs will win.

    There we have it: fear as an inspiration for policy and an unBurkean confidence, as TGA points out, about the direction future events will take.

    Neither of these though provide an answer as to why Cameron has taken by far the most difficult possible route to renegotiate the EU’s relationship with the EU, rather than simply revise a few words in Section 2.1. of the Accession Act.

    There is only one possible reason: the UK government is themother of all supranationalists, more supranationalist than the Pope. It was in 1972 and it is now. In 1972, the remnants of de Gaulle’s foreign policy were in tatters. Germany under Willy Brandt, and definitely under Egon Bahr was drifting to neutrality in the cold war. France’s nightmare was a neutral and prominent Germany with a privileged relationship to the USSR. So Heath and Pompidou thought up a counterstrategy: a fully fledged economic, monetary and political union, with a large internal market etc, by 1980. The dream evaporated a few months after it was hatched.

    In 1985, Margaret Thatcher signed up to the large internal market. Here was a good supranationalist cause. National politics, alias “nationalism”, would be subordinated to rational, utiliarian economics. of course, European diplomacy intervened to nullify that delusion. Jacques Delors only fed the internal market as a bone to Thatcher and Kohl with a view to hitching his monetary union proposal to the EEC chariot. The disaster saw the light of day in the Maastricht Treaty.

    The Inners nowadays continue on the supranationalist and utilitarian themes of the large internal market, and of “nationalism” as their bugbear. The large internal market is advanced as the main reason for staying in. The other reason is encapsulated in the statement that nationalism caused 1914 and 1939, and the conclusion is that we’ll be back to 1914 in a jiffy unless we cement a new European supranational deal.

    This interpretation of the causes of 1914 is of course Germany’s interpretation: we are all to blame. As to 1939, Hitler went to war as a racial supranationalist. Had he been nationalist, as Reinhardt Spîtzy wrote in “So Haben wir das Reich gespielt”, he would have not invaded Poland. But he wasn’t a nationalist; he was a racist and wanted to create a Europe with Germany on top.

    Of course, the very idea that the supranational policy, plus a unitedGermany, have created the situation in Europe now is discounted. It is not salonfähig to talk about such matters. But the fact of the matter is that Germany is on top, and Europe is in deep trouble. The single (manufacturing) market and the single currency have augmented Germany’s position, and belittled France’s.

    We have been here before. We are not going to go to war. Despite the fact that during the single currency negotiations, the German Minister of Finance came to Paris and protested that if Germany was abandoning the DM could the French please ditch the force de frappe, France of course did not oblige. There was vague piffle that the force de frappe was directed southwards across the Mediterranean. The end of the misnamed Franco-German “tandem” came in May 2010, when Chancellor Merkel stopped pretending any more and told Sarkozy that a Transferunion was not on the cards, and austerity would be good for France.

    Merkel is the number one populist oif Europe: she took her policy bodily from the Bildzeitung.

    The real argument, which TGA avoids, is whether the UK should stay in to counterbalance a dominant Germany or stay out, and “Every nation for itself and God for us all.” in Canning’s phrase.
    Which is the most Burkean policy, In or Out?

    My answer is In on our own terms. The UK is not the UK with a neutered parliament. A neutered parliament has gone hand in glove with a supranationalist Europe, championed first and foremost by Whitehall. A supranationalist European policy has revived the balance of power in Europe, in Germany’s favour;

    The only Europe compatible with a UK that is the UK is a Europe of the states. We stay in, on our terms, and we alter Section 2.1.

    The opposition is home grown, not in Brussels. And the opposition is Cameron. He wants a neutered UK in a Europe, where Brussels is now a Berlin Vorort. That is most definitely not a Burkean position.

  • Michael H Kenyon

    Pshaw. We are used to business people and their political monkeys lying to us, so this is no longer a credible argument.

  • Lew Perry

    Why is the spectator trying to make a fool of itself?

    If Britain leaved the EU to the EEA and helped it to be transformed into a full-fledged common-market under Unece, liberalisation would be guaranteed, and all the acrimony towards germany and it’s unofficial control of the european comission would be dissipated.

    So… what has Mr. Ash to say in favour of the EC and supranationalism?

    • tjamesjones

      hey, while you’re at it, why not do world peace as well – you could arrange it all at the same meeting.

      • Lew Perry

        One thing at a time. 😉

  • Hidden Hand

    Garton Ash is a Russophobic neocon stooge. The subtext to this hogwash in favour of the ‘In Vote’ is to preserve US hegemony over the EU and promote its evil foreign policy.

    The man is a menace.

  • Frank

    Gosh, I didn’t know that Oxford had appointed Mr Pooter as Professor of “European” Studies.
    Minor point, the key issue is sovereignty not economics.
    Secondly you only have a choice if the EU is capable of surviving. Since it is in the process of tearing itself apart (abolition of free movement through the suspension of the Schengen Agreement), it will be a miracle if it survives Britain’s two year notice period!

  • Tamerlane

    This is too easy, sloppy writing. Here, Timoth Garton-Ash, whoever you are, try my version:

    ‘The ‘In’ camp want to risk decades of real peace and prosperity to attain a future full of implausibly rational statesman.’

    Too easy. And you got paid for it! Now there’s scandal.

  • jonathan sidaway

    Be a Tory and vote ‘Out’.

  • ajcb

    Timothy Garton Ash makes the argument that the rest of Europe benefits from the British input about governance and the correct relationship between the individual citizens and the authorities. But what about the (inevitable) compromises and inferior governance imposed by the EU collective upon the UK?
    This is not jingoism, it is merely the historical record. Continental Europe has — demonstrably and historically — a weaker record on elements of modern governance like the rights of the individual versus the state, free speech, fuller suffrage, and the separation of Church and state. Continental Europe’s trajectory towards democracy that was most recently profoundly broken by dictatorships in the 20th century, whether of the authoritarian (Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, Portugal) or totalitarian (Poland, Czech Republic, former Yugoslavia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria) variety. Nobody talks about this. It seems a Golden Opportunity wasted by the Brexit camp.

    • Zalacain

      So, your argument is that Britain has taught or led the way towards democracy, free speech etc. in Europe. And now, that Europe has mostly learnt these lessons it is time to distance Britain from the continent?

      • ajcb

        I am worried about how UK residents dodge the less impressive aspects of continental jurisprudence, for instance when it prioritises the “dignity of elected officials” over free speech. In France a young man was arrested and charged for holding a sign (with the infamous phrase “Casse-toi, tu pauvre c*n”) at a Sarkozy function because this offended the politician; in May 2013 an author was criminally prosecuted for calling the Portuguese president a “clown” (“palhaco”) on the model of Beppe Grillo in a tv interview. Financial ratings agencies have been sued for downgrades of sovereign debt threatening default in Italy and Greece. (Operators of) carnival puppets painted with episodes of corruption have been found guilty of defaming city mayors in Portugal. The authoritarian histories of these countries inform their legal landscapes in a way that would not happen in Britain. I know of a British resident who is currently being legally harassed by a Continental regulator and legal system for an opinion piece analysing the consequences of irresponsible fiscal policies — the British authorities are not in a position to challenge the extra-legal causes of this harassment (the policy-makers found criticism of their poor policies offended their honour) so the individual, a British resident, is indeed victimised by under-evolved Continental European governance practices.

      • HJ777

        The question is whether there has been sufficient cultural change in Europe.

        For example, Germany may be a ‘model democracy’ but they didn’t create the model. it was given to them. Other countries have, arguably, had to adopt greater democracy in order to join the EU – but is it really culturally ingrained?

        • ajcb

          Bingo: is it culturally ingrained? Or are there other things (for instance, human rights lawyers write about a “Mediterranean” notion of honour) that are ingrained that go against modern, democratic political values, that are forced upon us by the ever-closer-union?

      • Conway

        Europe has needed to be saved from itself on various occasions and we’ve had to be the ones to do it. If we’re in prison, who will save them this time?

    • HJ777

      This, of course, is the worry.

      Political figures in Continental Europe have, many times, steered Europe towards disaster with the UK looking on horrified and often unable to prevent such folly.

      The question is what is the best way to avoid this happening again.

      • ajcb

        That is one question (implied answer is: stay in). Another question is how the ever-closer-union leaves British citizens open to European notions of state-v-citizen relations that are not what we think are fair or just (implied answer: get out). And what those notions might be? Certainly research and publication is useful here.

        • HJ777

          If you are referring to our fundamentally different legal systems and constitutional arrangements, then I agree.

          • ajcb

            (And those systems’ and arrangements’ underlying VALUES, derived in the British case from the evolution of how possible it is to speak-truth-to-power once the Magna Carta sanctified it in principle, and in some Continental European countries how speaking-truth-to-power is still done rarely and gingerly due to residual values of military and ecclesiastical regimes (steeply hierarchical and top-down in discipline).

          • HJ777

            Magna Carta was really just a reaffirmation of the much older principle of English law that people had rights and that the crown/government did not have the right to overrule these and was not exempt from them.

    • Roger

      It does look like that democracy was not much prized by these countries as on attaining such they quickly sought to give it away.

      • Cobbett

        Democracy is definitely overrated.

  • HJ777

    “And one thing is certain: inside, we still have a chance of reforming it, outside we have none.”

    To me, this is the nub of the argument.

    But what if we stay in and we fail to reform it? Then would it have been a good idea to stay in or would we have committed ourselves to being outvoted by those determined not to reform but instead to continue to pursue policies not in our interest?

    • Those who still think we can (and indeed should) continue to push for reform after Cameron’s laughable attempt – and that this is a good enough argument to stay in – are simultaneously arrogant and deluded. Arrogant in that they still want to try and make 27 other countries do things our way and deluded because they believe they have a chance of making that happen.

