Magazine article The Spectator

The State They're In

Magazine article The Spectator

The State They're In

Article excerpt

I've noticed that one of the more interesting aspects of obsessional British EU fanatics is their inability to face the reality around them, and one of their prime specimens appeared on Straw Poll on Radio Four last week (Friday). Chaired by Nick Clarke, the debate motion was that it was impossible to have a truly united Europe; in other words, I assume, a European state.

Before an invited audience in Glasgow, and arguing the joyful wonders of the whole EU project, was Mark Leonard, 'director of foreign policy' at something called the Centre for European Reform.

I've heard some crazed EU-fantasists over the years, but Leonard was new to me and he'll now go into my collection. He's the author of a booklet entitled 'Why Europe will run the 21st Century', surely one of the most risible titles one could think of. Leonard, though, has a vision.

Historians, he told the audience, would one day describe how in 50 years war between European powers became unthinkable;

waves of countries being brought out of dictatorships and into democracy. When historians look at a map of the world, 'they'll describe a zone of peace, spreading like a blue oil slick from the west coast of Ireland to the east of the Mediterranean, sucking in new members in its wake'. Apart from the present 25 countries, these historians would describe a long queue of others who are desperate to join, from Ukraine to Turkey to Croatia, even Morocco. Why not chuck in the whole of North Africa as well, I thought. Everywhere in the world, he continued, countries were trying to copy the European model.

Attempts to bring him back to earth failed. His opponent, Dr Helen Szamuely of the anti-EU Bruges Group, said that the EU was so fixated on integration that it had failed to notice economic developments elsewhere in the world and was now a stagnant backwater as a result. When she quoted government figures indicating that 50 per cent of major and 80 per cent of all legislation now comes from Brussels, Leonard was in denial: no, it's only 20 per cent, he replied. One striking feature of EU-fanatics is how they appear to hate their own country or at least to have no faith in its ability to survive in the world without being governed from elsewhere. Leonard was convinced that in an age of globalisation it wasn't good enough to be a country the size of Britain or France. He was supported by Lorraine Fannin of the Scottish Publishers Association who felt that Britain wasn't important enough to stand alone. …

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