A European Union flag billows in the wind as the ruins of the 5th century BC Parthenon temple is seen in the background on the Acropolis in Athens, on Monday, Nov. 26, 2012. (Photo: AP)
The Los Angeles Times published an article Sunday exploring Britain's shifting place within the European Union. While the subject is noteworthy in its own right, intentionally or not, the article highlights a number of striking parallels between the United Kingdom and the United States.
It has been said that as goes California, so goes America. It is a harbinger of things to come. The United Kingdom is a similar marker, but much further down the road of big government and rule by unelected bureaucrats.
And Britons are starting to object.
The L.A. Times relates:
Looking at Europe from this side of the English Channel, Peter Reeve doesn't see a "cuddly" continent of biscotti, Burgundy and BMWs. He sees the evil specter of Soviet Russia.
Only this time, it's Brussels, not Moscow, at the center of an expanding, metastasizing super-government bent on turning independent nations like France and Germany into vassal states. Instead of the Soviet Union, it's the European Union that scares him.
Reeve, a local councilor with the UK Independence Party, wants Britain to pull out of the EU while it still can, before it's trapped in such a thick web of European regulation and control that escape becomes impossible and the country winds up as an offshore outpost of a totalitarian EU regime.
"I genuinely believe this is a Marxist revolution happening," said Reeve. "This country is part of it, but balking on it" — an impulse he heartily encourages. [Emphasis added]
Sound familiar? Only in our case, it would be collusion with giant bodies like the United Nations, rather than the E.U., that many object to.
So what exactly has changed in the years since Britain joined the E.U.? Though it can only be described as a reluctant member -- they refused to adopt the Euro, most significantly -- the European Union has quickly superseded authority from Britain's elected officials.
British Prime Minister David Cameron gives a press conference at the EU Headquarters, on November 23, 2012 in Brussels, after a two-day European Union leaders summit called to agree a hotly-contested trillion-euro budget through 2020. (Photo: AFP/Getty Images)
The L.A. Times explains, adding Prime Minister David Cameron's response:
Upset at EU court rulings that trump British ones, health-and-safety regulations viewed as ridiculously onerous and Eastern European migrants "stealing" local jobs, many Britons feel that EU membership is now more a liability than an asset. At best, they say, Britain is being held back from achieving its economic potential; at worst, it's been stripped of sovereignty and placed at the mercy of unfriendly, unelected "Eurocrats" at EU headquarters in Brussels.
Polls increasingly show more Britons in favor of leaving the EU than staying in. Anti-EU sentiment pervades British politics, with some Cabinet ministers openly calling for Britain to pull out, or at least for the question to be put to voters in a referendum.
All this has thrown the government of Prime Minister David Cameron into a tricky position. He must weigh growing public disenchantment with the EU against the pro-Europe interests of big business, a natural constituency of his Conservative Party, which fears being shut out of the EU's single market.
Some political analysts warn that outside the EU, Britain's global influence would sharply diminish, especially its role as a transatlantic bridge for the U.S.
"The Americans have always told the Brits that 'you guys are important for us because you have a big influence in Europe,'" said Philip Whyte, a research fellow at the London-based Center for European Reform. "If Britain left the EU, you [in the U.S.] won't be necessarily picking up the phone to London. Britain won't be the first country you'd be calling; the first country you'd be calling would be Germany." [Emphasis added]
But if they're not being stifled by regulation and Soviet-style bureaucracy, many in the U.K. believe they can overcome the potential losses that would arise from pulling out of the E.U. "The sun never set" on the British Empire roughly a century ago, and while no one expects England to return to a fraction of its former size, they're not keen on spending their lives in compliance with menial orders from faceless unelected officials in Brussels.
Who can forget the epic rant of Nigel Farage, an anti-European Union member of the EU Parliament, against the president of the EU Council in 2010? Fined $4,000 for expressing his opinion, Farage said the president had the "charisma of a damp rag" but was a "competent, capable, and dangerous assassin" of democracy and British sovereignty.
"We don't know you, we don't want you, and the sooner you're put out to grass, the better," he concluded.
Watch it, below:
The L.A. Times concludes with an overview of Farage's recent activities, his party's message echoing that of American conservatives across the Atlantic.
Interestingly, one of the primary verbal assaults hurled their way is that they are "xenophobic" (read: racist). But they explain that -- while they love visiting Paris and now know the difference "between a latte and a macchiato" (in the words of previously-mentioned researcher Philip Whyte) -- they're simply not interested in the stifling, gray life of big government.
The L.A. Times writes:
To broaden its appeal, [U.K. Independence Party] has begun preaching a libertarian message of self-help and small government. But at its core remains the drive to remove Britain from the clutches of an EU monster state that, by Farage's reckoning, now accounts for 75% of the laws that Britons must obey.
"You can always argue that dictators do the odd good thing. Whether the EU makes a good law or a bad law, the fact is that the electors of this country cannot do a single thing to change any of it," said Farage.
He is adamant that the government call an "in-or-out" plebiscite on the EU, which would probably decide the question for at least a generation.
"If a majority of my fellow electors in a free and fair referendum opt for us to become Province 17 of the European Union, I won't be happy about it," Farage said. "But at least it'll be the decision of the British people." [Emphasis added]