Farewell then, EU

So today was the last day the UK was part of the EU’s close trading arrangements and its single market.

My parents’ and grandparents’ generations had much more to endure it’s true – what with World Wars to contend with.

But it was the fact of those World Wars that made the EU, whatever its faults, such a worthwhile institution.

In the UK the myths surrounding those wars – especially the second one which has been mischaracterised almost ever since in these islands as a solely British victory with “us” “standing alone” (as if the contribution of Empire/Colonial forces and crucially Indian Army personnel to the North African campaign in particular – but also more widely – did not occur, with the USSR in Europe and the US in the Pacific seemingly mere bystanders) – are pervasive and pernicious. With the Great War such a perception may be less off-kilter. While it is true that the presence of US forces in 1918 made a difference it was by and large the British (Empire) Army which from the middle of 1917 carried the onus of first, not losing, and second, going on in 1918 to win final victory and in the process the biggest series of successive victories the British Army has ever had.

1939 marked the third war between France and Germany in 70 years (a woman in a Northern French village saw Prussian/German troops march past her house and occupy the place for the third time in her life) and there were many invasions of German territory by France in the centuries before. If some cooperative trading institution so as to minimise potential areas of disagreeement had not been set up post-1945 who is to say that conflict between them might not have arisen again? Some say it was NATO that preserved the peace in Europe in the years since then (but France, remember, was for some time not a NATO member.) In any case NATO’s expansion eastwards since the USSR dissolved, far from being a peaceful endeavour has been a standing provocation to that state’s main successor, Russia.

Tonight at 23:00 GMT, 0:00 CET, marked the last time when free movement of people and goods to Europe from the UK was possible (at least since before the requirement for passports came into being.) Some (little Englanders in the main) might rejoice at what they are pleased to call freedom, which actually has instead seen the biggest extension of powers to the UK government to bypass Parliamentary scrutiny and act summarily since 150 years or so before the UK even came into existence; ie over 560 years ago.

It’s a very sad day.

So farewell then EU.

Or, better, au revoir and auf wiedersehen, because I hope to be with you again soon.

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