Two EU referendum letters in the Post of May 26, both from leave supporters, require a response.
In the first, Sylvia Walker advises us to watch the Brexit film. Don’t bother; it will not surprise anyone, now that the referendum debate has sunk – on both sides - to endless unsubstantiated claims and accusations, mostly designed to terrify. The Brexit film is an overlong piece of one-sided propaganda.
Your correspondent makes some scary claims of her own, though, so in the spirit of arguing via facts alone, here is some information she might have taken into account.
Yes, immigration is worrying, but let’s cross ‘the prospect of 88 million people having access to our borders’ from Turkey off our worry-list right now. Turkey first applied for membership in 1987, when the world (and Turkey) was very different from today.
So far Turkey is compliant in only one of the thirty-five policy areas required of new entrants. If they ever did complete the list, their application for entry would need to be approved unanimously by all the EU member states.
The UK could veto them single-handedly if it wanted to.
As for the ‘EU army’, where is it? The EU has provided military intervention in a number of crises since 2002, and there are currently troops from member states acting jointly on behalf of the EU in six operations.
There has been talk about an ‘EU army’ for decades, especially from the federalist wing, as you might expect.
Mr Juncker mused publicly about the need for one in an interview last year. The response was interesting: even Germany thought it could happen only in the long term, while the central
European member states were opposed, as is the UK.
As with EU membership, the formation of an EU army would require unanimous assent, so it won’t happen in the foreseeable future and, without UK agreement, never.
And this leads me on to Eric Wood’s letter. He doesn’t seem to know about EU military collaboration, or any of the other kinds of EU collaboration, for that matter.
He depicts Europe as ‘more riven with strife and hatred than at any time since the end of World War II because of the policies of Brussels’. Whatever is he referring to?
It can’t be regulations about bananas that produces this dark vision, so is it the free movement of people within the EU?
But the fact that he goes on to talk about ‘enormous upheaval across Europe’, ‘civil war’ and ‘barbed wire’ makes it pretty clear he means all the thousands of refugees and migrants from outside the EU who are coming to Europe in search of a better life.
It’s hard to see how their presence has been caused by ‘the policies of Brussels’, but it is true the EU, as well as the rest of the world, hasn’t found a solution to this appalling problem yet and our half-in, half-out Government isn’t even trying.
No, Mr Wood, the EU is not just a political project, as you would have it.
It is an ethical one too, and whether to withdraw from Europe in fright or remain and collaborate is an ethical as well as a political decision for us all.