When Britain Leaves Europe …
BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images
Soon, Britain will not be a member of the European Union. Some still consider that prognosis unfounded, but it’s a reality that is coming into sharper focus in the wake of the global financial crisis.
Earlier this month, Joel Hilliker explained how both Europe and Britain are beginning to agree that Britain should get out of the EU. For nearly 19 years the Trumpet has believed Britain will leave or be banished from the EU. Now some European and British leaders, and even segments of the mainstream press, are beginning to accept the reality of Britain’s inevitable divorce from Europe.
With separation imminent, the implications of such a watershed event become pertinent.
A Millstone Cut Loose
Grasping the implications of this event is as much an exercise in studying history as it is in forecasting the future. After Britain tried unsuccessfully for years to join the European Community, Prime Minister Heath finally signed his nation up on Jan. 1, 1973. Since then, 34 years of history have proven that day hugely significant, obviously for Britain, but particularly for the project of European unification. On that day, a weighty millstone was hung around the neck of the European Community, which later become the European Union.
From the moment it slouched into the EC, Britain has been a burden to the unification process, one never too heavy to completely tank unification, yet cumbersome enough to guarantee integration remained a spluttering, controversial process. “There is little doubt,” wrote former European Union Commissioner Peter Sutherland, “that the rest [of Europe] would have advanced with European integration much further in the absence of the uk” (Financial Times, Oct. 16, 2007).
Britain, from the moment it joined the EU in 1973, has been a primary cause of the cumbersome, slow-moving nature of European integration!
The Latin maxim cui adhaero praeest—”he whom I support will prevail”—is attributed to Henry viii, and was said to have applied to Britain’s role in Europe. William Camden shaded it differently when he said that Britain was the tongue in the balance of Europe. The point being, for about 500 years, Britain has been the pivot on which the balance of power on the Continent has swung. When Louis xiv made his play for the Spanish Netherlands in 1701, it was Britain’s decision to join the side of the Dutch and Austrians that put an end to the War of the Spanish Succession. One hundred years later, Britain was the deciding factor in the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte. During World Wars i and ii, Britain’s decision to throw its weight behind France and the Low Countries altered the course of the conflict.
For five centuries, Britain was seen, by the English as well as many of the Continental powers, as the arbiter of Europe—the illustrious island power responsible for checking the ambition of Europe’s larger nations and preserving the balance of power on the Continent. Winston Churchill talked about this role in a speech before the Conservative Members Committee on Foreign Affairs in 1936. As the arbiter of Europe, he said, Britain had “preserved the liberties of Europe, protected the growth of its vivacious and varied society, and emerged after four terrible struggles with an ever-growing fame and widening empire.”
Acting as the pivot of power in Europe had been the “unconscious tradition of British foreign policy,” he declared.
When Britain entered the EC in 1973, it perpetuated this tradition. For 35 years, it has held a pair of scales in one hand, with pro-unification states on one side and the less-enthused states on the other. In its other hand has been a weight, ready to be placed on whatever side of the scale Britain might choose.
Britain’s role as the arbiter of Europe equipped it with inestimable geopolitical influence!
Impact on Europe
As the arbiter of Europe, London has long had the ability to promote those policies it sees as favorable to British interests, and water down policies that work against its own interests. In the process, Britain has both frustrated and facilitated Europe’s development through cautionary political maneuvering, whining and well-timed bouts of foot-dragging. Since 1973, British resistance toward full-blown unification has been the primarycheck on the ambition of larger European states for more intense unification.
That’s exactly why Britain’s impending divorce from the EU will be such a watershed event: With the British millstone cut loose, Europe’s largest powers, particularly Germany, will be free to pursue a more aggressive, ambitious and imperialistic agenda!
When Britain secedes, or is pushed from the corridors of power in Brussels, the balance of power defining European geopolitics will be revolutionized. The absence of a meaningful presence by Britain will create a massive power vacuum inside the EU. Geopolitics abhors a vacuum. Britain’s absence will be the green light for the Franco-German axis to push ahead with unification, leaving European states of lesser power to either put up or shut up.
Given past history (a geopolitically impotent Britain gave rise to Hitler’s Germany in the 1930s) and the present dominance of Germany as the Union’s economic and political powerhouse, expect Berlin, situated at the heart of Europe, to take the lead in this process!
