Brexit: Divorce or Dissolution – an Opinion Piece
In June of 2016, 51.9% of the United Kingdom (UK), consisting of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, voted to end its membership in the 28-state European Union (EU). Almost 34 million people participated in the referendum, with the majority saying Britain should exit, hence the name, "Brexit." The two prime issues that influenced the outcome were loss of national sovereignty and the overwhelming influx of immigration from North Agrica and the Middle East. Ever since writing my book on the European Union, I have spoken about the movement of the world toward the final, restored Roman Empire prophesied by the prophet, Daniel (chapter 7). Currently, several European countries are facing national elections, and it is obvious that their outcomes very likely will reflect growing voter concern over the power shift away from national sovereignty and toward the globalist government of the EU. In this newsletter, I want to look at this issue in light of the Brexit vote.
At the end of March 2017, the European Union (the "EU") celebrated its 60th anniversary as the European Economic Community. Significantly, Britain was not one of the EU's six founding-member nations. The UK became a part of the EU in 1973 after two unsuccessful attempts to join it. From that day to this, the UK has sought to maintain a degree of sovereign independence over its affairs at home while enjoying the benefits of the union.
Since that time, the EU has moved away from its original purpose: to form a loose union of sovereign states with the goal of preventing wars and encouraging prosperity in Europe. Instead it has become a powerful, controlling supranational government centered in Brussels. Over the years the EU has usurped more and more power from its member nations, thereby diminishing their national sovereignty.
The average Brit now realizes that there has been a decline of British self-determination over economics, national politics, and foreign policy as the EU has seized more and more power and control in these areas. This especially has been evidenced by the development of the Eurozone; the EU’s own foreign affairs bureau; and the growing power of the non-elected European Commission, one of the three major governing divisions of the EU.
Along with growing EU control, there has been the ongoing and increasing immigration problem and the resultant security challenges that are connected primarily with the Syrian refugee influx and, unfortunately, the millitant group, "ISIS." Sympathetic Brits and Europeans haven't forgotten their own experiences as refugees during and following WWI and WWII and are happy to help genuine refugees of war. Reflecting this attitude, the EU has opened its borders to large numbers of immigrants from North Africa and the Middle East. On a positive note, these immigrants have helped Europe deal with its declining workforce and need for laborers to help keep up with growing economies, as exemplified by Germany. Declining birth rates among Europeans; due to the desire for smaller families, effective birth control, and abortion on demand, are largely the reasons for this workforce shortage.
Additionally, opening Europe to greater numbers of immigrants has harmonized well with the EU’s global agenda: Fundamental to turning the EU into a true global empire is the need to eliminate national borders and ethnic loyalties. The supranational government of the EU stresses that EU citizens must think of themselves, first and foremost, as Europeans; not as Germans, French, or English, etc. Only when nationalism has been replaced with a globalist mindset, can the EU truly govern its citizens as an empire – one that is free of national governments with their sovereign intrusions. Thus, the EU only can achieve this by “diluting” national populations with people loyal only to the EU, particularly with those who have left their national homelands behind.
This ever-increasing influx of migrants has negatively impacted much of Europe. Hungary, for example, cried “enough” by trying to independently control the flow of Syrian refugees through their borders. This independent action directly challenged the policy established by the leaders of the EU. Sweden has become an example of the dramatic cultural shift that the Middle Easterners are bringing, causing many Swedes to wonder what has become of their culture and way of life. Increasingly, European opinion news stories are exploring the possibility that distinctive European cultures will disappear in the near future.
Since his election, President Donald Trump has sought to counter America's drift toward globalism and bring new vitality and awareness to the advantages of nationalism. Interestingly, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is also more prone toward nationalism than globalism for his country, and desires to emphasize Russia's culture and national identity as it was prior to the Communist takeover. Campaigns leading to upcoming French and Italian elections are also demonstrating this struggle between nationalism and globalism as candidates with the nationalistic view gain significant voter attention. Since any retreat back to nationalism is counterproductive to the goals of a global empire, the EU must slow or stop nationalistic trends such as these.
