“When terrorists are planning to kill and maim people on British streets, the closest possible security cooperation is far more important than sovereignty in its purest theoretical form,” said British Prime Minister David Cameron (shown), in speaking against his country’s possible exit from the European Union (EU).
In fact, Cameron even raised the specter of a third world war, should the United Kingdom leave the EU. A national referendum on that very subject is scheduled for June 23, and Cameron has been a vocal opponent of what is called the “Brexit,” or British exit from the European trade alliance.
“Can we be so sure peace and stability on our continent are assured?” Cameron said in a speech, pleading with his fellow Brits to vote in that referendum.
Rival Tory MP Boris Johnson publicly differs with Cameron, a fellow member of the ruling Conservative Party. The Conservative Party is divided over the upcoming referendum — with some members calling for a British exit from the EU, and others, such as Cameron, campaigning for the nation to remain. The Labour Party is likewise divided, and in fact, ex-Foreign Secretary David Miliband, a Labour Party leader, introduced Cameron at the British Museum in London.
Johnson scoffed at Cameron’s cautions that leaving the EU would lead to dead British soldiers in a massive war. “People should think very hard before they make these kinds of warnings. No, I don’t believe that leaving the EU would cause World War III to break out on the European continent.”
Johnson added, “The EU, as you will remember, exacerbated the problems of the decision to prematurely recognize Croatia.” And he contended that the EU was to blame for the rise of violence in Ukraine.
Cameron, in his speech, recalled the role that Britain has played in “pivotal moments in European history: Blenheim, Trafalgar, Waterloo, our country’s heroism in the Great War and, most of all, our lone stand in 1940. What happens in our neighborhood matters to Britain. That was true in 1914, 1940, 1989 ... and it is true in 2016.”
One of the biggest “selling points” for the creation of a “common market” in Europe, beginning in the 1950s, was that with economic integration, Europe would be less likely to fight another war among the independent nations on the continent. Now, Cameron and others are adding the threat of a “newly belligerent Russia,” ISIS, and the “migration crisis,” to the list of reasons that supposedly require an economic union of Europe.
Cameron said that “the terrorist threat against this country has grown” during the six years he has served as prime minister. But that would seem to actually argue for a British exit from the EU. After all, if the terrorist threat has grown during the past six years — all of which are years Britain has been a member of the EU — then one could reasonably argue that EU membership has made no difference, at best, or has even contributed to that increased threat. Specifically, the “migration crisis” can be placed squarely upon the EU, since the nations of the EU have effectively lost control of their own borders because of EU membership requirements. Once a person is allowed into one EU member state, that person is then free to travel to any EU member state. This concern over immigration is a principal reason that many Brits desire to leave the EU.
Writing in the May 9 print edition of The New American, William F. Jasper cited other issues that are driving the push to exit the EU — EU spending, EU taxes, EU regulations, EU bailouts, EU corruption, EU usurpations of power. Because of so many reasons that Brits have for supporting “Vote Leave,” supporters of continued British membership are scrambling. The exit of Great Britain could touch off a wave of similar “exits,” with anti-EU feeling running strong in the Czech Republic and Greece.
Cameron even conjured up the memory of the late British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, in an effort to persuade the nation to remain in the EU. Advocates of the EU call Churchill the father of the European Union, while opponents cite some of his speeches that promote British nationalism. For example, in February 1953 Churchill said, “Where do we stand? We are not members of the European Defense Community, nor do we intend to be merged in a federal European system.... This can be expressed by prepositions, by the preposition 'with' but not 'of' — we are with them, but not of them. We have our own Commonwealth and Empire.”
But only a few years earlier, in May 1948, Churchill told the Congress of Europe, “We cannot aim at anything less than the Union of Europe as a whole, and we look forward with confidence to the day when that Union will be achieved.”
It appears that one can select Churchill quotes to make all sorts of points, which is not surprising from a man who bounced from one political party to another during his long career in British politics.
In the end, it is clear that issues such as trade, terrorism, war, the environment, and even disease can be used to promote the undermining of national sovereignty, and membership in economic superstates such as the EU. Cameron bluntly said his own nation’s “sovereignty” is less important than “security cooperation,” tying that to continued membership in the EU. Exactly why “security cooperation” requires the dilution of British national sovereignty in a European superstate is not explained, but it is instructive to those of us on this side of the “pond.”
President Barack Obama even offered veiled threats to the British people should they opt out of the EU. Obama’s secretary of state, John Kerry, speaking in a commencement address at Northeastern University, echoed Cameron’s lack of dedication to national sovereignty when he told the graduates, “You’re about to graduate into a complex and borderless world.”
“Thinking globally is absolutely essential to seizing opportunities and confronting the challenges that we face,” Kerry said, adding that “dangers like climate change, terrorism, and disease do not respect borders.”
Increasingly, it appears that whether in Great Britain or in the United States, the division is not so much between Conservative Party or Labour Party, or Republican Party or Democratic Party, but between those who favor our national sovereignty, and those who support globalism.
Fans of the iconic Star Wars movie series might recall that the tyrannical “empire” grew out of a “trade treaty” among various planetary republics. While fiction, it could be, as is so often said of Hollywood productions, “inspired by real-life events.”
Steve Byas is a professor of history at Randall University in Moore, Oklahoma. He is the author of History’s Greatest Libels.