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Should the United Kingdom become an independent country?

27 March 2013

9:18 AM

27 March 2013

9:18 AM

Last week, Alex Salmond announced the date for the referendum in Scotland, 18 September 2014. The question is phrased to his advantage. ‘Should Scotland become an independent country?’ it asks. This invites a romantic Yes. In sober, practical terms, the question really is ‘Should Scotland leave the United Kingdom?’ But perhaps we should welcome the wording for other reasons. If we ever get our promised referendum on the EU, the question should be ‘Should the United Kingdom become an independent country?’

This is extracted from Charles Moore’s ‘Notes’, in the forthcoming Spectator. The rest will be published tomorrow here, with the rest of his columns.

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Show comments
  • Daniel Maris

    The correct question should be “Should the United Kingdom be dissolved?”

  • 700islands

    The argument that is always made against the UK leaving the EU is never one of vision, it is not about some future dream of Britain being a part of a grander Europe, because the British are not into that. It is always about trade. We are in the EU because it is a market of 500 million people next door and free trade is worth the cost of membership. We need to be at the top table. We need to have influence. Without it we become “Little England” “sleepwalking” off into some “desert” where, somewhat confusingly, we are “isolated in Europe”. It is an argument rooted entirely in fear. It presumes that if we leave the EU we will be punished. Our partners will turn upon us, exclude us, and we will be poorer because of it. It is a worthy question and if those who wish to see Britain independent again are going to win the day it is a question we must answer. The answer lies in the facts. Currently the USA is the Eurozone’s largest single trading partner, worth some 200 billion Euros in trade. The EU and the US are negotiating a free trade agreement. Which just goes to show that you do not have to be in the EU to enjoy free trade with it. Partly these negotiations are underway because of the influence the volume of trade between the two markets brings to the table (though it should be noted the EU already has free trade agreements with many smaller markets). It is a little known fact that if the UK left the EU it would become, over night, the Eurozone’s largest single trading partner. We would eclipse the USA with some $214 billion Euros in trade with the Eurozone (IMF figures). An independent UK would be the Eurozone’s largest single trade partner in the world. When we consider influence, being at the “top table” and scare talk about “isolation” and “deserts” we need to keep the economic facts firmly in mind. $214 billion euros is a lot of influence. It is more influence than any other country has. The idea that the Europeans will not trade with us is laughable.

  • http://www.facebook.com/donnaa.damzelle Donnaa Damzelle

    YES, enough is enough

  • E Ball

    Switzerland does very well as an independent country. They have a free trade agreement with the EU and can travel in the EU without visas. I do not see them starving to death. Each time their political elite hold a referendum on joining the people say NO. We have a huge trade deficit with the EU and so are in a strong position. Courage mes amis!

    • http://www.facebook.com/donnaa.damzelle Donnaa Damzelle

      wee

  • MichtyMe

    The United Kingdom is not a country, it is a system of governance, like the EU.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

      It is a country as a sovereign state but not a nation

  • Minnie

    Tell me, how do I vote?
    I’m half Irish, a quarter Scots and a quarter English. I look at the diaspora of Scots who came to England looking for work during the Nineteenth Century, my maternal grandmother and her family included. I look at all the help that the Scots have given England, loyally, over the past 300 years, after a rocky start.
    All that history to be dumped just like that.
    Mind you, I don’t get a vote on this or any other important matters concerning Britain/ England’s future wealth and prosperity but looking at the absolute balls-up Westminster has made of most important decisions since 1945, it might be better if we all joined the Scots and left Westminster and Whitehall to keep running around in small circles until……

    • http://www.facebook.com/donnaa.damzelle Donnaa Damzelle

      Love your sense of humor lol

  • Russell

    A more appropriate question might be…Should England become an Independent country?
    Free of subsiding Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland and more importantly free of subsidising every country except Germany and a couple of other net contributors in the EU,

  • Austin Barry

    Absolutely, but the EU and its placemen in our political elites won’t let us.