The Path to Divorce
Likened to a divorce, UK Prime Minister Theresa May served the nation’s “divorce” papers to the EU on March 29 of this year, thereby setting in motion Article 50 of the EU's treaty that serves as its constitution. According to this article, separation from the EU is a two-year step-like process. The next step is scheduled at the end of April, when a summit of EU Affairs ministers will establish the exit procedures and EU's demands on Britain.
This is similar to establishing who “gets what” in a divorce. The UK has no input in this. The EU ministers require a qualified majority for approval of the exit steps they propose. After approval, the EU Affairs ministers will deliver the proposal to the European Commission that will then begin negotiating with Britain's government in London. Only at this point will the UK become involved. After agreement is reached between the governments of the UK and the EU, all 27 national parliaments of the EU must ratify the agreement. They will be given two years to approve it unanimously. If they are unable to do this, all becomes a little murky. Some believe the divorce petition is denied and ended. Others believe that they will have to re-negotiate. To me it appears that the system is designed so no nation can leave the EU. Time will tell.
Added to this procedural nightmare, is the fact that both sides are not in full agreement about which area is to be considered first. Two crucial areas to consider are exit terms/procedures and trade terms.
The EU says it will initially negotiate only the exit terms and proceedures. For example, one term is the demand that Britain pay the $65 billion bill that it had committed to pay the EU over the next 33 years. The EU wants the basic relationship between it and Britain to be clearly defined before considering other areas. Until agreement on the exit terms is reached, the EU will not discuss free trade or tariffs with Britain. Exit from the EU will follow a sequential path determined by the EU.
Britain wants to begin negotiating trade deals with nations outside of the EU right now, but the EU treaty does not allow any individual nation to negotiate trade agreements with other nations. The EU wants all steps to be sequential, while the UK wants all steps to be simultaneous.
Sequential steps are to the EU’s advantage as this approach can demonstrate the “pain” of exit to the average Brit and possibly cause UK voters to re-think Brexit. This approach prevents any special trade benefits for Britain as part of the exit terms. The simultaneous plan would be to Britain's advantage as it would enable the UK to have everything in place before Brexit. Since London is a major financial center, they want a stable, assured trade economy before exiting. There is concern that companies may leave Britain because of apprehension over the uncertainties of the final trade agreements that would come only after the exit terms have been established.
For example, Lloyds of London has recently announced that they will be opening a separate office in Brussels, the unofficial capital of the EU. This could trigger an exodus from the UK of other major companies. Uncertainty always causes financial markets to become unstable, and the UK cannot afford this.
The balance between tariffs and free trade is another issue that is vital to business. It is an advantage to have free trade within the EU, as there are no tariffs between its 28 countries. The EU's desire to protect its own businesses from businesses of other nations could mean that tariffs would be imposed on British exports to the EU. Britain does not want to lose its inside position in this area.
Key to this issue is that Germany and France, major economic powers of the EU, don’t want to reduce the UK's exit hardship. They do not want any special advantages to be granted, for they fear that this would encourage other nations to leave as well. Only Ireland and Cyprus are willing to accommodate Britain because of their close economic ties to the UK. They don’t want to lose this market advantage.
In addition to economic concerns, the issues of the EU's defense agreements, as well as the sharing of security intelligence between nations within the EU, is brought into question if Britain exits. Britain has been a major help to the EU in these areas. Its exit would substantially decrease support of NATO and increase defense costs of other EU nations. NATO's effectiveness could be endangered and terrorism could escalate.
Next month will reveal who has the greater negotiating power. We will see if Brexit negotiations will be sequential or simultaneous.
There seems to be overall agreement among those writing opinion pieces as to who will be in the "driver's seat" during negotations for Brexit: Although the British will believe that they are, the "seat" most likely will be occupied by the EU. If other nations perceive the cost of exiting to be too great, they will not want to follow Britain through the "exit door." If there is no cost to the UK, and they are allowed to keep their benefits while remaining a sovereign entity, other nations will see that there is no benefit to remaining a member of the EU. This could bring about a quick dissolution of the European Union. The future direction of the EU depends on how Brexit is dealt with during this time.
