Thibault Boutherin has been a Consultant in Public Affairs (France and UK) and European Affairs for 7 years and is based in Paris and London.
He is also a specialist of the Western Balkans and published several articles or contributions for high-profile foundations (Fondation Robert Schuman), online magazines (Le Plus Nouvel Observateur) and reviews (Diplomatie) dedicated to the EU and international relations. Check out his blog, where this article originally appeared: All Eyes on #Politics.
“At least in the UK, people do talk about the EU, as the general election approaches. Not in good way, though, and even worse: in an insincere and dishonest manner.
How frustrating is that!? Because of what seems to be a mere lack of political courage, no politician dares and say what the real impact of this now-possible Brexit would be. Instead, they all appear to favour an overbid in an anti-EU race, attacking the transfer of skills, blaming the EU-immigrants for everything that seems to go wrong, hoping it would grant them the victory in May 2015.
This is behaviour is thoughtless and not sensible. Or perhaps it is just cynical. But still. One should remember that running for elections and claiming for a political role demands responsibilities. Maybe I am being too idealistic, but I cannot see any hint of responsibility and moral honesty in the way this whole Brexit debate is driven. Everywhere in the political landscape of the country, left, right or far-right, the only obsession is #Sovereignty. The UK is absolutely legitimate as a fully independent country. Let’s just not forget that in the first place, no one intends to deprive the country from it. Not even the EU.
Then comes my main point. I mean, they all talk about the UK’s Sovereignty. They seem obsessed, they must take it back from the claws of Brussels and those horrendously greedy technocrats… I beg your pardon? In what terms are we talking about Sovereignty? Who dares to be honest and speak the truth?
One should ask Cameron, Miliband or Farage the only real question: how sovereign the UK would be, if it leaves the EU? The EU is not only the first market and commercial partner of the UK, it is also the 1st economical power in the world. Leaving the EU would not mean, of course, that the UK would cut this relation with its partners. But how independent and powerful would the country be, if it has to obey and follow the laws and regulations from its very first market, while not being able to influence them anymore? And how sovereign and powerful would it be, if it has to compete with China, the USA, India or Brazil in a globalized competition?
The exit of the EU would not only be an economic disaster for the country. It would also be the proof of the moral corruption of its political elite and officials. It would, indeed, show how desperate those have been to just run after polls just to keep/take powers without a sound approach, a sensible reflection about the meaning of their deeds, and without being what the people expect from their leaders, to walk in the steps of Churchill and speak the truth. The EU is far from perfect. It implies to share power with other countries. It is sometimes frustrating, but those are benevolent and they are brotherlands. This is not the case of those, the UK would have to face on its own after 2017.
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