Kick the bastards out

Tim Montgomerie in The Times (£) claims there is a democratic case for leaving the EU, on the grounds that:

I want us to be a self-governing nation that can “kick the bastards out” whenever our rulers fail to deliver.

But were Britain to be outside the EU, our rulers would always fail to deliver. We can’t do anything worthwhile on climate change or energy security if we don’t work with our nearest neighbours.  We can only deal with migration properly if we work in concert with the rest of Europe.  And our prosperity as a trading nation depends on having prosperous customers.

Here is a case in point.

A graph published by David Blanchflower shows the speed of recovery in the British economy since the crash in August 2008: the new coalition government took over in May 2010 (or Q7).

Real UK GDP per capita, comparing different recessions

Real UK GDP per capita, comparing different recessions

The purple line that crawls along the bottom is the current recession, compared with the red, blue and green lines shooting upwards that represent those of previous decades.  There could not be a clearer case of bastards needing to be kicked out.

And why has British economic performance been so poor?  The government says it’s because the eurozone, our major trading partner, is still stagnating.  We can’t grow if our neighbours aren’t growing too.  You can’t blame George Osborne for that, kicking him out because of the failures of French and German (and Italian and Greek and Spanish) economic policy.

Well, excuse me, but doesn’t that exactly prove my point?  We can’t achieve anything worthwhile economically on our own – the growing gap between the purple line and the others on that graph shows how much we depend on them.  Leaving the EU and renouncing the idea of effective international cooperation on macroeconomics will leave us with permanent economic failure and nobody, not even our own government, to blame.  If democracy means giving the voters the chance to take the decisions that shape their lives, then leaving the EU would weaken democracy and not strengthen it.

About the Author