YESTERDAY we posted the first part of the transcript of a Briefings for Brexit podcast interview with Professor Gwythian Prins, a man MPs must listen to before they vote next Tuesday on Mrs May’s withdrawal agreement. Today, in the second part, he explains (as you will have never heard on the biased BBC, despite constant and evidenced complaints by News-watch and senior politicians about its shameful coverage) the history, as opposed to the myth, of the EU and why it is destined to fail:
INTERVIEWER: If we look back, you, as one of the founders and editorial directors behind Briefings for Brexit, wrote about why you thought the EU was destined to break up: it was designed in another era and has spread its wings a bit too far since its original inception as a trading partnership. It’s a hugely well-downloaded document. Take your mind back to that time when we voted to Brexit. Why are you so sure that the EU is breaking up, that Brexit is the right decision for the UK?
GWYTHIAN PRINS: You’re quite right. That first piece, which I wrote when the website was new, I think still remains its most heavily-downloaded piece. It’s certainly the piece which has attracted the most hostile trolling, which is a new word that I’ve learned, from Remainiacs who hated my analysis. And let me briefly just say what I explained. I’m a historian by origins and an anthropologist and I’m familiar with many other of my cognate disciplines, one of which is particularly relevant to this issue and funnily enough it’s archaeology. There is an American archaeologist called Joseph Tainter who 20 years ago wrote an analysis of why empires collapse and the argument that he made was based on borrowing from the world of high finance. He borrowed the notion of increasing marginal utility. And he showed that if you increase the complexity of a structure there comes a point where the benefits which you get from that increased complexity turn from positive to negative. So you have a bell curve. I simply applied that thought experiment to the history of the EU. And when you do that it is perfectly clear that the EU has now moved very firmly into the zone of the risk of its own final collapse, the moment where we went across the top of the bell curve was the introduction of the euro, which was the greatest fatal mistake which the EU ever made.
But why it will collapse in the way that I suspect, which is fast, is because it has many characteristics in common with its birth partner and that partner – not in terms of its ideology, but in terms of its structure – was the Soviet Union. Because a fundamental historical mistake which I and Robert Tombs and others have wanted to point out on the Briefings for Brexit website, is that many people believe, firstly, that the EU was a child of the Second World War. It was not. It was a reaction to the horrors of the trenches of the First World War in the minds of people like Jean Monnet. Secondly, that it was about trading, which it never was. This has always been a political project of federal union to suppress the nation states of Europe. And the lesson that was learnt with the collapse of the Briand Plan of 1928, which was a plan for a federal Europe, when it didn’t work, was to move obliquely, always to move through another subject. The first one that was attempted in 1950, is my special area: defence. The Pleven Plan of 1950 was to begin to create a federal European state through a European army. That was not ratified. So they moved to the Coal and Steel Community, that was the first. Then we moved on to trading. So it’s like a crab-wise advance, or if you want to take an English analogy, it’s like grandmother’s footsteps – that you move along and then as soon as the people look at you, you turn around and you have to freeze when the people look at you.
Now, they did that up to the moment of the introduction of the euro which was an attempt to force political union through introducing, prematurely without proper preparation, a unified currency. The result of doing that has been fatal. It was like injecting a fatal poison into the bloodstream of the project and that is why it’s collapsing, because out of that has come the sacrifice of a generation of young people in Greece, in Spain, in Portugal. And it has produced political reaction in Italy which is enormously powerful – the third most important country in the European Union – different from Greece, which cannot be therefore ignored in the way that it was so disrespected during the crisis of 2015. So my expectation is that irrespective of us, this project is in its dying phase. But it is important to state this clearly, because this is why Mr Martin Selmayr, who runs the European Union today, a German bureaucrat who took control of the European Commission through a coup d’etat last spring, this is why he is so desperate to do us harm. He has to do us harm in order to deter other potential escapees from this collapsing project. And as Robert Tombs has explained very clearly, if your belief is that you have a revealed truth, which those who run the EU believe, what he calls – and I think it’s a very good phrase – ‘a vanguard myth’, then that morally justifies you in overriding the will of the people anywhere else. Hence every time a referendum is held that you do not approve of, the people have to go back and produce the right answer. That won’t work with us. We are going to have to break out of this gravity force field and that is the issue for us today.
