Next Administration Lose Britain? by Paul Craig Roberts
(October 24, 2000)
The British have nothing to gain from becoming part
of Europe, but they have everything to lose: political
sovereignty, a strong currency, and relatively low payroll
and income tax rates.
With the demise of the Soviet Union a decade ago, U.S.
foreign policy has fallen off the screen. Arab-Israeli
conflict is trying to put it back on, but until the
latest outbreak of violence in Palestine, the focus
of U.S. foreign policy was on Kosovo, a break-away province
of a small country, Serbia. This is nothing short of
amazing considering that the United States is on the
verge of losing its great ally of the 20th century --
Great Britain. The problem is not that the Brits have
turned against their American cousins. The problem is
that Britain is about to become a province of a European
It is paradoxical that the U.S. government supports
tiny Kosovo's independence from Serbia, but not Great
Britain's independence from Europe. Kosovo is historically
a part of Serbia's heartland, where Serbs fought their
greatest battles against the Turks. The English have
never been a part of Europe.
A campaign of fear, orchestrated by Prime Minister
Tony Blair's Labor government and misguided British
business interests, is driving the British people into
the maw of the European superstate. Unless the British
give up their currency and adopt the Euro, the argument
goes, the British will be left economically isolated
and slowly sink into the sea.
Brussels' bureaucrats can hardly wait to begin "harmonizing"
English income tax rates by raising them by 20 percentage
points (a 50 percent increase) to match Europe's higher
levels. With one stroke, Margaret Thatcher's reforms,
which revitalized the British economy, would be repealed.
Unlike Europe, England's Social Security and general
welfare system are not funded with a payroll tax. This
gives the British an employment advantage, which will
have to be "harmonized" away -- likewise for
the British ability to hire and fire. In addition, Britain's
funded private pensions would be raided in order to
pay for Europe's unfunded state pension systems.
For the past two decades the British economy has outperformed
Germany and France. The British have nothing to gain
from becoming part of Europe, but they have everything
to lose: political sovereignty, a strong currency, and
relatively low payroll and income tax rates.
The British would also lose their greatest historical
achievement -- their legal system. In Britain, law originates
in "the bosoms of the people," not in the
writ of the European Commission. There is a huge difference,
as the independently minded British people would discover
once bureaucrats start giving them orders.
The United States would be another big loser. Our special
relationship with Great Britain cannot survive British
integration into Europe. We would lose our most important
ally. The trans-Atlantic bridge would be closed, and
the United States would be politically isolated from
The impact on our diplomatic clout would be dramatic.
When we have trouble lining up a self-absorbed Europe
behind a necessary action, the British help us lobby
the Europeans and apply the screws. Once Britain is
part of Europe, our diplomacy will have lost a critical
To protect our diplomatic influence, the first task
of the new government in Washington is to convince the
British to forget the Euro and join the North American
Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The British belong in
NAFTA with the United States, Canada and Mexico. The
United States invests twice as much in Britain as Europe
does, and Britain is the single largest foreign investor
in the United States.
The United States needs to rethink its foreign policy
interests. Great Britain's absorption into Europe would
fracture the English-speaking peoples. How are we served
by the disappearance of our most important ally?
If the American political mind can again come alive
to foreign policy, we should weigh the pros and cons
of also bringing Japan, Taiwan, Australia and even Russia
into NAFTA. Now is the time for the United States to
think about protecting its influence, not after we are
enfeebled by the loss of Britain.