The End of the Status Quo

If you were to believe the mainstream media you would be under the apprehension that on Thursday 23rd June 2016 when you go to vote on the EU referendum, you either make the choice of voting to leave the EU and stepping in to the great unknown, or you choose the soft easy option by voting to remain within the EU, in effect choosing the status quo. This is a misapprehension, a complete fallacy.

Whatever the outcome is on the 23rd of June, come the 24th the economic, political and social landscape of the UK shall be irrevocably changed forever more. The EU referendum is that vitally significant. Whichever campaign wins the referendum, there will be change. The remain campaign promises a continuation of the status quo but they are impotent and will be unable to fulfil those promises. In reality those promises will be broken within weeks of the outcome of the referendum.

Come the 24th of June there will be no more status quo. All there shall be is the status quo ante, or the status quo antes even; either result shall draw a line in the sand to mark life in the UK before the 23rd and life in the UK afterwards. If the UK electorate vote to leave the EU the immediate future may indeed be less certain, an unknown quantity but at least the UK shall be in control of its own destiny. A future outside of the EU may be uncertain but the possibilities are endless; the aftermath from the status quo ante brings hope and a brighter future for the UK.

If the UK electorate vote to remain within the EU the future is certain but that future also brings change. Any voter who chooses to vote remain expecting the status quo will be in for a great shock. No matter how much they distance themselves from the leave voters the irrefutable truth is that they too are voting for an end to the status quo. Only this time the aftermath from the status quo ante, though a known quantity brings change over which the UK has no control whatsoever. By voting to remain YOU are giving consent to the EU, voting to accept the mandate of the EU and consenting to all of the EU edicts imposed upon the UK. Afterwards, the EU will see a remain victory in the referendum as an admission of complete acceptance of the EU from the British public. This consent will only further embolden the EU to accelerate and extend their mandate upon the UK.

As a member of the electorate if YOU vote for the UK to remain within the EU, you are misinformed if you believe you are voting for the status quo. YOU are voting for change whether you like it or not. If YOU vote to remain this is what you are voting for and giving your full consent to:

  1. YOU are giving your consent to the UK one day becoming a member of the United States of Europe.
  2. YOU are therefore giving your consent to the UK losing its sovereignty and nation status.
  3. YOU are giving your consent to members of the UK in future to refer to themselves as European as they will no longer be classed as British.
  4. YOU are giving your consent to the UK in future signing up to the Schengen Agreement.
  5. YOU are giving your consent to the UK in future sacrificing pounds sterling and adopting the Euro as its form of currency.
  6. YOU are giving your consent to the demise of the Commonwealth of Nations, British Overseas Territories and Crown dependencies.
  7. YOU are giving your consent to the UK losing HM Armed Forces and agreeing to British subjects being enlisted in an EU Armed Forces under Article 42 of the 2007 Treaty of Lisbon (TEU).
  8. YOU are giving your consent to the UK allowing the EU to impose EU legislation upon the UK and for EU law courts to sit and convene on UK soil while holding precedence over UK courts, thus replacing the British rule of law with continental EU law.
  9. YOU are giving your consent to the UK adopting the US-EU trade agreement, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
  10. YOU are therefore giving your consent to the UK in future privatising the NHS by adopting TTIP.

By voting to remain in the EU these are only the most vital areas of which YOU are complicit in giving your consent to. Whatever the mainstream media may tell you, YOU are voting for change.

There are of course those who claim they are voting to remain within the EU so as to retain the status quo for the immediate future in the hope that the federal dream of a United States of Europe will disintegrate, and after the fallout they hope the EU single market will be retained in its current state.

If the EU’s goal of a United States of Europe fails to come to fruition, then it shall only be due to a complete economic or social meltdown. Why would anyone place the UK in a scenario where this nation would be embroiled and enmeshed in such disruptive chaos? It would be far better for the UK to be outside of the EU if such a meltdown were ever to occur.

Either way, the aftermath from the status quo ante, be it remaining in the EU and becoming a member of the United States of Europe or being embroiled in an EU meltdown, neither of these are in any way favourable or welcome when compared to the aftermath of June 23rd and the UK regaining its sovereign independence from Brussels.

If YOU are contemplating or intending to vote to remain within the EU, I urge and implore you to utterly ignore all biased mainstream media. Instead carry out your own research and investigation on the EU referendum with an open mind. If you still decide to vote remain, then so be it but you may just change your opinion along the way. Just let that decision at the ballot box be YOUR choice.

The Armed Forces of the EU

In the run up to the EU referendum on the 23rd June there has been much talk in the media of the formation of an EU Armed Forces; if it will be formed, when shall the inception take place and has this process already begun?

Many of these answers can be found in the 1992 Maastricht Treaty (Treaty on European Union) and the 2007 Treaty of Lisbon (TEU) but the seeds for an EU Armed Forces were sown decades earlier. This vision could even be said to go as far back as Robert Schuman and Jean Monnet the fathers of the modern EU who laid down their vision in the Schuman Declaration in 1950.

In the modern EU, one of the most important moments was the meeting in Brussels in 2003 where France, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg met and agreed on the formation of the “European Defence Initiative”, whereby the armed forces of each nation would in future work closer together in cooperation.

This meant reinforcing the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) which lead to the formation of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). Though both policies serve the same purpose, there are major and important differences in how they each go about achieving that goal.

Primarily it is the Treaty of Lisbon which has accelerated the immediate likelihood of seeing an EU Armed Forces come to fruition. The reasoning for this is at the Treaty of Lisbon under Article 42 it was agreed for the upcoming CSDP to pool the resources available to the European Defence Agency (EDA) and form a “Permanent Structured Cooperation in Defence” within the EU. In effect this was the license granting the EU to form a combined EU Armed Forces enshrined as a directive in EU legislation. However, this is only possible because at the EU’s inception at the 1992 Maastricht Treaty (TEU) under Article J.4 it was agreed for the EU to form a common defence policy, with the aim to go on and form a common defence, i.e. the basis on which to form the inception for an EU Armed Forces. This proves unequivocally, since the very birth of the European Union in its current form in 1992, the desired goal has always been to see an EU Armed Forces and therefore their desired goal is also to see the EU transformed in to a single federal nation.

