Maastricht or Bust?



Why did Thatcher sign the Maastricht Treaty? It is wishful thinking that Thatcher had a long play of Brexit!? She was a not a planner and she certainly was seduced by getting the credit for the best deal around at the time. and the most aggro she could cause the trade unions. But you could say that whilst Heath was required to sort-out British industrial strife to get the 'Common Market' to give Britain membership to it, it was the tag of 'the sick man of Europe' that was both insulting to management and the workforce in Britain that endured. I think at Maastricht, Thatcher couldn't resist the high table of the now EU, and Britain at the helm of the EU needing to catch-up with Britain; the 'sickman was the EU' and Britain had been transformed. We'd deregulated, made some tough decisions and stuck to the strategy of opening-up markets to the new Britain. She even wanted to laud over us all the fact that she was the first 'green' Lady pumping the recycle revolution and the green agenda (as long as it didn't spoil business opportunities). So why Brexit? Because Maastricht was the starting gun for it, and particularly because that Thatcher didn't see it coming! To know and not do anything about it is to die a particularly a cruel political death. I'm sure she would have enjoyed the irony of Brexit's victory demonstrating that Britain had been failed by the 'sickman in Europe.'.

Britons felt that they had won the war in Europe but had lost the post-war recovery. It had lost its Empire as the price for winning the 1st that triggered the 2nd world wars, and low and behold it had won the Cold War but lost the rewards for doing so....or so it seemed to Brexit voters. Subliminally they felt that ex-Warsaw countries were getting too good an economic deal for migration inside the EU and learning a language that could translate to using Britain as a stepping stone for US immigration. Eastern Europeans worked extremely hard in Britain, but made 3 or 4 times their wage in Eastern Europe, and assiduously paid 3 to 4 years of National Insurance and got higher quality NHS care compared with post Soviet hospitals in the East as a result. If only Britain could have parity for our workers to learn Eastern European languages and make 3/4 times the wage in Eastern Europe!? Now that would be parity and fair.

There was also the issue that both the private and public sector were paying for foreign economies barely indirectly; it must have been difficult for the coal industry to be angry at Britain turning to Poland for coal and then turning to Eastern Europeans to bail-out low paid jobs avoided by Britons (many of them temporary agricultural jobs that suited moving from job to job) and kept low-paid to alienate Britons more, because it suited the 'Migrating economies of the former Eastern bloc countries' -never had the Eastern bloc countries occupied part of the unseen micro-climate sub economy inside Britain to transform its domestic economy legitimately inside the rules of the EU!? Now , let's not talk about the hysteria over Eastern Europeans being given carte-blanche' or "refugee economic status' within the womb of the EU" - that is rhetoric and going over board. 'Hysteria' is often depicted by manipulators as putty in their hands, So, lets not make that mistake.

Perhaps this issue aroused a further manifestations of new demographics in the Brexit vote that were traditionally Labour, and supposedly more 'tolerant and clued -up to 'sensitive' issues of immigration (because at one stage parents, grandparents etc were immigrants to Britain and know at first hand spin-offs from their positive and negative experiences of being immigrants ).The Asian British communities have benefited from immigration but they have almost entirely dedicated their lives to Britain, investing their graft and developing Britain's economy for generations - how would you feel if some Eastern European pays his/her national Insurance contributions for only the 3/4 years that they will stay in Britain and not a lifetime of commitment to being a proud full-timer Brit and not a 'Johnny come lately' who doesn't pay their way( gets NHS treatment) and then quits Britain to spend his money at home! Who has to pay for that potentially expensive treatment? The sacrifices Brits have made have not been honoured universally because there exists this legalized loophole. Indeed, all communities have to wrestle with this predicament, but it is especially significant because it asks the question :Does being white and European mean that you can be less 'indigenous'to Britain that Black and Asian Britons? Brexit has therefore given us another definition of being British:Fully commit to Britain and Britain will fully commit to you! Here loyalty and discipline is rewarded not by 'woolly kindness' or wishful thinking, but by a concrete promise underwritten by the hard facts of individual and community wide success. Prosperity and unconditional trust are the levers of allegiance to Britain - but it is the issue for many to give something back to Britain via Brexit. Perhaps Brexit was more nuanced than we all assumed?!?

How can one get equal parity economically for Brits in a true just open EU migration inside the whole EU when the numbers don't stack-up?!? When can British workers travel to Poland and work for 3/4 times British wages ,share their services and still return far richer , spending the lions share of their Polish earnings in Blighty? Can we understand that this is an injustice and not a fixation with immigration?!? Or at least recognizing that Britain has agreed to be the 'experimenter in international laboratory conditions' outside the EU to help make the EU speed up its private sector and not continue to subsidize its public sector trade unions with industrial power that poisons change. Brexit is therefore seen as a liberator for a fair deal,and an argument of economic sense stiffled by EU over-regulation and even resented as too 'scandinavian' and not 'socialist ' enough by the far Left! No doubt that easiness of inter-european travel for Brits will become more difficult and the numbers of European languages taught in Britain could go down too, but these issues are threatening to become self-fulfilling prophesies for Brexiteer's who might claim that Britain is being punished for Brexit from the very Europeans who should be selling the benefits of the EU!

However, Britain is the perfect "off the grid" nation to bond the EU together in a more productive way by not being the source of dissent whilst in the EU. Progress for some in the EU has been expedited because Britain has 'taken one for the team!' Furthermore, Brexit volunteered a continental wide discussion about the definitions of what it is to be racist as distinct from the independent concept of immigration, and as we have discussed, the issue of ethnicity and national unconditional loyalty to 'ones' country have impacted in this conversation. The holding of this referendum has been an unqualified success in opening the door of European wide transformation even if it came at a high cost! I also have no doubt that Eastern Europe must evolve further than just being ex-Warsaw pact' countries where NATO membership is no longer a complete definition of loyalty to defending democracy. All European economies have to move on. I believe that many 'Remainers' voted tactically to defend continental EU from Britain slowing down change in the EU by Britain constantly dragging its heels at every opportunity when a member of the EU. That's a tough call for Euro loyalists, but I respect that far sighted 'remain' argument, and perhaps one day when Britain is ready, it will rejoin the EU club once again. But 'them and us' has to be resolved first. Such is 'Remain' Britain's fear of being bereft of neighbours to moderate Britain being homeless and abandoned in the 'black hole' of political influence, that they have not seen the bigger picture !!?! Brexit is far more nuanced than hard core Brexiteers' or desperate Remainers think!!?!


© 2019 Stephen Hornsby-Smith

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