    • Conway

      We’ve been trying to reform it for 43 years and have failed utterly. We couldn’t even reform it when we were threatening to take our money away. What makes you think it’s reformable?

      • HJ777

        I didn’t say I did think it’s reformable.

        Given the inertia of a body comprised of 28 members, one of the clear problems is how to gain agreement on reform even if most were to want it in one form or another.

    • Why do they even care about reforming it? They admit freely that its a disaster but somehow imply its our job to fix it when its not as our concern is our own island and people.

      • HJ777

        For the same reason that the UK has not been able to stay out of European alliances and conflicts – much as we would like to stand apart, what happens in Europe inevitably affects us.

        • tjamesjones

          excactly – there’s an important discussion to be hand, once you’ve got over “the EU sux”. the UK is going to have a relationship with the rest of Europe, and it is going to involve trade etc. the UK is already an “outer” for the common currency, and I think a lot of us would prefer a looser trade-based relationship with the EU. But I don’t know if that is an option, is it? And actually I’m quite OK with the free movement of people from within the EU, as are a lot of business people I know.

          • HJ777

            If that is the model you prefer, then it already exists and it is inconceivable that it wouldn’t be available.

            EFTA/EEA members (e.g. Norway) already have exactly such a relationship with the EU. Indeed, the UK is individually a signatory to the EEA agreement as well as being a signatory through the EU.

          • tjamesjones

            On the other hand you do need to make an allowance for spite (on behalf of the rest of the EU), and also their desire to punish a leaver. It’s not a very exciting reason to stay, but I don’t think there is a guaranteed path to a trade and free movement of people based deal.

        • PAUL BAKER

          Spot on just common sense when you think about it.

  • Conway

    I couldn’t get past “The Brexit camp want to risk decades of real peace and prosperity to attain a future full of implausibly rational statesmen”, I’m afraid. I’m sure Greece, Spain, Cyprus, Portugal et al are delighted with their “prosperity”. As for peace, we aren’t leaving NATO when we Brexit, are we?

    • Ulrika Westen

      Of course Greece, Spain, Cyprus and Portugal have never had a time as prosperous as they have now, notwithstanding the recent hardship.
      The same holds for Britain, even though some upper-crust and/or old people may (think they) remember better times.

      • PAUL BAKER

        True fact the rose tinted past as a 62 year old i remember the 60’s a vastly overated decade the worst time of my life. ps some people have short memory’s

    • mcepl

      Make a trip to Somme or Normandy and consider whether the last seventy years of peace were so self-evident and normal in Europe. Yeah, it could never happen in a 21st century Europe. People in 1914 believed to it as well. Call it a fear or perhaps it is just a prudence.

  • sidor

    A conservative argument of Lord Haw Haw.

  • Lady Magdalene

    This is a very long-winded way of Timothy Garton-Ash saying he doesn’t have any confidence in the British people and he’s scared of Johnny Foreigner.

    The whole pitch from the Remainians is one of FEAR. For goodness sake grow a pair.

    There’s a big wide world out there, and we used to sail the high seas trading with all of it – without having to ask permission of 27 other countries or follow instructions on how to tie up our shoelaces first.

    We do not belong in the kind of continental Europe the EU are creating. And they haven’t given up on integration; Ever Closer Union or a United States …. not by a long shot.


    • Ulrika Westen

      Fear, of course. Why do you think the Scots voted to remain in the UK ?
      Because of fear, of course.

      • Aberrant_Apostrophe

        The difference in the Scot’s case is that was real fear, not the faux fear peddled by Cameron – or whatever he calls it this week.

  • Chingford Man

    Garton Ash seems to have left out the EU’s splendid contribution to peace in Ukraine.

  • Jonathan Tedd

    We are actually not reading or listening to the pro arguments anymore. This group of nomenklatura jobsworths are about to face the real world.

    For an amusing dig at DC and his incompetent team visit surplus energy economics dot com – one comment posted is one of the best I’ve read in years.

  • Puzzled.

    I might have to stop reading The “Agenda” Spectator.

  • Ken

    Rather symptomatic that this well known europhile, safely ensconced in his academic ivory towers, quotes that arch-Stalinist stooge Brecht with approval….

  • John Andrews

    Pessimism often comes with advancing years, as Mr Ash demonstrates. But why doesn’t he mention the indisputable fact that it is NATO, the most powerful military force in history, that has preserved the peace in Europe. I dread to think what would have happened in Europe after 1945 with Russian expansionism and without American power.
    The point we should all focus on today is the revelation by the leader of the BSE campaign, Stuart Rose, that EU membership will sustain big bonuses for big bosses and low wages for everyone else. http://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/649308/EU-referendum-Lord-Rose-Britain-Stronger-Europe-UKIP-wages-Brussels-Cameron

    • WTF

      I agree, NATO has been air brushed out of Europes history during this debate but without it, we wouldn’t have a EU to debate !

    • Cobbett

      You can lick Yank butt if you like…I’ll give it a miss thanks.

  • sfin

    Every argument I hear for ‘remain’, especially the obvious lies, drives me deeper to ‘brexit’.

    This is actually a decent fist of an argument. But it is essentially saying that Europe has always been a basket case, in terms of democracy and governance – so we need to be attached to it to keep it within the realms of sanity.

    There is one reason that the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and other countries are governed the way that they are. There is also one reason why those countries are the wealthiest, healthiest and most educated countries in human history – call it the British way, if you like.

    British common law holds that everyone is equal under the law and that government cannot tell you what you can do – only what you cannot do.

    This is the opposite in Europe – where everything, including basic rights are granted by the state, under Napoleonic code law and the presidents of certain countries (like France, for example) are immune from prosecution.

    This basic legal premiss renders us, as Britons, totally incompatible with the EU…

    …unless, of course, we run it. But, we have have never run it, and at the moment, it is run by Germany

  • MikePage

    Would you like some firelighters to go with that straw man?

  • Cobbett

    I’m not a conservative…I’m voting to leave.

  • tenbelly

    It’s always about money isn’t it?
    What price our sovereignty, hard won over a thousand years?
    It’s quite obvious that Judas Cameron is willing to flog it for thirty pieces of silver.
    It’s worth more to me than that.

  • WTF

    The case for leaving, the No Spin Facts of EU Membership

    EU PROS –

    1/ Booze cruises to Caen, Le Havre & Dieppe but NOT Calais for obvious reasons !

    EU CONS:

    The only elected part of the EU is the European parliament consisting
    of rubber stamping clerks (MP’s) of whom we only have 1/28th of the
    vote. There is no real veto !

    2/ No control of our borders for stopping EU citizens who present a danger to the UK.

    3/ No veto over other EU countries who may grant EU passports to dangerous migrants they take in. Germany ?

    4/ Balance of trade imbalance against the UK of 100 billion a year.

    Depression of wages of unskilled workers forcing more Brits onto
    benefits which effectively subsidizes imported cheap labor. In essence,
    skewing the work force costs for the benefit of people like Lord Rose of
    the CBI, they get cheap labor from eastern Europe and the UK tax payer
    picks up the increased job seekers costs.

    6/ Very generous
    welfare benefits requiring no prior contributions from other EU citizens
    compared to Brit ex-pats in other EU countries who receive no welfare
    benefits. Just try and get ANY welfare benefit from any other EU country
    and you’ll be out of luck !

    7/ European Arrest Warrant which does not
    allow UK courts oversight to extradition requests that result in Brits
    being taken from the UK and thrown in a foreign jail. They are then left
    for as long as it takes for their legal system to take them to court.
    No legal aid and a completely different legal system to the UK and no
    free translators unlike the UK.

    8/ Crass lower power level
    directives such as vacuum cleaner or kettle power levels which do NOT
    save any energy in real life use. CE compliance cheats similar to VW
    pollution fiddles spinning a lie that these new products are lower
    energy and lower pollutants.

    9/ No benefits in trans country
    banking within the Eurozone that was promised when the Eurozone came
    into existence. Banks in Europe charge you for cashing cheques even if
    in Euros !

    10/ No civil law protection from failures or criminal
    acts by EU lawyers over failing to carry out due diligence like ensuring
    a house you are buying is legal or not. It cant happen in the UK as the
    Law Society has a fund to cover bad solicitors or lawyers and
    re-imburse you.

    • huh – shows how biased you are.


      2/ – Cheaper phone calls whilst on holiday in the EU
      3/ – Straighter cucumbers (although this may have been repealed the knock on effects are that cucumbers remain straighter)

      • WTF

        Not really relevant to my post but –

        2/ I use a local phone, its cheaper than roaming – When I can purchase a phone from Telefonica for €20 and it comes with €15 of PAYG thats a lot cheaper than roaming. Only those with surgically implanted smartphones need to watch Eastenders on the beach in Benidorm !

        3/ Who mentioned cucumbers, I didn’t

  • Cobbett

    Brussels economists claim Britain and other EU states
    will “need” 56 million immigrant workers between them by 2050 to make up
    for the “demographic decline” due to falling birth rates and rising
    death rates across Europe.

    The report, by the EU statistical agency Eurostat, warns that vast
    numbers of migrants could be needed to meet the shortfall in two years
    if Europe is to have a hope of funding the pension and health needs of
    its growing elderly population.

    It states: “Countries with low fertility rates could require a
    significant number of immigrants over the coming dec­ades if they want
    to maintain the existing number of people of working age.

    “Having sufficient people of working age is vital for the economy and for tax revenue.”

    The report, by French MEP Francoise Castex, calls for immigrants to
    be given legal rights and access to social welfare provision such as

    Ms Castex said: “It is urgent that member states have a calm approach
    to immigration. To say ‘yes’, we need immigration … it is not a new
    development, we must accept it.”


    Well there you have it.

    • WTF

      That’ll work, NOT.

      Letting in millions of migrants from an alien culture who are unskilled, live in the 6th century and want sharia law for the most part will destroy what little there is left of Europe that actually works. Good luck with that !

