Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

Bruges Group Blog

Spearheading the intellectual battle against the EU. And for new thinking in international affairs.

Cry "Havoc!" and Let Slip the Dogs of War


When the history of Brexit is written, two primary mistakes will stand out. One was the Conservative party's decision to appoint Theresa May as its leader and the country's Prime Minister. The second was by the 27 member states of the EU. They appointed a team of EU federalist fanatics, rather than pragmatists, to negotiate our exit. They saw the negotiations as an opportunity to punish a recalcitrant member state and to deter others. They ignored the potential damage poisoned relations could inflict on their weakening economy.

The EU has a long record of successfully ignoring democracy. It has succeeded with the willing connivance of the rulers of its targets. Looking at May's government, secretly committed to the EU project, and the make up of parliament they had no reason to think their record would be broken. Emboldened, a team of anti British zealots led by a Frenchman seized the opportunity to humiliate the EU's second largest contributor. Not content with beating the UK with his EU stick, Barnier seemed determined pay back Britain for everything from Crecy to Waterloo, Agincourt to Quebec, Blenheim to Bouchain, Trafalgar to Mers-el-Kébir.

The EU was aided by anti democracy activists in the UK's major parties. Big business and speculators donated vast sums to campaign groups and lawyers. The BBC, Channel 4 and other Media outlets provided free propaganda, the value of which is almost beyond reckoning. Confident of bullying the UK into submission, they had the highlights filmed. Belgian filmmaker Lode Desmet was granted unprecedented access to make a BBC documentary. It showed Guy Verhofstadt, Barnier and friends gloating over their 'Defeat' of the British. Not since Hitler's skip and jump routine at Compiegne has there been a sicker display.

The Remain campaign's blood chilling referendum predictions of economic Armageddon failed to materialise. Not that that has stopped them. Accepting legitimate defeat and democracy are foreign concepts to EU supporters. Indeed, now fully committed to the anti democracy agenda; the threats have become more lurid and hysterical. They claim that Britannia is helpless, a modern Andromeda who can only be saved from Cetus and disaster by the EU. Orwell's Ministry of Truth could not have written a better script; the EU, a democracy-destroying monster, rushing to the aid of a helpless floundering nation.

If we are to believe the 'Experts', the EU is about to impose a blockade. Bonaparte's Continental System revived. Apparently, we will run out of medicine and food. Indeed, the warning about fresh fruit and vegetables are increasingly apocalyptic. We, it seems, are helpless supplicants dependent on the EU for our daily tomato. "Shelves will be empty," wail the prophets of doom. The purveyors of this nonsense display an extraordinary ignorance of EU agricultural reality. A case in point: The Belgian and Dutch Farmers Unions are demanding that: The EU should end economic sanctions against Russia, or failing that compensate them for the loss of their pear trade. (They have received aid, but obviously not enough!) They also demand an end to EU aid for the fruit growers in the EU's Eastern states and, finally, payment to grub up orchards so that prices can rise and the industry become 'Sustainable' (EU speak for price rises)

CAP has led to massive food overproduction in the EU. EU farmers cannot afford to lose the UK market. Compensating farmers, if they do, would impose an unbearable strain on a reduced EU income. Unless they want to turn swathes of northern France and Belgium into a massive Landfill site for rotting produce, common sense will have to prevail. Judging by the appalling damage the EU have happily inflicted in pursuit of monetary union, they might well try a blockade, but farmers are a tough nut to crack. Above all, they know that for every EU producer there are dozens outside the union aching for the chance to replace them.

That our largest trade partner, the USA, does not have a trade agreement with the EU is ignored. Even facts from the EU Commission do not deter the peddlers of doom. The EU's Single Market Scoreboard, 2019 Edition puts UK - EU trade into perspective. Only 8% of UK GDP relates to UK goods exported to the Single Market. Only 5.6% of UK GDP relates to UK services exported to the Single Market. For trade the UK is second from bottom, just above Cyprus. Despite having the largest services economy, the UK is third from bottom in that sector.

Bonaparte's Continental System did not go well for the Empire. Trade with the UK fell dramatically and many European countries went into terminal decline. The UK, on the contrary, flourished. Finding new markets, the economy boomed and the empire expanded. Of course, it's not just goods, but the pound that is under attack. I was amused to read a currency tipster recommending sterling as a "Sell" Because apparently, Scotland and Northern Ireland are leaving the UK. The fact that, if that were true, the pound would be stronger eludes them. At times, it seems a headless chicken is in charge of the coup.

Those who lived through the millennium bug scare, take threats with a large pinch of salt. The more hysterical and outlandish, the more risible they become. Whether this is because of our sense of humour or just common sense, I do not know. However, the tactics the EU uses on the continent are different. It's a darker approach. Like Anthony mourning before Caesar's funeral they decided long ago to "Cry 'Havoc!' and let slip the dogs of war."