    We must, like the Greeks, Cypriots, Spaniards, Irish and Italians, retain our supine position as one of the EU prison’s compliant landing bitches.

  • allymax bruce

    Charles, seeing as both England, and Scotland, resolve their Sovereignty in their respective Parliaments, (England by constitution, and Scotland by The People), the United Kingdom couldn’t become an independent country. Sovereign ‘matters’ in our name are conducted under the title The United Kingdom of Great Britian & Northern Ireland; the UK is basically the Union of Crowns; the dissolution of the temporary Union of Parliaments will soon over-ride the GB& NI, but, the title UK will still be ‘effective’ in Royal matters; not Sovereign matters.
    Vote ‘Yes’ 2014 Scotland; you know it makes sense!

    • terence patrick hewett

      A common mistake made by some is a belief that the United Kingdom was created by the Union of the Crowns in 1603 not the Treaty of Union in 1707. The Union of the Crowns was and is a historical and legal misnomer. The Crowns of the two countries were not united in 1603. The crowns, and the two countries, remained separate. All that happened was that the same head came for the first time to
      wear the separate crowns of two separate countries. What happened in 1707 was that Anne, Queen of Scotland, entered into a treaty with Anne, Queen of England, to merge the two countries into a single state in international law. Then and only then was there a United Kingdom.

  • Nigel Snodgrass

    ‘Should the United Kingdom become an independent country ?’ This question is phrased to Charles Moore advantage.This invites a romantic Yes. In sober practical terms,the question really is ‘Should the United Kingdom leave the European Union ?’

    • Robert_Eve

      And the answer is a resounding YES.

  • Mr Creosote

    Yep – vote for the Kippers in the elections in May.

    • http://www.facebook.com/donnaa.damzelle Donnaa Damzelle

      Certainly will

  • chan chan

    Yes.

  • David Ossitt

    Yes, the sooner the better.

  • Swiss Bob

    The current and last two PMs are Scotch but large numbers of Scots prefer the jackboot to ‘English Rule’, good luck with that.

    When can I have my vote to get rid of them?

    • http://www.facebook.com/donnaa.damzelle Donnaa Damzelle

      As a united Kingdom, if the Scots gets in dependence, would that not automatically, give us our right to get out of EU? they would then be doing us a great favour, go ahead Scots

      • Swiss Bob

        The EU doesn’t give a stuff about Scotland, Scotland have been told they will have to reapply, the UK, what’s left of it stays.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

    If England became an Independent Country it would no longer be inside the EU. The RFSSR left the USSR and Russia survived okay, so why can’t England exit the United Kingdom and leave the EU that way ?

    • telemachus

      Wales?
      Northern Ireland?

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

        Both have their own assemblies

        • http://www.facebook.com/donnaa.damzelle Donnaa Damzelle

          and so should we

    • http://www.facebook.com/donnaa.damzelle Donnaa Damzelle

      That would set the cat among the pigeons, i like it

  • Rhoda Klapp4

    Yes. Next?

    • telemachus

      A Charter for little england
      We have too many small minded folk who would welcome the chance to decline into a shell of home counties, retreiver owning certainty
      So certainly not

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

        National Self-Determination

      • HJ777

        Yu could always leave the country – then we’d have one fewer small-minded folk.

      • Widggget

        What could possibly be wrong with being able to determine your own destiny?

        Why should a UK government have to go cap in hand and seek permission from unelected officials in Brussels to amend, for example, the range of goods on which VAT is charged?

        The EU is in terminal decline and we would be freer released from being shackled to this corpus mortum!

        Your insult about ‘little England’ is a spirit of defeatism.