For this to come to fruition the Common Security and Defence Policy was required to supersede the European Security and Defence Policy. It is vital to understand the differences between the two. The main points of the ESDP are:

  • The ESDP though being of Europe was not operating under direct legislation from the EU.
  • The ESDP was enacted under the organisation of the Western European Union (WEU). Though the WEU’s Council and Assembly operated from a headquarters in Brussels, the organisation was in fact a part of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), the Allied Command Operations headquarters for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
  • The remit of the ESDP was enacted under NATO protocols.
  • In 1995 a European multinational rapid reaction force, the European Rapid Operational Force (Eurofor) was set up by the WEU. The deployment of Eurofor was a joint NATO and EU action.

By comparison the nature of the Common Security and Defence Policy brought about by the Treaty of Lisbon differs greatly to the previous European Security and Defence Policy. Those differences are:

  • The CSDP falls entirely under the jurisdiction of the European Union. NATO has no say and plays no part in the policy.
  • The WEU embedded in NATO was abolished to be replaced by the European Defence Agency (EDA) as early as 2004. The EDA is answerable solely to the EU Council and has no links with NATO. The EDA is responsible for a remit that covers everything from defence think-tanks to research and development, from operational planning to tactical deployment.
  • Eurofor the joint NATO and EU European multinational rapid reaction force was replaced by the EU Battlegroup (EU BG). Again, this EU Battlegroup is solely answerable to the Council of the European Union.

The EU Battlegroup is also complemented with the European Corps (Eurocorps), the European Gendarmerie Force (EUROGENDFOR or EGF), the European Maritime Force (Euromarfor or EMF) and the European Union Force (EUFOR). All are joint EU operations.

The process of implementing an EU Armed Forces has steadily increased apace twofold. Firstly, the EU member nations have the perfectly feasible excuse of citing joint collaboration being due to EU wide cuts in the defence budget. Therefore, they claim the only way these countries can maintain the same levels of defence is to work in partnership with other nations, each bringing together their own specialities, thus ensuring there is no wastage of funds due to duplication. At face value this seems perfectly feasible and sensible.

However, the EDA has completely removed all EU military operations from NATO. This was carried out under the pretext that the EU wished to ease the cost of the defence burdens placed upon the USA and Canada. Yet there is a hollow ring to this statement. The USA is constantly taking the European members of NATO to task for not spending enough on the NATO defence budget, indeed they are consistently berated for not achieving the correct levels of expenditure.

This tears apart the reasoning for joint collaboration being due to defence budget cuts, as now thanks to the EDA, many EU nations are now doubling up and deploying two armed forces, one to meet the needs of the Council of the European Union and one to fulfil the duties required by NATO, more so now with less joint deployments from the USA and Canada. It may even be possible to claim that the actions of the EDA are in fact weakening NATO Forces and placing NATO members in increased and unnecessary danger. This does not even take into account the extra duties required to be undertaken when carrying out UN Peacekeeping Operations.

Secondly, the implementation of an EU Armed Forces has steadily increased apace due to the recent migrant crisis within Europe. At present, the European Council and the European Commissioner have agreed to accelerate plans for an EU combined Coastguard and SAR service. The EU is citing the migrant crisis as another valid reason to speed up the formation of joint European Armed Forces.

Whatever pretexts the EU wishes to choose, the inescapable fact is that EU nations are experiencing an acceleration in the policy of amalgamating and merging military forces. As touched upon in an earlier article Britannia and Her Hearts of Oak, where I wrote:

“Since 2013 Germany has begun the integration and amalgamation of its Deutsche Marine with the Royal Netherlands Navy, the Koninklijke Marine, including their respective Marine forces, the German Seebataillon and the Dutch Korps Mariniers, along with all submarine operations…..”

Further to add to this, an 800 strong German army battalion will be integrated into the Dutch Navy. This battalion will be subordinate to the Dutch Navy until 2018. This is very interesting. One can only assume that the circumstances shall have changed after 2018. Will that battalion be reassigned elsewhere, or will they take precedence over the Dutch Navy afterwards? Or by 2018 will the presence of this Bundeswehr battalion in the Dutch Navy be a moot point due to the fact that an EU Armed Forces will already be in the processes of being formed?

For now this collaboration between Germany and the Netherlands has seen over 2,000 Dutch soldiers from the 11th Airmobile Brigade (11 Luchtmobiele Brigade) integrated into the Rapid Forces Division (Division Schnelle Kräfte) of the German Bundeswehr. In future the 43rd Mechanized Brigade (Gemechaniseerde Brigade) of the Royal Netherlands Army will be integrated into the 1st Panzer Division (Bundeswehr Panzerdivision), but the Bundeswehr 414 Panzerbattalion has at this time already been merged with the Gemechaniseerde Brigade. These troops are assigned to the EU Battlegroup.

Add to this the desire from the Deutsche Marine to create and take command of an EU combined Auxiliary Naval Fleet which would include the British Royal Navy. Also, the German Air Force, the Luftwaffe of the Bundeswehr showing a keen interest in merging with the French Air Force, the Armée de l’air.

Where does this leave the British Armed Forces? It could be claimed that the British Armed Forces have been overstretched to beyond their full capacity. Currently, the British Armed Forces are deployed in order to defend the UK, the Commonwealth of Nations, the British Overseas Territories and the Crown Dependencies which have been discussed at length in my article Great Britain, the Commonwealth of Nations and the European Union. The British Armed Forces are also deployed in service as members of NATO, are a part of the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) along with Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Singapore, also the UK Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) along with Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Norway, and also with France a member of the Combined Joint Expeditionary Force (CJEF). Not forgetting of course the British Armed Forces commitments to UN Peacekeeping Operations.

While the forces of other nations within the EU may be in the process of becoming more specialised so that duplication can be avoided when merging forces, the British Armed Forces occupy a very different position. Once the Royal Naval is in possession of the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier and she is deployed with fixed-wing Joint Strike Fighter Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II aircraft, which is expected to be by 2020, the British Armed Forces will be in the position of being able to deploy every conceivable specialisation for any and all contingencies that may arise. The British Armed Forces, no matter how overstretched will be in that enviable position of being able to deploy a complete sovereign combat force at will. Very few armed forces in the world, never mind the EU can claim such a feat. The size and range of the British Armed Forces even in this reduced state must be a troublesome concern for those in the EU who wish to speed up the process of forming an EU Armed Forces.

