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May 25, 2016

Event Summary: ‘Towards an Imperfect Union: A Conservative Case for the EU?’

by
Henry Jackson Society

by Hugh Coates

On the 25th May, Dalibor Rohac, author of ‘Towards an Imperfect Union: A Conservative Case for the EU’, and Conservative MP for Shipley, Philip Davis, took part in a timely debate on Britain’s position in Europe and what, if any, implications Britain may face if it votes to leave. The event was chaired by Tom Wilson of the Henry Jackson Society and was held the House of Commons.

Mr Rohac was first given the opportunity to set out his case for remaining in the European Union. He began by stating that, at one time, he himself had been a Eurosceptic in his formative years. However, he highlighted that certain events, such as the divergent paths taken by the Ukraine and Poland, with both experiencing altogether very different fortunes, alongside the views of key ‘influencers’, such as Fredrich von Hayek, began to calcify his positive outlook of the EU.

He acknowledged that the EU was suffering from a range of problems, but that the proper response was not dismantlement, but ‘federalism, properly understood’, as he put it. He finished his opening remarks by urging the audience to consider two irrefutable realities. Firstly, that the EU is more stable and open, than ever; and secondly, that the EU is coming under unprecedented stress – much of it emanating from outside its borders.

Philip Davies then presented his case for leaving. His opening argument revolved around democracy and the perceived lack of representation for the people of the United Kingdom in terms of law-making and the ability to select officials. He then moved onto the issue of immigration. Here, he argued that any sovereign nation must be able to control its borders and, at present, we are failing to cope. The third pillar of his case rested on the economic and trade situation facing the UK. In 1975, he suggested that he may have voted to remain in the Common Market. Today, such a situation is a distant reality, with the UK enjoying no trade surplus, but a deficit, in a declining market. And finally, he concluded his argument by focusing on peace and security. Mr Davies painted a negative picture of the supposed peace fostered by the creation of the EU. He attributed the rise of nationalist groups across Europe as an inevitable outcome of forcing political union onto its people.