        • telemachus

          Why should a UK government have to go ..(to) Brussels to amend
          *
          Because being part of a bigger ‘country’ gives us untold advantages in terms of our economy and our power and influence in the world at large
          *
          Ask your self this-Which was the more influential. The Soviet Union or Russia today. Why did Lincoln not allow the confederacy not to seceed.
          Why was yugoslavia a force to reckon woth and Serbia is ignored
          *
          Life moves on. We have always been a great trading nation and our opportunities are now within the context of a great trading block
          The block has rules. We must be there to influence them

          • SimonToo

            Untold advantages? What about the advantages that CAN speak their name?
            Yugoslavia a force to reckon woth ?

            • telemachus

              Further if we had been team players from the accession we would be leading a very different Europe now rather than the Krauts

              • Colonel Mustard

                What happened to the beer cellar dynamism you half-wit?

              • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

                Accession ? You are a numpty. It was a sop to the French when the Americans wanted to re-arm Germany in 1956

          • ButcombeMan

            Your comments are delusional, The UK still has more real influence in the world than the EU as a whole, if you travelled a bit you would understand that. Even the last Labour government understood that which is why they pushed the pitiful Ashton forward as the best we could offer..

            Outside Europe, the world does not think of Europe first Britain second it is the other way around. Nobody actually cares about the EU.

            Our trading opportunities are with the whole world, unconstrained by petty rules made in Brussels.

            Our greatest strength is the Language we speak

          • David Ossitt

            “Because being part of a bigger ‘country’ gives us untold advantages in terms of our economy and our power and influence in the world at large”

            Idiotic mumbo jumbo, nonsensical codswallop, preposterous garbage, nonsensical drivel, imbecilic pretentious crap.

            • Nicholas chuzzlewit

              You missed out platitudinous nonsense but otherwise a very fair rebuttal.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

            Yugoslavia was paid £5 billion a year subsidy by The West under Tito

          • Nicholas chuzzlewit

            By “great trading block” I assume you mean ‘the World’ as opposed to the moribund, deluded, half-witted, greedy, thieving wasters sometimes known as the EU.

      • Swiss Bob

        A Charter for little england

        You are Owen Jones age 13¾ and mummy says your tea is ready.

        PS You owe me $5.00

        • Colonel Mustard

          I think he is a soviet-romantic half-wit like Ken Loach. In fact he probably is Ken Loach

          • dalai guevara

            Socialism is…
            when you socialise the losses.

            Get that into your head.

            • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

              Socialism requires slave labour

            • Colonel Mustard

              No thanks., I’ve had quite enough socialism to last me a lifetime. What it aspires to and what it actually does – chalk and cheese.

              • dalai guevara

                The colonel calling for the blowing up of the banking and energy cartels. Who would have thunk it 😉

      • The Sage

        I think you mean revolver-owning certainty.

      • chan chan

        The EU is over, tele. Europe is moving back toward the nation state, not away from it.

        • telemachus

          You wish
          After the current local difficulties it will power ahead while we wallow as a no growth economy

          • Colonel Mustard

            Ha ha! Delusional.

          • The_Missing_Think

            Your darkened recuperation room mayeth be needed yeteth…

            “The Euro Is Breaking Down This Morning…”

            http://www.businessinsider.com/the-euro-is-crumbling-march-27-2013-3

          • Wessex Man

            You seek to make jokes out of the misery inflicted on the peoples of Southern Europe and Ireland and of course the bankruptcy forced on millions, rates of death through suicide doubling in Ireland, families ripped apart to prove your particular political point, what a sad person you are!

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

            Power ahead – or as Jules Verne put it “Journey To The Centre of The Earth”….or was it “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea” ?

        • pearlsandoysters

          EU tries to become a nation state in its own right with nationality “european” and historic nationalities such as “spanish, french, etc” are somehow pushed towards “cultural nations” within super structure of the overarching state, yet it’s unclear how it’s likely to achieve this result. Currently the loyalties are not with Brussels but with frayed over edges nation states. The orthodoxy has it that it’s wars with the outside enemy that forge the states, I can not envision EU becoming a belligerent. So, how the loyalties and solidarity within polity may come into being? Probably, the old model of nation-states will be back in place. Yet, who knows.

