Britain’s Final Choice: America or Europe
Like Humpty Dumpty, the prospect of Britain’s further integration into the European Union has had a great fall. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men may not now be able to put Britain back together with Europe again.
When Tony Blair became prime minister, he confidently claimed that Great Britain would play a chief role in a united Europe. For euro-enthusiasts, the opposition to Brussels’ incursions on British sovereignty from Tory Margaret Thatcher and its legacy in John Major’s government was to be a thing of the past. Blair’s “third way” Britain seemed more at home as part of the Euroclub.
But closer association with the EU is not possible without solving one sticky issue—swapping the age-old British pound sterling for the new euro. Recent public opinion polls indicate that the majority in Britain is not happy with closer ties to the EU and is hostile to switching currencies.
On July 3, The Week magazine reported, “Germany and France will remain the driving force of the EU, politically and economically, and London will lose its role as a leading financial center. Meanwhile, the creation of a single currency is leading to the formation of an integrated capital market from which Britain is excluded.”
The current British Labor government has worked long and hard to foster in the minds of the British voters the idea of sacrificing the national currency on the altar of the euro. All seemed to be going so well for the euro-enthusiasts—until the recent European parliamentary elections.
“The plan has been blown away,” said Roy Denman, a former representative of the European Commission in Washington D.C. “Labor’s abject defeat by an apathetic electorate and the triumph of the Tory anti-European line revealed an intense public hostility to the euro, which has clearly shaken Mr. Blair. Britain is going to be outside Europe for a long, long time” (International Herald Tribune, June 24).
The British people spoke—by their collective silence in this election. Only 24 percent of British voters turned out to vote! Britons have sent a clear message to the Blair government that they will not tolerate any further flirtation with Europe regarding the relinquishing of the pound sterling for the euro. This may be the deathblow to euro-enthusiasts who have dreamed of British integration into a greater Europe.
A Voice Cried Out
As an unofficial Ambassador for world peace, Herbert W. Armstrong, as early as 1945 and continuing until his death in 1986, foretold that Britain would indeed not be a part of the final unified Europe.
He wrote in his final and greatest book, Mystery of the Ages, regarding Isaiah 14:3-6: “This is…speaking of the one who will be ruler of the soon-coming resurrected ‘Holy Roman Empire’ a sort of soon-coming ‘United States of Europe,’ a union of ten nations to rise up out of or following the Common Market of today (Rev. 17). Britain will NOT be in that empire soon to come.”
On February 11, 1963, he wrote to Church members and co-workers about the assembling by Britain and America of a greater “Atlantic Community” with Britain becoming part of the European Common Market. “They now at last realize what I have been telling the world for 29 years—that a resurrected Roman Empire is going to arise out of the Common Market—unless America and Britain can prevent it—and that it would form a third giant world power that would threaten both Britain and America.”
Soon after, commenting on the uniting of European nations, Mr. Armstrong warned that “we Americans, with the British, gave them the idea. We’ve tried to organize the European nations together against Russia. They are going to unite against us! And now Europe is about ready for it! The stage is all set!… The Germans are coming back from the destruction of World War II in breathtaking manner. Germany is the economic and military heart of Europe. Probably Germany will lead and dominate the coming United States of Europe. But Britain will be no part of it!” (1975 in Prophecy).
As if with a looking glass into our time today, Mr. Armstrong saw Britain and Europe’s latter-day fortunes far in advance of their fulfillment.
Through television, radio broadcasting and the print media, Mr. Armstrong told of this coming division between Britain and Europe. He met with former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and the heir to the British throne, Prince Charles. In Europe he visited with many presidents and prime ministers, including a former architect of the EU, Otto Von Hapsburg.
Mr. Armstrong died 13 years ago. We find now that he was right!
In the September/October 1998 issue of the Trumpet, we reported that British trade relations were more tied to the United States than to Europe. We said that Britain might indeed be forced to sever ties with Europe and enter the North American Free Trade Area (nafta).
