By Conor Holohan
Brexit has been characterised by some as a black hole into which all of the government’s time and energy is sucked. Many express their frustration with the process, saying that ‘it’s all about bloody Brexit’.
However, nearly two years after we narrowly avoided voting to remain powerless, it is important that we remember why Eurosceptic sentiment is so potent in Britain and across Europe. It is important, also, to realise that the most European thing to do was to vote to leave the European Union.
Why? Because the European Union is not Europe. It is, perhaps, a Europe, but it is not Europe, and it is certainly not very European in its system of governance. A primary European value is democracy. The continent that birthed democracy is now largely under the jurisdiction of an undemocratic political project.
It is simply astonishing that the continent that lead the way with democracy and rights of the individual should be ever increasingly controlled by a central unelected elite. It’s like the French Revolution but in reverse. Europeans used to fight against absolutism. Now, many of them embrace the opportunity to have laws that they cannot repeal handed down to them from people they cannot remove.
The only body of the European legislative process that is elected is the European Parliament. This parliament is a toothless charade, giving the illusion of democracy. In reality, all legislation is proposed by the unelected Commission. As a result of this, membership of the European Union means that a nation’s voters have less say over the laws that govern them. Citizens have not only rights, but duties as well, and this writer would argue that to willingly degrade the value of your own vote is an abdication of those duties.
What is more, the universal suffrage in Europe has been fought over by Europeans for centuries, and people have a duty to preserve the weight of that vote. We have inherited our power at the ballot box from the likes of the suffragettes and those present at the Peterloo Massacre. How did we, for so long, allow that vote to be degraded? How do some of us still want to hand their children less democratic power than they were given? And many people in Europe are discontented with the Union. The Euro has caused devastating unemployment in the Mediterranean, and is a perfect example of how one-size-fits-all policies are bad for the very diverse countries and economies of Europe. The cracks are beginning to show. In Germany the AfD made significant gains last year, in France the National Front’s Marine Le Pen came second in the presidential elections, in Holland Geert Wilders also made large gains in their most recent elections. Austria, Italy, Hungary, Greece and Poland all too have rising nationalist sentiments. Often the established mainstream parties in these nations are Europhilic, forcing their citizens to associate with unpleasant parties in order to make their voices heard.
Europe’s citizens are also made poorer by the Customs Union. This union places tariffs on goods from outside of the Union in order to protect European businesses and farmers who cannot compete on a world level. This means that developing nations are shut out of large consumer markers, and consumers are shut off from cheaper food. The only people who benefit from the Union are businesses who are unable to survive in open competition. Unless they are exposed to competition, they will not evolve and they will never be able to compete.Europe will be a better place for its residents, those who take refuge in it and the world when it is free from this undemocratic political project.