My column for the West Bend Daily News is online. Here you go:
As America prepares to celebrate the 240th anniversary of the day she declared her independence from Great Britain, the mother country has declared her own independence from the European Union. In doing so, the British people have reasserted their God-given right to self-governance.
Haunted by a century of hot and cold wars that wiped out generations and destroyed civilizations, Europeans created the European Union in 1993 with the goal of uniting Europe into a single geo-political unit with a common economy, currency, laws and regulatory structure. The EU is the latest of several economic and political confederations that have been embarked upon in Europe since World War II. The concept of a federation of states is certainly not uncommon. In fact, it is a principle upon which our own nation is founded.
Britain’s membership in the EU was always a bit at arm’s length. While every other member of the EU joined in a single currency, Britain successfully opted out of the Euro and maintained its own currency. Perhaps Sir Winston Churchill knew his people best when he wrote in the preface to the first volume of his “History of the English Speaking Peoples,” “It (Britain) is very accessible to the invader, whether he comes in peace or war, as pirate or merchant, conqueror or missionary. Those who dwell there are not insensitive to any shift of power, any change of faith, or even fashion, on the mainland, but they give to every practice, every doctrine that comes to it from abroad, its own peculiar turn and imprint.” Indeed, they do.
For centuries, British foreign policy was based upon maintaining a balance of power on the mainland of Europe so that no single power could overwhelm Britain. Suave and skilled British statesmen continually manipulated continental friendships, grudges and power with the overriding goal of protecting the independence of Britain as a free state.
In one view, Britain’s involvement in the EU was an extension of this ancient policy. By participating in, and fostering the growth of, a united Europe in a confederation that respected the independence of the nation states that comprise it, Britain could further its national interests. The financial and merchant classes in Britain certainly stood to gain from an open European economy. And by maintaining its currency, Britain maintained its economic independence.
But then something went wrong. As the EU grew in membership and power, the powers in Brussels began asserting more power over the member states. Moving well beyond just promoting common trade rules and standards, the EU has taken to regulating the smallest facets of life, including things like bathroom fixtures, automobile features and farm animals. In doing so, the EU government has usurped much of the power heretofore held by each member nation’s elected government.
For the British, the issue that finally spurned their decision to leave the EU was immigration. By EU law, people are allowed to move freely to any nation in the EU once they gain entry. This means that when Greece, Germany, Spain, or any other EU nation decides to allow a flood of refugees and immigrants into their nations, Britain has no ability to stop those refugees and immigrants from settling in Britain. A nation that lacks the authority or power to control its own borders is no nation at all.
So the British have voted to leave the EU and return to being an independent sovereign nation like the United States. While many folks are panicking over the prospect of an independent Britain, they need not. The British people ruled themselves for centuries before the EU came into existence and they will have no problem remembering how to fully rule themselves again.
More than likely, the EU will punish Britain for leaving with tariffs and other economic penalties. The EU leadership has already signaled that they must punish Britain for leaving in order to threaten the remaining EU nations from following Britain’s lead. In doing so, the EU will likely plunge itself into a recession as they prioritize the preservation of power in Brussels over the economic well-being of its citizens, thus reaffirming Britain’s reason for leaving in the first place.
As far as the United States is concerned, we should stand shoulder to shoulder with our British brothers and sisters in celebration of their return to independence. The special relationship between our peoples, based upon common language, laws and traditions, has endured for generations and will continue in this new era. And now our peoples share something new: We have both cast off the oppression of a government from across the waves because we wanted to govern ourselves.
Happy Independence Day, indeed.