      • Cobbett

        Where have you been…It’s happening now….your rulers have already decided.

        • WTF

          If true, give it 50-70 years and pretty much all the real skills will have left Europe for the ‘New World’ & South America and Islam can have whats left behind and good luck with it. The immigration points system is well established down under, its gaining momentum in the USA and if Germany continues on its migrant programs, they’ll be a mass exodus from the EU but not the sort that Brussels wants. I can even see monetary controls being imposed to stem the flow of money leaving the EU region so if any one is thinking about leaving the EU, better get a move on before its too late.

          Some perspective here, it was primarily white Christians of Europe who conquered the world, were inventive, used science and created powerful countries in spite of warring among themselves and now there’s precious little hope now for the future and many of those with skills will bite the bullet and look to emigrate.

          I accept that ‘its’ happening now with illiterate migrants over running Europe like locusts, but when our governments refuse to protect us, we’ll look elsewhere to go. As we already know from national statistics that the birth rate from the indigenous races is no longer self sustaining, just a few generations will see them in the minority and made up by unskilled people of an alien culture who cant emigrate based on points or assets.

          Fast forward 150-200 years and Europe could well be like the middle east today, very few skills and little hope for the future and they’ll be two world orders, the Americas & Australasia where the skills are located and Europe & the Middle east where they dissolve into third world countries. That is my prophesy although I wont be around to see it !

          • Sue Smith

            I would encourage as many people of European heritage (i.e. culturally compatible) to come and live and work in Australia. Though they only issue 6 months working Visa here to white Europeans from everywhere (seems we’re the wrong colour and culture), I’d think your chances of success are much better from here than where you are there.

            We need people with IT skills right now. We have immigrants here on temporary 457 Visas from Asia because we have nobody with IT skills. This same visa system is being used to put cheap labour in the merchant navy and some mines.

            Australia needs EUROPEANS first!!

          • WTF

            If I was younger and hadn’t recently emigrated to America (my wifes an American) I’d have done that years ago.

          • Sue Smith

            I think America is another wonderful country, though it gets a ‘bad press’ because of The Donald. The GOPs have overnight done something via Romney to stem that decay. Fingers crossed, but WHERE are their eligible candidates?

          • WTF

            Our politics differ over this and Clintons IT specialist who set up that illegal email server that was used for state secrets has been given immunity from prosecution. According to all the legal pundits over here, that means that the chain of command going upwards will be on the spot at a grand jury hearing and who knows where that will stop and may include Clinton herself. Clearly the FBI feel illegal actions were taken and it all comes down to who if any will be the fall guys but it looks as if her time is numbered at least in ignoring this investigation and maybe far worse.

          • Sue Smith

            Points all taken. I am largely unaware of those allegations re emails. But I do remember some Clinton scandal from Arkansas way back when.

            I’m not a Democrat or a “progressive” because I’ve seen the unravelling damage of runaway “progressivism” on the social fabric. Those who have the most to gain from “progressivism” (and I despise that word) are mostly marginals, people from the “identity politics” side (read “Queer politics”), public servants and others on the public gravy train and the ubiquitious but dangerous ‘human rights’ industry. And, of course, judicial activism is one of the most anti-democratic phenomena we’ve seen come out of the trend towards ‘progressivism’ in the last decades.

            Really, the fear factor for me has been ramped up in the last few years because people seem to want to discard, with both hands, everything that was fought for in WW2.

          • goodsoldier

            I would rather have Trump any day than that liar Hillary in the White House.

          • Sue Smith

            Disturbing, but largely accurate, comments. I see German invitation to muslim nations as the Trojan Horse into Australia. They’ll become “german citizens” then seek to come to Australia.

            Let me be dead by then, please!!

          • WTF

            With proper vetting its possible to stop Trojan Horses if the will is there and the liberal progressives aren’t in control. The sort of back ground checks I went through on a I-120 US visa application not only covered obvious criminal checks that can be verified but parentage and cultural background as well. On police certificate checks, any country where I had lived for 5 years or more (if I recall correctly), I had to produce certificates from those police authorities, in my case, the UK and Spain. Clearly those sorts of checks are virtually impossible from states that have a serious terrorism threats and it may well be that ALL people from those countries are barred not because of religion, culture or race but due to lack of vetting ability.

          • Sue Smith

            I’d like to believe that what you say is possible here into the future. But we are living in the era of unfettered ‘human rights’ and this results in appeal after appeal after appeal and worn down politicians and noisy, vociferous activists. I’m seeing it every day here.

            Now, wait till you hear this little gem. We have noisy activists here trying to promulgate a “Safe Schools Program” in our country; this has ALREADY been instigated in Victoria. Lesbian and gay cultural marxists under the LGBTI BANNER have put together a program for schools to “stop bullying students who are lesbian/gay/bi-sexual/transgender/intersex”. This involves “role play” where boys dress in skirts and pretend to be girls and try to understand what it feels like to have your ‘inner girl’ and being bulled. Students are asked to role play and empathize.

            As an over-60 adult I’ve had my head done in over the past decades wondering about whether my friends or family are homosexual, looking for the smallest clues because I’ve been COMPREHENSIVELY brainwashed to think about it – it’s front and centre and won’t go away. Even on TV quiz shows if a man has a male friend in the audience (same for females) my husband and I both wonder if they’re gay – because we’ve been inculcated with the “Queen politics” message. IMAGINE HOW TEENAGERS ARE GOING TO NEGOTIATE THIS HORROR!!!

            And in my research about composer Prokofiev and his life in the USSR I remember reading about the golden hue of communism and its promise of utopia which soon lost its sheen and appeal as dissenters were rounded up and sent to the Gulag. Well, in this country we already have cultural gulags with the Thought Police controlling our public discourse.

            I’M OVER IT. A friend said yesterday, “you should be relaxed and not worrying about anything now that you’re retired” to which I replied, “I have children and grand-children”.

          • Bert3000

            So you’re in Australia? That explains the ridiculous suggestion that two of the most successful modern western economies are ‘basket cases’. Please stop interfering in our politics.

          • Sue Smith

            I wish I could be super parochial like you and only concerned with my own backyard but, alas, from my intensive reading I’ve learned what I’ve written about the said economies. You might have once been ‘successful and modern’ but not any more, sadly. Get into the real world before it’s too late.

    • mohdanga

      Great theory except for the fact that 95% of these enrichers won’t work and will take billions out of the system. And then who will pay for their pensions when they get old?? More immigrants, of course!

      • Cobbett

        Like they give a sh*t…they’d still but ‘stuff’

    • Sue Smith

      And your verbatim comments from the French MEP show precisely why that country is FINISHED.

      Ask yourselves whether you want your country to deteriorate the same way.

      • Ulrika Westen

        I live in France, having lived in Britain. I don’t share at all your son’s opinion. France is a great place to live in.

        • Sue Smith

          I guess it’s easier to see the woods when you are not actually in the trees.

          And, I suppose, it depends on WHERE in France you live; it’s a big country. Some of those little villages look good.

          • Ulrika Westen

            I said I saw both woods (British and French) and both trees, from inside and from outside. Being neither British nor French I love Britain and adore France.

          • Sue Smith

            I’m happy for you. But you cannot deny that France is a basket-case.

          • Ulrika Westen

            And so is Britain, I’m afraid. We’re all in the same boat, whether inside or outside EU.
            Take care.

          • Sue Smith

            Don’t think it gives me a scintilla of pleasure either!!!

          • frogman

            Neither Britain nor France are anything like basket cases today – some of the best in world; I live in both; but if you want real basket cases look to Africa and other places where insular militancy akin to Brexit thinking are the daily norm. Take CARE my English brothers and sisters. My Dad was captured in a bloody war and ended up in German prisoner war camp, and my was mom bombed out of Birmingham. Prof Ash is right: We have had a very fortunate three decades .We have come a long, long way since my parent’s miseries, which were endured under the leadership of Boris’ hero. Why idolise that period of pain? Listen to Prof Ash – DONT GO CRAZY WITH ISOLATIONIST VISIONS OF FALSE GANDEUR; AND PLEASE MINIMISE RISK!

          • WTF

            Thats exactly why many French actually moved to the UK despite years of animosity between us !

        • Bert3000

          Maybe that’s because you actually exist.

        • WTF

          Unless its Calais, Marseilles or some of the districts of Paris !

    • pooh

      Have they been asleep for the past 60 years whilst their people were getting older and then the governments just opened there eyes & there they were all these old people. This is a planned and deliberate
      Genocide of the Peoples of Europe.

  • Nice try, professor. And utterly unconvincing. I can’t believe that is the strongest case you can make.

  • frank davidson

    Poor stuff. Stopped reading when he stated that the USA and China had free trade deals with the EU.

    • Hippograd

      But he’s a leading historian and public intellectual! At Oxford, no less. And he writes for the Guardian.

      • frank davidson

        Oh dear, never mind.

    • pooh

      Me to.

  • All very worthy but don’t they already over-rule us for the various things we’ve asked for? I don’t call that being influential at all though I agree they will more likely be as awkward post-Brexit.

    PS He mentions ‘look at the history’ while conveniently ignoring the Islamic elephant…

  • Sue Smith

    Voting “IN” means you get everybody squatting in Calais and a whole lot more besides.

    Advice 1: find the worst bottom line and use that as a benchmark of what you’re prepared to tolerate.

    Australia was left high and dry when Britain (a major trading partner) formed alliances with Europe. We regrouped and formed trading partnerships with Asia and it’s powering ahead.

    Advice 2: One door closes and another opens. It’s up to you!!!

    And you have already lost much of your sovereignty courtesy of the UN. How much more are you prepared to surrender?

    Advice 3: Refer to Advice 1.

