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Jun 3, 2016

The Guardian | Opinion EU Referendum - June 3, 2016: Dear Britain, If You Stay in the EU, You Will Ruin Our Lives. Here is why, by Jean Quatremer

theguardian.com

Jean Quatremer
 
My English friends, as it’s only you who are tempted by Brexit, don’t be won over by the arguments of the remain campaigners. Vote leave on 23 June!

I’ll be honest – it’s not really in your interest to leave the EU. It’s obvious that Brexit campaigners are lying to you in claiming that, alone, you’ll do better in a world that’s already dominated by the US, Asia and, soon, Africa. The Europe that they vilify is largely in your hands ideologically – it already governs 28 nations in your own language.
But I digress. I’m defending the EU’s point of view, and it’s in its interest that you leave. If you stay, you will ruin our lives: David Cameron will become the only European leader capable of winning a referendum on Europe, and will therefore gain a central role in the EU. He and his successors will then negotiate concession after concession in order to completely bury the federal dream of the fathers of Europe and transform the continent into a free market zone with less and less backbone.
Any hope of a European resurgence will be also be buried. The EU is already dying, despite the wish of European governments to extend its remit. Across the continent, the scene is dominated by nationalists who have hijacked the debate and sometimes power itself, such as in eastern Europe. European values have been blown to smithereens, as evident in the curbing of the right to asylum. And ruling parties think that an election can only result in victory for Eurosceptic groups (though the Austrian presidential election proved the opposite).
The fear of an immediate politically and economically costly collapse of the EU will disappear following a remain vote. Sure, my English friends, you staying in the EU will avoid an immediate crisis. But longer term it will drag the European project down towards its final disintegration. Europe, which aspired to global significance in a world where the west’s importance is diminishing, will become nothing more than a failed project. Only your departure will allow Europe to bounce back.
I’m not a fan of the idea of a beneficial crisis. But Europe is already in a catatonic state, and only a shock on a grand scale can force the more visionary of our leaders to act to save it.
Your sacrifice for the European common good could achieve this – though it could also result in the disappearance of the United Kingdom itself, with the possibility of Scotland and even Northern Ireland seeking independence. But this would be the fourth time you would be rescuing your divided European neighbours, after the war against the French empire and then the two German Reichs.
So, British friends, have courage! Let yourself be won over by such brilliant leaders as Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson, who in their hearts simply want what’s best for Europe. We promise we’ll let you back in in 20 years. On our conditions, of course, in sackcloth and ashes: a small price to pay to save the European dream.
This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared in Libération