Moaning Merkel

If Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, was to be believed, Britain would not be happy going it alone in the world. Apparently she never got the memo telling her that Britain isn’t happy being in the EU. Even if we weren’t happy outside the EU, it wouldn’t really make much of a difference, given our current feelings. It’s a bit like an abusive husband telling his wife she won’t be happy if she leaves him – it might be true, but at least she’s not being used as a punching bag.

The simple fact is that the EU needs the UK – primarily its money – far more than the UK needs the EU. The UK pours far more money into the EU than it gets back, meaning that we subsidize our our subsidies and don’t actually get anything from the EU. Pull out the EU and we can spend that money how we like – after all, many EU initiatives are hardly popular – and save the rest that is propping up the rotten edifice of the EU. As for trade, not only do countries, like Switzerland, thrive despite not being part of the EU, despite trading with them, but the bulk of our trade doesn’t go to the continent – and that bulk continues to grow in market share. In fact, we import more from the EU than we export to it, so any attempt to punish the UK by disrupting trade would harm the EU far more than it would the UK, and we also have the perfect stick with which to beat the EU if they attempt to harass a withdrawing Britain, by restricting their imports to the UK.

Britain might not be the world-spanning empire it once was, but it is only in comparison to that heyday that Britain seems weak and insignificant today. The UK may not be the most populous country in the world, nor the biggest in area, but it is hardly a tiny nation, and in terms of wealth, trade, influence and military might, the UK remains a major power. Alright, the UK would be unlikely to win a stand-up war alone against any of the major powers such as China and the USA, but there’s no reason why we would have to do fight such a war, alone or at all.

The problem is that those who govern Britain seem to be divided into two mutually exclusive and equally delusional camps, the one determined to see Britain punch above its weight as some sort of latterday Imperial superpower, the other certain that Britain is an insignificant remnant that needs to be absorbed by either the USA or EU to survive in the modern world. Neither reflects the reality that Britain remains a vibrant and important state that, unless it abdicates responsibility, will continue to have an important say in world affairs for decades, even centuries, to come, if not the overwhelming voice that it once possessed.

Britain needs to stand alone, aloof, but not isolated. Attaching itself to aggressive states such as the USA or EU, or falling into the orbit of China or Russia, will only lead to trouble. Britain should be a friend to all decent states, but a fawning lapdog to none. It should look to the Commonwealth for its true allies, nations that share commonalities of history, language, culture and need. We should look to form equitable partnerships with other nations where both will prosper – we have the technology and finance that many nations lack, they possess the raw materials, resources and labour force that Britain lacks in turn. Britain should reject past and present inequities of trade and agree honest and fair exchanges with such nations so that both we and they benefit. Britain can prosper and forge lasting friendships, or it can blunder along in the wake of its erstwhile allies into disaster.

Merkel might moan, but Britain must go it alone…

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