I lived in Germany at the time of the introduction of the Euro. There were debates, muted debates. The people were told very firmly that they could not vote on abolishing the DM because they could not understand the issues. Experts would decide for them, and, as they could not understand the issues, they could not choose the experts either. This late Weimar take on democracy went largely unchallenged because the Euro, it was claimed, ensured European peace. The DM was fixed at two to a Euro. On the fateful day, we woke up to discover that Chicken and chips for DM 5.70 had overnight become Euro 5.70, which of course, was DM 11.40, but what's a 100% price rise when set against peace?

The threat of war is once again the scare tactic of choice in demonising Brexit and deterring others. The narrative is simple. Only a union can prevent war because you cannot fight people you are in a union with. Obeying Goebbels's maxim that a lie repeated often enough becomes the truth has been used to good effect. Otherwise intelligent people, find any rational argument to refute the lie akin to heresy. Brushed aside are peaceful examples such as; the union of two people in marriage not preventing divorce; the break up of Czechoslovakia. Violent examples; the US civil war, break up of the union of GB and Ireland, the break up of the USSR and Yugoslavia, are greeted with blank irritation.

There is a proven method of preventing war. Democracy. The one system the EU is utterly opposed to.

Of course, the EU is frightened, not of war, but of success. The success they fear can be best illustrated by looking east. In August 1965, after a fraught two-year relationship, the federation of Malaya expelled Singapore from the union. Lee Kuan Yew was distraught, explaining that he had worked all his life for merger and the unity of the Malay states and his country. Forced to go it alone, Singapore dramatically rose to the challenge. In 2017/18 Singapore with a population of 5.6 million exported more than Malaysia's 32.3 million people. Its per capita GDP was $64,582 against $10,942. It enjoyed a positive trade balance twice that of its larger neighbour.

An outstanding post-WW2 achievement of British administration was the financial and regulatory framework that provided the foundation of Hong Kong's success. Low and simple taxes and light regulation. A path followed by Singapore. It is a mystery why successive UK governments failed to apply the principles at home. Perhaps the unions, and communist influence was too strong. But, the game has changed. The economy is vastly different and the opportunities boundless. The UK leads Europe in technology and artificial intelligence (AI). In 2018, the total amount of capital raised by UK AI companies was $1.3bn. In the same period, French companies raised $400m, while Germany's raised $300m. This goes some way to explain the EU's decision to exclude the UK from the Galileo satellite navigation system, despite the fact that the UK has contributed €1.2 bn of its cost. The EU fear that, released from their regulatory straitjacket, the UK will surge ahead widening the gap. Kicking us out of Galileo may be their way of putting the brake on. As the UK has already announced that it will invest in its own solution, the EU's spite looks like backfiring.

Britain's strengths have always been innovation and trade. Apart from a brief Thatcher interlude, since WW2 we have lacked a government with the vision to understand Adam Smith's shopkeeper comment of 1776. "To found a great empire for the sole purpose of raising up a people of customers may at first sight appear a project fit only for a nation of shopkeepers. It is, however, a project altogether unfit for a nation of shopkeepers; but extremely fit for a nation whose government is influenced by shopkeepers."

To update that for the technological age I quote a recent Telegraph article by Roger Bootle chairman of Capital Economics: "Much experience suggests that what matters for economic success is a combination of low and simple taxes, a lack of overbearing regulation and effective government in the provision of essential public services, including infrastructure and the maintenance of law and order.

Putting it more positively, although breaking away from the EU's protectionist trade policies will bring the British economy decided benefits; this is not the greatest prize. If we end up doing better outside the EU, as I believe we shall, it will be primarily because our domestic policies on tax, regulation and the role and effectiveness of the state in the economy are radically shaken up to take account of the opportunities and challenges that Brexit presents."

We are in the Brexit end game. Anti Democrats are inflicting on us a propaganda equivalent of the blitz. If we stand firm and our new government will seize the opportunities offered, the EU's nightmare will quickly come to pass for them, as our bright free future unfolds. We have withstood almost four years of fear mongering. The reward for democrats' fortitude will be sweet. 

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Director : Robert Oulds
Tel: 020 7287 4414
Chairman: Barry Legg
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Founder President :
The Rt Hon. the Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven LG, OM, FRS 
Vice-President : The Rt Hon. the Lord Lamont of Lerwick,
Chairman: Barry Legg
Director : Robert Oulds MA, FRSA
Washington D.C. Representative : John O'Sullivan CBE
Founder Chairman : Lord Harris of High Cross
Head of Media: Jack Soames