I am an enthusiastic European. Europe has given the world great art, literature, architecture and music. It was here that the Reformation was birthed, and the scientific revolution.
I have personally enjoyed visiting many European countries, including France, Holland, Germany, Spain, Poland and Albania. I’m even trying to learn the rudiments of the Polish language!
It’s because I’m an enthusiastic European that I am in favour of Britain leaving the political project known as the European Union. The EU has been bad for Britain and is increasingly turning sour for the rest of Europe too.
Sound political arguments apply to Christians and non-Christians alike and, in my mind, there are many compelling reasons to leave the EU.
The EU is fundamentally undemocratic. Members of the EU Commission become removed from democratic accountability. Yet the Commission proposes new legislation and has the power to impose binding directives on all member states.
The European parliament, supposedly the democratic forum of the EU, is little more than a rubber-stamp, with almost no legislative role. Even if it could be reformed, British MEPs, as a minority, would be unable to prevent the passing of laws harmful to our interests.
The EU erodes our national sovereignty and threatens historic freedoms. The principles of independent nationhood have solid biblical foundations (Acts 17:26). And yet, since joining the EU, Britain has surrendered decision-making powers in the areas of foreign and economic policy, trade, public health, transport, energy, security, justice and consumer protection.
About 65 per cent of the laws introduced in the UK since 1993, either originate from the EU or are influenced by the EU. Furthermore, the prevailing EU system of justice, very different from our own common law, threatens to extinguish our historic freedoms, including presumption of innocence, Habeas corpus and the right to trial by jury.
The EU costs us vast sums of money and is contrary to the principles of good stewardship. In 2015, British taxpayers paid £13 billion to the EU budget — a net contribution of about £8.5 billion, or £160 million every week.
Yet the EU’s budget is notoriously badly managed, with huge amounts of waste and fraud. That money could be better spent on our own priorities, such as the NHS, schools, housing and public transport.
The EU has devastated our farming and fishing industries. Forty per cent of the EU budget is given in subsidies to farmers under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Britain receives only 9 per cent of the CAP budget, despite having the same amount of arable land as Germany and more than Italy.
Under the CAP, the average British family loses hundreds of pounds each year in artificially high food prices, and poorer countries are prevented from exporting their food products to the EU. The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) has been equally disastrous, resulting in massive declines in our fish stocks, harm to the environment, the wasteful discarding of fish and destruction of Britain’s fishing communities.
The EU prevents us from controlling our own borders. Concern for national boundaries is a biblical ordinance (Numbers 20:17; 21:22-23). And yet Britain has given away its power to control immigration from within the EU, and retains the power only to control non-EU immigration. This means we are unable to enact immigration policies that work in our national interest.
Outside the EU, we would be able to establish a fairer system based on recruiting people with the skills we need. We would no longer have to turn away talented people from outside the EU, while granting all EU citizens an automatic right to work here.
Of course, many people are concerned about what would happen if we voted to leave. Pro-EU campaigners paint an apocalyptic picture of life outside the EU, stoking people’s fears with daily scare stories. We are told that we would no longer have any influence, even though our current ‘influence’ is largely mythological, and an independent Britain would regain its own seat on bodies such as the World Trade Organisation.
We are told that three million jobs would be lost — a ridiculous claim based on the assumption that our exports to the EU would drop to zero the day after we left! Others are concerned by the claim that we would be unable to negotiate favourable trade deals on our own, despite the fact that we are an immensely successful trading nation and the world’s fifth largest economy.
The truth is that the EU would want to continue trading with us after our departure, because we are the EU’s biggest customer — larger than China and the USA. Besides, UK exports to the rest of the world are growing three times faster than our exports to the EU. Outside the shackles of the EU, we would have the freedom to build strong trading alliances with the rest of the world.
There are also risks associated with staying ‘in’. It looks increasingly likely that Turkey’s membership will be fast-tracked, at which point another 75 million people will have free access to the UK, its jobs market, public services and benefits system.
The fragility of the Eurozone means that another economic crisis may be just around the corner, with yet more demands for bailouts for ailing economies. And with the referendum out of the way, there will be nothing to stop EU leaders pressing ahead with even greater levels of political and economic integration.
Of course, leaving the EU will not be a panacea. It will not solve our country’s most basic problems, which are spiritual in nature not political or economic. Ultimately, it is God who determines whether or not a nation will prosper.
Nevertheless, we have been given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to regain our independence from an institution whose founding principles, policies and outlook are at odds with our interests.
Other EU nationals have their own concerns about the direction in which the EU is heading and are looking to us to take a lead. On 23 June we can blaze an historic trail for others to follow!
Paul Garner works for Biblical Creation Ministries and is a Director of Evangelical Times, but writes here in a personal capacity. He is a long-standing member of the Campaign for an Independent Britain and Get Britain Out.