Addressing the Center for Policy Studies in London, Canadian media tycoon Conrad Black declared, “None of the continental European countries has a particular affinity with the United States and Canada or anything slightly comparable to Britain’s dramatic modern historical intimacy with North America.” Black believes any efforts by Britain to forge closer links with the EU will result in Britain being forced to give up its sovereignty and to curtail its ties with the U.S.
The U.S. is the UK’s largest single export market with combined annual exports of goods and services worth more than £31 billion ($48 billion). Britain is the leading exporter of services to the U.S., with a market share of more than 12 percent, making Britain the largest foreign investor in the United States.
With the British electorate’s rejection of Blair’s euro currency policy, the Labor government is left in the dark to find the light at the end of their European foreign policy tunnel. Regarding the current Blair policy of euro enthusiasm, the July 3 edition of The Week reported, “In the 1982 Beaconsfield by-election, [Blair] advocated withdrawal from the EEC on the grounds that it ‘took away Britain’s freedom to follow the economic policies it needed.’ In Sedgefield the year after, his election address stated clearly: ‘We’ll negotiate withdrawal from the EEC, which has drained our national resources and destroyed jobs.’ Clearly, in the intervening period, he had a Damascene conversion on the road to Brussels; dare one hope that he is about to experience the blinding light again?”
With Britain’s euro policy physicians suffering a bad case of amnesia, nafta membership may be just what the doctor ordered. The U.S. Congress is currently now considering taking the initiative, inviting Britain to join the North American Free Trade Area.
Eurostat (the statistical arm of the EU) reported that the United States invested nearly twice as much in Britain as it did in the rest of the EU! And with Britain accounting for two thirds of total European investment in the U.S., the call for hitching the British economy to nafta rather than the EU would appear to have significant economic and political benefits to both the U.S. and Britain. Noting that the bookkeeping suggests the UK would be better off leaving the EU, additional support has come from U.S. Senator Phil Gramm. With a background in economics, this Texas Republican has taken steps to have the United States International Trade Commission study the impact British membership would have on America.
“He supports the widening of nafta to include Britain, and his spokesman said: ‘Since he became chairman of the banking committee six months ago he’s gained more power and influence in the Senate, and it gives him the opportunity to turn this hobby horse into a real pony’” (Daily Telegraph, July 5).
Senator Gramm and many other U.S., Canadian and Mexican business leaders believe that all spheres of commerce would benefit from British integration into nafta. Britain could not join, however, without ending its current relationship with the EU.
It appears that Washington is realizing its support for expansion of the EU has been grossly in error. Concerns are now being expressed at the highest levels in the Capitol that “the EU is actuated partly by a desire to be a counterweight to America” (ibid). With the weakening of trade relations via disputes over beef and bananas, it appears that the worst fears of the U.S. are being confirmed—that the EU trading beast is a protectionist stronghold. Many are now of the view that it is not in America’s best interest to see Britain bridled by European hegemony.
A Shadow of Former Glory
Britain is now a mere shadow of its former glory as the greatest empire the earth has ever seen. At its height the British Empire literally ruled the waves. Excluding the United Kingdom, it encompassed 11 million square miles, occupying almost 20 percent of the world’s landmass, governing 25 percent of the earth’s population and controlling all major seaports of the world up to World War II. Britain directed global trade from London, the bustling metropolis that stood as the crossroads of the financial and business world. The British pound sterling was the major currency of the world. The world cried, “Rule Britannia!”
In stark contrast, today’s “empire” covers 100,000 square miles, with only 14 dependent territories governing a total of 16 million people. At the turn of the new millennium, Britain seems to be almost powerless to even stop its own United Kingdom from disintegrating. Lacking the will to rule, it increasingly appears an empty shell of its former glory.
Britain fails to see the significance flowing beneath the cold facts of today’s events. When its leadership prioritizes dismantling the House of Lords, dismembering the monarchy, devolving its constituent nations and politically and economically flirting with Europe, it is headed for trouble.
The financial capital of Europe is rapidly shifting from London to Frankfurt. Bible prophecy indicates that Britain will ultimately notbe a part of the European Union. The British public reject the switch from pounds to euros, and as Britain (biblical Ephraim) is invited to turn to brother America (Manasseh) for trading solace, both countries may well fall into a unique isolation.