Sunday, November 12, 2017

The British federalists deserve more attention

While the UK is slowly declining and under the risk of isolation after a hard Brexit, many realise that they should have paid more attention to their own federalist tradition. One of the heirs of this tradition, Brendan Donnelly, recently published an article arguing that Brexit will be an absolute disaster. Here's what he says:
"It would be a bold person who would predict with certainty whether Brexit will occur on its appointed date in March 2019. Much has been made of issues relating to the revocability or otherwise of the Article 50 notification, to the desirability or otherwise of a second British referendum on the terms of Brexit and to possible reconfiguration of the British party political system. Whether Brexit occurs or not resolves itself in the last analysis into a simple question. As the negative consequences of Brexit unfold and become more manifest, will there be enough MPs from a range of parties with the courage and conviction to stop it?
So far, this is emphatically not the case. Despite its spectacular incompetence and bad faith, the present Conservative government still determines the Brexit discussion in the UK. It is however entirely possible that changing public opinion will interact over the coming months with latent (and not so latent) concerns among many MPs to produce a substantial majority hostile to the only kind of Brexit which can realistically be achieved. If that is so, questions about the revocation of Article 50, a second referendum and new political parties will fall into their as yet unpredictable place. It would be a stupendous but entirely conceivable irony if next year’s robust assertion of British Parliamentary sovereignty was not to embrace Brexit as a resumption of “control” but rather roundly to reject the whole Brexit chimaera."
Brendan Donnelly belongs to the Think Tank The Federal Trust and to a tradition that was pioneered decades ago by Lionel Robbins, William Beveridge and other great British personalities of different ideologies. This British tradition is unfortunately not known enough, but it was very influential in European federalism, for example through the Italian communist Altiero Spinelli. Their ideas are today being promoted among others by Will Hutton, Timothy Garton Ash and many centrist and labour individuals that believe that citizen control can only be exercised when it is effectively shared with others.

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