Gareth Jones Asst. Int’l Editor
You may be surprised to learn that Texas has a particularly strong support for secession from the United States. But probably, this does not surprise you at all. Either way, the general consensus, both within Texas and abroad, seems to be that secession would not help Texas as much as staying in the American federal system and paying the minimal amount of taxes required of them.
There is a similar movement in England championed largely by ultra-conservatives and ultra-nationalists who insist that prosperity in the UK is most easily found by completely cutting ties with the European Union. While the comparison between the EU and the United States is a difficult one to substantiate at best, the similarities between language and rhetoric used by proponents of secession in both states are rather interesting. Also, unfortunately for the EU, reasons against the UK seceding are less straightforward than those of Texas.
The last time that British secessionists got their act together enough to get a vote on the question of secession through to the public was 1975, when the European Union was still the European Coal and Steel Community. While the referendum failed, the vote was certainly closer than it might have been, with 32.8 percent voting to leave.
Furthermore, Britain’s economy was more stable in 1975 than its current situation, in spite of the aftershock of the 1973 oil crisis. Nowadays (having adjusted for inflation and whatnot) the average Brit makes 73 cents (or half a pound) less than they did in 1973, according to the UK National Statistics Hub. This salary dip alone is enough to have fueled plenty of anti-European Union posters and advertisements throughout the country, and if you’re in the mood for a sophisticated laugh, I welcome you to have a quick browse through of the many such anti- EU commercials on YouTube.
But does the average Brit actually suffer for having his/her nation be a part of the EU? It’s hard to tell, especially considering that they’re still (and probably forever will be) on the pound. They do not pay any more taxes than they would anyway, unless the government they elected took them out of the EU also cut taxes, which would leave a massive deficit problem exacerbated.
While some government money does go to the infamous bailouts to Greece and Spain, the UK would likely be spending that money on some form of foreign aid or international trade tax anyway, as is the habit of every member of the top-10 largest economic nations in the world, of which Britain is currently number eight. So it really comes down to a matter of personal preference.
If you view the European Union as the Third Reich’s latest attempt to invade Britain, like certain members of the far-right political movement, which the English Defense League does, then perhaps secession is in order after all. But if like most Brits you just hope to get on with your lives, using the Sterling Pound to buy your imported tea while watching imported soccer players run around kicking balls made in Indonesia, then closing the immigration lines and breaking off of the European Union probably is not for you.
Ally Thibault Journal Staff
In a time of crises and decline in European Union morale, the United Kingdom is smart to hold a referendum vote on its EU membership status. British Prime Minister David Cameron gave a speech last month promising an ‘in or out’ vote to be decided by U.K. citizens sometime in 2015 if he is reelected.
Many leaders of other European nations, and the U.S., were displeased by the prospect of the U.K. exiting the mammoth economic and political body. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and a spokeswoman for French President Francois Hollande both expressed their preferences for the U.K. to stay in the union to keep it strong, according to the BBC. They have denounced a plan to exit as a “Europe a la carte” approach.
The German foreign minister and the Austrian foreign minister echoed this sentiment, describing a potential exit by the U.K. as “cherry-picking.” Both politicians declared that no nation should be able to pick and choose on their own extent of integration, and that the aspects of policy should be decided by Brussels rather than domestically.
But this approach of “cherry-picking” or “a la carte” is exactly what countries in the EU should be looking into now, especially in the U.K. The island nation holds an interesting membership status in the union to begin with—while it is a part of the general body, it is not a part of the Euro currency zone or the Schengen Area, where passport checks are not necessary between countries. The U.K is already quite separate from most of the EU and should not be dominated by all the body’s centralized policies.
The British Pound, although falling in value, is still stronger than the Euro and the U.S. Dollar, and the U.K. remains one of the strongest economies in Europe. While many people, notably the British Foreign Secretary William Hague, have argued that leaving the EU would do economic damage to the U.K., the move seems to be more about politics than economics anyway.
“The biggest danger to the European Union comes not from those who advocate change, but from those who denounce new thinking as heresy,” Cameron said in his speech.
The elephant in the room within the EU now is the fact that policies and strategies are simply not working well enough or fast enough to fix issues within the member nations. A kind of slippery slope is feared if one nation is allowed to exit the EU but maybe that’s what the body needs to survive. As countries continue down the paths of high unemployment, strict austerity, and major debt issues, it is time for individual nations to stop depending on the EU and start making smarter policy decisions for themselves. While this is not possible or truly plausible for many members, the U.K. is certainly in a strong position to pack its bags and carry on friendly relations with the body as a non-member.