So what future awaits the British Armed Forces? This rests entirely on whether the UK votes to remain or leave the EU. If the UK chooses to remain in the EU it is difficult to see beyond Article 42 and the “Permanent Structured Cooperation in Defence”. No matter the protestations or denials from concerned parties, this can only mean unequivocally one day in the future the British Armed Forces will form a part of the EU Armed Forces. Like a society member invited to the ball, if you spend the entire evening at the ball, no matter how many times you refuse an excuse-me, eventually you’ll end up on the ballroom floor irrespective of your protestations. The same goes for the EU. So long as the UK remains a member of the EU, no matter how many times the British Armed Forces protest and refuse the offer to amalgamate and merge with foreign forces, one day in the future that opportunity to decline will be refused and by then it will be too late. The British Armed Forces will be on that path to becoming a part of an EU Armed Forces.

The problem today is that far too many people focus on the “here and now”, and so long as there are no immediate issues they are able to ignore any matters of concern. What must be remembered is that the “here and now” is completely and utterly irrelevant as far as the EU and defensive strategic planning are concerned. The founders of the EU had the foresight to see 50 to 60 years in to the future, to the present day of “now”. For those concerned with the EU, they must do so likewise and predict all of the eventual outcomes 60 years hence. How will the future EU Armed Forces look? What shall be the objectives of this EU Armed Forces? These are the questions that need to be asked.

There are many differing permutations to predict but it is difficult to envisage anything other than a dystopian future. It may be a case of fearing something that may never come to pass. It is quite possible in the future the German economy may overheat and the Eurozone collapses, leading to the end of the EU dream. But it is equally plausible that given time the EU or, certain nations of the EU will eventually go on to form a single federal nation.

Back to the present and near future. What are the possibilities of an EU Armed Forces being realised long before a single federal nation becomes an actuality? As German and Dutch Armed Forces are already merging, the chances of witnessing an EU Armed Forces sooner rather than later is all the more likely and inevitable.

Returning to the future possibilities of an EU Armed Forces, how will this affect the British Armed Forces?

  • Firstly, if the British Armed Forces are merged in to an EU Armed Forces this shall mean a loss of sovereignty of the British Armed Forces, which shall mean a loss of sole control of the UK’s defences and military deployment.
  • With the British Armed Forces merged in to a European-centric EU Armed Forces and with the loss of sovereign control over the British Armed Forces, the UK government shall be incapable of deploying a military force at will. This will inevitably leave the Commonwealth of Nations and British Overseas Territories exposed and in several cases undefended. To many this inability to continue the protection of those peoples shall be an unforgivable act of betrayal.
  • To save on defence expenditure the armed forces of member nations within the EU are specialising so, when these nations’ forces merge, duplicate resources are surplus to requirement. With that being the case, as the British Armed Forces are capable of deploying every kind of combat force whether by air, land or sea, it would seem inevitable when the British Armed Forces were merged in to an EU Armed Forces, so as to cut out duplication many of the British Armed Forces units and therefore their personnel would no longer be required.
  • Once the EU Armed Forces become a reality what shall become of what remains of the member nations own armed forces? It is difficult to envisage anything other than the EU viewing them as a perceived threat and rival to their own EU Armed Forces. If tolerated at all, at best these armed forces will be reduced in size and stature to little more than bit part players, akin to the USA’s National Guard at best.
  • Taking the last two points into account, with sections of the British Armed Forces merged in the new EU Armed Forces and any remaining residue either heavily constrained or stood down, there is the very real threat in future of massive job losses. The British Army was initially shaken to the core in the mid 2000’s when venerable regiments were reduced in size and amalgamated in to new smaller regiments. This will seem like window dressing compared to the potential future cuts. Right across the board covering the British Army, the RAF and Royal Navy, in future years the cuts to their budget may seem utterly incomprehensible when viewed in today’s world.

The future social integration and organisational structure of an EU Armed Forces must also be considered when in comparison to the British Armed Forces. For the majority of the population in Britain Her Majesty’s Armed Forces are beloved, respected and trusted; knowing that their service personnel bear allegiance to the Crown and have sworn an oath to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and by doing so are ensuring the protection of the people of Britain. For the main, British people feel safer when in the company or vicinity of members of HM Armed Forces. It is an inherent trait bred in to the psyche of the British population. As long as there is continuity with loyalty to the Crown, even non British forces earn the loyalty and trust of the British public, be they Australian, Canadian or New Zealand or based in the UK, the Brigade of Gurkhas. All are cherished and revered because they come with history and their track record of bravery and loyalty is legend.

For the British people we also know that by acting on behalf of the Crown, HM Armed Forces are representing a known quantity. Incumbent governments, their Prime Ministers and the sitting Cabinets along with Parliament as a whole may order deployments of the British Armed Forces in to combat, but these are all Ministers who have been directly elected by the British public. If mistakes are made they can become public knowledge and the British electorate hold the power to vote that incumbent government out of office. By comparison, the EU Armed Forces shall be deployed by the European Defence Agency (EDA) which is answerable to the European Council and therefore the unelected European Commission. This is all well and good for so long as the European Union remains in its current form. However, with dynamic entities such as the EU their processes are not set in stone, they are fluidic, always vulnerable to change and once a single federal nation comes to pass they may be subject to pressures from political forces who wish to exploit these weaknesses.

In the far and distant future who knows how much power shall be gained or rescinded by the European Council, Parliament or Commission? In a European single federal nation how much sovereign power will be yielded by its incumbent President? In the future, no matter how small, is there a plausible possibility in this European single federal nation of a tyrannical despot being swept to power as the President of a continent sized nation? If so, and they are able to deploy the armed forces of the federal nation at the will of their whims then British personnel serving in those armed forces shall be held prisoner to give sway to those whims and allow themselves to be deployed in to combat wherever their President deems necessary. Granted this is a vision of a dystopian future at the extreme end of the scale but there is no reason to dismiss this outcome out of hand, as one day in the distant future it may potentially become an actuality.

