Special to WorldTribune.com
By Liam Fox,
At the start of last week I was in Washington, DC speaking on what the European referendum means for the United States.
On the face of it, the U.S. should be a natural ally in the case for leaving the European Union. The right to make your own laws, elect your own politicians, control your own borders and spend your own tax dollars are concepts that the American people, not to mention the United States government, hold very dear indeed.
America is a proud nation and to them it is quite rightly inconceivable that a single scrap of liberty and justice be surrendered beyond their own borders.
I pointed out that while we are members of the European Union, our parliament is no longer the ultimate authority for making our laws and that we can be over-ruled by the unelected European Court.
It came as a surprise to many in the audience that under the free movement of people within the EU we cannot determine who enters our country. Not only have 1.2 million EU citizens decided to settle in the UK over the past decade but if any or all the migrants currently streaming across the continent are granted citizenship in any other EU state than they too will have the right to settle in the UK.
They rightly asked if those would not pose a huge potential security risk to our people and were shocked to be told that we have no say in the matter as long as we are an EU member. When I told them we had to pay for the failure of the EU because our budgetary contribution is linked to our GDP growth at a time when the eurozone economy is in the doldrums, they started to get the idea, and when I explained that we are not allowed to conduct our own trade deals they started to look aghast.
Perhaps that attitude is understandable. America has been too far removed from the turmoil of the Eurozone to recognize that the EU is in its death throes. Its utter failure to react or reform under pressure, both internal and external, has left the EU as an anachronism; a vast bureaucracy that robs member states of their democracy whilst failing to provide tangible benefits. A pattern is emerging of more and more of our legislation being made overseas.
The final issue I dealt with was the forthcoming visit by President Obama to the UK where government sources have let it be known he will make the case for the UK to remain within the EU (though this was strenuously played down by US officials.)
Of course the president is free to say what he likes but there are several points his advisers ought to make. The first is that this is a highly sensitive political issue that splits the British people down the middle.
Protocol suggests our allies do not involve themselves in the domestic affairs of others and, given the offence that many will take over such involvement over the EU referendum, goodwill would inevitably be lost, at least from a proportion of the population. That would be a great pity.
At the same time it would be wise to guard against any accusations of double standards.
The Americans would not dream of having an open border with Mexico or allowing a foreign court to over-rule the US Supreme Court. They should not wish the European equivalent on us unless they find themselves open to the charge of hypocrisy.
A Britain strong and free is not only in our interests but America’s too. Just open any history book!
The Rt. Hon. Dr. Liam Fox MP is a former UK Defence Secretary.