  • Chris

    Admits to not even being conservative, yet Spectator chooses him to represent conservative views on EU. Is this the best the Tory party can now do?

  • Epigramero

    Many years ago I found myself looking in the Spanish edition of the Collins Sons History of Europe for information about the English Civil War. Lost my good 10 minutes to realize that there was no section about it. UK is not Europe, and Cameron has committed a serious mistake by not realizing that the British would vote with the heart and not with the mind. Goodbye England, it was nice while it lasted.

    • Sue Smith

      Please don’t give up; there’s too much riding on this. Open, intelligent, reasoned debate is ESSENTIAL. See my other comments below.

      Don’t be frightened and intimidated by Cameron and his cohort of luvvies for the EU. Do your own thinking. There’s no other choice for you really.

      The EU is ugly indeed, from where I’m sitting right now.

    • sidor

      The title of the book sounds as meaningless as “History of Asia”. This point was perfectly formulated by Bismarck: “Anyone discussing Europe is talking nonsense: it is just a geographical notion”.

      Britain, like Russia, is geographically in Europe: but this has no civilisational or historical significance. In the last World War Britain, in alliance with two other non-European powers, was fighting against the Continental European Empire.

      • Cobbett

        What bollocks….England is a part of Europe as much as Germany or France…what you care to call civilisation is European in origin…..and why continually bring up the bloody war?

        • sidor

          Let’s see the well-known facts. Both Russia and Britain are parts of geographically defined Europe. Historically, both Britain and Russia were always threatened by the invasions perpetrated by the builders of the continental European Empire. Britain’s first experience was the Roman invasion. EU is a continuation of this tradition.

    • Alex

      Have you stopped to consider the possibility that Collins, a British publisher aimed at the British market, might have considered it best to have separate books for British and European history, which were then dumbly translated into Spanish separately? Hachette or Larrousse might well publish a French history separately to a European history and I don’t think I would expect this to change if they published an English language version.

      Of course it was true in the past that the UK was not Europe: when geopolitics was about military ground (easy) or sea (hard) invasions, the reason for our different paths was clear. But nowadays geopolitics is about the economy, which is not geographically constrained since we developed mass international transit and telecommunications.

      Brexiters look to take us back to the 1700s, before long-range infrastructure, or even the 1500s, before the capital markets.

      • pooh

        That’s not what ‘people’ who wish to leave the EU want. They are looking forwards to the future not backwards as you are to the history books.

        • Alex

          Yeah great, a brave new dystopia where we don’t even have any statutory holiday. Just like America, to which we will be a powerless vassal.

  • Sid Falco

    Jesus, this guardianista is an absolute d-head. It’s sad that he’s the best the In crowd can come up with.

  • John Moss

    A basic flaw in this argument is the assumption that the UK would have to make new trade deals where the EU already has them. As a “successor state” under the Vienna Convention, we continue to trade with third party nations on the same basis.

    Where the EU doesn’t have them, we’re covered by GATT/WTO rules already and can make deals as we see fit, probably a lot faster than the EU ever will.

    I agree it is trade that creates peace (certainly not political and economic union) and that trade would continue. So the rest of the article fails because it’s basic premise fails.

    The truth is that little will change on day 1 of Brexit. Even those things which we will “repatriate” will come over time as transitional deals are bound to be struck. What will happen is we will no longer be bound into things we don’t wan to be bound into like the Charter of Fundamental Rights or the EU’s Social Chapter, either explicitly by QMV over-rules, or implicitly as the ECJ impose these on us anyway despite supposedly “watertight” opt-outs and protocols.

  • popperpop

    “I think all these networks of cooperation are needed to prevent them falling back into bad old ways.”

    Agree, networks of cooperation are good. But the EU project is about control, not cooperation.

    For years Europhiles, such as this author, have been claiming that there is no longer any desire for “ever closer union”. But regardless, behind the scenes, EU power grows and sovereignty is chipped away. Until we get to a stage when it can be claimed that the UK is no longer capable of governing itself.

    It is the sheer undemocratic dishonesty of the EU project that grates.

    Brexiters are not irrationally optimistic of life post-EU (as tediously claimed by Remainers), but they regard the risks of staying in a dysfunctional power-bloc greater than joining the vast majority of countries in the world not in the EU.

  • John Robertson

    I too feel that the greater good is served by remaining in the EU. The economics of ‘Out’ will never trump ‘In’ and how could it be. Even if it were cost neutral (which would require the delusion and fact denial abilities of Scottish Nationalism) there is so much more at stake.

    If Nationalist Separatists would have won in Scotland we would be sitting wondering what NHS hospitals to close. What councils to close. What currency to use. What institution to borrow from. The rest of the UK would have quite rightly said “Your on your own – we’re looking after our own”. This would happen to some extent in the UK left Europe. There would be no imperative for goodwill.

    Much as Anglophobic Nationalists in Scotland blame England for their ills so does the UK ‘Outers’ blame Europe for British ills. And that leads to mistrust, gripe and grievance, protectionism, insular nationalism & trade wars.

    We in the West are too conceited in thinking that we would not ultimately go to war thinking we are too civilised. Not to say we would be the aggressors but it would stem from the fragmentation of Europe. Having soldiered and civilianised witnessing Nationalism in Scotland, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia and Ukraine it’s all too similar in rhetoric.

    Europe has provided a legitimate legal and political forum in which we played by similar rules for the past 70 years and although not perfect for every country the cost of this fragmenting would ultimately cost all of us a lot more.

    • WTF

      It wasn’t English nationalism that blamed Scotland for English problems it was Scottish nationalism that believed they would be better off out than in. Of course since the oil prices plummeted they went very silent over their belief they would be better off out of the UK.

      Quite how you can link the English NHS to Scotland leaving and having to fund its own NHS without English subsidies is ridiculous in the extreme. If Scotland had left, it would be their problem to decide what currency to use, whether they could join the EU or Eurozone and all the other daft points you raised.

      As far as costs go with the EU, the best guess is that on figures available, we would be slightly better off out then in based on our contribution to the EU. We can talk about trade but there’s an imbalance there that if tariffs were imposed by the EU we would actually be better off due to reciprocity.

      As for playing by the same rules, is the French or Spanish legal system the same as the English legal system ? Of course it isn’t which is why we have this unfairness on EAW where a English (UK) citizen can be hauled off to Spain without any checks or balances by a UK court and left to rot for a year or more before facing an alien legal system.

      You’re as bad a MA, all froth, no facts and just personal assertions. At least try and back up what you claim so we can debate it ! Or perhaps you’re really MA under a different name !

  • Coromandel

    Ever closer union is not dead, nor is it diminished, it is the end goal of the EU and always was from the start. The worse things get, the more the EU thinks ever closer union is the solution.

    As for the comparison of the last 50 years with what went before, you totally fail to take into account the changed perspectives across europe after WW2. The prime mover in creating the 2 horrific wars of the 20th century was Germany. A prime mover in creating the EU was also Germany – not because Germany wanted to take over Europe but because Germany wanted to avoid another similar war.

    The fervent desire of Germany to stop that happening again is exactly what has stopped it happening again – the EU adds nothing to the case.

    However, if there has been anything since WW2 likely to arouse anger, nationalism and chaos it has been the EU and it’s total lack of democracy. The EU is heading towards an unpleasant and quite possibly highly dangerous future and the departure of the UK may be the only event which could make the EU stop and rethink before it is too late.

  • Hippograd

    Anyone who wants more words of wisdom from this leading historian and public intellectual can drop in at the Guardian. Sadly, he seems to have stopped wearing his bow-tie, but it’s still there in a very real spiritual sense:

    After her finest hour, Merkel now needs help from all Europe

    German society will have to change some of its settled ways rather rapidly. We did a comparative study at Oxford University of the integration of migrants and post-migrants in five leading western democracies: the US, Canada, France, Britain and Germany. There were several areas (though by no means all) in which Germany was clearly the standout laggard (most obviously, restrictive laws on dual citizenship).

    Germany will hardly become the Canada of central Europe, but it has to find its own way for people to feel at home as Syrian Germans, Iraqi Germans, Afghan Germans, Muslim Germans. This is perhaps the last and greatest challenge for Germany’s extraordinary leader.

    Merkel’s Finest Hour

  • orsonhinds

    “The problem we all face in making this choice is that it is unavoidably based on counterfactuals: what would happen if…”

    That is not a counterfactual and I’m rather surprised a man as apparently erudite as Garton-Ash (this article appears to indicate he’s a man who likes to leave his education on permanent display) doesn’t seem to know this. A counterfactual is not a “What would happen if we left the EU?” That’s speculation – the second conditional. A counterfactual is a “What would have happened if we had left (or had not left) the EU…?” – the third conditional.

    To the point, though, my deepest concern is that we play it safe, as men Garton Ash would love us to. Just remember that he is pretending to be reasonable here for the benefit of this publication’s readership. You only have to read his borderline hysterical pieces in the Grauniad with their casual, caustic insults against Euroscpticism in general and Brexiteers in particular, to realise he is nothing of the sort. He’s a fanatic.

    If we play it safe (which is a myth anyway) and remain with this EU monstrosity, we will have plenty of time to play with counterfactuals like “If we had voted the other way and left the EU when we had the chance, would we still have some democratic control over our nation’s destiny?” A counterfactual is a kind of regret, you see. So I think we should be brave and go with the second conditional Garton-Ash mistakes as the third: “If we left the EU and reclaimed our birthright in the name of our children, I wonder what they would make of that gift. Let’s see…”

    That is a clear-headed, faithful hope that grows from the ideals of a healthy, evolving, reforming, self-perpetuating, self-confident and courageous democratic nation that’s knows its history and its place in the modern world.

    It is not the counsel of despair offered by frightened Europhiles like Garton-Ash who offers this, a simple first conditional proposition based on a number of extremely depressing and largely false assumptions: “If we don’t stay with Europe then we will collapse into poverty and Europe will collapse into chaos and possibly war”. This is what these hysterics are actually saying!

