Friday, 22 April 2016

Thoughts on the EU referendum (5)

Macron: "I think UK is not about becoming Jersey or Guernsey."

Hannan: "Parliamentary sovereignty evidently suits the people of Guernsey. Their economy has been growing steadily at around 3 per cent a year, their GDP per capita is one of the highest in the world, unemployment is in the hundreds and crime is virtually non-existent."

(Hannan makes another good point about Guernsey and the remainers: "‘But you can’t compare us to Guernsey,’ the scoffers will then cry. ‘It’s tiny!’ But are we seriously supposed to think that small nations can thrive outside the EU, but large ones can’t? It’s extraordinary how quickly EU supporters switch from ‘Britain has to be part of a bigger bloc’ to ‘You can’t compare us to small countries’. Apparently, we’re simultaneously too large and too small to prosper.")

Or let's put it this way. Which of the countries in Europe has best provided for its citizens over the last couple of hundred years? Where were the best chances of living peaceably in your home town in freedom and in good health from birth to death? Where were the lowest chances of dying in a war, pogrom or other man-made catastrophe? What European nationality would you want your children to have in their back pocket, just in case? There's a pretty good argument that the answer to those questions is Switzerland. I'm serious. Forget that Third Man quote about the cuckoo clock - there's nothing noble or wonderful about a state that exposes its citizens to wars and disasters: it's a dereliction of duty. Surely the answer to Dean Acheson is that Britain's "role" is to provide peace, freedom and prosperity for its citizens, just as every other country should try to do and Switzerland succeeds in doing.

The question is not: how can we avoid becoming Guernsey or Switzerland? Quite the opposite. The question is this: does staying in help to build a bigger, better Guernsey or Switzerland? Or would leaving allow Britain to become more like Guernsey or Switzerland?

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