Another concern for the EU is that Britain's leaving could cause a power shift within the Union: Currently the center of power is in the North; as Britain, France, and Germany weild the balance of power. This could change, and the Mediterranean states in the South could take the healm. However, it is well to remember that the UK is not the sum total of the EU, for it was not a member for the first 16 years of its existence (from 1957 to 1973). The EU grew in strength without the UK. Also, it is good to consider that while the EU has many financial problems, Greece being one, the EU's economic union currently equals that of the US in terms of GNP. If businesses were to leave the UK in order to keep the advantages of EU membership, the UK would suffer economically. Finally, another point to consider is that the people of the UK will expect the same personal social benefits as they had under the EU, this might prove to be a much higher cost than anticipated by London.
A final issue to consider is how Brexit could affect the nations that make up the UK: Scotland voted against leaving the EU; not one county voted in favor of it. Movements toward independence from Britain are being considered in Scotland. While Wales did vote to leave the EU, there are always governmental tensions between England and Wales. Northern Ireland could experience turmoil over these events, and that could cause division. This could open the door to its being absorbed by the Republic of Ireland. Thus, Brexit, instead of exit from the EU, could bring about the dissolution of the United Kingdom.
When all these things have been considered and the details of Brexit made fully available, I believe that the British people will want another referendum to reconsider Brexit. This may bring down the current government of Prime Minister May.
A Christian analysis
I believe that Britain's two-year exit process could result in the breakup of the UK prior to it leaving the EU. This alone might cause the British people to rethink their decision to leave. Significantly, Scotland and Wales were never part of the Roman Empire. This could prove to be of prophetic significance if they were to separate from the UK. While their goal is to remain in the EU, some EU leaders have hinted that they might not want Scotland to join it. They could be refused or delayed entry on any number of grounds. During this time, England, might decide to remain in the EU. Thus, ironically, England would remain a part of the EU while Scotland, and perhaps Wales, could be out in the cold. Geographically, this was the situation during the Roman Empire occupation of the British Isles. Thus, the EU would continue to become more powerful, having stopped England's exit, and would more closely resemble the British Isles holdings of the ancient Roman Empire.
A second point to consider is the effect Britain's remaining in the EU would have after being forced to admit that the sacrifices of leaving were too great: The UK no longer would have the influence it once held within the EU. Having won the "battle" the EU would become even more globalist in power, and the sovereignty of individual states would be significantly reduced. This is the very direction one would anticipate if the EU is the embryo of the final world empire prophesied by Daniel.
Another possible scenario: If the UK were to leave the EU, it would pay a significant price economically and in benefits. It would lose global influence as well. This would continue the gradual decline Britain has experienced since WWI. I believe that this decline began when the British Empire turned its back on God after the Great War and supported policies that opposed the formation of a nation for Israel. God promises to bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse His special nation (Genesis 12: 3). By 1948, the British empire was gone and only the UK remained. In Britain today, Christianity has declined to the point where only a remnant darken a church door. I personally believe the lack of spirituality in Britain that exists today is a direct result of their actions with respect to God and His chosen nation of Israel following WWI.
For the EU:
It matters not which scenario becomes reality, for I believe that the EU inevitably will change from a government made up of national states into one that will eliminate and alter current geographic/national borders before being divided into ten regions, forming an empire.This action would prevent any further attempt by individual nations to leave the union. It would be much more difficult to unite people in opposition to the EU if they came from two or three countries, for nationalism gives cohesion to such movements. Once nationalism has been eliminated, the empire would become the sole power of control.
The supranational government of the EU is unique from any other government throughout history. According to the prophet, Daniel, mankind's fourth and final empire will be "diverse," a word that literally means "unique" (Daniel 7:23). By its very nature, the goverment of the EU is above national entities and rules supremely. Its leaders retain no loyalty for the nations of their births, for they must put the well-being of the Union first.
Scripture clearly teaches that the final form of the Roman Empire will consist of ten regions (Daniel 7:24) from which a charismatic leader will arise (Revelation 13:1, 2). At first he will be “king” over one region and then rise to power over the entire empire after taking control of three more of its regions (Daniel 7:8, 24). See also Revelation 17:10, 11.
It is possible that "Brexit" is one of the factors that is moving world events toward the fulfillment of God's revealed plan for history: when Jesus Christ returns to earth to restore God's chosen nation of Israel to her rightful place and establish His thousand-year earthly reign of peace and righteousness.