We see nothing but good and hope in a richer, freer, more contented European commonality...but we have our own dream and our own task. We are with Europe, but not of it. We are linked but not combined. We are interested and associated but not absorbed. — Winston Churchill, 1946
Oh, what a hopeless romantic Churchill appears in retrospect. Britain does not have its own dream or task in the world today; the great global British project has been replaced by a continental European one instead. Britain is no longer just in Europe, of Europe and for Europe, they are now under Europe too, thanks to the undemocratically deceitful handiwork of their political masters. They are not merely interested or associated or linked; but combined, absorbed, entrenched and entangled, perhaps now, irretrievably. With the passing of the Treaty of Lisbon, the United Kingdom will now be pushed all the way into the cesspool of continental European integration.
And for what? Is it really possible to suppose that whatever integrated Europe could ever evolve from the cesspit of unrepresentative and irresponsible corruption, of undemocratic, anti-Christian, weak-at-the-knees bureaucratic paralysis, that currently defines its governmental apparatus; could possibly be better for Britain, than what Great Britain has evolved for itself over the course of a thousand years?
For the life of me, I cannot think of one single net positive likely outcome of this effort. Britain has, throughout its history, been secured as the constant incubator of civil liberties, parliamentary democracy and liberal economy; by the distance which it has physically enjoyed, and which it has strategically, politically and militarily nurtured; from the continent of Europe. What circumstances have changed, that should conspire to direct Britain's core interests and decisions in precisely the opposite direction from the compass north it has observed throughout its entire history, I know not.
In this respect, I ask the exactly same question as Sir Winston Churchill in his speech of March, 1936 to the Conservative Backbench Foreign Affairs Committee. In that speech, Churchill pointed out that throughout the course of almost four centuries, and in the face of four successive mortal threats to its free security from a rising and belligerent continental power (Philip II's Spain, Louis XIV's and Napoleon I's France, and Wilhem II's Germany), Britain always chose the hard but correct path of steadfast opposition to the power which - animated by principles vastly different from those of liberal Britain - could and would, in victory and in the achievement of hegemony, only diminish or destroy Britain's essence. Churchill asked: what has changed, that we should, in 1936, regard our proper response to the rising power of Adolf Hitler's Germany in a different manner?
The answer was, of course, nothing at all; and that Churchill was able to persuade his fellow countrymen of that fact, changed the course of history for the immeasurably better.
What was true in 1936 is, in my view, true today. That is not to suggest for a moment that there is any country or power on the continent of Europe today, which constitutes a belligerent and militaristic threat to Great Britain in the classical sense. Most European countries are today, at least nominally, liberal democracies. I suppose it is this very fact which leads many in Britain to think that the magnetic north pole of Britain's strategic self-interest has moved, and that that move justifies a submersion of Britain's hard-won independence and long-evolved institutions, into a European institutional hodge-podge without history, accountability, checks and balances, or record of performance.
Yet the risk David Cameron runs by refusing to retreat from a now constituted, sovereign and presidential European republic — on behalf of all Britons and, by extension, all Commonwealth subjects — should be self-evident from this description. What I find truly confounding is that there is nothing whatsoever that I can see to justify taking this risk, even assuming that integrated Europe should somehow acquire an effective, representative and responsible government. Britain already has one of those. So, too, does it have free trade and free flow of goods, workers and other economic constituent components and forces, between itself and its European neighbours.
And in terms of that other ancient worthy, the British Monarch, hitherto the highest ranking supremo in our shared socio-political hierarchy — just what kind of hereditary King answers to an unelected president, just what sort of Imperial Crown serves a foreign republic and just what good, pray, is a Sovereign that is no longer sovereign?