Exit Britain?

By

Originally published in The National Review

For at least a quarter of a century, there was no greater bore in British politics than the Eurobore, who warned against Britain’s loss of sovereignty to Brussels. From the moment the House of Commons narrowly passed the Maastricht Treaty in the early 1990s, turning the European Economic Community into the European Union, the species could be sighted around Westminster. But its natural habitat became sparsely populated meetings of the already converted. Occasionally an overreach by Brussels would find the Eurobore staring into the bright lights of the nation’s broadcast media, there to answer a few hostile questions while demonstrating an unappetizing combination of monomania and over-fondness for detail. But for at least a generation, people said to be “banging on about Europe” suffered from the political equivalent of halitosis.

And then things began to change. Of course, nobody wanted to credit the fact, but over the course of recent years the wilderness dwellers began to assume the mantle of prophets. The backbenchers in Westminster and the MEP (Members of the European Parliament) flotsam in Brussels who had kept a flame of British independence alive became politically palatable again. Their knowledge of the minutiae of EU laws and regulations proved useful. Soon bigger political beasts found the courage once again to join this renegade band. Today, with a vote on Britain’s remaining in or leaving the EU taking place on June 23, Britain’s Euroskeptics are not just back in the mainstream but at the helm of the most important decision facing the country in decades. Indeed, they may soon be running the country. With the polls currently showing “Remain” and “Leave” tied, an entire political establishment is now angrily trying to work out why Leave is doing so well. Why has wheeling out every other expert and authority in the land not browbeat the British people into overwhelmingly voting Remain? Why, indeed, does it seem to be pushing them the other way? Sad to say, the explanation is the facts — and two very large facts in particular, both of which have long been visible from Britain, even if not from Brussels.

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HJS



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