The Defining Moment Approaches
Did you know that the headlines of tomorrow, regarding Britain’s role in the European Union, have already been written? But not by copywriters at the Times or the bbc. These headlines were written—actually foretold—decades ago by one man who was sure where Britain would stand in relation to a united Europe.
That man was Herbert W. Armstrong. It was his book The United States and Britain in Prophecy—sent free to multiple millions worldwide—that unveiled the vital key to understanding all Bible prophecy. By unlocking the identity of the American and British peoples in God’s Word, he revolutionized the way multiple thousands looked at one third of their Bibles.
Based on that revelation, he could make statements deemed utterly incredible to those of his day. He could claim, at the end of World War ii, as a pulverized Germany lay in ruin along with the rest of Europe, that Germany would once again rise—at the helm of a united Europe—to heights of superpower status greater than any power had ever achieved.
Ludicrous? At the time—and to those with no understanding of these prophecies—absolutely!
But then it all began to take shape just as he said it would. First, in 1951, it was a harmless-looking six-nation Coal and Steel Community. Eventually it came to be known as the European Community.
Meanwhile, as the Community grew, something happened that would seem to contradict what Herbert Armstrong had been prophesying: In 1973, Britain officially joined. If you know anything about his teachings, you’ll know why this wouldn’t add up. Britain’s biblical, prophetic name is Ephraim—or Israel (as Ephraim was grandson of Israel, see Genesis 48:15-19)—and, according to Bible prophecy, end-time events would lead to Ephraim’s destruction by the very combine that Britain had joined.
But Mr. Armstrong faithfully held to what the Bible foretold—stating emphatically that Britain would eventually have to leave or be forced out of this united Europe for its prophecies to be true. Here again was another “ludicrous” prophecy. Even today Britain is one of the key members—one of the powerhouses in what is now called the European Union.
Nonetheless, Mr. Armstrong wrote in the last great work of his life, Mystery of the Ages, about a “union of 10 nations to rise up out of or following the Common Market of today.” He proclaimed, “Britain will not be in that empire soon to come.” And the validity of that statement—and the veracity of all Bible prophecy—is being proventoday! Here’s how.
In the People’s Hands
In Britain, there have always been those distrustful of further integration into the European Community. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher lost her job over the issue. The debate in British Parliament over how integrated the UK should be with Europe has only intensified since then.
We at the Trumpet have continued to hold to Mr. Armstrong’s teachings—even when a prime minister came to power in favor of full integration with the EU: Tony Blair. But now, it seems, his days—or the days of his pro-EU influence—are numbered.
Mr. Blair announced in April that he would take this issue to the people—in the first nationwide referendum in nearly 30 years. The referendum will ask Britons if they want to adopt the controversial European Union constitution—a bureaucratic jumble of 333 pages that reduces the power and sovereignty of individual nations and rests it in the hands of this ambiguous Union.
“The decision over the constitution is probably the most important Britain has faced since World War ii,” wrote the New York Times (May 10). Britons complain of the “democratic deficit” in the constitution. A democratic constitution, like America’s, the Times explained, “defines the limits of power of the state over the individual. Yet the draft European Constitution is almost entirely about amassing power for a superstate. It is antidemocratic, dangerous and thoroughly out of date” (ibid.).
Approved by European leaders in June, the constitution could be the last straw for Britons who, according to polls, will vote no to the document.
The referendum, though not yet scheduled, may take place as early as this fall or as late as mid-2006. And the results will likely decide, at last, Britain’s place in the power structure of Europe.
Buckling Under Pressure
Curiosity might first lead us to ask, why is Blair giving the people the choice if the results seem sure not to go in his favor? After all, Mr. Blair had been adamantly opposed to a referendum. He kept arguing that his signing of the EU constitution in June would not significantly alter the UK’s current relationship with Europe.
But Mr. Blair was receiving considerable pressure to hold such a referendum from the ever-more-popular Conservative Party—led by Michael Howard, a likely replacement for Blair.
Then there was the media pressure. The euroskeptical press—representing, on this issue, the majority of Britons—is largely owned by media conglomerate News International, with Rupert Murdoch its proprietor. News International owns the Times, the Sunday Times, the Sun and the News of the World. Editorials in these newspapers, while calling for a referendum, were also putting significant pressure on Blair. One senior writer called him a “traitor.” According to the April 24 Spectator, strong evidence exists that Murdoch and his agents were threatening to withdraw support of Blair’s government if Blair didn’t call for the referendum.
