Carpe Diem

Carpe Diem

Back in the heyday of the British Empire the Victorians were often bemused by the resigned fatalism they encountered among more mystical cultures of the East, perhaps typified by the phrase 'it is written' with which many greeted the vicissitudes of life. Those self confident explorers and traders would rather agree with the words of Henley's Invictus 'I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul'. They would have no truck with defeatism and bemoaning the fates like Lear when he says 'it is the stars above us, govern our condition' but would rather agree with Cassius when he tells Brutus 'The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves'.

Now so many of their descendants, challenged to support withdrawal from the EU, resort to a similar fatalism when they say "we can't leave now" or "it's all too late" or "they wouldn't let us go". This kind of defeatism is not merely unworthy of a great people, it is also founded upon false beliefs.

The only group that benefits from EU membership is the political class. The undemocratic nature of the EU gives them the opportunity to wield power without accountability and the institutions of the EU provide them with a wider stage upon which to enhance their careers. They tell us that the economic consequences of leaving would be catastrophic, that we would be unable to export to the EU, that the other member states would take action against us, that millions of jobs would be lost, that EU funds would be denied to us, that we would lose influence in the world.

These assertions are tales to frighten children. Neither Norway nor Switzerland are members and yet they sell more to the EU per head than we do. About 80 per cent of our economic activity is within the UK, the part that relies on selling to the EU being less than ten per cent of our total output. No action would be taken against us by the EU as their manufacturers would have a fit if they lost the British market. Breaking free of the restraints imposed by the EU would enable us to create many more jobs. The 'EU funds' of which the politicians so often boast, are just some of our own money, being given back, with strings attached.

As far as the matter of influence is concerned we in the UK have always been a global nation, sitting at the crossroads of the world. We are the centre of the Commonwealth and the fountainhead of the English speaking world, with access to nations who share our common heritage and who have always provided our historic markets. We have no need to tie ourselves to a declining area like Europe. Only the politicians and bureaucrats will lose by our leaving. All that stops us is our own lack of confidence. We must remember the old saying Carpe Diem and do it. It is never too late.

(August 2006)