The truth about sovereignty

Jon Danzig |

Outside the EU, we’ll only have a say in our country, and there will be barriers to trade with our most important customers and suppliers in the world.

But inside the EU, we have a say in our country AND our continent, and enjoy NO barriers to trade with our most important customers and suppliers in the world (by far).

Brexiters say we must have full sovereignty over Britain. Why would that be a good thing?

The definition of sovereignty is ‘supreme power or authority’. Only one country in the world has that. North Korea.

But whilst North Korea has cast iron sovereignty over its nation and people, in the outside world it has very little power, authority or influence.

Indeed, North Korea is considered to be a pariah state, shunned and excluded by the outside world, and with tough sanctions imposed upon it.

In the modern, rational, democratic world, countries recognise that sharing some sovereignty actually increases their power and strength….and sovereignty.

NATO countries realise that in their promise to come to the immediate aid of another NATO country under attack. That’s a classic example of sharing power and sovereignty.

Brexiters say that Britain was misled into thinking that the European Community was only ever about free trade. That, of course, is nonsense – which any cursory study of history will reveal.

The European Economic Community (now called the European Union) was always about a Union of countries sharing some of their power, sovereignty and strength for the common good.

Back in 1961, when Britain first applied to join the European Community, there was much talk about what impact joining would have on Britain’s sovereignty.

The then Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, explained to the British people:

“Accession to the Treaty of Rome would not involve a one-sided surrender of ‘sovereignty’ on our part, but a pooling of sovereignty by all concerned, mainly in economic and social fields.

“In renouncing some of our own sovereignty we would receive in return a share of the sovereignty renounced by other members.”

Mr Macmillan added:

“The talk about loss of sovereignty becomes all the more meaningless when one remembers that practically every nation, including our own, has already been forced by the pressures of the modern world to abandon large areas of sovereignty and to realise that we are now all inter-dependent.

“No country today, not even the giants of America or Russia, can pursue purely independent policies in defence, foreign affairs, or the economic sphere.

“Britain herself has freely made surrenders of sovereignty in NATO and in many other international fields on bigger issues than those involved in the pooling of sovereignty required under the Treaty of Rome.”

Almost 60 years later, one might have thought these issues would have been settled and agreed by now.

But it seems some British people (actually, they most often refer to themselves as ‘English’ rather than British) do not accept this idea of sharing some sovereignty for the common good.

They want England to have ‘supreme power’, meaning complete sovereign rule over its nation and its people, presumably just like in the ‘good old days’ when England had supreme power over its nation, its citizens and its Empire.

For those of us who belong to the modern world, we can see this makes no sense.

Britain is part of a planet that increasingly needs to work together with other nations, and working together, means sharing some power and agreeing some rules.

That’s our road to more civilisation, safety and prosperity.

That, of course, is the great strength of the European Union. 28 neighbouring countries coming together to share power and influence for the common good. It’s a huge success.

The EU is the world’s most successful economic, trade and political union of countries. No one can deny that the EU is the world’s biggest, richest trading bloc, and that it has considerable influence in the world.

Brexit means less sovereignty. In the EU, we gain sovereignty over our continent. In the EU, we have MORE control, not less.

Let’s not throw that away by retreating into an island mentality. Having 100% sovereignty – like North Korea – will not make Britain Great. It will make us small.


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