After nearly four decades of European Union membership for Britain, an important warning leaps into greater significance.
“Britain is going to look back on Monday, January 1, 1973, in all probability, as a most tragically historic date—a date fraught with ominous potentialities! For that date marked the United Kingdom’s entry into the European Community.”
That statement, written in the March 1973 Plain Truth, is classic Herbert Armstrong: gripping, plain, sincere—and true.
Just ask the growing number of Britons grappling with the realization that the European Union has established a major beachhead within British society. Ask the 17.4 million majority “Brexit” voters who, on June 23, 2016, voted decisively to leave the EU. For them, it’s growing increasingly difficult not to look back on January 1, 1973, and lament it as a “tragically historic date.” Today, the “ominous potentialities” Mr. Armstrong referred to have become alarming realities.
Britain and the EU
On January 1, 2010, after decades of planning, the EU became an official global imperialist power, underpinned by a federal constitution that binds member countries to a supreme head in Brussels. For centuries, European rulers such as Napoleon and Hitler had been unsuccessful in their goal of dominating Britain. But on that first day of 2010, when the EU presidency and foreign ministry came into force under the Lisbon Treaty, the United Kingdom finally became officially subservient to Europe.
Many Britons were deeply concerned. “Britain is no longer a sovereign nation,” wrote British politician Daniel Hannan the morning after the treaty was enacted. “At midnight last night, we ceased to be an independent state, bound by international treaties to other independent states, and became instead a subordinate unit within a European state“ (Telegraph, Dec. 1, 2009).
The Lisbon Treaty “tramples [Britain’s] Magna Carta into the dust,” Ambrose Evans-Pritchard lamented in the Telegraph. “The founding texts of the English constitution—charter, petition, bill of rights—have one theme in common: They create nothing. They assert old freedoms; they restore lost harmony. In this they guided America’s Revolution, itself a codification of early colonial liberties,” he wrote (Dec. 6, 2009).
Contrast this with the Lisbon Treaty/EU constitution. Evans-Pritchard correctly asserted that “insiders hijacked the process” of its creation. These insiders were unelected elites who worked for years seeking to enforce their undemocratic constitution on Europeans by the most undemocratic of means. And the Lisbon Treaty was a key part of those efforts.
Black Eyes for Britain
In these maneuvers, Germany and France obtained mechanisms that gave them greater sway over Europe—while Britain’s power diminished. The Lisbon Treaty, according to global intelligence company Stratfor, placed Germany and France in “key positions they can use to increase their influence over the European Union’s inner workings and important policy areas” and allows them to “take charge of the European Union’s functions” (Dec. 1, 2009).
Europe blamed the financial fiasco that began in 2008 on the Anglo-Saxon model, which relies heavily on free-flowing credit. In response, the EU began creating a regulatory regime so replete with regulations, laws and red tape that it ensured London’s way of doing business would not prosper again. This oppressive regulation eventually delivered the deathblow to London’s status as a global financial capital.
“The English are the big losers in this business,” said Nicolas Sarkozy, president of France at the time. Economically, the people of Britain are indeed the big losers in the EU, but the losses are not limited to the banking sector. EU regulations touched almost every level of every industry in Britain. Until the Brexit process is finally completed, these regulations will continue to affect Britain to one degree or another.
“If you want to build something, grow something, mince something, scrap something, recycle something, burn something, paint something, bake something, package something or do a myriad of other things, there is a sheaf of densely typed regulations just for you,” said Matthew Elliot, coauthor of The Great European Rip-off. “In total, red tape from Brussels adds another £100 billion [us$166 billion] of lost income, extra expenditure and forfeited economic growth to the bill.”
Elliot and other economists estimate that Britain’s total cost to be in the EU—factoring in all the harmful impacts of all the policies and regulations—has been almost $200 billion a year. That equals more than $3,000 for each man, woman and child. That massive amount has been going toward such things as funding the central EU budget, paying an army of British public servants to implement and oversee EU regulations, and subsidizing European farmers. A portion of it has returned to Britain in the form of grants, but such grants funded only EU-approved initiates, many of which did not actually benefit the British.
Britain has also suffered higher unemployment rates due to the EU’s “free movement of human capital” policy.
Although EU cheerleaders tried to discredit any data that casts Europe in a negative light, the actual evidence that emboldened the Brexit movement proved that membership in the EU was a net cost for the Brits. What remains to be seen is how long Britain will take to officially exit the European Union and how amicable that process will be.
