Will There Always Be an England?

At bottom, the European Project is an effort to seize power (“transfer” sounds much nicer though, doesn’t it?) from local and national entities and invest it in a central authority. An early step on this road is what Mr. González-Páramo calls “integration,” i.e., what the Germans in the late 1930s called “Gleichschaltung,” bringing all aspects of life into harmony with certain central dictates.

Gleichschaltung” is not the only ominous German word one hears about Europe these days. Another is “Anschluss.” Back in 1938, that’s what happened when Germany suddenly absorbed Austria.

A couple of years ago when an earlier chapter in this saga was unfolding, I was chatting with an Italian friend, a former Italian senator, who employed the word to describe the ascension of Mario Monti to the Italian premiership in 2012. “Super Mario” was technically appointed by the Italian president; in reality, he was foisted upon Italy by the European Union. As it happens, that same day Lucas Papademos was sworn in as Greece’s prime minister.

How did that happen? Well might you ask. That day, we received a plaintive email from a journalist friend in London:

Today, two modern European democracies installed prime ministers who had been elected by nobody. This is what we have come to. It is roughly the equivalent of the federal government stepping in to appoint an unelected governor of California when the state went broke -- which is beyond inconceivable. Pray for us.

So long as Britain remains tethered to the European Union, Brussels will be able to impose all the regulations it wants via other treaties. Ultimately the debate over Brexit is a debate over sovereignty, which is a fancy word for freedom. Today's vote is historic because on it rests the future freedom of Great Britain.

Will it be absorbed still further into the (more or less) soft bureaucratic totalitarianism of the European Union, gradually extinguishing its common law traditions, or will it reassert its prerogatives of self-rule? My record as a political prognosticator has been ostentatiously poor, yet I venture, with some trepidation, to say that my reading of the tea leaves suggests that the spirit of independence has not been entirely bred out of the British electorate.

There are apparently no exit polls for the referendum, so we won't know until very late tonight whether (to end with another song) Britain will still be able to sing "Rule, Britannia" and its famous refrain "Britons never, never, never will be slaves." That's not the fate that David Cameron, to say nothing of his Continental masters, have in mind, but today, perhaps for the last time in a generation, the British voters have a choice.