Lastly, what of the dynamics of the structure of an EU Armed Forces? Which nation or nations shall take precedence over the other nations, if any? Will the merging of forces be biased towards enabling a structural system to be built around a single federal nation? If this is the case, in future how shall battalions be deployed and how shall their ranks be filled? Will there come a day when Dutch-German battalions are based on British soil in the same manner as British and US military bases operating from West Germany? If in this future there is mass civil unrest could we potentially witness non British personnel being deployed on to British streets in British cities to quell the people?

Or rather, if the EU Armed Forces are to be biased towards enabling a structural system to be built around a federal nation, does this mean in future so as to dilute the ideals of national identity at a state level will the EU Armed Forces operate on a level akin to the French Foreign Legion? In future when young hopefuls present themselves to their local army recruitment officer, will there be every possibility that new recruits shall be expected to complete their basic training in another member state to make them feel more European?

If in future personnel of the British Armed Forces are required to pledge an oath of allegiance to the President of a federal nation rather than to the Crown would this guarantee a drop in new recruits? If so and if this were to be mirrored by other nations would a federal Europe out of necessity be forced to bring about federal wide conscription? Of course there are far more questions to be asked than there are answers on the formation of an EU Armed Forces.

If the electorate of Great Britain decide to vote to remain in the EU on the 23rd June, there is every chance in the coming years thanks to Article 42 of the 2007 Treaty of Lisbon (TEU) and the “Permanent Structured Cooperation in Defence”, that HM Armed Forces shall be merged and lost to the EU Armed Forces.

However, as one EU Article seeks to remove the sovereignty of the British Armed Forces and the sovereignty of Great Britain, there is another EU Article which can restore that lost sovereignty. Under Article 50 of the 2007 Treaty of Lisbon (TEU): “Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.”

It is as if Brussels and the other members of the EU have always realised that Article 42 would be far too bitter a pill for the British Armed Forces and her nation to swallow. Being amalgamated and merged in to an EU Armed Forces or a European single federal nation would prove to be more than a step too far. For this very scenario, solely for the British, the EU appears to have created Article 50 so that Great Britain can escape the clutches of Article 42. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth; embrace this offer from the EU graciously and on the 23rd June vote to leave the EU and vote for Brexit!

 

Great Britain, the Commonwealth of Nations and the European Union

The Commonwealth of Nations, British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies

As the EU referendum on Thursday 23rd June draws ever closer, those who are a part of the StrongerIn campaign are attempting to convince the electorate to remain within the EU. They always give the argument of sticking with the status-quo and by remaining in the EU it’s a case of going with the flow and causing the least hassle. It appears to be the most prudent option to take. Not just the supposition of saving jobs and sating the economic fears of some within the business community; this comes with a feeling of apathetic resignation that the UK is already too far ensconced within the system of the EU, with the threads of the EU’s web woven tightly into every strand of UK legislation and everyday life. For many that moment for the UK to have chosen to leave the EU has long since passed. There is an element of truth to this, in that it would have been far better if the British government and the delegation that spoke on the UK’s behest in 1991 at Maastricht had chosen not to be a part of the new EU. It would have made the matter a lot less complicated than now, but it is only now that the UK has given the electorate the chance to choose.

Whether the UK decides to leave or remain in the EU, for many this boils down to the notion that the amount of time, money and effort required for the UK to extract itself from the EU far outweighs the overall cost of doing nothing and remaining in the EU to the point where the UK loses its sovereignty and all forms of independence, being reduced to a state within a one nation federal Europe. For those people this future for the UK is the most preferable one.

Of course, by making this claim, those who are campaigning for the UK to remain in the EU (unless they are deaf and blind they are also compliant to the UK becoming a state within a one nation federal Europe) hold the belief that when the UK does lose all sovereignty that will be it. They assume that it shall be a smooth and relatively painless transition, bereft of any complications or any grave implications. In their views, all loss of sovereignty shall be irrelevant. Unfortunately, those with this view grasp tightly to this blinkered notion being an absolute, but they are very much mistaken. If the UK, or rather if Great Britain were to lose her independence, self-determination and sovereignty there would be a high price to pay for many and it would come on a global scale, affecting far more people globally, greater than the citizens of the current EU.

By size in area and population the greatest area affected by the UK’s loss of sovereignty shall be the Commonwealth of Nations, what was once the British Commonwealth and the British Empire before that, consisting of 53 member states covering an area of 11,566,870 square miles* and containing a population (2013 estimation) of 2.328 billion*. It should also be noted that the Commonwealth had a 2014 estimate GDP of $14.623 trillion*. I am certain there are many all too willing to poke fun at and mock the Commonwealth. I assume in their eyes it is an archaic, redundant monolith drenched in pomp and circumstance having Queen Elizabeth II as the Head of the Commonwealth. For many people they only become aware of this organisation once every four years when the Commonwealth Games are held. For the remainder of the time the Commonwealth must be redundant so, why the concern with the UK’s sovereignty?

Great Britain is the catalyst, the heart which draws and holds the 53 members together, collectively. The Commonwealth does much good, uniting all member states in a common bond. The aim of the Commonwealth of Nations were enshrined in the Singapore Declaration of 1971, where the Commonwealth as one declared that it was committed to promoting world peace, representative democracy and individual liberty, while pursuing equality and opposing racism, while also fighting poverty, ignorance, and disease and promoting free trade throughout the Commonwealth. Later additions to the declaration have also included opposing gender discrimination and promoting environmental sustainability. All of which I am sure you will agree are just, noble and honourable intentions for any organisation. It should also be noted that unlike the EU, the Commonwealth takes into account representative democracy and Great Britain has no desire, nor any future plans to require any member state to rescind its nation status in order to be a member of the Commonwealth and to benefit from the practices of free trade within the said Commonwealth. Indeed, the Commonwealth of Nations is referred to by members fondly as the Commonwealth Family. Not a contrived artificial union of convenience or necessity but a collective of family members.

