In response to Robert James: Don’t let’s be beastly to the Germans, Paul Whitehouse wrote:
I read Hastings’s piece this morning with incredulity that a respected historian should be so cavalier with the facts. I voted leave because there is clear evidence that democracy, as practised in the UK for nearly 1,000 years, is being steadily dismantled in favour of rule over our economic future by unelected, and fabulously paid and pensioned (and low taxed) elites in Brussels, many of whom are failed politicians (Juncker resigned as PM of Luxembourg in disgrace).
I also voted leave because I believe that the European Union IS run by Germany, together with France, mainly in their own national interests and those of some of their close neighbours. From EU-imposed regulations to require us to allow massive trucks (German) on our roads, to the implementation of costly and bureaucratic regulations which suit mainly Continental and international businesses and raise barriers to entry for new competitors, everything is done by the Commission to suit Germany and Germany alone.
The failure to complete the single market in services (in which the UK is strong but Germany and France are weak) goes some way to explaining why the UK’s trade surplus with the Continent in 1973 has converted into a horrendous deficit in the order of £80billion to £100billion each year. Hastings should be asked to explain why Germany has not faced action from the Commission for breaking the Growth and Stability Pact by maintaining a destabilising trade surplus in excess of the permitted 6 per cent of GDP for more than the permitted maximum of three consecutive years, since 2007 – despite a complaint to the Commission in 2013. Even Trump has acknowledged the damage being done by Germany’s refusal to take measures to curb its surplus.
Why also has Germany been deaf to objections to the Nord Stream project (managed by the previous German Chancellor who runs two Kremlin energy companies)? All of Eastern Europe, NATO, the USA and even the European Commission (largely because German energy companies have agreed restrictive conditions preventing Germany’s re-export of Russian gas to Eastern Europe, which contravene Article 101 of the Lisbon Treaty in breach of single market rules) are alarmed because of the obvious scope for Putin to threaten energy starvation to its former Warsaw Pact allies. But Merkel just says it is a commercial matter.
I know of no fellow Leave voter who is jingoistic in the terms Hastings alleges. There really does appear to be a kind of Brexit derangement syndrome amongst the elitist Remainers like Hastings whereby they ignore facts and trumpet a kind of religious ideology in favour of Brussels.