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EU helped create oasis of peace. How crazy then to quit

by Hugo Dixon - InFacts on November 28, 2017

May is starting to see EU’s value in time of Putin and Trump. But we won’t be as able to stand up for our interests if Brexit goes ahead.

Look around the EU and there’s danger everywhere.

Vladimir Putin meddling in our referendum. Ukraine frozen in a civil war stoked by Russia. Turkey abandoning democracy under an authoritarian president. Syria in the grip of a bloody dictator, supported by the Kremlin. Libya embroiled in its own civil war. Iraq, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria. All troubled. The so-called Islamic State may have lost most of its territory but its evil ideology is seeping across the wider region and killing people here in Britain.

By contrast, the EU is an oasis. Draw a circle around London and there’s 1,000 miles of peace and prosperity in every direction.

Africa’s population is expected to double to 2.5 billion by 2050. Tens of millions will be on the move, driven from their homes by war, oppression, climate change and poverty. Many will try to come to Europe. People traffickers will get rich on their misery. This is the migration crisis of the present and future – not free movement of European citizens within the EU. We can’t just opt out by pulling up the drawbridge.

Look across the Atlantic. Many Brits used to think they could rely on America to ride to our aid. The whole geopolitical basis for Brexit was to burn our bridges with Europe and cosy up to Washington. How foolish is that with Donald Trump in the White House. He might not even have got there without Putin’s help. In less than a year as president, Trump has destabilised our world: calling Nato obsolete, backing out of the climate change pact and threatening to tear up the Iran nuclear deal.

Even further afield, President Xi Jinping is tightening his grip on power as China continues to grow. His goal is to advance both his personal power and his country’s – not do anybody else any favours. He only respects power. And the UK, for all our many admirable qualities, is not in the big boy’s game unless we club together with countries that share our interests and values. There happen to be 27 of them right on our doorstep.

These facts are gradually dawning on our prime minister. That’s why today she is telling other European leaders at a summit that we must be “open-eyed to the actions of hostile states like Russia which… attempt to tear our collective strength apart.” She’s talking about the “crucial importance of the European countries working together to protect our shared values and ideals” and saying “we are unconditionally committed to maintaining Europe’s security.”

It’s better to understand the facts of geopolitics later than never. But why, oh why, are we planning to quit the EU?

Blithe Brexiters talk as if we can cooperate with the EU on foreign policy, counter-terrorism and security just as well from outside the club as from within. But, as ever, they haven’t thought through the detail.

Yes, we will probably be able to work together on fighting terrorism and keeping our people safe – so long as we don’t poison relations by leaving the EU without settling our debts. But the best we can expect is for our home secretary to have observer status when the other justice ministers sit down and decide how to tackle an ever changing threat. That’s taking back control?

And yes, we may be able to coordinate foreign policy initiatives with the EU. But it’s unlikely we’ll even be in the room when the other countries decide what to do, let alone have a vote. We’ll be like somebody putting their ear to a keyhole to hear what’s being said behind closed doors. That’s taking back control?

So Theresa May is right to warn against Russia tearing apart our collective might. But what a crying shame that she’s then implementing a Brexit that will do precisely that.

It’s not too late to stop this mad escapade. Let’s strain every sinew to fight Brexit while there’s still time.

by Hugo Dixon | 24.11.2017

Edited by Luke Lythgoe

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