From the arts and culture, to the sciences and sport the fabric of the Commonwealth flows deep through the infrastructures of all these member states. Of course many of the more deprived and poorer member states within the Commonwealth benefit from millions of pounds worth of aid gifted by the UK but there are many other ways in which all members benefit on a symbiotic level including joint associations, charities and organisations. One notable example which many have benefitted from (whether they are aware or not) is the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC). The CWGC founded in 1917 is responsible for maintaining the graves of 1.7 million service personnel who paid the ultimate sacrifice for the Commonwealth from the Great War onwards. Great Britain provides over 75 per cent of funding for the CWGC but the remainder of the funds are supplied by five other Commonwealth members Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India and South Africa. In 2014 to commemorate the centenary of the beginning of the First World War if you travelled to France or Belgium to visit and pay homage at one of those vast war cemeteries, with their large gardens, mausoleums and memorials I’m sure you were amazed at their splendour. Even if you only watched them from the comfort of your sofa, seeing them on commemorative shows on your TV, I’m sure you were equally impressed at the care and quality given to these cemeteries. With British and Commonwealth service personnel having laid down their lives fighting to free these nations of German tyranny I expect you’re assuming that these cemeteries were paid for and cared by those grateful nations? You’d be incorrect. A grateful France and Belgium did purchase the land occupied by the cemeteries and they did gift the land to the CWGC in perpetuity. After that, all funding and maintenance since has lain with the CWGC, paid for by the Commonwealth. On soil which is under the jurisdiction of the EU, the funding and maintenance of the graves of those who died in two world wars (ensuring the freedom of European citizens and their nations) is carried out by the Commonwealth of Nations. This example explains all. The Commonwealth Family sacrificed their own for freedom and paid that cost in blood and money and has since continued to pay for the care of their dead. The Family has and continues to share the burden of the cost while the EU provides nought.

If the UK were to be reduced to merely becoming a state within a one nation federal Europe imagine the complication and horrors that Great Britain and the Commonwealth of Nations would face untangling their woven infrastructures and breaking up the Family. What chance that the Family would even hold together not having Britain at the helm? If the Commonwealth were to fall what would be the cost to all those member states around the world? With the loss of aid and so many other inputs, what affect would this have on over 2 billion people? Is that a price worth paying to remain in the EU or an act of selfishness? If the UK remains in the EU and slides into becoming a member state how much misery and suffering shall be inflicted across the globe?


From the threat faced by the Commonwealth Family from the EU to the threat faced by the British Overseas Territories. Additionally, to the 53 members of the Commonwealth the 14 British Overseas Territories (BOT) need to be considered. The British Overseas Territories once known as British Crown Colonies cover a land area of about 667,018 square miles* and containing a population of approximately 250,000*. Though spread all across the globe, many of these territories share a common theme of physical isolation due to locality and fragility in terms of being home to some of the most diverse and rarest ecosystems on the planet. Great Britain has done its utmost to preserve these territories while simultaneously giving protection to the peoples who call these territories home.

The most notable and famous of these British Overseas Territories in the UK are undoubtedly the Falkland Islands. I have written at length in Britannia and Her Hearts of Oak on the defence of the Falklands by the Royal Navy since the war in 1982. If the UK were to remain in the EU and suffer the consequences of having the British armed forces absorbed and ensnared in a quasi EU military force, what shall become of the Falklands and the 13 other British Overseas Territories left defenceless and bereft of the protection from the British armed forces?

“Naturally this would be a devastating and disturbing outcome for the Falkland Islanders themselves but it would also be a terrible blow to those brave servicemen who were present in 1982. Shall all those servicemen lost in the conflict have fought, bled and paid the ultimate sacrifice in vain? Shall all those who were severely injured, maimed and scarred both physically and mentally for life, be told that all their pain and suffering endured ever since was for nought?”

I doubt very much that any good shall arise from this scenario if Great Britain does not have full control and sovereignty over her armed forces to come to the aid of these territories, especially the Falkland Islands. In effect the upcoming EU referendum is a proxy vote on behalf of the Falkland Islanders on deciding whether in future they shall always remain as subjects of the British Overseas Territories or conversely if they are to be cast aside to face an uncertain future.


Closer to home the Crown dependencies face an uncertain future with the threat from the EU of the UK being absorbed in to a single federal nation. Great Britain has three Crown dependencies, the Isle of Man and the Bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey. These three Crown dependencies are all self-governing islands, independent of the UK and therefore the EU but they are all possessions of the Crown, coming under the protectorate of the Crown and the UK with Queen Elizabeth II as the Head of State. This means that the majority of these citizens will be ineligible to vote in the upcoming EU referendum as those who have resided there for more than 15 years concurrently shall not be considered EU citizens, even though they shall be some of the most greatly affected.

Tellingly, these three Crown dependencies are desperately seeking membership to the Commonwealth of Nations as their fears grow of a protectorate UK being fully absorbed into a one nation federal Europe. If that is the case and the UK is reduced to a state member, what does the future hold for these three Crown dependencies? Again, like the Commonwealth Family the untangling of these infrastructures would hold prohibitive costs and unpalatable complications that nobody can truly foretell. The Three Crown dependencies face an even bleaker future than compared to that of the Commonwealth Family. Between them, self-governing for millennia but under the protectorate of the Crown, these three islands would have very few options available to them. None of these options could be considered favourable. One option is to become a part of the Commonwealth Family but what happens as and when the Commonwealth falls when the UK is absorbed as a state within a federal EU nation? Another option is to seek complete independence by becoming sovereign states in their own right. Taking into account they would then have to cover all of their costs, their lack of size and the price of isolation, most would doubt the feasibility of it being possible. A third option would be for these three islands to be induced into becoming members of the EU. It is very doubtful they would be allowed full membership, more likely they would be persuaded into signing the EEA (European Economic Area) Treaty and being granted the equivalent of EFTA (European Free Trade Association) status so as to be in the single market but without representation. These three Crown dependencies each with their own unique quirks and identities would suffer devastating harm and lasting damage adopting a one size fits all EU legislation, changing their characters and national identities beyond recognition. Whichever way you look at it, the UK remaining in the EU would eventually provide a devastating and fatal blow to the freedom and self-determination of the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey.

