2017 – 055 The Spanish experience with the EU

 Do you remember how we were told, again and again, in the EU referendum, that the European Union is a great force for peace? In case we doubted that – as, let’s be honest, we did – there was the evidence of it having recently won the Nobel Peace Prize to prove it.

For many years I have regarded Spanish politicians as the most shortsighted of a shortsighted breed (politicians, that is, not Spaniards!) because, in their understandable desire to cement their recently achieved democracy, they had an overwhelming desire to ‘belong’ to every international organisation going. In return for bucket-loads of taxpayers’ cash, principally from the United Kingdom and Germany, Spain bought in to the EU project more than any other western European country. Jeremy Clarkson was famously filmed at a Spanish motorway toll booth refusing to pay the toll because, being British, he said that he had already paid for it; he had a point!

In return for our cash – £billions of it – Spanish politicians embraced the EU as though they had just won top prize in the EuroMillions lottery. To all intents and purposes, they had done precisely that. Like politicians across the continent, they revelled in the Brussels and Strasbourg gravy train and enjoyed the boost to their egos and the 5-star hotels that went with EU summit meetings.

What they foolishly failed to see – or, more likely, chose to ignore – was that every move the EU made was about undermining the nation state. Here in the UK it was easy enough to spot this: EU passports, EU flags, the supremacy of EU law, the burgeoning EU army and gendarmerie, EU Presidents galore, the bloated EU Foreign Ministry and diplomatic corps. It didn’t take a genius to work out that the EU project was all about the destruction of the nation state.

Nationalist politicians in Scotland, Wales and, yes, Catalonia, were not slow to spot this. Were they genuine in their claims to want independence, they would, of course, have sought to leave the EU, so that they could become masters of their own destiny, rather than vassals of Brussels. Why then did Salmond, Sturgeon and their counterparts in Wales, Catalonia and elsewhere embrace EU rule with such fanatical enthusiasm? It can only be because they had the sense to realise that the EU was doing their work for them – destroying the nation states they sought to leave.

Rajoy and the rest of the Spanish political elite have now been hoist by their own petard; their beloved EU has brought Spain to the brink of dissolution. They were too happy accepting EU handouts to see what was happening until it was too late. Now their country is in crisis, while Lombardy and Veneto, to name but a few, look on with interest, seeing opportunities to loosen their ties to Rome. Ironically, it is the Treaty of Rome that may reverse the unification Italy achieved in the 19th century.

As Lord Tebbit warned many years ago, by denying its people any outlet for democratic protest, the EU is sowing the seeds of its own destruction. It is undermining national identity, undermining Nato – in fact it is undermining the very core values it purports to uphold. It is an idea whose time has past.

Hardly a day goes by without the BBC telling us that Brexit is a disaster which must be reversed; the truth is quite the opposite. The crisis in Spain, the success of Eurosceptic political parties in Germany and Austria and Macron’s plans for a bigger EU army and more powers for Brussels – all are evidence that Brexit is no longer just desirable, but essential. Now, more than ever, we shall be Better Off Out.

Simon Richards

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