      • jimmy mac

        Bigger and bigger government, less and less accountability, more and more communist. You’d love it all wouldn’t you? I sometimes think socialists are mentally ill.

        • telemachus

          Not ill
          Caring
          The point of socialism is that it gets away from untrammelled there-is-no-such-thing-as-society selfish capitalism

          • Colonel Mustard

            No. Deranged and deluded. There might be a point to socialism but it gets away from reality and its consequences are invariably the same. More and deeper misery. The loss of freedom. Fathom deep BS. You are an excellent example of the type of half-witted thinking and the sinister need to control.

            • http://www.facebook.com/donnaa.damzelle Donnaa Damzelle

              You are so right Hon, you tell him!

          • ButcombeMan

            Wy not give us the rest of that so often quoted, misquote

          • Nicholas chuzzlewit

            Socialism is a cult which promises mediocrity and failure for all.

        • Robert_Eve

          Only sometimes?

        • dalai guevara

          Socialism is…
          when you’re in love with QE.

          Get that into your head.

      • Colonel Mustard

        And too many nasty, socialist self-haters like you who have irreparably damaged this country.

        • dalai guevara

          Socialism is…
          when you bail out fat cats with MY money.

          Get that into your head.

          • Wessex Man

            gee wizz!

            • dalai guevara

              there you have it – the entire pseudo-conservative intelligentsia is being mind-FAQed. Only very few get it.

      • 700islands

        There are those that do wish to pull up the draw bridge to the world and sip Pims. But they are few and they will not swing any vote.

        There are some in this country who argue strongly for British influence in Europe, and for that we need to be at the “top table”, we must go along to get along, and that requires paying a certain price both in budget contributions to Europe, where we are one of the largest net contributors, and in terms of lost sovereignty. Certainly there is a balance to be struck on this sort of exchange, but the view for some time has been that the UK is a net beneficiary of this transaction (keeping in mind that for us Brits this is not a matter of “solidarity”, we share none of the European’s drive to create a new identity. The EU is a tool to generate economic gain and project power, nothing more).

        This has certainly been the case in the past, it may still be the case today. But it is wrong to simply assert that it is so. Why? Because it ignores the direction of travel. There can be no question that the cost of membership in the EU goes up every year, both in terms of our cash contribution and, perhaps more importantly, in terms of the cost of added red tape. Then there is the less tangible loss of culture and self. Unfortunately this costs the UK in a number of ways, there are the up front costs and then there is the cost of the lose of competitiveness. To this we must add the uncomfortable truth that our place at the top table, our “influence” seems to swing little in the EU. Too often we are on the losing end when it counts. Being at the top table is not so much channelling British influence into Europe as channelling EU influence into Britain. Europe is an increasingly uncompetitive place. Add to this its worrying trend against democracy, from snubbing referendums that do not go its way, to removing democratically elected prime ministers in Greece and Italy and replacing them with unelected, appointed men. Can you image a Prime Minister from the Lords in this day and age? No. No one can.

        The problems of the UK / EU relationship are further compounded by the steps the Eurozone will have to take in order to make the Euro viable in the long term. They are going to have to move towards fiscal union. Britain is not going to be part of that. This means there will be a shift in power within the EU where the Eurozone becomes a majority core block with the UK on the outside. We are becoming Norway if we want it or not.

        So the European question is very much on the table and you are wrong to dismiss it so out of hand. Further, we must question what we are missing out on. We need growth and if you want growth you must go where the growth is. The Commonwealth is growing at 7% and the IMF forecasts its GDP will eventually overtake the EU’s. The “Anglosphere’s” GDP is already higher. The WTO is increasingly the arbiter of world trade, not the EU. But the UK has given up its seat at the WTO and its vote to the EU.