In the run up to this decisive EU referendum we hear the opinions of those who wish to leave or remain but very rarely will anyone openly admit to having a vested interest in the result of either outcome. It is almost impossible to be an impartial neutral as you will have opinions or a vested interest in the result. I can freely admit that I love the Isle of Man. Any minor changes or repercussions to its national identity or harm incurred to the IoM caused by the UK remaining in the EU and being reduced to a state within a one nation federal Europe, I would find utterly heartbreaking. The IoM embraces the embodiment of self responsibility and respects the freedom of choice of the individual. This fits in very well with the old British ethos, a throwback to the days of Empire where an individual was the sole custodian of their actions and deeds; therefore an individual reaps the rewards gained through endeavour but also pays the cost for mistakes and misfortunes and sometimes that cost in life can be to pay the ultimate price. For many in today’s world this kind of thinking is abhorrent and a total anathema to their way of life. Contrarily, for those with this throwback position on life this is the very definition of the “Nanny State” at work, removing responsibility for the individual from the self to the state.

The IoM caters very much to those who believe in responsibility from the self. The individuality of character held by the IoM has ensured since 1907 that the International Isle of Man Tourist Trophy Race, simply known as the Isle of Man TT has taken place. Run every June, this event takes place over a fortnight. The first week is Practice Week and sees motorcycles and riders, sidecars and crews set loose on public roads for practice sessions to set up, fine tune and fettle their machines. The second week is race week. Referred to as a race it is in fact ran as a time-trial. Man/Woman/Sidecar Crew and machine, released at 10 second intervals race the clock, competing for a set number of laps where each lap covers a distance of 37.73 miles. Held on closed public roads the course takes a route which traverses towns and villages which carry the obvious dangers of obstacles for motorcycles travelling in excess of 100mph. Then there is the Snaefell Mountain section of the course which carries the risks of travelling at similar speeds on mountainside roads.

All who compete are fully aware of the dangers and risks yet these riders and sidecar crews choose to pit themselves and their machinery against the clock, the public roads of the mountain course and the ever changing weather conditions of a course that is run over a distance of 37.73 miles. Over the many years of competition riders, sidecar crews, marshals and other race officials along with spectators have paid the ultimate price for being in the wrong place at the wrong time on the IoM TT course. And still there is no shortage of willing competitors, nor a lack of race officials and would-be replacements, while from every part of the world thousands of fans descend upon this small island. All accept the potential risks involved to enjoy the thrills of attending the IoM TT.

Just when you think an event like this can’t get much crazier you can throw “Mad Sunday” into the mix! On the Sunday sandwiched in between the practice and race weeks there is held an unofficial event where spectator fans will tour the 37.73 mile course which the Manx authorities permit. Only because the Isle of Man is a self-governing island; only because the IoM is under the protectorate of the Crown and the UK which permits the IoM to have the choice to decide to run the Isle of Man TT can the IoM close public roads and allow this event to take place.

If the UK were to remain in the EU being reduced to a state within a one nation federal Europe, the consequences for the Isle of Man whether directly or indirectly affected by the implementation of EU legislation could prove devastating. With the “Nanny State” mindset of the EU, the fear would be that the EU would use legislation to bring an end to an event and a tradition which has taken place for over a century, in the process destroying the entire ethos and identity of an island race. If this were to happen, I know many who would be left heartbroken.

Never mind untangling the Commonwealth of Nations or the British Overseas Territories from the UK or untangling the three Crown dependencies of the Isle of Man and the Bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey from the UK, how on earth do you ever manage to begin to untangle the Crown from the entire UK infrastructure? To separate the Crown from Westminster and Parliament, to separate the Crown from the law courts and all areas of legislation, to separate the Crown from the armed forces and emergency services, to separate the Crown from all areas of civic life. These costs would be exorbitant beyond anyone’s possible imagination. Even as the UK is being absorbed as a State into a one nation federal Europe, the UK would be financially ruined covering the cost, while the new EU federal nation would not contribute one penny, not even one cent to cover the cost. The overall financial cost of Brexit, of the UK extracting and disentangling itself from the EU at this moment in time must surely come at a lower price to the nation as compared to the financial (and emotional) cost of the eventual untangling of the Commonwealth, British Overseas Territories, Crown dependencies and the Crown. Yet still there will be those foolish enough, clambering to remain within the EU, wishing to keep the statue-quo, ever willing to allow the UK to be sucked into a one nation federal Europe, for many are too young and naïve to have ever known different. Great Britain used to be so much better than this and could be so again.


 

References

* Population, area and GDP figures obtained from Wikipedia.

The EU, Commonwealth of Nations and Crown Dependencies

The Commonwealth of Nations, British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies

With less than 100 days to go before the EU referendum on Thursday 23rd June, those who are a part of the StrongerIn campaign are attempting to convince the electorate to remain within the EU. They always give the argument of sticking with the status-quo and by remaining in the EU it’s a case of going with the flow and causing the least hassle. It appears to be the most prudent option to take. Not just the supposition of saving jobs and sating the economic fears of some within the business community; this comes with a feeling of apathetic resignation that the UK is already too far ensconced within the system of the EU, with the threads of the EU’s web woven tightly into every strand of UK legislation and everyday life. For many that moment for the UK to have chosen to leave the EU has long since passed. There is an element of truth to this, in that it would have been far better if the British government and the delegation that spoke on the UK’s behest in 1991 at Maastricht had chosen not to be a part of the new EU. It would have made the matter a lot less complicated than now, but it is only now that the UK has given the electorate the chance to choose.

Whether the UK decides to leave or remain in the EU, for many this boils down to the notion that the amount of time, money and effort required for the UK to extract itself from the EU far outweighs the overall cost of doing nothing and remaining in the EU to the point where the UK loses its sovereignty and all forms of independence, being reduced to a state within a one nation federal Europe. For those people this future for the UK is the most preferable one.

Of course, by making this claim, those who are campaigning for the UK to remain in the EU (unless they are deaf and blind they are also compliant to the UK becoming a state within a one nation federal Europe) hold the belief that when the UK does lose all sovereignty that will be it. They assume that it shall be a smooth and relatively painless transition, bereft of any complications or any grave implications. In their views, all loss of sovereignty shall be irrelevant. Unfortunately, those with this view grasp tightly to this blinkered notion being an absolute, but they are very much mistaken. If the UK, or rather if Great Britain were to lose her independence, self-determination and sovereignty there would be a high price to pay for many and it would come on a global scale, affecting far more people globally, greater than the citizens of the current EU.

