With a date for the promised EU referendum being touted as June 23 this year, the next six months in politics are going to be about one thing – fear. That the same people who said we would be finished if we didn’t join the euro are now telling us we’ll be finished outside the EU is nothing new, but ‘more credible’ voices like that of Bank of England governor Mark Carney‘s will be coming out of the woodwork with the same portent of doom.
Naturally, certain quarters of the Leave campaign will be taking advantage of the fear vote, too; the migrant crisis threatening to unravel the EU itself and which shocked the world after Cologne has presented a golden opportunity to paint staying in as a dangerous unknown in itself – while also riding on a renewed wave of anti-immigration sentiment.
But of all the arguments of the fear-mongers, the idea that revanchist Europeans would no longer want to do business with their largest trading partner for having the audacity to leave has to be the most ridiculous. And this week’s round of dick-swinging threats made against Britain by a collection of continental nobodies and has-beens, including that we should be ‘made an example of’ to deter others from leaving (a bit like the Berlin Wall was erected to deter people from leaving East Berlin, perhaps?) is simply embarrassing.
Even European politicians and – more importantly, businesses – aren’t stupid enough to cut off their noses to spite their faces over something so trivial. And I say trivial because we will not have to fight a bitter eight-year war to win our independence; nor will some 50,000 men die on each side like in the American War of Independence. That, if anything, is a reason for economic and diplomatic relations between two nations to sour irrevocably and yet, remarkably, the exact opposite happened.
Sure, there were later bouts of frostiness over the War of 1812 – in which we burned down the White House – the Monroe Doctrine and the Civil War, but friendly relations between Great Britain and the nascent Republic were quickly established. Indeed, the Treaty of Paris which ended the war in 1783 was deliberately favourable to the United States because then-prime minister Lord Shelburne correctly identified the economic benefits of trade between the two nations.
In an echo of the longstanding UK-EU trade deficit – with Europeans selling far more to us than we sell to them – British exports to the USA reached £3.7 million, in contrast to American imports to Great Britain of only £750,000. Britons who had just suffered a humiliating, costly, and bloody military defeat at the hands of their own colonists and their oldest enemy (France) were not about to let such a lucrative market go simply to satisfy bitterness and resentment. The idea that Europeans would do so over a gentlemanly and democratic Brexit is unthinkable.
Paul is Creative Director for Conservatives for Liberty. Follow him on Twitter: @Whiggery
The views expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Conservatives for Liberty