The Mendacity of British “Independence”


If I could ask all the Leave pseudologues one thing – just one thing – it is this: stop pretending that the United Kingdom was not sovereign & independent when it was part of the European Union, and that the vote to Leave was “a vote for independence.”

Liam Fox calls for Britain to leave EU and become “an independent sovereign nation” again

Dr Liam Fox says it’s time to take control back over British laws from Brussels and leave the EU
– Liam Fox, The Telegraph, 23rd January 2016

‘Brexit’ vote is Britain’s chance to declare independence

So, the 23rd of June can become Britain’s Fourth of July — a Declaration of Independence. If Britain rejects continuing complicity in the EU project — constructing a bland leviathan from surrendered national sovereignties — it will have rejected the idea that its future greatness depends on submersion in something larger than itself.
– Geeorge F. Will,, 30th May 2016

Britain’s Declaration of Independence

Will Britons vote to embrace their island home and native soil — or for a supranational European bureaucracy?
Something momentous is going to happen across the pond tomorrow. In fact, it’s already happened.
… But almost all have missed the main point: Whatever Britons do, politics across the West is steadily shifting toward a new worldview, one that rejects big globalist schemes and ideologies, and once again sees the individual nation-state as the locus of freedom and security. Indeed, it’s a look back to the 19th century, when the nation-state — with its shared language, culture, and history — was seen as the natural human community. But in other ways, it’s a major step forward and away from the mess that those who have trashed national sovereignty and nationalism for decades have pushed us all into.
– Arthur Herman, National Review, 22nd June 2016


I now dare to dream that the dawn is breaking on an independent United Kingdom. If the predictions are right, this will be a victory for real people, a victory for ordinary people, a victory for decent people… Let June 23 go down in our history as our independence day.
– Nigel Farage’s Victory Speech, 24th June 2016

Donald J. Trump Statement Regarding British Referendum on E.U. Membership

The people of the United Kingdom have exercised the sacred right of all free peoples. They have declared their independence from the European Union and have voted to reassert control over their own politics, borders and economy.
Donald Trump

United Kingdom Declares Its Independence

Bring out the red, white, and blue!  Call out the band, and play the Star-Spangled Banner (originally an English drinking song).
The political world is in an unholy mess, but sometimes things happen that are genuinely good and progressive.
England has declared its independence.
– James Lewis, American Thinker

A New Dawn: U.K. Declares Independence from E.U. Globalist Elite

(Reuters) – Britain has voted to leave the European Union, the BBC said based on voter tallies from Thursday’s referendum, an outcome that would set the country on an uncertain path and deal the largest setback to European efforts to forge greater unity since World War Two.

U.K. declares independence from suicidal EU

Exclusive: Larry Klayman calls continent’s immigration policies ‘a stupid death wish’
Let freedom ring!
As our nation gets ready to celebrate its independence day on July 4, we can also rejoice that the country from which we declared independence in 1776 has finally thrown off its yoke of slavery from the over-regulation and, frankly, stupidity of the other members of the European Union. On June 24, 2016, the people of Great Britain voted to exit from this international body, reasserting her sovereignty.
– Larry Klayman, WND, 28th June 2016

It’s not true. It’s a grotesque distortion of the EU, the UK, and the very nature of independence.

André Sapir and Guntram Wolff of the London School of Economics and Political Science explain why leaving the EU could result in a loss of sovereignty rather than an extension:

The sovereignty myth: leaving the EU may actually entail a loss of sovereignty for the UK

… Being a member of the EU gives the UK strong influence and the ability to exercise sovereignty at EU level. If it left the EU, the UK would face a choice between negotiating with the EU and the rest of the world about the terms of the trade agreements, or turning towards isolation. Isolation might mean “sovereignty” in some sense, but it would come at a high cost for a traditionally open economy like the UK. Continuing to trade with countries in Europe and elsewhere would require lengthy negotiations. Compromises in terms of regulation and product standards would be inevitable. Some would view this again as a loss of sovereignty.
Ultimately, pooling sovereignty by being a member of the EU is the best way to shape trade, inside and outside Europe, according to UK interests. It is simply a myth that leaving the EU would give back sovereignty in a meaningful way.

