Britain Would Be Better Off Going It Alone
The U.K. would have more influence on the world stage outside the EU.
By NIGEL FARAGESpeaking in Essex on Monday ahead of next week's G-8 summit in Belfast, British Prime Minister David Cameron did as he has done many times before: He argued for the U.K. to stay in the European Union.
Mr. Cameron again promised that sometime in the future, he will seek to begin negotiations on EU reform—but only if the Conservative Party gets a majority in the U.K. 2015 parliamentary election. After a "new settlement" is negotiated, the prime minister says, he will then offer the British public an in-or-out referendum on EU membership. Mr. Cameron has also made it crystal-clear that he will campaign for Britain to stay in the EU.
Of course, the prime minister has made and broken a promise of an EU referendum before, in 2009, so this game is nothing new. Meanwhile, other European governments have already said they will not play ball on renegotiating Britain's EU arrangements. That's no surprise, given the way the British government is already marginalized in EU decision-making.
I suggested to the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee this week that the U.K. simply own up to its impotence in Brussels. The British government's defeats on the financial-transaction tax and bankers' bonuses illustrate the point. What is the point of belonging to a club in which we have so little influence?
That does not seem to discourage the prime minister. One of his key arguments on Monday in Essex was that the U.K.'s membership in the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Nations, NATO, the World Trade Organization (WTO), the G-8, the G-20 and the EU, is not a matter of "national vanity—it is in our national interest."
It is hard to tell if the prime minister is being ignorant or dishonest when he claims that Britain is at the top table at the WTO. We are not. We are represented only through the EU and its trade commissioner, Karel De Gucht. Only if we left the EU could Britain be a true member of the WTO. Independence would mean greater, not lesser influence on the world stage.
Likewise, Mr. Cameron knows that Britain's membership in the Commonwealth, the G-8, the G-20 and NATO would be completely unaffected by leaving the EU. He also knows that our permanent membership of the U.N. Security Council is actually threatened by our continued membership of the EU, which wants a larger role for itself at the U.N.
It is in trade, however, where leaving the EU would offer the greatest benefits. Mr. Cameron talks about a global marketplace, yet he wishes to keep Britain shackled to the EU, which, as the current trade spat with China shows, is a byword for hyperregulation and protectionism. Britain needs to be free to set its own trade relationships. In the past two months, Iceland and Switzerland, both non-EU members, have set up free-trade deals with China. The EU hasn't.
Britain's trade with the rest of the world is growing, while its trade with the rest of the EU is contracting. Isn't it time Mr. Cameron took off his Brussels blinkers and embraced the future? The EU is a creature of the past—a 1970s solution to a 1950s problem.
As Victor Hugo once wrote, "There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world, and that is an idea whose time has come." In a fast-changing, globalized world, the U.K. Independence Party's call for free trade and national democratic control is gaining currency. It is an idea whose time has come.
David Cameron did use his remarks in Essex to make one useful point. "Europe today," he said, echoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel's favorite observation, "accounts for just over 7% of the world's population, produces around 25% of global GDP, but it has to finance 50% of global welfare spending."
The EU has helped produce a continent in economic, demographic and democratic decline. Yet the prime minister wants Britain to stay in the EU under all circumstances. It is time for the British people to recognize this and vote accordingly.
Mr. Farage is leader of the U.K. Independence Party and a British member of the European Parliament.