So Blair made a U-turn on his anti-referendum stance. In addition to avoiding death by press, it was to Blair’s advantage to listen to the people for another reason: He was suffering the lowest ratings ever, largely due to his support of the Iraq war.
However, Blair’s turnabout only left Britons more distrustful of their leader—with one poll showing that 82 percent believed his reasons for changing his mind were not based on principle, but on opportunistic motive (Daily Telegraph, London, April 30).
Could It Take Britain Out of the EU?
For Britons to vote no to the constitution does not mean they would be voting against their country’s membership in the EU. Even the Conservative Party is not anti-EU membership—they just want to renegotiate certain terms. (It is interesting, however, that one political party gaining popularity among Britons is the UK Independence Party, whose central platform is the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. In June, it won an unprecedented 12 seats of Britain’s 78 in the European Parliament, third in size only to the Conservative and Labor parties.)
This being said, however, the EU is to a point where the country’s ratification of the constitution and its membership are almost inextricably linked. Right now, the constitution requires that all 25 member nations ratify it. If Britain votes no, it could delay or even destroy the implementation of the constitution, upsetting pro-constitution countries like Germany and France. This is why some, such as British Commissioner to the EU Chris Patten, say a no vote would even force Britain out of the EU (Guardian, April 26). Patten said this referendum will be the “final reckoning” on the divisive issue.
EU Parliament President Pat Cox said the referendum would be the “defining moment in Britain” (Wall Street Journal, April 28). He asked, “Is Britain up for it? To give real leadership and play a central role in Europe? Or is Britain opting out? And frankly, it will boil down to that basic instinct in the end.”
Even if the UK is not forced out by a no vote from Britons, its influence in Europe will be minimized—its role sidelined. Valery Giscard d’Estaing, the constitution’s chief architect, said, “If finally the British say ‘no’ and the other Europeans say ‘we want to go’ then they will have to find an accommodation. … In that case Britain will not be in the core of the system but at the margins of the system” (bbc News, April 29).
EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy inferred more when he said, “I would really be sad if the EU didn’t include the Brits. They are difficult, but they bring a lot in many respects” (Daily Telegraph, May 3).
How amazing that—years after Herbert Armstrong prophesied it—some of the most influential men in Europe are starting to talk about Britain’s removal from the Union as a likely prospect! And a Europe with the Brits marginalized or absent will only allow Germany and France—referred to commonly as “core Europe”—to gain more leverage in the Union! As stated in the May 10 Business Week, “A no vote—which polls predict—would distance Britain further from the rest of the EU. With Britain sidelined and Spain backing France, says bp plc Chairman Peter D. Sutherland, ‘we’re again back to the idea of core Europe.’”
And thus this other prophecy of Mr. Armstrong’s comes into clear focus—the rise of Germany at the reins of a united Europe!
EU Commission President Romano Prodi warned that if the UK voted no to the EU constitution, the consequences would be “heavy” (EUobserver.com, May 3). “When we are many member states, it’s difficult to conceive a union in which one country can veto all the others …. This is a completely undemocratic process.”
But are the nations of core Europe being more democratic? Germany has refused to hold any national referendum, even though two thirds of its people have said they want one. German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer called referenda a “populist trap” (Deutsche Welle, April 23).
You Have Been Told!
In a matter of months, the fate of Britain will largely be decided. Will its people reject the EU constitution? Will this lead to a more Euroskeptical government taking charge at 10 Downing Street? Will the British people, or their leaders, walk out of the European Union? Or will Europe be done with Britain’s wavering and wash its hands of the British once and for all?
These are certainly intriguing questions—to which no one can yet know exact answers. But the ultimate outcome—likely to spring forth from this referendum, this “defining moment”—can be known. You have been told. Whether Britain is forced out or whether it voluntarily leaves the EU, one thing is certain: “Britain will not be in that empire” now building in Europe.
And when those headlines splash across the pages of newspapers worldwide, proclaiming Britain’s exit from an otherwise united Europe, remember that one man and where you read it first!
For more on Europe’s rise, request a free copy of Herbert Armstrong’s Who or What Is the Prophetic Beast?