Before we move on to your expertise on security and defence, critics and people who are in favour of Remain would take issue with you on that historical analysis, because they would simply say the EU has given us peace in Europe since the two world wars. But . . . don’t answer that allegation, move instead to these negotiations where Barnier has kept – despite the fact people thought he would have difficulty and wanted to divide and rule them – his 27 EU partners together in terms of this deal, don’t you think it’s the UK that looks as if it’s splintered and fractured, not the EU?
Well I’m going to be disobedient, because I cannot let your observation pass. It is of course one of the great canards of this debate and it is historically completely wrong. The European Union was not the producer or the creator of peace in the period since the end of the Second World War. That was the result of the Anglosphere intervention. It is the Americans who created modern Germany. It is the Americans who paid for and have supported NATO and that is what has kept us safe. And for the British, our crucial alliance is the Five Eyes Alliance which we’re going to come on to in a minute, which is our intelligence relationship with the United States, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. That is our most precious, fundamental security alliance and we, through the plan that Mrs May published, when you go into the defence parts of that plan you see that that is fundamentally betrayed. And so for me, this has never been – in terms now of your prime question – this has never been an issue about negotiating over trade or any of these small details. They are small details compared to the prime duty of government which is the responsibility, the night-watchman responsibility, of protecting you and me and everybody listening to this podcast from the enemy without and the enemy within. That is what we pay our taxes for, above anything else. And that has been betrayed by this government under Mrs May in this document, which is why that document cannot stand. And I’ll explain in a moment why that is so.
But in regard to Barnier keeping his 27 EU partners together, can you answer that? I mean the EU has seemed united, the UK has not been?
Well, I’m half Dutch and one of my other jobs at the moment is that I am the Senior Visiting Professor at L’école Spéciale Militaire de St Cyr, because I went to school in France, I’m a soixante-huitard as well. So I’m pretty European and I do not see Europe in this unified form. I know from my Dutch relatives, and I know from my friends on the military staff at St Cyr that they do not see Brexit in the way that . . . a unified problem in the hands of Monsieur Barnier. There was a very interesting recent occasion in which Monsieur Barnier made a speech which one of my friends attended, at which many were present because Barnier, of course, is pitching to become the successor of Mr Juncker. And the extraordinary thing was that nobody listened to him. Nobody in the room listened to Mr Barnier, who was explaining what he’d done in the Brexit negotiations. So what I think you will find is that if you go to individual countries, you will find in the general population the equivalent of those people who voted for Brexit in this country. You will find in those populations similar division and very substantial levels of support. In the Netherlands – let me make it practical – on the morning of our vote, the first text message I received at 5 o’clock in the morning was not from anybody in England, it was from a friend of mine in the Netherlands who said, ‘This is unstoppable, we are next,’ and that is what those who are the nomenklatura – to use the Soviet term, correctly, this unelected bureaucracy in Brussels is what they most fear. And that, as I revert to what I said in an earlier answer, is why they have to give us a punishment beating, to try and deter other nations. This is unwise because countries with a strong democratic tradition, like the Netherlands, will not accept that and in other countries much darker shadows now come forward because the reaction to trying to dictate, for example, to the French or to the Germans has been the rise of AfD and even darker forces on the far Right. And of course, in France we have seen the rise and fall of Monsieur Macron, rather like a roman candle. He shot into the sky and filled it with sparks for a short period of time and now he’s failing and guttering out. And we are seeing the return in the forthcoming elections, we suspect, of strength to the further Right. So there is an irony here, because there was an idealistic principle among those at the end of the Second World War who promoted the European project, which was that they wanted to create buffers against a return to the world of the 1930s. The way that the EU has been constructed and works, which is in its nature autocratic and anti-democratic, is that it is producing exactly the opposite reaction in country after country.
Tomorrow, in our third excerpt from his podcast, Professor Prins discusses the frightening implications of Mrs May’s Withdrawal Agreement for the defence of the UK, her failure to communicate the truth about the EU’s inflated militarisation ambitions, and why her commitments to the EU would endanger our critical defence relationships with our English speaking allies – and must be withdrawn.