Why Britain Is in This Predicament
How has Britain—the nation that very recently ruled the greatest and most benign empire the world has ever known—come to find itself a victim in this abusive relationship with the EU? Why is formerly Great Britain now sidelined and languishing in minor-power status?
The reasons for its staggering decline are numerous: Many British claimed undue credit for the prosperity they enjoyed, and succumbed to guilt and self-loathing, which prompted them to relinquish most of the empire. During the same time, two world wars decimated the strength of the nation’s manpower. Britain was then further drained by its decades-long but never-quite-successful campaign to hitch itself to Europe. And it underwent a revolution in morality, culture and religion.
Have the British, in all of this, simply been victims of the inevitable cycles of history? Was it coincidence that gave them that globe-girdling empire to begin with, and then ripped it away? For answers, we must look back far earlier in history.
Starting over 3,000 years ago, God inspired His prophets to record exactly what would happen to the British Empire. The biblical name “Ephraim,” which refers to the people who became modern-day Britain, is mentioned in well over 100 passages. Britain is also one of the nations collectively called “Israel” in many passages, and is occasionally referred to by other biblical names too. (For proof of modern Britain’s identity in the Bible, request a free copy of Herbert W. Armstrong’s book The United States and Britain in Prophecy.) Scripture foretold the British Empire’s rise and decline, even anticipating the very curses it is experiencing today. Prophecies also make clear that these circumstances would lead to Britain’s eventual completecollapse.
Through several decades under Mr. Armstrong’s editorial eye, the Plain Truth reported in detail the curses that were increasingly plaguing Britain, all the while forewarning that they were merely the prelude to far worse.
Several Plain Truth articles published during the 1960s in particular detailed Britain’s woes at the time: economic problems, low food production, struggles with defining its commonwealth, racial tension, a burgeoning and unsustainable welfare system, notorious laziness, and preoccupation with entertainment. The Plain Truth pointed out that, even at that epoch, Britain was often viewed as inferior to Europe, sometimes referred to as “the sick man of Europe” and “an international charity case.” Britain was not really considered integral to the economically uniting Continent.
On more than one occasion, the Plain Truth even explained prophecies of detailed correction from God, showing His efforts to arrest Britain’s attention, turn the nation around, and set it back on a path paved with blessings.
Consider, as an example, these paragraphs from the December 1964 Plain Truth: “Relations between Britain and Europe will continue to deteriorate until ‘The Lord shall bring a nation against thee from far … which also shall not leave thee either corn, wine, or oil …. [H]e shall besiege thee in all thy gates …’ (Deuteronomy 28:49-52).
“These prophecies reveal a soon-coming ‘siege’—a trading blockade—of modern-day Israel! Of all the nations that compose modern-day Israel, none is more vulnerable to such a trade embargo than the United Kingdom. Under present conditions, the British Isles are entirely unable to feed their population without massive food imports. Even during the strenuous agricultural efforts of World War ii, Britain was able to produce barely half her food requirements! Since then, population has increased, farming land diminished.
“Yet the British public remains apathetic! … The new generation insists only on less work and more benefits. The welfare state, supported by each government in turn, encourages just such an attitude. … But as the cry grows louder for wage increases, unemployment pay, sick benefits, pensions, allowances, national assistance, grants and payments—the entire economy staggers, unable to stay afloat!”
Now, having stumbled through those tough times with no improvement in its behavior, Britain faces an intensification of its problems. Its welfare state has bloated to far greater proportions—as has its drag on the economy. And its corruption and immorality are far worse. Britain today is a house divided, and the 52-48 Brexit vote accentuated and worsened the divisions within the United Kingdom.
Will Britain Awaken?
As revealed in such scriptures as Job 12:23 and Isaiah 40:15, it is God who makes and unmakes nations. He made Britain what it once was, and He is unmaking it today.
Scripture explains—in passages like Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28—what God’s reasons are for sending curses on Britain. Still, Britain toils on, trying to solve its problems with its own ingenuity. Instead of looking to God, Britain is relying on its “allies” like Europe—or, as the Bible refers to them, its “lovers.” “[T]hey have gone up to Assyria, Like a wild donkey alone by itself; Ephraim has hired lovers” (Hosea 8:9; New King James Version). (For proof that Assyria refers to Germany, request a free copy of Germany and the Holy Roman Empire.)
God never intended for Britain to join with Europe. Its ill-advised efforts to do so have revealed fatal weakness and lack of trust in the Source of its national greatness. At the same time, they have portended the downfall of the country!
