- Macmillan (1960/61) decides to join the EEC, sets Heath on to explore the constitutional issues.
- Heath goes in (wef 1.1.73), lying about the implications for national sovereignty.
- Cameron calls the second referendum to shut up what he mistakenly believes to be a small sect of "fruitcakes and loons", then runs away when it all goes wrong.
- May spends more than two years apparently quite deliberately time-wasting, then goes behind her Brexit secretary's back to make a plan which if anything is worse than the status quo.
I can't understand why some Remainers paint Brexit as a "far-right" project, especially since some of the most vocal critics of the EU have been on the Left.
Both Brexit and Remain are cross-party stances, each having two legs:
- Some on the Right want the EU because for them it means money and power, position and pension, and it pleases the directors of large businesses who can arbitrage workforce pay and conditions.
- Some on the Left see the EU as a socialist brotherhood, blindly ignoring what the EU has meant for the PIIGS; and for us, with our UK/EU £67 billion trade deficit. (There was only one year of our membership when we didn't have a deficit; funnily enough, the year of the first Referendum - 1975.) Over forty years of this bleeding has left much of British industry and the British workforce prostrate, and Labour's Peter Shore drew attention to it very early on, in his contribution to the Oxford Union's 1975 debate.
- Conversely, some on the Right campaign for Brexit, presenting the alternative to the EU as global free trade, which if it means even cheaper imports of food stands fair to kill what's left of our farming and fishing etc while pleasing the Institute of Directors. My guess is that under this plan the national accounts would improve for a while, then crash as the numbers of the unemployed and underpaid grew and their claims on the Welfare State took on crisis proportions; that, and/or major civil unrest.
- Then there are those on the Left who see (in my view correctly) the key narrative of British history as the people versus the Power, so that we now have in effect a republic disguised as a monarchy. It is a very imperfect republic and does not work for the interests of all, but there are many restraints on the executive, not least trial by jury (which is under attack by the Power even in this country) and the presumption of innocence. In legislation too, the Power has often attempted to free itself from Parliamentary supervision by the introduction of "Henry the Eighth" clauses that grant Ministers and organisations the right to make additional rules extempore.
There are some signs of a clearer-eyed opposition to EU-cum-globalism.
Seeing the neoliberal approach to Brexit as represented by Messrs Farage and Rees-Mogg, plus the semi-chaos of UKIP post-Farage, the original founder of UKIP has set up a Left alternative: Professor Alan Sked's Clean Brexit: http://cleanbrexit.com/
Similarly, Professor Philip Whyman has set out ideas for reclaiming national control and rebuilding the sort of industrial economy that can offer better than "Just About Managing" (bravely struggling) for the people:
http://www.civitas.org.uk/publications/the-left-case-for-brexit/ (free download).
Good luck to them; that is to say, to us.