Welcome to the Hotel California. Such a lovely place, Such a lovely face.
Plenty of room at the Hotel California. Any time of the year, You can find it here.
They livin’ it up at the Hotel California. What a nice surprise, Bring your alibis.
And she said, “We are all just prisoners here, of our own device”.
“Relax”, said the night man, “We are programmed to receive.
You can check-out any time you like, but you can never leave”.
In 1977 the Eagles composed and recorded their most famous hit. The above abridged lyrics were written in a drug fuelled community with their original meaning a bit hazy. It is now generally accepted they related to growing up and living in the LA hedonistic culture; and about trying to escape that life-style.
Now, substitute the European Union for California with the Hotel being the Brussels European Quarter buildings. The lyrics then represent the generic mind-set and views of the Project Europe leaders and politicians. The European Economic Community, the European Community and now the European Union was presented and promoted as the best thing since sliced-bread was invented. People across Europe were sold the idea that it was a lovely place of economic prosperity, with a lovely face of peace and harmony. Expansion of the EU boundaries was pushed at a speed when countries were not really ready for the shock of joining. After all there was plenty of room and space with the freedom to move at will. People outside Europe were given the impression that the EU was a land of milk and honey; and they would be welcomed there at any time. You can fool all of the people some of the time. With time and experience, scepticism grows. The picture was not as rosy as painted by the politicians, but they had their excuses and alibis ready.
They were living it up in Brussels and enjoying all the privileges of office. Their alibi was the importance of the European Project of ever closer integration. On the rare occasions that people were given a vote on the state of progress they sent strong signals of discontent. Danes, Dutch, French, Irish and then British voters objected. The Danes and Irish were made to vote again. The Dutch and French were ignored and bypassed. The British said enough is enough. In general elections across Europe the vote for pro-EU parties has declined, as the vote for pro-reformers has increased. The Project leaders are hanging on by their finger tips. After all, they argue, no one except the English want to leave and they will change their minds when they realise how bad it will be. In the UK there are Quislings and the fifth-column working hard to reverse the result of the Referendum vote, and this encourages the European Commission to draw out the exit process so that the English can change their minds.
They are welcomed with open arms by Michel Barnier in Brussels. In Ireland, former Taoiseach, John Bruton suggests the transition period should be for six years, during which time the UK would still be under the control of the EU. Simon Coveney, the current Irish Foreign Minister, suggests it should be a period of four or five years and even after that Northern Ireland must keep to EU rules forever – otherwise he will veto any Brexit agreement. In Germany the Council of Advisers suggests the UK be kept in the EU until the end of the current EU budget period that runs to December 2020. True to this conspiracy, there are vocal groups in the UK still fully committed to the EU even though saying they respect the Referendum result. You can fool some of the people all of the time.
She, who must be obeyed, is Merkel; the night man is Macron. No matter what they say, judge them by their actions. They cosy up with May for photo opportunities at European Council meetings in Brussels, but they are uncompromising with their demand that the UK must pay-up before trade can be discussed. Merkel in particular has hampered genuine attempts to reform the EU. Cameron’s aim to extract reforms for the purpose of winning the Referendum was treated with contempt. No matter how positively he dressed up his achievement of spurious reform the voters new the kings new clothes were invisible. Rejection was inevitable and since then the scales have fallen from more eyes. You cannot fool all the people all of the time.
Brexit is the most important foreign policy issue facing the UK. Even more important is the effect that the negotiations will have on our future relations with the EU. If the public perception is that the UK has been bullied and treated unfairly attitudes will harden against the EU and dictate the extent to which our political leaders can support cordial relations in the future. For example, the public will be resistant to the deployment of UK armed forces in defence of countries that have been vindictive. European history is littered with examples of political elites making grand decisions and the ‘great powers’ redrawing boundaries, resulting in ordinary people and whole populations being moved liked pawns and financial burdens imposed. What is happening now is on a par with the Congress of Vienna, the Franco-Prussian War settlement, the Treaty of Versailles with the French imposition of punitive terms on Germany in response to the harsh terms imposed on them previously, and Munich in 1939 when the four powers decided the future of smaller countries. This cycle of tit-for-tat was supposed to have been broken after WW2 when Germany gained forbearance of its debts. This seems to be lost on Merkel, but is remembered in Greece and Poland. Macron should also remember that the French position after WW1 sowed the seeds for the next war. Their obsession with making the UK pay for Brexit will have consequences.
We need to be considering what the EU will be like in 2025? We may have checked-out, but if we are still subject to their Rule and thereby the European Court of Justice, we will never leave. If they are domineering, we could find ourselves – like the Russian Federation – identifying the EU as the greatest threat to our national security.