A couple of months ago I wrote here that, in spite of my love for Europe, I was thinking of voting Brexit in the referendum. Now, however, with only three weeks to go, I find that the arguments for voting Remain are just too powerful to resist. Here are four of them: Katie Hopkins, Richard Littlejohn, Julie Burchill and Pat Condell.
Each one of these thinkers detests Europe and is agitating to get out. Hopkins and Littlejohn you will know for their hatred of political correctness gone mad. Julie Burchill you will perhaps know for her Stalinist Thatcherism and provincial anti-Catholicism. You may not be familiar with Condell, however. He is a libertarian-atheist-vegan Ukip zealot who rants about the evils of religion and the EU on YouTube. He has a big following.
In other words, every politically incorrect bore and conspiracy theorist in the land is for Brexit, along with – and here we have two more reasons for voting Remain – the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) and the British National Party. The last time the communists and fascists were so closely united was in 1939 when Stalin and Hitler invaded Poland. (There: it has taken me only three paragraphs to slip the H-word into the argument.)
None of this is to suggest that the vast secular bureaucracy of Brussels ought to inspire love or loyalty. The EU seems to be in a state of near collapse. It has made a mess of the refugee crisis. The euro is unlikely to replace the dollar as the world’s reserve currency any time soon, and, in any case, the yuan will probably be there first.
In the meantime we have Turkey to worry about. Within five years it may be permitted to join the EU. Nigel Farage has spoken strongly and well on this subject, as on many others, but I think he is wrong in believing that Turkey’s possible accession is yet one more reason to vote Brexit. If you are not in it, you can’t fix it. If we remain in Europe we can veto Turkey’s accession. Outside it we can do nothing.
But what of democracy? Brexiteers get huffy and puffy, and sometimes squiffy, about the democratic deficit, and indeed no one would mind if the European Commission were more accountable. But is democracy all it is cracked up to be? What exactly is it? According to Abraham Lincoln, our father in faith, it is “government of the people, for the people, by the people”.
That’s more or less what we have now, and it is not pretty. Look at popular entertainment. The people have spoken and they been given what they want – gratuitous violence, porn, quiz shows and base comedy – and for trivial sums. Much as one supports representative government, we can now see that democracy – people’s democracy – is moving inexorably towards the dictatorship of relativism that Benedict XVI repeatedly warned against. That surely is the real threat facing the people of Europe and indeed the West in general.
Before long, no doubt, Christians will feel the sharp edge of this dictatorship, and face fines – perhaps even imprisonment (or “re-education”) – for their cruel and medieval beliefs about gender identity and the sanctity of life; but leaving the EU won’t change that, either. As it is, Christian orphanages have already had to close because of their refusal to allow gay couples to adopt children.
In spite of everything, however, Rome continues to support the European Union, or at least the idea of the Union, remembering that it was inspired by Catholic social teaching, and no doubt hoping (even praying) that it might be persuaded to return to its roots.
The Church is in favour of all the things the politically incorrect shout down – for example, human rights (provided they include the right to life), clean toilet facilities in factories and generous maternity benefits such as were called for in the Social Chapter of the Maastricht Treaty, which the Tories so hated.
But let me not be negative. I love Europe, in spite of its secularism, and I love being a citizen of Europe, home of Christian civilisation. The EU makes me feel my European heritage. I like to be among my fellow EU citizens on the Continent. I am pleased my children have always had this sense of belonging. But my approach to the referendum is not entirely governed by sentimentality.
I have enjoyed the scare stories as much as anyone, and have believed some of them. It is obviously true that if we vote against the EU, the markets will crash and my pension pot will suffer. It would be silly of me to vote for that. Now for something not quite completely different: let’s pull out of Nato and scrap Trident.