In 1966, the Plain Truth made this important statement: “The big question: ‘What will it take to wake up the people of Britain?’ Will it take a terrible economic depression, or will it take national military defeat at the hands of a German-dominated United States of Europe?” (October 1966).
There the article referred to the prophesied ultimate fall of Britain!
As Bible prophecy makes clear to those who have the key to understand it, Britain will only learn its lesson through total defeat and the subjugation of its people as slaves to a United Europe!
“I know Ephraim, and Israel is not hid from me …. They will not frame their doings to turn unto their God …. Ephraim also is like a silly dove without heart: they call to Egypt, they go to Assyria [Britain is fulfilling this prophecy even as you read this]. When they shall go, I will spread my net upon them; I will bring them down as the fowls of the heaven; I will chastise them, as their congregation hath heard. … My God will cast them away, because they did not hearken unto him: and they shall be wanderers among the nations” (Hosea 5:3-4; 7:11-12; 9:17).
The Plain Truth’s question is today more pressing than ever: What will it take to wake up the people of Britain?
Britain Bows Out
Today there is little doubt that the “ominous potentialities” that Mr. Armstrong warned about are coming to pass. Politically, economically and judicially, Britain is finding itself weakened and increasingly subservient to the EU.
This is what Mr. Armstrong said would happen—decades ago. Mr. Armstrong concluded that 1973 article by writing, “Britain’s entry into the European Community portends a tragic situation.”
The tragedy of that situation is becoming more evident today.
Mr. Armstrong’s prophecies are being fulfilled at a stunning pace. In the 2010 edition of this booklet, we wrote: “Some Britons have adapted to the EU’s rules and regulations, but many have not—and friction between the EU and Britain is growing. Additionally, the strain of global economic conditions—which Britain and much of Europe have differing opinions on how best to handle—are hastening the inevitability of a divorce between London and Brussels.” In the time since then, Britons have become sharply more disenchanted with EU policies that strip Britain of power and force it into subservience. An Opinium/Observer poll released in January 2013 found that of the general British public, “53 percent agreed that the UK should withdraw … while 19 percent disagreed.”
Proceedings for the divorce between London and Brussels began on December 9, 2011. That was the day British Prime Minister David Cameron shocked the world by vetoing a Franco-German plan to fix Europe’s debt crisis. Standing before an audience of European leaders who were determined to change treaties in a way that would make EU nations cede more power to Europe, Mr. Cameron defended British interests. “What’s on offer is not in Britain’s interest,” he said, “so I didn’t agree to it.”
Mr. Cameron’s decision infuriated European leaders. The Financial Times quoted one senior EU official telling reporters, “This is going to cost the UK dearly. They have antagonized everyone.” Prominent German mep Alexander Graf Lambsdorff said it meant that it had been a “mistake to admit the British into the European Union” to begin with.
Around the world, analysts reported that after Mr. Cameron’s decision it was inevitable that Britain would become a second-rate power within the EU, and that it would eventually leave. “Britain took a massive step toward quitting the EU,” the Daily Express wrote on December 10, 2011.
Tellingly, Britain’s veto did not stop Germany and the rest of the EU from deciding to forge ahead with the treaty changes. Spiegel Online said that, in deciding to advance despite London’s protests, Europe’s leaders sent a piercing message to Britain: “The European project cannot be allowed to collapse because of the UK’s obstinate attitude towards the debt crisis” (Dec. 9, 2011). In other words, European integration is going to happen with or without you!
Mr. Cameron took another great stride toward divorce from the EU on January 23, 2013, when he announced plans for a simple “in or out” referendum. The announcement came at a time when dissatisfaction with the EU was rising throughout Britain. Mr. Cameron promised that, if his party were to win the next election in 2015, then a decision on EU membership would go to the ballot box.
Mr. Cameron’s party did win that election, and nearly a year later, Britain voted to leave the European Union. While the Brexit process officially began with the referendum vote of June 23, 2016, Britain’s complete exit from the EU might take a couple of years. Yet some of the EU’s leaders have expressed their willingness to hasten that process and move on—without Britain.
In numerous articles, Mr. Armstrong made clear that Britain’s dalliance with Europe would end. “The stage is all set!” he wrote in 1956. “All that’s lacking now is the strong leader—the coming führer! 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!”
Herbert Armstrong warned for decades that Britain would not be a part of the coming final resurrection of the German-led Holy Roman Empire. Even as British Prime Minister Edward Heath deceitfully ramrodded his country into the Economic Community in 1973, Mr. Armstrong warned that it was an experiment doomed to failure, and that the British—as many are doing right now—would look back on that day as a “tragically historic date.”