The Financial Times’ Martin Wolf – who is no friend to Scottish Independence – succinctly points out that the UK is sovereign by virtue of the fact it can even have a referendum in the first place:

Brexit: sovereignty is not the same as power

The very fact that the UK is holding a vote on membership of the EU shows that it is sovereign
If Britain were to vote to leave the EU in June would it regain the sovereignty that those in favour of leaving argue it has lost? The answer is no. The very fact that the UK is holding this vote proves that it remains sovereign. The referendum is not about sovereignty. It is about how best to exercise the country’s power.

…States exist to serve the interests of their citizens. They can achieve that objective only through co-operation with other states. For this reason, the UK has signed 14,000 treaties. Legally, the UK could withdraw from them all. Since it does not wish to become North Korea, it will not do so. Treaties do not undermine sovereignty, but express it. They constrain the exercise of sovereignty, with the intention of making it more effective. They do so by delegating powers. Some of these powers are matters of life and death. The UK is a member of Nato, for example, because it believes, rightly, that it enhances the security of its citizens.

Is the EU different from other treaties? The answers are: “no” and “yes”.

The answer is no, because the UK can clearly withdraw. This would be complex and painful and might lead to the break-up of the UK, with Scotland deciding to leave. But nobody would seek to stop it. Thus the UK’s membership of the EU does not limit its sovereignty. That remains with the British people’s elected representatives in parliament. The answer is yes, because, as a member, the UK is bound by the treaties, by rulings of the European Court of Justice and by decisions reached by the European Parliament and by qualified majority voting in the Council.

The political question in the referendum is not about sovereignty but about the delegation of powers within a treaty-governed system of particularly far-reaching obligations. Future changes in the relationship between the UK and the EU could make membership effectively irreversible: abolition of the UK parliament would be one, and transfer of full powers over taxation or security could be another. Even membership of the single currency could be viewed in the same way. But, without such far-reaching changes, the UK remains sovereign.

UK sovereignty is not at stake in this referendum. It is, instead, proved by it.

Here is Professor Michael Dougan, who goes on to explain why “sovereignty” is being thrown around in the debate:

Let’s start with a couple of myths, and the first is the myth of sovereignty. There is no doubt whatsoever that the United Kingdom is a sovereign state under international law. There is no doubt whatsoever that the Parliament at Westminster is the supreme lawmaking authority in this country. Conversely, there is no doubt whatsoever that the EU is not a sovereign entity – far from being a sovereign state, it’s not even a sovereign entity – it has only those powers which have been given under the EU treaties, and if the UK courts sometimes give priority to EU law in the event of a conflict with domestic law, it’s purely because our Parliament has expressly instructed them to do so in our own legislation.

So is the UK a sovereign state – yes. Is Parliament our supreme legislative authority – yes. So why do we keep hearing about sovereignty in this debate?

The fact is that sovereignty isn’t really an issue in this debate: it’s about power and influence, and sovereignty is being used as a shorthand to talk about power and influence. The fact is that membership of any international organisation – whether it’s the UN, NATO, the EU – any international organisation involves a trade-off. You agree to certain obligations in return for the opportunity to exercise greater influence in practise. Conversely, if you decide to leave or stand away from an international organisation, you’re basically saying “I’m prepared to accept that I’m not going to influence certain things, to keep my theoretical power more intact.

The same is true for the EU. Membership of the EU obviously entails certain obligations on the part of the member states – but it also offers member states the opportunity to exercise much greater, collective, problem-solving powers, as well as to magnify their own individual influence, both within Europe, and on the world stage.

I think that’s the main criteria against which we have to judge both our existing membership of the EU, and any alternative memberships or relationships which are mooted in the event of a vote to Leave: what is the balance between the opportunity for power and influence versus the nature of the obligations which we take on board.

And let’s not forget how deeply insulting it is to all the nations which have actually struggled for independence – including those who fought for their independence from Britain:

Calling for a British Independence Day is wounding to all the nations that revolted and fought hard against British colonial rule. Before we associate our EU membership with colonisation, we should think long and hard about what a country celebrating their independence really means. The EU didn’t invade Britain, enslave the British people, take away the country’s resources and destroy established societies, traditions and culture. Britain voluntarily joined the EEC in 1973.

