The Spectator has a long record of being isolated, but right. We supported the north against the slave-owning south in the American civil war at a time when news-papers (and politicians) could not see past corporate interests. We argued for the decriminalisation of homosexuality a decade before it happened, and were denounced as the ‘bugger’s bugle’ for our troubles. We alone supported Margaret Thatcher when she first stood for the Tory leadership. And when Britain last held a referendum on Europe, every newspaper in the land advocated a ‘yes’ vote. Only two national titles backed what is now called Brexit: the Morning Star and The Spectator.
Our concern then was simple: we did not believe that the Common Market was just about trade. We felt it would be followed by an attempted common government, which would have disastrous effects on a continent distinguished by its glorious diversity. The whole project seemed to be a protectionist scam, an attempt to try to build a wall around the continent rather than embrace world trade. Such European parochialism, we argued, did not suit a globally minded country such as Britain. On the week of the 1975 referendum, The Spectator’s cover line was: ‘Out – and into the world.’ We repeat that line today.
Since 1975 the EU has mutated in exactly the way we then feared and now resembles nothing so much as the Habsburg Empire in its dying days. A bloated bureaucracy that has outgrown all usefulness. A parliament that represents many nations, but with no democratic legitimacy. Countries on its periphery pitched into poverty, or agitating for secession. The EU’s hunger for power has been matched only by its incompetence. The European Union is making the people of our continent poorer, and less free.
This goes far beyond frustration at diktats on banana curvature.