    In the end, it boils down to this: which vision do you prefer? My camp’s or his? Make up your mind and then stick to your decision!

  • Cobbett

    MIGRATION TIMEBOMB: Europe braced for ‘uncountable influx’ as Turkey wins visa-free travel

    EUROPE is facing a mass migration timebomb with a
    visa-free travel deal for Turkish citizens set to unleash an
    “uncountable influx” on the continent, a top German politician has

    Officials in Brussels offered Turkey £2.3 billion and visa-free travel
    if it clamps down on the number of refugees making their way into Europe
    through its borders.

    But today a prominent German politician
    warned EU leaders may have robbed Peter to pay Paul, shutting off one
    influx but opening up the continent to 80 million Turkish citizens.


    I can’t think of many better reasons for leaving the EU than the prospect of millions of Turks flooding Europe.

    • Mary Ann

      I can’t think of a worse source of information than the Express. It makes the Wail look moderate.

      • WTF

        At least it has facts which can be checked unlike your vague posts !

  • slyblade

    Sorry but i just couldn’t read it all to the end it was such a joke. Timothy Garton Ash must be living in some Parallel universe. His arguments for staying have been disproved many times and all he is doing is regurgitating EU propaganda. I should think by now that keep repeating the same old vacuous nonsense will not make it true.

    • Mary Ann

      Just carry on burying your head in the sand, the outers do think that everything is going to go their way they haven’t got any contingency plans for when it doesn’t.

      • WTF

        As do the reaminiacs, at least I hope they have a contingency plan when we leave !

  • TheJustCity

    Garton-Ash has written with some empathy about Poland’s struggle to free itself from the control of the totalitarian communist empire. Now his narrative reads as a betrayal of such struggles. It is, perhaps, of significance that he will be disparaging of the current polish administration’s defiance towards the diktats of the EU and its kommissars whilst exhibiting a Corbyn-like approval towards and affinity with Islamists and reactive condemnation of Israel. His identification as a small ‘l’ Liberal is, at least, sound.

    TGA should understand that it’s not for nothing that the EU is dubbed the ‘EUSSR’.

    • Isage000

      The Poles are if anything more patriotic, unified and proud as a nation than we are. I hope they get their sovereignty back too.

  • Isage000

    It was sold to the British nation as a common trading cooperative. The establishment quite deliberately concealed the plan to surreptitiously surrender our sovereignty and democratic self governance by deceit. We have a settle to score, and in particular with treacherous left-leaning faux Conservatives.
    I have no particular animosity to an Oxford don, since the academic fraternity are now so politically radical their views are wearily predictable and ignorable.

    • Mary Ann

      Closer union was in the Treaty of Rome, it wasn’t a secret, I knew about it, in fact it was my single biggest reason for voting in favour, no more wars in Western Europe, and now it has been extended to most of Eastern Europe as well. Great. And when I decide that Northern France is too cold in the winter, I can go and live in the South or in Spain or Portugal with very little fuss, if we remain, any of us can do the same, all it takes is a little courage, you don’t have to be rich now.

      • WTF

        NATO stopped wars not the EU and if it hadn’t been for American troops we’d be part of Russia !

        • Mary Ann

          And what about some credit for British Troops, Actually it was probably the threat of Russia that helped to bring Europe together, no one in Western Europe wanted to be part of Russia and once the cold war was over Eastern Europe wanted to join the West because they could see it was better. In my father’s time there were two world wars fought and in my time there were none, which is how I want it to stay for my children and my children’s children.

          • WTF

            I include ALL contributing members of NATO including Brits, shame it
            took the French 43 years to join the winning side (NATO) who won the
            peace but we’re used to that with them. It was the threat that NATO
            posed to Russia that kept the peace. MAD and military force kept the
            peace not a bunch of over paid pen pushers in Brussels !

            Time for some French Jokes –

            Q: How do you confuse a French Soldier?
            A: Give him a rifle and ask him to shoot it.

            Q: What’s the motto of the US Marine Corps?
            A: Semper Fi (Always Faithful)

            Q: What’s the motto of the French Army?
            A: Stop, drop, and run!

            Q. Why don’t Master Card and Visa work well in France?
            A. They do not know how to say “CHARGE!”

            Q: What do women who are snipers in the French military use as
            A: Their armpits.

            Q: Why do the French people seem so bent on kissing Jacques
            Chirac’s a** ?
            A: Because the French, in general are less sensitive to bad smells
            and certainly more tolerant of bitter flavors!!

            Q: What do you call a French man killed defending his country?
            A: I don’t know either, its never happened!

            Q: What Does “Maginot Line” mean in French?
            A: “Speed bump ahead”

            Q: What’s the new French flag look like?
            A: A white cross emblazoned on a white background!

            That’ll do for now !

    • Andrew Wood

      Read the official No leaflet from 1975 and you will see how little the issues have changed and the No campaign said very similar things in 1975 but the country still voted to stay in the EC by 67%

  • frogman

    Prof Ash has written the most sensible article that I have read to date on this subject.

    • Mary Ann

      It’s easy to see why what Hollande said about what France might do upset the outers, he is simply putting France first, what else does anyone expect the other countries of the EU to do.

      • WTF

        Just as the UK should put us first !

        • Mary Ann

          Of course that’s why we should stay in the EU

          • WTF

            Still waiting for those verifiable facts from you !

  • Partner

    He bases his views on a ‘careful analysis in the Financial Times’. What planet is he living on?

    • Badger

      Planet Bubble.

    • OmnipotentWizard

      A more rational one than you.

  • Badger

    A lot of words and nothing new said. This is just as rehash of the ‘uncertainty’ argument. I would argue there is a good deal more uncertainty in remaining, juxtaposed with the ‘certainty’ that ever closer union is the goal. You conflated average Germans with politicians, who seem as committed as ever to ever closer union.
    You also forgot to mention democracy and self determination and tried to frighten us with ridiculous fearmongering about descent into ‘disintegration, national hostilities, xenophobia and illiberalism’.
    And did you even mention the little people, Mr Elite supporter of the EU? How do you think the EU is working for the graphs on their walls, for their economies, their prospects for peace and prosperity under this insane dictatorship?

    So yes, I for one do certainly dismiss your arguments as more elitist project fear tosh.

    • Mary Ann

      And of course 70 years of peace among the countries of the EU, Churchill would be proud.

      • Badger

        The EU did not exist 70 years ago.

        • Mary Ann

          True but it was started to keep the peace,


          • Badger

            That is not explicitly stated, on a page full of weasel words.

            I would suggest the EU is causing a great deal of tension to put it mildly.

          • Mary Ann

            Only for those who dislike it, for those of us who are benefiting it’s good,

          • Badger

            How are you benefitting?

          • WTF

            NATO kept the peace as the EU has no military force, get it right please !

          • Mary Ann

            You don’t need an EU army to keep the peace in Europe, why are the outers so begrudging of the reason that the whole business was started, not good for your cause, is it. Anyway, what about the US invading a commonwealth country, NATO didn’t stop that.

          • WTF

            You’ve answered your own question but don’t realize it, the reason there wasn’t a need for an EU army was because of NATO keeping the peace. Coincidentally NATO is made up of 28 countries contributing to their mutual security of which the majority are European.

            You need to ask yourself this question, why has the EU recently been trying to create a EU military force when one is not needed for the protection of Europe from outside ?

            1/ There is no need for it with NATO
            2/ There’s enormous extra costs at a time of recession
            3/ Is it just a PR exercise by the Eurorats ?
            Is it the fact that NATO is not subservient to the EU and they cannot tell it what do do !

            That’s probably the real reason for wanting a EU military force so when their EU project goes t*** up they’ll have some military muscle to bring member states into line.

            History would bear this out as the two world wars took allies from more than just France & the UK to stop Germany and they came as far a field as Canada, Australia, New Zealand and America to name just four. NATO is almost a mirror image of WWI & WWII allies but with the formerly fascist protagonists on board as well (Germany, Italy & Spain) plus Turkey for ME logistical reasons.

            Mainland Europe on its own has always been a basket case when it comes to peace and many times previous to the 20th century the UK went in to sort out aggressors all over that continent. The EU would like to have its own force at their beck and call and that’s scary in the current climate after their imposition of technocrats in Italy and bullying Greece after knowingly letting them join the Eurozone despite being bust. Thats the sort of operation I would have expected from the Krays, suck someone into debt and then beat them up to get pay back.

            As for Grenada, a bad conflation as a bunch of armed ‘pirates’ basically took over the Island, it was on the US back porch and more expedient for them to go in than us foot the bill. In reality it did us a favour, democracy was restored (real democracy not EU style democracy) and it didn’t cost us a penny !

          • WTF

            No, it was started as a French-German coal production trading agreement 1950-1957.

            The first step in the process of foundation of the European Community was given by the French Foreign Minister, Robert Schuman. In a speech inspired by Jean Monnet, Schuman proposed that France and Germany and any other European country wishing to join them pool their coal and steel resources.

            Try researching history for a change !

      • WTF

        So American ‘occupation’ of Germany and other NATO countries from 1945 till now had nothing to do with it ?

    • OmnipotentWizard

      “…juxtaposed with the ‘certainty’ that ever closer union is the goal….” That goal is dead and our deal keeps us out of that anyway.

      “…average Germans with politicians, who seem as committed as ever to ever closer union….” And you know that because…?

      “And did you even mention the little people,…” Are those the little people who are so much richer since we joined the EU?

      “…Mr Elite supporter of the EU?” Who are these elite you keep talking about?