…Those who are calling the 23rd of June Britain’s Independence Day have no real understanding of the atrocities inflicted on the colonies. This rhetoric has opened up colonial wounds, making the use of such terminology deeply ironic. Xenophobia allowed Britannia to rule those waves. The imperial powers might have waned, but the blind nationalism guided by racism seems to be back with renewed vigour.

– Yasmin Ahmed, The Guardian, 27th June 2016


You can see why British Nationalists have such a problem seeing the difference between sovereignty, and what Mr Dougan calls “power and influence”: they think it’s one and the same. They cannot imagine British sovereignty being restricted to only British borders. “Sovereignty” to them means Britannia Rules the Waves, the Empire on which the Sun Never Sets – a sovereignty which rules benevolently and generously over the world itself.

But calling Britain’s delusions of grandeur “sovereignty” when it is already a sovereign nation, and comparing the EU referendum to the campaign for Scottish – or any nation’s – independence, is the height of pompous self-importance. In other words, exactly what we’ve come to expect from British Nationalism.

13 thoughts on “The Mendacity of British “Independence”

  1. bjsalba says:

    A very good piece but if you want to see what Trump actually said try this
    at about 1min 37 sec in.

  2. kailyard rules says:

    Sorry, can you put up the lyrics for “independence day”. Only getting metal noise.

  3. Sure beats “Flower o’ Scotland”

  4. Tedious Tantrums says:

    The English press and politicians use the same words that are used to describe how they frame their independence requirements. England has allowed so many countries independence so why don’t they let Scotland leave with no fuss and no recriminations.
    Come on England, let us go…

  5. Macart says:

    I remember watching that vid of Michael Dougan at the time and that was pretty much a fella who was fairly disgusted by both sides of the debate.

    The UK has always been independent. It never lost its sovereignty. A simple example: I don’t remember the UK having to ask anyone’s permission to hold a referendum, or act upon its outcome as it saw fit, unlike some small nations I could name. They were and always have been, fully empowered to do so with no interference from the EU.

    What has been painted as a loss of independence, the membership myth of the EU, was always in effect about legislative and legal compliance across borders which allowed for shared freedom of movement, shared human rights, shared employment rights, tariff free trade and so on.

    Leaving the EU for those and such as those is about control of those rights. IMV It certainly isn’t about handing back power or freedoms to the people which they had never lost in the first place. When the other shoe drops (and it will), some folk are in for a nasty shock.

  6. Dr Jim says:

    I’m a citizen of the European Union and a Scotsman living in my native country of Scotland yet I have no legitimate claim of right to either because the political construct of the UK tells me I dont

    I have the right to elect the government of my choice in Scotland only to have that Governments views overuled by the UK Government thus my views and opinions are not represented in the constructed Union which decides the rights I don’t have

    I’m told by the UK Government Independence is a good thing and it must be because most all of the countries around the world have it but somehow Scotland is unsuitable for Independence even if Scotland has a vote on it the UK will interfere in that vote in order to facilitate an opposite outcome

    Which leads me to ask the question, who are or is the UK when I’m told I’m part of it but only when it comes to paying for it but not allowed to participate in it without being overuled by myself

    It’s a strange Union that tells you you are valued in it but not your opinion and you have no rights

    So what is Scotlands value to the United Kingdom

    No postcards required

  7. […] reasserting “control over their own politics, borders and economy” (even when the UK was already independent) is good, wonderful, sacred even. Yet Scotland doing those very things is “crazy,” […]

  8. […] put aside Mr Fairlie’s suggestion that the EU and UK are remotely comparable as unions, a particularly mendacious British Nationalist myth which demeans all Scottish Nationalists who cite it. Let’s also put aside the fact that there […]

  9. […] “The UK has never been anything but independent. Don’t confuse empire and dominion with sovereignty and self-determination.” […]

  10. […] the same people who dishonestly pretend there’s any commonality between the UK’s “independence movement” from the EU on one hand, yet accuse pro-EU independence supporters of hypocrisy for not […]

  11. […] the third failure of the UK Government’s Withdrawal Bill, it looks like the UK’s “Independence Day” (how I loathe that fiction) has been postponed for at least two […]

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