The Honorable Daniel Hannan, a member of Britain’s Conservative Party, has been a Member of the European Parliament for the past 15 years, representing South East England. A prominent Eurosceptic, he is also renowned as a gifted speaker and writer. His famous 2009 speech, “The Devalued Prime Minister,” eviscerated then-Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s response to the financial crisis. He concluded his speech, which went viral on YouTube, with theses lines:
You cannot spend your way out of a recession or borrow your way out of debt… [Y]ou are the devalued Prime Minister of a devalued Government.
In addition to writing a popular blog for the Daily Telegraph, he is also the author of several books, among which are Inventing Freedom: How the English-Speaking Peoples Made the Modern World (2013, Broadside Books) and The New Road to Serfdom: A Letter of Warning to America (2011, Broadside Books).
Hannan was interviewed by The New American during his recent visit to Idaho sponsored by the Idaho Freedom Foundation.
As Hannan explains, the growing dissatisfaction throughout Europe to the European Union’s tightening stranglehold is especially acute in the United Kingdom. On both the political and economic fronts, the EU is turning out to be a very bad deal for Englishmen.
“When we joined [the EU] on the first of January, 1973, we accepted primacy of EU law over British law,” he notes. “We ceased, in the formal sense to be a sovereign country.” Now British citizens are “ruled by a committee in Brussels whom nobody elected.”
On the economic side, observes Hannan, the EU is the only continent that is declining economically. It is, he points out, “over-regulated, over-taxed, and over-centralized.”
The Euro-federalist forces, which include most of the Establishment media, banking, and business powers, as well as the leading politicians in both the Labour and Conservative Parties, are trying desperately to convince British voters that a referendum vote to leave the EU would bring disastrous economic consequences for the U.K. Hannan dismisses the scare tactics. “Look at Switzerland,” he points out. “They seem to be managing somehow: Wealthiest country in Europe, best country in the world to be born in (according to the United Nations), low state spending, minimal unemployment, came through the economic crisis without a downturn. Pretty amazing when you think that it was a banking crisis; you might have expected Switzerland to be exposed. And they are very happy with a deal [with the EU] where they have free trade and intergovernmental cooperation with their allies and neighbors. But Swiss law is supreme on Swiss territory.”
“I have never heard anyone in Brussels suggest we wouldn’t get a Swiss-type deal,” if Britain left the EU, Hannan notes.
When it comes to the EU, Hannan has little patience for, or sympathy with, Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron’s appeals for “reform” of the EU.
“It is always possible to come back with something called ‘reform,’” he told The New American. “’Reform’ is almost a meaningless word when you think about it. It can be applied to any change of anything. He becomes less ambitious every time he talks about it. The declared objectives that he’s now committed to are so feeble, so technical and paltry that they could be achieved without needing a new treaty, which is the ultimate proof that they haven’t really changed anything.”
The choice faced by British citizens, he notes, is very stark and simple: “Are we going to be part of the European Union we’ve gotten to know over the last forty years? Let’s not con ourselves that it’s going to be transformed into something different. We’ve had a pretty good opportunity to get a feel for the thing. Do we want to remain a part of it? Seeing what direction its going in, seeing we’ll end up being a province of a country called Europe? Or do we want to be an independent people, trading with our friends in Europe, but rediscovering our global vocation and living under our own laws.”