By size in area and population the greatest area affected by the UK’s loss of sovereignty shall be the Commonwealth of Nations, what was once the British Commonwealth and the British Empire before that, consisting of 53 member states covering an area of 11,566,870 square miles* and containing a population (2013 estimation) of 2.328 billion*. It should also be noted that the Commonwealth had a 2014 estimate GDP of $14.623 trillion*. I am certain there are many all too willing to poke fun at and mock the Commonwealth. I assume in their eyes it is an archaic, redundant monolith drenched in pomp and circumstance having Queen Elizabeth II as the Head of the Commonwealth. For many people they only become aware of this organisation once every four years when the Commonwealth Games are held. For the remainder of the time the Commonwealth must be redundant so, why the concern with the UK’s sovereignty?

Great Britain is the catalyst, the heart which draws and holds the 53 members together, collectively. The Commonwealth does much good, uniting all member states in a common bond. The aim of the Commonwealth of Nations were enshrined in the Singapore Declaration of 1971, where the Commonwealth as one declared that it was committed to promoting world peace, representative democracy and individual liberty, while pursuing equality and opposing racism, while also fighting poverty, ignorance, and disease and promoting free trade throughout the Commonwealth. Later additions to the declaration have also included opposing gender discrimination and promoting environmental sustainability. All of which I am sure you will agree are just, noble and honourable intentions for any organisation. It should also be noted that unlike the EU, the Commonwealth takes into account representative democracy and Great Britain has no desire, nor any future plans to require any member state to rescind its nation status in order to be a member of the Commonwealth and to benefit from the practices of free trade within the said Commonwealth. Indeed, the Commonwealth of Nations is referred to by members fondly as the Commonwealth Family. Not a contrived artificial union of convenience or necessity but a collective of family members.

From the arts and culture, to the sciences and sport the fabric of the Commonwealth flows deep through the infrastructures of all these member states. Of course many of the more deprived and poorer member states within the Commonwealth benefit from millions of pounds worth of aid gifted by the UK but there are many other ways in which all members benefit on a symbiotic level including joint associations, charities and organisations. One notable example which many have benefitted from (whether they are aware or not) is the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC). The CWGC founded in 1917 is responsible for maintaining the graves of 1.7 million service personnel who paid the ultimate sacrifice for the Commonwealth from the Great War onwards. Great Britain provides over 75 per cent of funding for the CWGC but the remainder of the funds are supplied by five other Commonwealth members Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India and South Africa. In 2014 to commemorate the centenary of the beginning of the First World War if you travelled to France or Belgium to visit and pay homage at one of those vast war cemeteries, with their large gardens, mausoleums and memorials I’m sure you were amazed at their splendour. Even if you only watched them from the comfort of your sofa, seeing them on commemorative shows on your TV, I’m sure you were equally impressed at the care and quality given to these cemeteries. With British and Commonwealth service personnel having laid down their lives fighting to free these nations of German tyranny I expect you’re assuming that these cemeteries were paid for and cared by those grateful nations? You’d be incorrect. A grateful France and Belgium did purchase the land occupied by the cemeteries and they did gift the land to the CWGC in perpetuity. After that, all funding and maintenance since has lain with the CWGC, paid for by the Commonwealth. On soil which is under the jurisdiction of the EU, the funding and maintenance of the graves of those who died in two world wars (ensuring the freedom of European citizens and their nations) is carried out by the Commonwealth of Nations. This example explains all. The Commonwealth Family sacrificed their own for freedom and paid that cost in blood and money and has since continued to pay for the care of their dead. The Family has and continues to share the burden of the cost while the EU provides nought.

If the UK were to be reduced to merely becoming a state within a one nation federal Europe imagine the complication and horrors that Great Britain and the Commonwealth of Nations would face untangling their woven infrastructures and breaking up the Family. What chance that the Family would even hold together not having Britain at the helm? If the Commonwealth were to fall what would be the cost to all those member states around the world? With the loss of aid and so many other inputs, what affect would this have on over 2 billion people? Is that a price worth paying to remain in the EU or an act of selfishness? If the UK remains in the EU and slides into becoming a member state how much misery and suffering shall be inflicted across the globe?


From the threat faced by the Commonwealth Family from the EU to the threat faced by the British Overseas Territories. Additionally, to the 53 members of the Commonwealth the 14 British Overseas Territories (BOT) need to be considered. The British Overseas Territories once known as British Crown Colonies cover a land area of about 667,018 square miles* and containing a population of approximately 250,000*. Though spread all across the globe, many of these territories share a common theme of physical isolation due to locality and fragility in terms of being home to some of the most diverse and rarest ecosystems on the planet. Great Britain has done its utmost to preserve these territories while simultaneously giving protection to the peoples who call these territories home.

 The most notable and famous of these British Overseas Territories in the UK are undoubtedly the Falkland Islands. I have written at length in Britannia and Her Hearts of Oak on the defence of the Falklands by the Royal Navy since the war in 1982. If the UK were to remain in the EU and suffer the consequences of having the British armed forces absorbed and ensnared in a quasi EU military force, what shall become of the Falklands and the 13 other British Overseas Territories left defenceless and bereft of the protection from the British armed forces?

“Naturally this would be a devastating and disturbing outcome for the Falkland Islanders themselves but it would also be a terrible blow to those brave servicemen who were present in 1982. Shall all those servicemen lost in the conflict have fought, bled and paid the ultimate sacrifice in vain? Shall all those who were severely injured, maimed and scarred both physically and mentally for life, be told that all their pain and suffering endured ever since was for nought?”

I doubt very much that any good shall arise from this scenario if Great Britain does not have full control and sovereignty over her armed forces to come to the aid of these territories, especially the Falkland Islands. In effect the upcoming EU referendum is a proxy vote on behalf of the Falkland Islanders on deciding whether in future they shall always remain as subjects of the British Overseas Territories or conversely if they are to be cast aside to face an uncertain future.


Closer to home the Crown dependencies face an uncertain future with the threat from the EU of the UK being absorbed in to a single federal nation. Great Britain has three Crown dependencies, the Isle of Man and the Bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey. These three Crown dependencies are all self-governing islands, independent of the UK and therefore the EU but they are all possessions of the Crown, coming under the protectorate of the Crown and the UK with Queen Elizabeth II as the Head of State. This means that the majority of these citizens will be ineligible to vote in the upcoming EU referendum as those who have resided there for more than 15 years concurrently shall not be considered EU citizens, even though they shall be some of the most greatly affected.