To be sure, some European governments will not be thrilled at Europe’s new direction under predominantly German leadership. Some with a sense of history may even be frightened to their core at this prospect. These nations, most of which have relied on Britain in the past as an ally against imperial ambitions in Europe, stand to lose the most by a British loss of influence in the EU. Not only will the political influence of the Slavic states, such as Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, stand to be diluted without the dissenting voice of Britain slowing the pace of the Brussels steamroller, but a British withdrawal could also send real political tremors through many of Britain’s traditional allies in Europe, including the Netherlands, Denmark, Ireland, Finland and Sweden.
Without the support of Britain, these states will be steamrolled by German ambition for European unification!
In her seminal work Statecraft, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher discussed the notion of European integration. “That such an unnecessary and irrational project as building a European superstate was ever embarked upon will seem in future years to be perhaps the greatest folly of the modern era,” she wrote (emphasis mine). The Iron Lady’s instincts were right. Ironically, however, her nation’s withdrawal from the EU could actually aid in bringing the “greatest folly of the modern era” to its fullest fruition.
Impact on Britain and America
This event will also have a significant impact on Britain—and will ripple across the Atlantic to affect America as well. Above all, the greatest impact for Britain will be the loss of geopolitical influence on the Continent. The leverage over mainland states it has enjoyed for 500 years as the arbiter of Europe will be lost, and Britain will forfeit much of its ability to intervene in European affairs and to counter the ambition of the larger European states. Britain’s absence from the the EU stands to directly impact the United States too, which since the First World War has used its ally Britain as a proxy in furthering its own foreign policies in Europe.
Considered against the backdrop of European history—which is a tale of imperialist belligerence, religious turmoil and war—the marginalization of Britain from European affairs will likely create a strategic and geopolitical nightmare!
The one thing that Europe currently lacks, which was a major contributor to its repeated history of imperialism over time, is a strong, decisive, ambitious leader. Throughout the history of similar configurations of European unity (termed the Holy Roman Empire), it was Germany that provided such leadership. With a federalizing Europe of multiple highly industrialized states at its beckoning—including the most powerful currency in the world, a population of 430 million people and a combined military force of over 2 million personnel—can the German powerhouse resist the urge to once again assert its leadership over all of Europe? That is a consideration on the minds of the deepest thinkers in the foreign-policy arena. The “German Question” is returning, yet again, to center stage in geopolitics.
Surely we can begin to grasp the sheer magnitude of a British withdrawal from the EU. Free from the British millstone, the EU’s largest powers, especially Germany, will emerge and take charge of European unification. Without Britain to amplify their concerns and defend their interests, the voices of smaller European states will go unheard, and their interests will continue to be neglected. In addition to these major geopolitical changes inside Europe, Britain’s separation from Europe will severely diminish both it and America’s ability to influence events on the Continent.
When this occurs, Europe will not only be increasingly shaped by German designs, but Britain and America will lack the political means to do anything about it!
Prior to his death in 1986, Herbert W. Armstrong spent 50 years using biblical prophecy to forecast world events. For anyone familiar with his teachings, one prophecy stands out above the others; it could be considered his keynote prophecy.That is the prophecy about a colossal religio-political superstate that would emerge from Europe as the central power in end-time events. This empire, explained Mr. Armstrong based on a prophecy in Daniel, would include five nations, or “kings,” from Eastern Europe, and five from Western Europe.
In 1956, with European unification gaining traction and Germany rising from the ashes of World War ii, he warned that a European superpower was emerging. “The stage is all set!” he wrote. “All that’s lacking now is the strong leader …. Germany is the economic and military heart of Europe. Probably Germany will lead and dominate the coming United States of Europe.”
“But Britain,” he wrote, “will be no part of it!”
Year after year, decade upon decade, this man explained, in the face of all who mocked, that Britain would never be a part of this final European power. So confident was he in the source of his insight that he refused to budge even as Britain’s relations with the European Community seemed to improve.
When Britain was invited into the EC on Jan. 1, 1973, he said that date would prove to be a “tragically historic date” for Britain, a date “fraught with ominous potentialities.”
Today, more than 50 years after Mr. Armstrong first made this forecast, and despite the best efforts of numerous European and British leaders to succeed in unification, this prophecy is poised to unfold in spectacular fashion!