        But wouldn’t we lose influence if we left? Did you know that if Britain left the EU we would become the Eurozone’s largest single foreign trading partner? Currently the USA is number one with some 200 billion Euros in trade, followed by China and then Japan. British trade is worth some 214 billion Euros to the Eurozone. Bigger than the US. If we left the EU we would not be “little England”, we would be a trading power of the first rank and, from the EU’s point of view, its most important trading partner in the world. Influence and independence. There is a strong and credible case to be made that if the EU cannot reform itself or grant the UK special terms that we would indeed be better off out.

        There is also a strong argument to be made that the true Little Englander is the man who sits smugly in England and lets all of this happen to him, who becomes the provincial in an increasingly uncompetitive and undemocratic EU. This is the small minded man, the man who does not lift is eyes up to the opportunities of the world, the man who does not dream, is not willing to work, does not crave change, does not look to risk as the path to reward. I am very sorry to say that that little man is you.

        • telemachus

          For those of you without the stamina to get throght this monologue worthy of the Prince of Denmark

          *

          “There is also a strong argument to be made that the true Little Englander is the man who sits smugly in England and lets all of this happen to him, who becomes the provincial in an increasingly uncompetitive and undemocratic EU. This is the small minded man, the man who does not lift is eyes up to the opportunities of the world, the man who does not dream, is not willing to work, does not crave change, does not look to risk as the path to reward. ”
          *
          Comical
          We must lift our eyes to the challenge of the Tiger economies of Asia with the help of the tiger economy that is Germany.

          • http://www.facebook.com/donnaa.damzelle Donnaa Damzelle

            sounds to me like you are an EU Troll, such BS!

          • 700islands

            Telemachus, if this smug nothing is going to be the extent of the argument you philes are going to put up then in the coming battle you will find yourself defeated face down in the mud. To win you need to make a case for why Britain would be better off staying inside this changing EU. More than that you need to help make the case for why the EU should change to make itself more competitive and more democratic. It has to do this if your hopes of meeting the challenge of Asia are to have a chance. The current path will not lead to success. It is signposted to failure. My post was no monologue. I was speaking to you. Unless you suggest that like Prince Hamlet I am speaking to an empty skull? Rather, since you are so fond of Germany let me think of you as Horatio who was off to study in university in Germany and remind you of his father’s parting words: There is more in heaven and earth than is dreamt of in your philosophy.

            • telemachus

              Nope
              You succeed against the Asian dynamo by being more competitive
              That does not need democracy it needs German application
              Together we and Germany could forge a new hegemony within Europe

              • 700islands

                I agree you succeed against the rising economies of the world by being more competitive. The EU is moving in the other direction, becoming less and less competitive. In order to compete Britain needs less EU, not more.

                As to German “application”, lets first of all remember that their GDP per head is lower than the UK’s. Secondly, their population is in decline and will fall by 25% by 2050. It will also age with the portion of those working against those retired declining. Interestingly German economic success in recent times is to a great extent dependent upon the Euro being, from their point of view, undervalued. This allows Germany to be more competitive. But it requires the un-competative south to keep this going. If the Euro were to unravel the Mark would appreciate and German exports would be less attractive. Secondly, Germany is selling many of these goods to the south of Europe while at the same time lending the buyers the cash to purchase the goods. This is not so much competitiveness as perdition.

                Democracy is a key ingredient to economic growth in developed nations, because it is only when a people are free that they engage in the type of thinking needed to innovate. China is doing well because it is playing catch up. This requires no new thought, only copying old ideas more cheaply. And this can only carry you so far. It is precisely your view that democracy does not matter that is so prevalent in the heart of the EU and it is just this that makes it so dangerous.

                Germany could team up with Britain to make a more liberal, democratic, free market Europe. It shows no desire to do so. Guilt keeps it tied to France.

                Good luck with your New Hegemony. The rest of us will choose the open sea.

      • Northern Neanderthal

        Little England is so cool yes I would love that; umm I get the feeling you don’t agree? Ahh well lol, tough. Your on the losing side at the min and there is nothing you can do about it!!! muhahaha!

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