photo: Niccolò Caranti
“Et veritas liberabit vos (Giovanni 8-30)
Intentionally I write this note on the British referendum on Europe, Thursday, June 23 at h 20.30, before the polls close and, therefore, without knowing the outcome.
The only thing I know is that in the afternoon, the bookmakers were paying 6 to 1 against the exit. This is an important clue against the outcome of a Brexit but only a clue.
What I am going to say applies no matter of the outcome, either Bremain or Brexit.
Yet, before entering into the specifics, to facilitate the interpretation of my comments, it is worth to mention a little curiosity from my past personal background.
In high school, I won the first prize in Italy and the second in Europe, with a paper on European integration, during the European School Day, organized by the ECSC (the European Coal and Steel Community) among all the pupils of the last year of high school in all of the six European nations.
This resulted in the award of an unforgettably wonderful month-long trip to the discovery of Europe, together with the other five national winners.
Upon returning from this trip, in the summer of 1955, I enrolled at the European Federalist Movement in the chapter of Pavia and, in that capacity, I took part as a campaigner in all of the greatest battles for Europe: from the direct election of the European Parliament, to the EMS (European Monetary System), to the Euro.
In the meantime, I graduated with a thesis on the integration of European tax systems.
In short, the process of European integration has been, in my entire life my overall goal, compass, dream, point of reference, and my personal commitment. My role models were the great European founding fathers: like Schuman, Monnet, De Gasperi, Adenauer, and Churchill’s grandfather. Of all of them I still keep a record that contains their voices and the main passages of their speeches on Europe which is titled: “The great voices of Europe”.
Despite this personal background, I came to wish that the British vote in favour of Brexit.
This for three main reasons.
First because the British were never really in the process of European integration but have always been on the threshold, as he explained in a lucid and bitter interview former European commissioner Etienne Davignon (Il Sole 24 Ore, 23 June 2016), and how it was brilliantly set out in by Giannetti in one of his very effective cartoons, in which Queen Elizabeth says that the referendum is for England to exit the EU and Prince Philip responds: “Why, have we ever entered?”
The second reason is that the most serious criticisms of the greatest English intellectuals to the current European Union, is that it is a stuffy and losing cage, remarks that are extraordinarily true and shareable.
The third reason is that the set of the mechanisms, policies and governance of the EU is so dysfunctional and miserable that needs a great shock and needs to change.
The victory of Brexit could represent this need and, potentially, a positive shock of which Europe, both the people that the rulers, are in desperate need of.
I do not think that the economic-financial and social terrorism that the centres of power unleashed and predicted in relation to the effects of an exit are going to be true especially in the long run. Certainly the pound will devalue, as it is economically overpriced. Of course for a few days the financial markets will shake. And then? For 80% it comes to hoaxes. But certainly vote in favour of Brexit would have a high political significance.
It would scare and we need to be scared to take action, to bring out a bit of awareness and a course of actions to make things right. Otherwise the populist disruptors, like the Le Pen or Salvini will prevail. But to stop them exorcising them with words is not enough.
We have to do the right things and demolish this technocratic and dull slum we now call Europe, which allowed this band of nutcases to turn the Mediterranean into a graveyard. This is not, as it currently is, Europe.
If the “remain” wins the great risk is that we all fall asleep again and we return to cultivate the illusion that problems resolve themselves. Instead when a serious illness strikes people, it is better to face the truth head on and to remedy the evil.
As Davignon said: “By now dissatisfaction is everywhere. The contagion has already attacked the European Union.
And if the “remain” wins what do we do with a split and fiercely torn England, groggy from the mountain of lies that have been let loose in relation to the referendum, shocked and moved by the crime that killed a person with so much grace, courage and value, as was Jo Cox, which will try to negotiate some additional trivial economic benefit according to the logic of a shopkeeper and his government, always standing in the doorway trying to seize selfish opportunities, to annoy and put a spoke in the wheel?
We would need an England that, as Gordon Brown said, far from retiring is raised in a leadership position, cooperate seriously to intellectual and operational reform of the EU, counterbalance the German stupidity (which won many battles, but always lost all wars and will even lose this as we would if we follow them), which attacks the bureaucracy in Brussels as he did in the first phase, Thatcher with significant positive results for all (me, then, I wrote, as a European, an article entitled: “Thanks Thatcher” , and I was referring to her decisive and beneficial action for the liberalization of capital movements).
If as it is predicted, the “remain” will win and the need of truth will once again be choked, we will (with little conviction) share the hope of Michael Spence (Nobel laureate in economics in 2001):
“This is my hope that, even though it may border on a simple desire. Regardless of the outcome of the referendum on Brexit (like many foreigners, I hope that Britain votes to stay and support a reform from the inside), the British vote, together with strong centrifugal political tendencies similar elsewhere, it should lead to a major overhaul of the structures European governance and institutional arrangements. The goal should be to restore a sense of control and accountability to voters. This would be a good result in the long run. It would take a leadership inspired by all corners of Europe, including government, business, trade unions and civil society, as well as a renewed commitment to integrity, inclusion, responsibility and generosity. It is a daunting task; but not one impossible to achieve.”
If, however, Brexit will win it is true that there will be turbulence in the financial markets, it is true that there is the risk of the domino effect (but there are other countries that hastily and unwisely joined the Union that would be better of outside), it is a fact that we will miss the civil intelligence and British contribution in politics against the backwardness of the EU (and this is the worst drawback which we will have to address increasing the efforts in terms of joint work by tightening bilateral ties).
But the greatest risk is to put the head in the sand to escape the truth and to continue to accept this horrendous EU, as it is today.
Milan 23 June 2016 h 21:00
ADDENDUM of 26 June 2016 h 22:00
Contradicting the expectations of the bookmakers, British citizens, going to vote massively in percentages never seen before, choose not a farewell to Europe but to this miserable EU, from which they had already, however, in great part opted out.
I do not read this vote as a choice dictated by fear, as the majority of EU dumb politicians and servants of the financial markets project, but as a choice dictated by courage, truth, dignity, strength, love for freedom and of the great British history.
I recognize in this vote of the United Kingdom, a country that has taught to all the meaning of democracy, which has stood up alone against Hitler, who he defeated with his nimble ships against the galleons of the Grand Army, England which made our fascists say, “God curse the English “, and yet one more time: ” God bless the British.”
“Come on England, Come on Europe.”