      • Badger

        The goal of ever closer union is not dead and it is naive or dishonest to deny it. I know this because they have said so, it’s well documented.
        The little people have had their wages depressed, they are not richer for having to compete with an unending influx of labour in the market.
        The elite are the media, corporate and political interest that are engaging in project fear. What do you want, names and addresses?

        • OmnipotentWizard

          “I know this because they have said so…” Who are “they”. The game has changed and you will always find federalist that think it hasn’t if you try hard enough. But the game HAS changed.

          “The little people have had their wages depressed,…” In the UK wages have been largely frozen because of the recession (not the EU) but have now recovered.

          “…they are not richer for having to compete with an unending influx of labour in the market.” Who are “they”? If you mean shareholders then they have done a lot worse across the recession than wage earners – wages were frozen but dividends were cut.

          “The elite are the media, corporate and political interest that are engaging in project fear. ” They don’t all speak with one voice. And bear in mind that what is good for corporation is also good for the general public (it is this principle that makes capitalism work so well).

          “What do you want, names and addresses?” As you just claimed to know the average German’s opinion I just wonder how that was. Unless you were just making it up.
          Wizard Rule 8: Just because you want something to be true that doesn’t mean it is.

          • Mary Ann

            Yes I didn’t get any dividends on my shares between 2008 and 2014.

          • OmnipotentWizard

            Exactly Mary – wages earners saw their income frozen and moan a lot; fat cat shareholder saw their income drop and hardly complained.

          • Badger

            Backing a key pledge in the founding Treaty of Rome, the officials said:
            “We remain resolved to continue the process of creating an ever closer
            union among the people of Europe. http://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/642700/European-Union-France-Germany
            “”The little people have had their wages depressed,…” In the UK wages
            have been largely frozen because of the recession (not the EU) but have
            now recovered.” Says you.
            “They don’t all speak with one voice. And bear in mind that what is good
            for corporation is also good for the general public (it is this
            principle that makes capitalism work so well).” Nonsense.
            I claimed to know what German politicians opinions are. The article we are commenting claims to know what the average German thinks.

          • Mary Ann

            The Express! you don’t take anything you read in there seriously, do you? it’s worse than the Wail, full of hate.

          • Badger

            So they’re lying?

          • Mary Ann

            They wouldn’t let the truth get in the way of a good rant.

          • Badger

            Answer the question.

          • WTF

            The ‘lady’ is not for answering any questions, its beyond her skill set !

          • Mary Ann

            Probably. Is the same story in the Indy?

          • Badger

            Is that a yes or a no?

          • Mary Ann

            That depends on whether it is in the Indy, if the Indy says the same thing then it could be true, but if it doesn’t then it is probably false.

          • Badger

            Yes or no?

          • OmnipotentWizard

            “Backing a key pledge in the founding Treaty of Rome, the officials said:…” So? That doesn’t mean the members will follow the path and anyway in the UK the Cameron deal will allow us not to be part of this while we still benefit from the market. Best of both Worlds.

            “In the UK wages have been largely frozen …Says you.” Not just me:
            “Wages are now rising at a stronger pace than inflation for the first time since 2009, easing the squeeze on household budgets. Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said …Real incomes will be further supported by lower energy, food and other import prices. Oil prices are now 20% lower than a year ago and food price inflation is at a 12-year low.” (Yahoo 12/11/2014)

          • Badger

            “That doesn’t mean the members will follow the path” DELUSION ALERT!!!!

            “Wages are now rising at a stronger pace than inflation for the first time since 2009” Wages? a broad term no? On average? This is meaningless unless you break the figures down. ‘Real incomes’ are not wages and prices tend to fluctuate.

          • OmnipotentWizard

            “”Real incomes’ are not wages and prices tend to fluctuate….” You did understand that inflation is a measurement of price fluctuation and therefore when “Wages are now rising at a stronger pace than inflation” it means “real incomes” are rising. QED.

          • Badger

            If you have too much of something in a market, it’s value decreases.
            ‘Real incomes’ are not wages, and furthermore the average ‘real income’ will not be a good indicator of the wages of low earners.
            You didn’t break down the figures did you. You simply tried to bamboozle and obfuscate.

          • OmnipotentWizard

            “If you have too much of something in a market, it’s value decreases.” So? That doesn’t matter to the consumer. If it is something they want to buy and the prices has decreased that is all that matters. The reason for the price decrease is irrelevant.

            “‘Real incomes’ are not wages, …” That’s what the Governor of the BoE said and you took issue with. Have you changed your mind? Remember where we stated “Wages are now rising at a stronger pace than inflation…”

            “…the average ‘real income’ will not be a good indicator of the wages of low earners….”
            It needs to be taken together with equality. This is measured by the GINI coefficient and this hasn’t changed much for the UK in the last generation – Wikipedia has some nice graphs on this. Also the IEA says:
            “…there was a rise in inequality in the 1980s, but every standard measure shows no rise since 1990. The top decile (the top 10 per cent of earners) has not raced away from the rest of pack. On the contrary, their share of income has declined slightly since 1990. There is, however, evidence that the top 1 per cent (and the top 0.1 per cent) have increased their share of income, but this has not come at the expense of the bottom 90 per cent: incomes have increased across the board. Despite the recession, average real incomes are twice as high as they were in 1977.” (iea website: Income inequality: the facts)

            I always like destroying peoples prejudices with a few facts.

          • Badger

            Move the goalposts, wall of text. You destroy nothing.
            I spent a whole day dealing with you two trolls. Now do one, you’re convincing nobody here.

          • OmnipotentWizard

            troll (n) – a person who is able to destroy Badger’s prejudices with a few facts

          • Badger

            Oh look, I can copy and paste too. I’ve taken out paragraphs just to make it more of a wall for you. “It is important to distinguish between the effect of immigration on the
            average wage of all workers in the economy, and on the wages of
            different groups of workers along the wage distribution (e.g. low,
            medium and high-paid workers). It is possible, for example, that
            immigration leads to a rise in the average wage of all workers, but to a
            fall in the wages of some low-paid workers. Similarly, immigration may
            not affect the overall employment outcomes of existing workers, but it
            may impact on the employment outcomes of specific educational groups. The impacts of immigration on the labour market critically depend on the
            skills of migrants, the skills of existing workers, and the
            characteristics of the host economy. They also differ between the short
            and long run when the economy and labour demand can adjust to the
            increase in labour supply. The immediate short run effects of
            immigration on the wages and employment of existing workers depend
            particularly on the extent to which migrants have skills that are
            substitutes or complements to those of existing workers (e.g. Borjas
            1995). If the skills of migrants and existing workers are substitutes,
            immigration can be expected to increase competition in the labour market
            and drive down wages in the short run. The closer the substitute, the
            greater the adverse wage effects will be. Whether and to what extent
            declining wages increase unemployment or inactivity among existing
            workers depends on their willingness to accept the new lower wages. If,
            on the other hand, the skills of migrants are complementary to those of
            existing workers, all workers experience increased productivity which
            can be expected to lead to a rise in the wages of existing workers.” (migration observatory 22nd May 2015) Crap citation isn’t it. Didn’t fancy providing the link, just like you.
            Oh look, my wall of text contradicts yours.
            Stop arrogantly claiming victory after completely missing the point.
            Goodbye, I genuinely have better things to do than play your game.

        • Mary Ann

          Ever closer union for the rest of the EU, pity we shan’t be joining in, we might of even ended up running the place.

          • Badger

            So you’re a megalomaniac now?

          • Mary Ann

            Better than being a wimp and running away.

          • Badger

            That is a misrepresentation and a slur. But then it was always going to come to that, wasn’t it?

          • Mary Ann

            Most of the grass roots people who are going to vote to leave want to stop migrants coming to Britain, so hardly a slur.

          • Badger

            ‘Wimp’ is the slur, ‘running away and pulling up the drawbridge’ is a misrepresentation, two misrepresentations no less.

            You really are dishonest.

          • Mary Ann

            Dishonest seems a strange term to use, who am I trying to deceive? No one. I do think the outers want to run away and pull up the drawbridge, the sensible thing to do is to remain part of the EU and reform it from the inside. I gain my opinion about why most people want to leave from reading comments from people who want to leave. Try reading the comment sections of the Sun, Wail and the Express, even the BBC……….

          • Badger

            Controlling, even severely curtailing immigration is not pulling up the drawbridge as you put it. That is simply how you seek to paint it. In that way you are either trying to deceive others or perhaps yourself.

          • WTF

            The Trojans didn’t run away and pull up the drawbridge because they were cowards, they didn’t want to be invaded and overrun by the Greeks. Unfortunately for them, the Greeks used sneaky tricks to get inside Troy just like the EU has subverted our country. Time to pull up the draw bridge and keep out undesirables that you don’t want in your retirement paradise !

          • WTF

            Very sane people wanting out and after our own cover ups at Rotherham followed by Cologne and now Stockholm, thats not a bad idea protecting our own. Some of us despite being ex-pats are very concerned for family members still in the UK but some who p*** off to France don’t seem to give a s*** about the effects of Merkals Migrant Nightmare of gang rape, crime and general disorder. Make the most of it in France as they’ll be migrants heading your way no matter where you hide !

          • sussexoracle

            Most, if not all of the perpetrators of the crimes in Rotherham, Stockholm and Cologne were not born in the EU. They come from a culture which is alien to our own, with no respect for the laws or traditions of the land. Regardless of an ‘In’ or ‘Out’ vote their numbers will increase through arranged marriage and high fecundity.

            And if we cannot stop the illegal arrivals in Dover and elsewhere as things are, you can be assured that if there is an ‘Out’ vote the Home Office will be besieged by ‘asylum seekers’ and ‘refugees’ once European co-operation ceases.

            Why would the French, Dutch or Belgians maintain anything other than token security at their ports if it means ridding themselves of an army of unemployable Somalians, Banglashis, Pakistanis, Iranians, Eritreans, Afghans and Gambians?