Tellingly, these three Crown dependencies are desperately seeking membership to the Commonwealth of Nations as their fears grow of a protectorate UK being fully absorbed into a one nation federal Europe. If that is the case and the UK is reduced to a state member, what does the future hold for these three Crown dependencies? Again, like the Commonwealth Family the untangling of these infrastructures would hold prohibitive costs and unpalatable complications that nobody can truly foretell. The Three Crown dependencies face an even bleaker future than compared to that of the Commonwealth Family. Between them, self-governing for millennia but under the protectorate of the Crown, these three islands would have very few options available to them. None of these options could be considered favourable. One option is to become a part of the Commonwealth Family but what happens as and when the Commonwealth falls when the UK is absorbed as a state within a federal EU nation? Another option is to seek complete independence by becoming sovereign states in their own right. Taking into account they would then have to cover all of their costs, their lack of size and the price of isolation, most would doubt the feasibility of it being possible. A third option would be for these three islands to be induced into becoming members of the EU. It is very doubtful they would be allowed full membership, more likely they would be persuaded into signing the EEA (European Economic Area) Treaty and being granted the equivalent of EFTA (European Free Trade Association) status so as to be in the single market but without representation. These three Crown dependencies each with their own unique quirks and identities would suffer devastating harm and lasting damage adopting a one size fits all EU legislation, changing their characters and national identities beyond recognition. Whichever way you look at it, the UK remaining in the EU would eventually provide a devastating and fatal blow to the freedom and self-determination of the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey.

In the run up to this decisive EU referendum we hear the opinions of those who wish to leave or remain but very rarely will anyone openly admit to having a vested interest in the result of either outcome. It is almost impossible to be an impartial neutral as you will have opinions or a vested interest in the result. I can freely admit that I love the Isle of Man. Any minor changes or repercussions to its national identity or harm incurred to the IoM caused by the UK remaining in the EU and being reduced to a state within a one nation federal Europe, I would find utterly heartbreaking. The IoM embraces the embodiment of self responsibility and respects the freedom of choice of the individual. This fits in very well with the old British ethos, a throwback to the days of Empire where an individual was the sole custodian of their actions and deeds; therefore an individual reaps the rewards gained through endeavour but also pays the cost for mistakes and misfortunes and sometimes that cost in life can be to pay the ultimate price. For many in today’s world this kind of thinking is abhorrent and a total anathema to their way of life. Contrarily, for those with this throwback position on life this is the very definition of the “Nanny State” at work, removing responsibility for the individual from the self to the state.

The IoM caters very much to those who believe in responsibility from the self. The individuality of character held by the IoM has ensured since 1907 that the International Isle of Man Tourist Trophy Race, simply known as the Isle of Man TT has taken place. Run every June, this event takes place over a fortnight. The first week is Practice Week and sees motorcycles and riders, sidecars and crews set loose on public roads for practice sessions to set up, fine tune and fettle their machines. The second week is race week. Referred to as a race it is in fact ran as a time-trial. Man/Woman/Sidecar Crew and machine, released at 10 second intervals race the clock, competing for a set number of laps where each lap covers a distance of 37.73 miles. Held on closed public roads the course takes a route which traverses towns and villages which carry the obvious dangers of obstacles for motorcycles travelling in excess of 100mph. Then there is the Snaefell Mountain section of the course which carries the risks of travelling at similar speeds on mountainside roads.

All who compete are fully aware of the dangers and risks yet these riders and sidecar crews choose to pit themselves and their machinery against the clock, the public roads of the mountain course and the ever changing weather conditions of a course that is run over a distance of 37.73 miles. Over the many years of competition riders, sidecar crews, marshals and other race officials along with spectators have paid the ultimate price for being in the wrong place at the wrong time on the IoM TT course. And still there is no shortage of willing competitors, nor a lack of race officials and would-be replacements, while from every part of the world thousands of fans descend upon this small island. All accept the potential risks involved to enjoy the thrills of attending the IoM TT.

Just when you think an event like this can’t get much crazier you can throw “Mad Sunday” into the mix! On the Sunday sandwiched in between the practice and race weeks there is held an unofficial event where spectator fans will tour the 37.73 mile course which the Manx authorities permit. Only because the Isle of Man is a self-governing island; only because the IoM is under the protectorate of the Crown and the UK which permits the IoM to have the choice to decide to run the Isle of Man TT can the IoM close public roads and allow this event to take place.

If the UK were to remain in the EU being reduced to a state within a one nation federal Europe, the consequences for the Isle of Man whether directly or indirectly affected by the implementation of EU legislation could prove devastating. With the “Nanny State” mindset of the EU, the fear would be that the EU would use legislation to bring an end to an event and a tradition which has taken place for over a century, in the process destroying the entire ethos and identity of an island race. If this were to happen, I know many who would be left heartbroken.

Never mind untangling the Commonwealth of Nations from the UK or untangling the three Crown dependencies of the Isle of Man and the Bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey from the UK, how on earth do you ever manage to begin to untangle the Crown from the entire UK infrastructure? To separate the Crown from Westminster and Parliament, to separate the Crown from the law courts and all areas of legislation, to separate the Crown from the armed forces and emergency services, to separate the Crown from all areas of civic life. These costs would be exorbitant beyond anyone’s possible imagination. Even as the UK is being absorbed as a State into a one nation federal Europe, the UK would be financially ruined covering the cost, while the new EU federal nation would not contribute one penny, not even one cent to cover the cost. The overall financial cost of Brexit, of the UK extracting and disentangling itself from the EU at this moment in time must surely come at a lower price to the nation as compared to the financial cost of the eventual untangling of the Commonwealth, Crown and Crown dependencies. Yet still there will be those foolish enough, clambering to remain within the EU, wishing to keep the statue-quo, ever willing to allow the UK to be sucked into a one nation federal Europe, for many are too young and naïve to have ever known different. Great Britain used to be so much better than this and it could be again.


 

References

* Population, area and GDP figures obtained from Wikipedia.