"Loss of sovereignty", "arrogant centralisation", "kowtowing to foreigners" - we've heard it all before. We recall the fuss kicked up by our Tories around 1707 against union with that (then) overwhelming economic competitor England. It was similarly stoked by wounded vanity, worthy patriotism, and threatened sinecures. But the economic world was shrinking in 1707; their businessmen knew that and they were dragged, kicking and screaming and heavily bribed, into what soon became their paradise. A blessed Union whose dissolution, as Mr Major stoutly maintains, is now "unthinkable".
Today another quantum step in global shrinkage confronts Tories north and south and another inevitable Union looms. Yet, the same reflexes, the same squeals. Have they not learnt? That first Union was so clearly successful in promoting prosperity and freedom from war - why all the fuss about extending these benefits?
The reason seems equally clear. That 1707 Union was, in practical terms, a simple incorporation, a takeover. Not with a subservient parliament, but with no parliament, no separate currency, no separate taxation, no defence forces. Nothing left to worry about.
But Brussels seems to envisage at best only a sort of federal union, a wishy-washy compromise that allows separate parliaments and local responsibilities. That's why Mr Major and his fellow Britons left and right oppose it. They realise that Brussels does not go far enough! Complete incorporation is the only answer. Total centralisation in Brussels (or Berlin) will solve all problems for Britain in 2007, just as centralisation in London solved all problems for Scotland in 1707. Any other solution must be, in a few years, "unthinkable".
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