May 30, 2016


What Good Is a United Europe to America? : A Brexit advocate says U.S. support for the EU fundamentally misreads what the institution has become. (EDWARD DELMAN  MAY 25, 2016, The Atlantic)

Leave campaigners in the U.K., notably former London Mayor Boris Johnson, have criticized the American president's stance on Britain's debate. In his own Telegraph op-ed, Johnson accused the U.S. of hypocritically advocating for EU restrictions over the U.K. of a kind that it would never accept for itself.

Alan Sked, also in the Leave camp, sees a deeper flaw in the American view of the entire Britain-EU relationship. Sked, a historian at the London School of Economics, was an early proponent of British independence from the union; he founded the U.K. Independence Party, or UKIP, in the 1990s with that goal in mind. (He has since disavowed the party, now led by Nigel Farage, as "a vehicle of the far right, obsessed with race and immigration.") In an article detailing "The Case for Brexit" in The National Interest last fall, he called the European Union an "up-to-date model of a supranational empire," like the Habsburg, Russian, German, and Ottoman Empires that dominated the continent prior to World War I.

"Americans," he told me earlier this year, "tend to think of Britain as just one of those [American] colonies in 1776, and all the European states as other colonies"--thus they see a kind of United States of Europe as the desirable result. Sked thinks it's the reverse: "[T]he real parallel is that Britain should secede from this empire and become an independent state, protecting freedom, as the Americans withdrew from the British Empire."

I spoke with Sked about what he sees as the stakes for Britain's referendum, and why Americans have been so involved in the European project to begin with. An edited and condensed transcript of the conversation follows. [....]

Delman: So if the EU is an empire, how would you characterize a British exit from the EU? Could that be seen as decolonization, or anti-imperialist?

Sked: It would be seen as undermining empire. It wouldn't be [anti-colonial] insofar as the Europeans haven't quite colonized us, but it would certainly be anti-imperialist. It would be a strike for freedom; it would be a strike for self-determination. It would be liberty. It would be progress.

Why should we be different from America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, or the world's major democracies? We should have a government which is in control of its own laws, and we shouldn't have to accept regulations and laws made by a foreign bureaucrat over whom we've got no control.

Posted by at May 30, 2016 11:23 AM