          • WTF

            Whilst I agree that most of ‘our’ Rotherham style sexual offenders were either born in the UK or let into the UK under our lax immigration laws, the common link is indeed an alien culture that has no respect for women nor the rule of law in the west. That very same culture we saw is present in Cologne, Stockholm, Calais and many other places in the west thanks to Merkel & Junkers policies. The biggest problem facing us is the progressives in power deflecting discussion of this issue to nationality or whether they were born in the EU, arrived in the UK / UK legally or not when the real issue is the common alien culture no matter how they got here. Once they are willing to accept that, then progress could be made to mitigate and stop further erosion of our safety, culture and well being.

            If the will was there and we left the EU, we could reduce to a trickle if not stop ALL of this unwanted immigration at a stroke by insisting proper vetting including verifiable police checks with certificates to prove you haven’t committed a crime. That’s just for starters, we can also introduce an Australian points based system based on skill sets & fiscal liability as well as proper health checks for transmittable diseases that are a threat to others as well as cost to the NHS. I’m convinced the message would soon get out just as it has with Australia & New Zealand that most wont get in. It won’t be racial discrimination but fiscal/skill/health set choices who we let in.

            As far as pathetic threats from the French about dumping migrants on our shores, we make the ferry operators responsible in a fiscal manner even more so than truckers are at present and back it up by the navy to prevent them landing.

            Its all a matter of (a) leaving the EU, (b) having the courage to put forward a rigorous immigration system like OZ and (c) back it up by severe sanctions against ferries etc, and lastly (d) telling the whining progressives where to go !

          • WTF

            I couldn’t give a f*** what you call it, protecting your country from criminals, rapists, diseases and free loaders seems quite a sane idea but I guess there are some Brit ex-pats (not many) who having moved to sunnier climes would rather see these feral animals dumped in the UK so they can enjoy their retirement in the sun without risk to themselves ! A classic case of Nymbyism if ever there was !

          • WTF

            Why is Europe covered with castles and drawbridges if not to keep out unwelcome ‘guests’ !

          • WTF

            The only time we have run parts of Europe was by force after intervening against megalomaniacs, killers and dictators like Napoloeon, the Kaiser or Hitler.

          • Erewhonian

            ‘we might of (sic) even ended up running the place.’

            Sounding a bit imperialistic there, Mary Ann.

      • WTF

        1st point – that goal remains and is in the ‘pending’ tray !

        2nd point – Ever closer union, to achieve this Merkel needs a EU military force to make sure everyone toes the line now her fiscal rules have failed. Proff, no problem !


        3rd point – Those little people where 50% of young Spanish workers have left their country for S. America and other destinations to try and find work whilst the Greeks have been abandoned. Ahh yes, those rich little people of the EU !

        4th point – Those un-elected EU officials who wield power, dictate what we should do and are immune from the catastrophic effects of their actions.

  • MrBishi

    How lovely to come across a petunia in an onion patch.

    • frogman

      Absolutely. So lets start cultivating the flowers lest we must have our children and grandchildren living within a dead onion pile for a century. No time to waste.

  • Mary Ann

    At last, a sensible Tory.

    • WTF

      Geographically he is correct but politically, religiously, legally and even culturally, he is way off the mark.

      Our culinary habits are different to other parts of Europe, our legal system is completely different to the rest of Europe, our laws are different, our age of consent is different, we drive on the other side of the road, we treat our pets a lot better than some EU countries, we have better sexual equality than the Med countries, we comply with more EU regulations than any other EU country except Latvia, we are predominantly a protestant country need I go on ?

      Of course we will be involved with Europe just as we have been for millennia but that does NOT make us have a European mind set for the reasons listed above. If you have any problem with these differences, I’ll supply references to substantiate them but they should be self evident !

    • frogman

      Yes, watching correspondence here and to the Telegraph, I was beginning to think the Prime Minister was one of the few left! Seeks like its going to be brains versus banter for three months, and we need to gird our loins to see off the banter of the looney right.

  • Jacobi

    The idea of leaving the EU, or Europe, is absurd.

    We are a European island with a short stretch of water, recently arrived in the last 8000 years or so, separating us from the rest. We cannot leave Europe nor can Europe leave us.

    As Catholics we have an interest in Europe, whether technically in the EU, or not.

    The point has been made elsewhere, and more recently than Belloc’s essays, that the tragedy
    of the Protestant Reformation is at the base of all this confusion. Had Henry had a son with Catherine, or had a heart attack while trying. Had the Pilgrimage of Grace succeeded and England remained Catholic, so would all of Europe. Luther would be just another “has been”. The English derived New World colonies, N America, Australia and so so would all be generally and cohesively Catholic.

    Things did not turn out that way. But one reason for the confusion amongst Catholics today is the silence of the Church, its and ambivalence, which has soaked nto the Catholic lay mentality.

    So the Secularist mentality rules.

    We will be involved in Europe, whether we like it or not, but better within, changing things than without looking in through the window, impotently.

    • Erewhonian

      ‘changing things’

      We have shown ourselves incapable of enacting any kind of meaningful change over a period of decades.

      Seems we’re pretty impotent already.

    • WarriorPrincess111111

      Our geographic location has little to do with exiting the EU. The UK GDP has decreased markedly during the time that we have been a member of it from 36% in 1974 down to a very serious 26% that it stands at today. The statistics show that the EU is continuing to weaken considerably. There has never been more unrest than there is now with huge unemployment, massive poverty, increased taxes on businesses, discontent in the Banking systems, continuous disputes between member countries in addition to the tenuous domestic economy. The UK is seeking to maximise the strength of the pound and to develop long term financial and marketing freedom – the UK is poised to take advantage of the present European situation and is likely to find itself prospering from the general economic malaise.
      Geographically we are located within Europe – as an island we are secular from it!

      • Jacobi

        I,. and I am glad to see Princess you also know all about GDP. In my case as a retired business man having spent most of my working life contributing positively to it.

      • daveyy

        short term gain for long term pain perhaps, look no further than the USA whose global share of GDP has fallen dramatically

      • Roger Hudson

        In the ’70s British politicians hoped the EEC could give us a leg up rather than doing the hard graft of sorting ourselves out. The shift to a ‘service’ economy is an example of that cop out. It didn’t work.

    • Johnnydub

      The EU is fundamentally incompetent. It faces two existential crises, the Euro and the migration crisis, both of its own making. Yet it has answers to neither.

      It is an experiment being carried out by fools, and we will be foolish if we don’t leave.

      • Jacobi

        And bigger fools if we don’t stay in and sort then out.

        • Roger Hudson

          The EU elites rig it so British common sense is and will be marginalised.

      • Bucharesta

        The British government is also fundamentally incompetent. The EU did not create the migration crisis. The Euro crisis has largely been caused by member states like Greece that lied to get in and are incapable of running their own economy. What’s left of Britain will look like Greece in ten years if it leaves, without the sunshine.

        • Roger Hudson

          But the EU knew Greece was lying and tried to push forward anyway, every ‘crisis’ is just an excuse for a further push of the ‘project’.

    • Roger Hudson

      So don’t conflate Europe with the EU, I love European cultures (note the plural) but I hate the EU ‘project’.


      The most sensible comment yet anti EU’s are in cloud cuckoo land.

  • Mr Grumpy

    So we hope to muddle through bad times by clinging to institutions that have been tested only in good times and found barely adequate even then? And that’s a Burkean stance? I had genuinely expected better things from TGA.

    I imagine Burke would be more exercised by the fate of that far more durable and functional institution, the Union. Yes, it will probably fail if we vote Out and the Scots will face a rude and rapid awakening. But then it’s been hollowed out to the point of collapse anyway.

  • WTF

    An economic case for leaving ?


    Certainly a well thought out case, full of history and facts that the ‘remainiacs’ would find inconvenient to debate and usually wont !

  • Erewhonian

    The author of this piece is keen to accuse Brexiters of un-Burkean thinking, seemingly forgetting that Burke concerned himself political morality, believing that political matters, at their fundament, were based on making moral judgements, saying: ‘the principles of true politics are those of morality enlarged’.

    In what way can Burkean political philosophy be said to apply to the European Union, and in particular, its deeply punitive and wholly vindictive treatment of the Greek people?

    • Brigantian

      Burke described revolutionary France as a chasm into which the UK could fall and the rest of Europe be sucked, like in a whirlpool. He regarded human rights as a form of slavery.

  • WarriorPrincess111111

    The huge problem that faces Europe is similar to that which the Middle East is experiencing. It is impossible for a union of countries to remain in peace and to be managed efficiently, while there are always certain nations who demand to dominate and use the arrangement for self interest. It is now that the UK must make its move! The UK must strike out against the weakened position that Europe has in the Global economy. If the UK is resolute, determined to take the UK forward – then as any true businessman would tell you – now is the time to do it!

    • Mary Ann

      4 of the top ten world economies are part of the EU, Germany, France, Britain and Italy.

      • Erewhonian


      • WTF

        Is that in spite of or because of and why ?

      • Bertie

        Yes,and 6 out of 10 aren’t!
        And those 6 are all growing faster than the 4 in the EU too boot!

        What’s your point?

        • daveyy

          what’s your point ?

          • Bertie

            My point is pretty obvious surely.
            Was disputing Mary Ann’s obvious use of 4 /10 being in EU to push a Pro Remain lien of discussion.

            4/10 are in EU, all in decline. 6/10 are outside of EU, all experiencing decent growth amongst other things.

            Which group isd preferable to belong to?

    • Erewhonian

      With Germany it’s congenital; they can’t help but try and dominate other nations – it’s in their DNA.

      The EU has become nothing more than a vehicle for German mercantilism.

      • Jacobi

        They have their nice side as I found out on leave from being a target for Soviet nuclear artillery in the mid 50s. The trouble is they can’t keep it up and we have to be in there keeping an eye on them.
        That is something Gaius Marius 157 BC could have told you.

