I have to say, it has been fun watching British Europhiles have a collective nervous breakdown. Europhiles like to think of themselves as the embodiment of Enlightenment values, whereas their opponents are irrational, unintelligent, hysterical loons. Since David Cameron’s veto, however, you cannot open The Guardian or turn on BBC News without being blown across the room by the primal scream of a Europhile, attacking Mr. Cameron hysterically and talking ominously about “isolation”. Timothy Garton-Ash has written about the terrible day when England tries to re-join the European Union, only to be blocked by France and a recently independent Scotland. Roger Cohen of The New York Times described Eurosceptics recently as ‘inner-fascists’. Europhile hysteria reminds me of that scene in Toy Story when someone removes Buzz Lightyear’s helmet and he falls to his knees, gasping for air, as the other toys look on with a puzzled stare.
Europhile ‘cosmopolitanism’ has also been exposed as a lie in recent weeks, as their understanding of the world is actually quite parochial. A good example of this parochialism is an article (£) in The Times today by David Aaronovitch, in which he gives up on the Europhile cause and says we should just become America’s 51st state instead. ‘Of course, the loss of [the] Union Flag, [the] national anthem, the words “Great Britain” and “United Kingdom”, the crest on our passports, the pound, the diminution of our Parliament and a binning of distinctive emblems would all be regretted. Ironically, we would have kept all of those inside Europe. But their absence can be overcome.’ (Homer Simpson suggests here how best to understand the article…).
As with most Europhiles, Mr. Aaronovitch only sees two options for the United Kingdom: either we can be in the heart of Europe or we can be an American province. There is no third way, unless you count isolationism and decline as one of them. His worldview, like his VHS reference, is terribly dated however. In a globalised, multipolar world, what is the point of regionalism? Why must we be part of a continental bloc or a transatlantic one, not one made up of powers dotted around the world?
If Eurosceptics live in the 1880s, with its “splendid isolation”, then Europhiles are stuck somewhere in the mid-to-late 20th Century, with its bipolar world politics.