On the 31st of January, I was in Westminster counting down to the United Kingdom’s long-awaited departure from the undemocratic, declining European Union. The coronavirus pandemic, to a majority of Britons, was a non-issue. Nevertheless, amid the devastating health and economic crisis, both issues play a part in our political discourse.
As a Brexiteer, I always wanted our 27-European friends to join us as economically and politically independent nation-states, engaged in collaborating and cooperating but without any compromise to national sovereignty.
On the morning of the referendum result, I, invoked by the spirit of Boris Johnson’s Wembley speech, wrongfully foresaw a long-list of European nations who would want to join us. This, unfortunately, did not materialise and throughout negotiations, even the most ‘eurosceptic’ of member states appeared pitched against the British.
However, it is this botched continental coronavirus fund, and not the historic vote of 2016, that poses a fundamental threat to the European project. The Guardian reported that Hungarian President, Viktor Orban, accused the Dutch premier, Mark Rutte of ‘communist’ tactics. Nevertheless, it was not just the Orban, a populist authoritarian, and Rutte, a consensus liberal, who were left arguing over the fund.
The so-called ‘frugal five’, the Dutch, Danish, Swedish and Austrians, who were so quiet when the British dissented on the Brussel’s costly and infringing measures, fought tooth and nail against the architects of the European project, Germany and France, to reduce the size of the fund to €700. They, unsurprisingly, failed.
Nonetheless, Rute and his frugal counterparts did ensure a larger rebate in the future and guaranteed that the primary beneficiaries of the fund, Italy and Spain, would pay back their ‘loans’. The division, as seen in previous financial disagreements, between northern and southern Europe has returned to a post-Brexit European Union.
The fund will further infringe upon the political independence of member states. According to The Telegraph, the commission is consequently given the power to raise tax through capital markets and to allocate it however they so wish.
But what if we had never left the European Union. Forget a seismic decline in political faith or the continued burdensome impact of membership of the single market, what would Britain’s fee have been? An estimated £100 billion. Britain already has its own problems with Covid-19, both from a medical and financial standpoint, to ask the taxpayer to foot the bill for European nation’s who have suffered less is not only unfair but resentful. I am just pleased to see that the ‘frugal five’ can see why us Brexiteers, as net contributors, were so adamant we needed to leave the European Union.
The cost, conduct and clear course that the European Union is taking in the post-pandemic world, a course that continues to pool national sovereignty away from nation-states and levies even higher cost to membership on the shoulders of some members, should make the 52 per cent feel totally vindicated for their vote in 2016.
By J Walters