      • Harryagain

        The Fourth Reich.

  • WTF


  • Brigantian

    It seems the Spectator is suffering from Ash die-back disease. I cannot make sense of this article.
    The oft repeated lies about ‘peace in our time’ have already been refuted convincingly on numerous occasions. Eastern Europe was liberated as a result of Glasnost in Russia. During the most dangerous period of the Cold War, from 1945 to 1973, the UK was not even in the EEC and the EU was a concept that existed on paper alone. Much of Europe was still in the hands of fascist dictators.
    The idea that the UK could reform the EU if we remain inside is complete nonsense. The dismemberment of the UK into manageable regions has already begun. That plan on paper involves extending the EU east to encompass all of Asia Minor and the Caucasus as far as the Caspian Sea. Until now nothing in the UK has ever happened as ‘planned’ because everyone has the opportunity to propose changes and the Civil Service has been notoriously malleable. It has always been regarded as a great skill and a virtue to ensure that nothing ever actually happens. (An attribute Whitehall fortunately shares with the Kremlin). With HS2 (and in fact HS1) we see the first signs of European planning in the UK. HS1 was and is an environmental catastrophe, and HS2 will be worse. The reason being that these projects have been exempted from the Environmental Impact Assessments normally required. Nothing is going to stop the Euro juggernaut or deflect it from its ultimate objective.

  • celtthedog

    Just an FYI — Oxford’s European Studies program is heavily subsidized by the EU. Meaning this commentator is a paid mouthpiece of the same.

    Perhaps a declaration of interest is in order?

    Oh, I forgot, Europhiles don’t do that.

  • celtthedog

    OK, so that’s a “conservative” case for staying in. Now here’s a genuine liberal case for leaving:

    “Free institutions are next to impossible in a country made up of different nationalities. Among a people without fellow-feeling, especially if they read and speak different languages, the united public opinion, necessary to the working of representative government cannot exist.”

    John Stuart Mill, 1861.

    That sums up the fundamental flaw underpinning the EU perfectly.

    Timothy Garton Ash, whatever he may claim above, did insist we join the euro as it would demonstrate a commitment on our part to “Europe.” Not only that, he has been preaching the end of “ever closer union” since the Maastricht Treaty.

    How’s that worked out?

    This article is intellectual, political and moral fraud.

    • daveyy

      Then please explain how a country like Canada, or India can be successful ? Both are composed of different nationalities and speak different languages ( 20 in India)

      • celtthedog

        Canada has only two significant linguistic groups — English- and French- speaking. The French are largely confined to one area, the province of Quebec and represent less than 20% of the national population. They are thus a small and frankly contained (and actually shrinking) minority. And how do you judge success? Quebec has been threatening secession for decades now and came very close (by less than 1%) to seceding in a referendum in the 1990s. Most observers of Canadian politics believe they’ll try again.

        As for India, if you’re recommending we become a Third World kleptocracy, I think I will pass, thanks.

        Free advice: try citing Switzerland as an example next time.

    • serialluncher

      “Free institutions are next to impossible in a country made up of different nationalities. ”

      Works in Switzerland.

      • celtthedog

        Oh, good for you — you read my reply to daveyy!

        Of course, Switzerland ain’t in the EU — fancy that!

        • serialluncher

          I didn’t actually but Switzerland proves JS Mill was wrong there so I’m even more surprised you quoted him given you know that.

          • celtthedog

            Yeah, the exception that proves the rule. Mill is still correct and unlike Timothy Garton Ash’s argument, it’s a genuine liberal one.

  • Dukeofplazatoro

    If the Europe we have today is the worst possible Europe apart from the other Europes we have tried from time to time, then what you are proposing is the lazy option. Rather than us developing our own relationships with the rest of the world, independently, and with those doing the developing answering to the electorate, none of which is possible under the current arrangement, you are so terrified by the what ifs and our supposed inability to do this, that you would vote to stay in. No doubt for the same reason you would vote to stay at home as you couldn’t leave without mummy to hold your hand.

    Meanwhile the vote to stay in would be treated by the EU as a ringing endoresement of all the Euro-nonsense we have suffered for the last 40 years

    The point about Scotland Wales and Northern Ireland voting to stay in, and England to leave may have an interesting twist. If they do vote to stay in (this seems to be assumed though personally I would expect a lot of Scots at least to be in favour of leaving) and England votes to leave, but overall the UK votes to stay in, then will not the “three unfriendly powers” be dictating to England?

  • mariandavid

    Well put: There seems to be an absurd haze floating around the English Out Camp that departure would have little effect on trade or relationships. Which of course is utter nonsense – anyone who believes for a moment that an EU spurned would make any attempt to allow trading rights is a befuddled fool – the very best that could be managed would be a Norway, that is a promise to follow applicable EU rules – while meanwhile graciously allowing the formerly London resident banking and financial institutions to set up their new main branches in Frankfurt. And as for the Commonwealth – well I am from Canada which is about to complete (idiotic terms about protecting multi-nationals allowing) an expansive trade agreement with the EU. Should the UK (or as we all know more properly meaning just the English bit of it) leave the EU the chances of a comparable deal being reached between ‘it’ and Canada are marginal at best and long term in coming. Oh and I checked with relatives and friends in the Celtic Fringe – and yes there is an overwhelming feeling that departure from the EU equates to departure from the UK. Which would make sense in view of the mood of infantile xenophobia which had obviously overtaken the denizens of the south.

    • Jacobi

      Sensible comment, and don’t forget the rest of us, we sensible Scots, ( and I’m not referring to the nats, don’t get me started on that lot),!

    • Harryagain

      The EUSSR is near to collapse and will collapse when we leave.
      It will be a bloody anarchistic collapse too.

      • mariandavid

        Ah the usual England centric view of the universe. I fear, as an ex Brit, that the end of the UK is far, far more likely.

        • Harryagain

          We don’t need these Europeans, never have and never will.
          Corrupt, incompetent and socialist.
          Brain dead in fact, as recent events have shown.

          • PAUL BAKER


          • Harryagain

            Ah, one of the government paid trolls!
            Truly brain dead. Have you never discovered the shift key?

  • Jacobi

    I have argued strongly for the UK to stay in the EU and sort them out.

    There is one ground on which I would change my opinion. I see in tonight’s Telly news that Turkey is setting the price at not only billions but also at Turkish entry to the EU and visa free entry for Turks in the meantime.

    We are in conflict with that you- know-what religious grouping at present. If the E U in any way agrees to the Turkish request for its 78 million you-know-what s then we will be in conflict with the EU, just as we were effectively only 71 years ago in conflict with it and within my lifetime.

    In that event we will not be able to manage to manage on our own but will need assistance from the USA, Canada, Australasia, etc., and of course Russia, just as we needed it only 71 years ago and within my lifetime.

    History has not yet come to an end!

    • Augustus

      “If the E U in any way agrees to the Turkish request for its 78 million you-know-what s then we will be in conflict with the EU…”

      We should have nothing to do with an EU which includes a dictatorial Islamist country like Turkey. Angela Merkel and other EU leaders are desperately trying to get Turkey to do everything it can to reduce the migration flows into Europe, but Davutoglu wants more than just to talk about migration, he’s using the crisis to push for EU membership. He’s already talking about ‘our continent’ and says that the EU and Turkey ‘are ‘indispensable ‘ to each other. So now ‘our’ EU has to put all its hope in Turkey to solve a problem that it has created but can no longer solve.

      • Jacobi

        I think we are in agreement. I just cannot believe that EU negotiators even for a moment conceded the possibility that a Muslim country of 79 million could ever have access of any sort to the EU.

        If that is taken any, repeat any, further then that’s it!

        • Roger Hudson

          Turkey can never ever get past the veto of a number of countries ( it only needs one), mainly the countries with first hand memories of the Turk, Bulgaria, Croatia, Austria, Hungary, Greece and Cyprus.
          The EU ‘elites’ will try to bully or change the rules but it won’t work, Turkey can never be a member.
          The only reason Turkey has a bit of Europe now ( NW of the Bosphorous) is that a war-weary France and Britain never enforced the treaty of Sevre.

          • Jacobi

            You are right, but that the EU negotiators have even conceded the remote possibility has been disastrous. And the idea of visa free entry will be tried?

            The answer, and this has nothing to do directly with Turkey, is detention, arrest, humane internment, I say again, humane internment, and return however long that takes .

            Difficult, yes, but when will people wake up to the gravity of the crisis?

        • Harryagain

          Plus they want £500,000,000 from the UK to pay the Turkish blackmail.
          I ‘spect they’ll be back for more. Blackmailers always do.
          This after the mad Kr aut unilaterally invited in millions of scroungers, rap ists and ji had ists
          (I wonder if they’ll be able to account for the money?)

          Now they expect us to help pick up the pieces.
          And brain dead liberals still want us to be chained to this corrupt lying corpse.

  • James

    Terrorist who disrupt peace do so because EU makes it easy to roll up to the the shores. Pre-EU we were at no less at risk from Russia, arguably more.

  • Roger Hudson

    I don’t come second to TGA in love of Europe, the best of culture , morality and democracy was born here but that Europe is not the same as the EU, a political institution wanting to dominate power over all the countries of Europe. The main thing I hate about the EU ‘elite’ is the way they bully the populations of countries they think are blocking their ‘project’. They’ve done it to Austria, Ireland, Greece and now are bullying Poland and the voters in the UK.
    Britain, almost unique in not having been dominated by the Nazis or the Soviets, should know what sovereignty is and vote for it.
    The remain campaign is floundering with economic trivia like the cost of ‘mobile roaming charges’, pathetic. The British politicians in the ’70s who though we could get a bit of a free lunch off the EEC should have kept us out and got us to work harder.