The case for Brexit: for Britain, for Australia
23 Jun 2016|

To Brexit, or not to Brexit—that is the question. 

The answer will have seismic ramifications for the future of democracy, sovereignty and freedom.

Notwithstanding the potentially significant short-term transaction costs of Brexit, there’s a strong case for Brexit, both for Britons and for Australians.

Brexit is about righting a wrong that was done to the British people. Britons never gave their consent to a political union with Europe. And there’s no social contract between Britons and the European superstate; rather, European bureaucrats have conquered Britain by stealth.

Britons have, without their consent, been roped into the EU and its web of institutions and extraordinary breadth of competencies including customs, competition, monetary policy for Eurozone members, fisheries, agriculture, trade, environment, consumer protection, immigration, social policy and employment, transport, trans-European networks, energy, the areas of freedom, security and justice, public health, culture, tourism, education and youth. The EU has its own foreign minister with embassies around the world, and is developing its own defence policy, with plans for a European Army down the track if Germany gets its way.

In an understated and typically British way, Prime Minister David Cameron remarked in 2013 that Britons ‘feel that the EU is heading in a direction that they never signed up to.’

The case for Brexit is principally a case for reasserting the primacy of the great British institutions of British parliamentary sovereignty, the rule of British law and an independent British judiciary, small government and economic liberalism. Remaining part of the EU will condemn Britain to further integration into what has become an anti-democratic and illiberal European federation.

In addition to encroaching on British parliamentary democracy, the British judiciary and the British system of common law, Europe has failed to deliver on its promised prosperity with a near-decade long crisis in the Eurozone and sluggish economic growth.

Instead, European red tape abounds, stifling growth and job creation. Over 50% of UK legislation is now derived from EU law—laws which Britain must apply and over which it doesn’t have a veto. European courts dictate who Britain can deport. EU citizens and their families can live and work freely in Britain, without limitation. Britain’s net contribution to the EU is in the order of £10 billion which angers Britons who query what benefit they get from such a significant investment of taxpayer funds.

The ‘Remain’ camp invoke the good that Europe has done in bringing peace to the continent, and the dangers to regional and global stability that Brexit would bring. But is that really the case?

It’s NATO—led by the United States, not the EU—that has underwritten post-war peace in Europe and beyond. As a 28 member bloc, the EU is simply unable to make effective decisions when confronted with important and difficult issues like the Russian invasion of Ukraine or the flood of migrants from the Middle East. It’s incredibly difficult to get 28 countries to agree to any policy, and when it does, the policy is very often weak and incredibly compromised—a policy of the lowest common denominator.

If Britain continues to subject itself to a process of European decision-making, then its positions will, by definition, be diluted. That doesn’t make Britain stronger in unity with Europe; it makes Britain weaker.

Beyond Britain, there’s no doubt today’s decision will be felt globally. Freed from the EU, Britain could reassert its global leadership position as an independent liberal democracy, with a focus beyond the current tendency for EU-introspection.

Brexit would have tangible benefits for Australia’s international relations.

The benefits of a Britain–Australia free trade deal would be considerable for Australian and British exporters alike, but Britain currently can’t negotiate such a pact independently of the EU. Moreover, Brexit would restore for Australia an independent peer and sibling sharing many of the same values and systems, including parliamentary democracy and classical liberal values, as well as buttressing Australia’s interests in a range of bilateral and multilateral issues, including defence and trade. Indeed, Australia, as a former British colony, has inherited and developed the very best of Britain. The English language, British institutions, the values of Western civilisation—the rule of law, personal liberty and representative government and the common law. The decline of the British nation state and the sovereignty of its Parliament under EU overlords should be something that Australians mourn.

Britain’s freedom and sovereignty shouldn’t be the sacrificial lamb for the preservation of the EU. Let Britain’s departure be a catalyst for reform of the EU and a reclamation of democracy, sovereignty and individual freedoms. Let it also be a reminder to Australia of the importance of liberal values for a successful and prosperous nation state.