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The Options for British Decline

December 11, 2011

David Cameron has decided, on behalf of the Conservative Party, to isolate Britain– either temporarily or permanently –from all other continental European countries. This course of action is just one of two options that Britain can take as it manages its decline as an empire.

Since 1945, Britain has given freedom to its former colonies and lost its empire. Its key ally since then has been the USA. Britain has slowly failed to build alliances with other European countries, it wasn’t in at the beginning of the European project, and has been a rather detached bystander as the EU expands and grows together.

Britain now finds itself drifting politically out into the Atlantic, with its linkages into the EU severely damaged. However, its alliance with the USA is also becoming weaker as Britain becomes weaker. Britain shares a great deal with the USA, but so does the EU. As the EU’s relationship with the USA becomes more equal, Britain’s relationship with the USA becomes more one sided. Britain on its own is no longer a dominant European economic power. The special relationship is in decline. Historians may write that the usefulness of the USA/ UK alliance lasted from the end of the 2nd World War to the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Our international world is increasingly based on large economic blocks with large populations. This is a relatively recent development, driven by China, and it is very hard to see how small countries will ever again challenge the economic superiority of economic blocks like the USA together with Canada and Mexico, China, India, and the EU.

There are two strategic options for Britain.

The first is the progressive option: to join the EU block, pool sovereignty and help to make the EU a great force for good in the international world.

The second is the conservative option: it is to remain British. This is the route favoured by eurosceptics and the majority of the public at the moment. There will be permanent economic decline but the British people will have signed up for that in return for feeling that they are in control of their own destiny.

There are times in history for big choices. This is one of these times. The dominant political force of the 20th century, the Conservative Party, is now totally eurosceptic and set on a course of nationalism. Liberal Democrats favour joining the EU block.

There will be an In / Out Referendum at some point in the future. It’s time that the options and their consequences are more thoroughly debated.

One Comment leave one →
  1. December 14, 2011 8:51 am


    When I was in local government, I was always very insistent on polling the public and trying to deliver exactly what they want. It’s easier at that level.

    You’ve said above: “The second is the conservative option: it is to remain British. This is the route favoured by eurosceptics and the majority of the public at the moment. ”

    The latter part of that statement may be true and it drives me to insanity. The response by a more senior local politician to me giving the public what they want, was yet another statement that equally doesn’t sit with ease in my mind and yet in this case I believe to be completely true “sometimes the public just don’t know what they really need.”

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