Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Max Hastings: "I was wrong" about the EU

In today's Daily Mail, Max Hastings makes a self-described recantation of his formerly "pro-European" stance:

"After much agonising and hesitation, I adopt the conclusion that many of you probably reached years ago: that the EU in its present form has become a disaster, which threatens the future of its major members, unless its terms and powers are drastically recast."
His argument for the change of heart is powerful - although we would argue that pointing out the failings of the EU doesn't mean that Hastings can no longer describe himself as "pro-European", just that he is now a "pro-European" of a different sort.

He cites a long list of burdensome EU regulations, such as the Temporary Agency Workers Directive and the Resale Rights Directive, which are holding back the UK and other EU members from competing with the world's emerging economies:
"At a time when we face a historic challenge from Asia, the EU makes it almost impossible to adopt measures essential to strengthening its members’ competitiveness, above all the relaxation of employment law. This has become, for practical purposes, unemployment law."He lists other failures too. The lack of a meaningful foreign policy, the corruption of the European Parliament and, of course, the failed Single Currency, whose perceived success, in Hasting's words, "was an illusion created by smoke, mirrors, prodigious subsidy and reckless borrowing."
For Hastings, "membership of the EU in its present form has become a blight, imposing unacceptable social, cultural, commercial and industrial burdens and constraints" but the option of outright withdrawal is rejected, which he suggests would quickly lead to "lonely isolation":
"I realise that quitting Europe would engage us in a crisis that would sap the entire energy and attentions of any British government for years.

But it has become essential to repatriate powers from Brussels. This is not in furtherance of isolationism, but of the economic imperative to strengthen our competitive position in the world and repair our social fabric."
It's well worth a read in full.

7 comments:

Agincourt said...

"...quitting Europe would engage us in a crisis that would sap the entire energy and attentions of any British government for years." So what? Isn't that what we pay civil servants for? Mind you, they'd have to be very closely supervised by a special govt office & minister. The Foreign Office for one is so deeply enmeshed in EU-co-operation that it would constantly do its anti-democratic elitist best to stymie the whole UK EU-withdrawal operation.

Having said that, the sooner Britain withdraws from the EU, the better. Personally, I can't wait for our noble country Britain to be INDEPENDENT once again!

Will Podmore said...

So it's a disaster, but we have to stay in it!
Leaving would lead to 'lonely isolation' - oxymoronic - like poor impoverished and isolated Switzerland and Norway!

Agincourt said...

"...quitting Europe would engage us in a crisis that would sap the entire energy and attentions of any British government for years." So what? Isn't that what we pay civil servants for? Mind you, they'd have to be closely supervised by a special govt office & minister. The Foreign Office for one is so deeply enmeshed in EU-co-operation that it would constantly do its anti-democratic elitist best to stymie the whole UK EU-withdrawal operation.

Having said that, the sooner Britain withdraws from the EU, the better. Personally, I can't wait for our noble country Britain to be INDEPENDENT once again!

Rollo said...

We pay civil servants to lie to us and if you had written to the government, in the last ten years, to ask for withdrawal from the EU, you would have been fed the same standard blarney: that 3,000,000 jobs depend on our membership of the EU; that 50% of our trade is with the EU; that the level playing field for our companies trading in the EU is an enormous benefit to the economy; that the majority of companies want to be in the EU, that we need the strength of the EU to succeed in the world of big players, China, Russia, Brasil, India.
We have a huge trade deficit with the EU so no real jobs, and no real trade would cease; Exports are only 10% of our economy and only 40% of this is exported to the EU; there is no level playing field (just try exporting an aircraft hangar to France); the companies polled were the FTSE 100, mostly internationals and far from most companies; and the last thing we need to compete world wide is EU immigration.

Michael Bond said...

I don't think we should be too critical of Sir Max for taking so long to reach this point. Like most of us he once thought the EU, in one of its previous names, was a "good thing". No doubt he has gone through the process of wishing the EU didn't make so many silly rules; realising that it was in the nature of the EU to do so: wishing there was more effective democratic answerability; and believing that the EU needed major reform to get it back on track. What he has not yet realised is that the people of the constituent states of the EU have more different cultures and interests than could be refined into a coherent democratic programme; that the EU cannot be substantially reformed as there are too many vested interests in the status quo; and the only solution is to leave the EU and to trust that those who predict catastrophe if we do so will be proved as wrong about this as they were when they predicted catastrophe if the UK left the EMU.

Michael Bond.

jocelyn said...

We should get out and take the hit; then we can move on.

It has been forty years of agony and national decline as they have forced our economy to conform. We're like a square peg in a round hole. We can't even buy five pound of spuds.

Anonymous said...

On stating the consequences of our leaving the EU Sir Max has once again fallen for the same old rhetoric pronounced by those set on saving their over salaried, over expensed and under employed members jobs echoed by the rapidly shrinking Europhiles generally.

The fact is that there are two distinct sides to the European Adventure; on one hand we have the Political obsession to control all aspects life of every European country with its lies, deceits, obfuscations and avarice. On the other hand we have Trade and Commerce which, in reality, should benefit us all.

All we have to do is to get out of Political Europe and revise and take forward and improve our trading relationship as promised by Heath back in the 1970’s.