A new deal for Britain

A new deal for Britain

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Let me be clear, I was against Brexit. Following the events leading to the British referendum for years, I have come to the conclusion that it was not only Britain deciding to leave the E.U. It was also the E.U. which decided to leave Britain.

Britain, like all other countries of the Union, signed the Lisbon treaty. That treaty clearly spells out the conditions under which the countries should be part of the European Union:

First of all, it clearly prescribes subsidiarity as the overriding principle under which Brussels should organize the European Union. That means for example, if Birmingham has a problem, the city should try to fix it. Only if it cannot, it should be delegated upwards to the British Government, to London. And only if London cannot manage, it should go to Brussels.

It wasn’t London which violated that principle. It was Brussels and their Euromantics which constantly advocated centralization rather than subsidiarity. It was Brussels which claimed ever more power and decision-making at the expense of local, regional or national governments.

Secondly, the Lisbon treaty strongly advocates competitiveness. I have spent all my professional life in business and for me it is very clear, competition between smaller units always result in a stronger whole. You reach competitiveness only by fostering competition. The European Commission, however, preaches the opposite, harmonization, another violation of the philosophy of the Lisbon treaty. The Commission acts like the organizers of a marathon race where the jury tells all runners not only to start the race but also to finish the race at the same time.

Thirdly, the Commission violated the principle of a national democracy’s self-responsibility for the results of its political decisions. For instance, it advocates a common unemployment insurance scheme. As a bye-product of its one-size-fits-all Euro-policy, it wants the deposits of banking customers in one country to vouch for the financial risks taken by banks in another! More importantly, it started to decide how many of those refugees, which Germany invited to cross its borders, should be re-distributed to other countries!

What does that have to do with Brexit? Well, very much! It is like you joining a football club and the club management decided to play golf instead. It was the Jean-Claude Junckers and the Guy Verhofstadts in Brussels who changed the rules of the game. They created Nigel Farage in the first place who made his way to fame not in London but in Brussels. No wonder, that the then British Prime Minister David Cameron felt obliged to schedule the referendum.

And by the way: Had Brussels, had Jean-Claude Juncker and Angela Merkel offered only a little more flexibility on the issue of immigration, the referendum would have gone the other way. It was the arrogant stubbornness of Brussels, Paris and Berlin, which gave the arguments to Nigel Farage and Boris Johnsons to finally swing the referendum towards Brexit!

Well, where do we go from here?

As I said before, I was against Brexit from the beginning. Today, I am even more convinced that it is becoming a clear lose-lose proposition. Meanwhile, the effects on the British economy have become visible to everybody. More importantly, I do not see even a theoretical solution to the problem for the border between Ireland and Northern-Ireland. How can one ever have an open border between a country within the E.U. and one outside the E.U. without controls and inspection? Also, neither London nor Brussels seem to recognize the fact that keeping the border open would be a violation of the many trade-agreements the E.U. has with other trading partners. How can these trading partners ever accept a trade deal with a trading partner who has a gaping hole in its border?

Brexit is not only a huge challenge to Britain and Ireland. I believe that in the long run it may be an even bigger one for the remaining 27 countries. With Brexit, not only Farage but all British members are leaving the European Parliament. That means Brussels is losing its last voices for subsidiarity, decentralization, self-responsibility and competitiveness. A Region, governed by harmonization rather than competitiveness, by socialization rather than self-responsibility and unable or unwilling to protect its borders against unwanted immigration; such region has no chance against the growing competition of other Regions be they in the Americas or in the Far East.

It is time to face that mistakes were made in Brussels and in London. .

Brussels changed the rules of the game and provided the base for the referendum in the first place. And it did too little to avoid the outcome.

In London the Brexiteers overlooked the economic and political impact of leaving the E.U. – to put it mildly. And the Remainers communicated poorly on the benefits of staying.

And nobody, neither in London nor in Brussels, had any idea about the complexities and the damage Brexit could cause to the British economy, to the peace in Ireland and to the long term competitiveness of the European Union.

That is why we need a new policy in Brussels and in London. And we need it now! If we do not act, we will witness two high-speed trains running towards each other on the same rail road track! Let’s step in now and avoid a historical tragedy!

Brussels must recognize its part of the responsibility for the mess it helped to create. It needs to offer Britain a new deal, especially in the area of immigration!

London needs to admit that it not only underestimated the complexities and the economic and political drawbacks but also that it has no credible plan for a Brexit. It needs an exit from Brexit. In return, London can claim that it finally got what it really wanted: a new deal from Europe!

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Comments (2)

  • terrey parker Reply

    Dear Mr. Henkel,
    I wish I could return the courtesy and reply in German, unfortunately my knowledge of the language will not let me do so effectively.
    I am very happy to see a (continental) European speaking out about the lunacy of the UK leaving the EU. As you rightfully say, we UK “remoaners” have no voice and no leader. Of the ‘Remain’ UK politicians, most, if not all, do not have the courage to vocally oppose the exit. And the pro-leave politicians just keep repeating that it was the ‘will of the people’ to leave; this of course, is patently untrue, a lot remainers just did not believe that so many of their compatriots could be so stupid, so did not bother to vote in the referendum. If we also add the 7 million who were disenfranchised (the vast majority of whom would obviously have voted to remain) (myself included!) and we have a clear majority in favour of staying in the EU.
    If I may, I would like to answer a couple of points from your speech directly:
    You mention ‘smaller parts always creating a stronger whole.’ In principle I agree, but having lived in the USA for a number of years, I feel that competition cannot be left to regulate itself. US corporations effectively own the US government, and their officers move back and forth between corporate and regulatory government positions, thereby consolidating their corporate employers’ positions and eventually destroying the very competition they claim to be safeguarding.
    It is certainly true that there is a general fear of immigration and that the UK is ‘filling up’ with foreigners. However, I don’t believe that Brussels’ intransigence on that issue was the sole cause of the ‘leave’ vote. The UK population were fed many lies and a lot of the population fell for them. A second referendum needs to be held, now that the lies are being exposed and more of the effects are becoming apparent. Of course, there will always be the die-hard British empire fanatics, but I suppose we just have to save them from themselves!
    I find it somewhat ironic that the UK ‘remainers’ need to rely on continental European business people and (hopefully) politicians to help us remain in the Union. I write ‘hopefully’ about the EU politicians because, so far, they are not standing up for me and my fellow remainers – for the time being at least, we are still EU citizens!
    As you say, the EU is not perfect. I would point out that it is a work in progress and has done more for unity in 50+ years than the USA has managed in 250. I wish you (and myself) the best of luck in the future.
    Kind regards, Terrey Parker

    20. November 2017 at 15:11
  • Peter Barrett Reply

    A very penetrating analysis which has not been said clearly, or at all, in Britain, or in the wider EU. This is a powerful argument, for those who have ears to hear. Also, a very persuasive interview on BBC television, which led me to find this article. Time is short and the silence about the real issues is deafening. There is a terrible risk that the departure of the UK will politically polarise a centralising Europe, bereft of its most decentralising voice, and that Britain will isolate and impoverish itself outside a union which will be heading away from a position which the UK could accept as a basis for rejoining.

    27. November 2017 at 20:31

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