Daniel Hannan

The six best reasons to vote Leave

Part of a Spectator Brexit debate between Matthew Parris and Daniel Hannan

For me, as for so many people, it’s a heart versus head issue. I’m emotionally drawn to Europe. I speak French and Spanish and have lived and worked all over the Continent. I’ve made many friends among the Brussels functionaries. Lots of them, naturally, are committed Euro-federalists. Yet they are also decent neighbours, loyal companions and generous hosts. I feel twinges of unease about disappointing them, especially the anglophiles. But, in the end, the head must rule the heart. Remainers often tell us to think of our children, and I’m doing precisely that. I am thinking, not just about the EU as it is now, but about the diminished role that a surly, introverted Europe will have in their lifetime. And that makes my decision very easy.

1. ‘We need to co-operate with our neighbours,’ say Remainers, as if someone somewhere were objecting to the idea. Were the EU simply a common market, a regional bloc like Nafta or Asean, no one would have a problem with it. What makes the EU different from every other international association is that it legislates for its members. In any conflict between a parliamentary statute and the ruling of a Brussels institution, the latter takes precedence. This legal supremacy, which was not challenged during the renegotiation, is the basis for the political merger of the member states. The EU has acquired, one by one, the attributes and trappings of nationhood: a president and a foreign minister, citizenship and a passport, treaty-making powers, a criminal justice system, a written constitution, a flag and a national anthem. It is these things that Leavers object to, not the commerce and co-operation that we would continue to enjoy, as every neighbouring country does.

2. The EU is not a free-trade area; it is a customs union. The difference may seem technical, but it goes to the heart of the decision we face.

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