Does anybody still believe that the EU is a benign institution?

Ever since Margaret Thatcher U-turned in the dying days of her premiership, there has been a kind of agreement between Left and Right on what the European Union is. Most Conservatives followed the late-vintage Thatcher. They stopped regarding the EU as a free market that British business must be a part of, and started to see it as an unaccountable socialist menace that could impose left-wing labour and environmental policies on a right-wing government.

As many critics have said, the Tory version of British nationalism that followed had many hypocrisies. It did not want foreigners infringing national sovereignty when they were bureaucrats in Brussels but did not seem to mind them when they were generals at Nato or economists at the WTO.

Tory nationalism, however, did succeed in provoking a reaction. Leftists decided to approve of the EU for the same reasons conservatives denounced it. Generally, we are against nationalism, because it incites groundless prejudice. We are in favour of minimum protections for workers and trying to limit global warming. If our government does not enforce them, we do not care overmuch if a super-national institution takes on the job. Better a solution of dubious democratic legitimacy than no solution at all.

Lees verder op The Spectator