Press Room: Letter to the Editor

The Most Foolish Initiative I Have Seen In 50 Years

Financial Times | 11-18-15



Some 50 years ago I came to Britain a graduate student researching the decision of Britain to join the then Common Market, now the EU. My task included interviewing members of parliament of all parties, other British leaders and media professionals. It was a time when there was a lively debate about whether Britain should join the still-nascent project of building a more united Europe.

At that time Britain was divided but the case for joining was overwhelming on both economic and strategic grounds. The Conservatives were in fact more pro-joining than was the Labour party, but both were divided. For the Tories the main objections came from what was characterised as the “knights from the shires” — Tory MPs from very conservative rural areas and some far right types with ideas of misguided bigotry towards continental Europeans. It seems these sentiments remain still in those who, like my American far right Tea Party Republicans, see “the other” through the lens of narrow prejudice. Britain as a whole I hope is better than that.

Thus I concur fully with the analysis of Philip Stephens (“The fatal flaw in the case for Brexit”, November 13) that such an act would weaken Britain. The decision to campaign to leave the EU is one of the most foolish political initiatives I have seen in 50 years as scholar, diplomat and geostrategic policy planner to four secretaries of state. The economic and strategic case against Brexit is just overwhelming.

The time has come for the leaders of Britain of all parties and groups to come to the rescue of David Cameron, a misguided and blundering prime minister who may have led his nation misguidedly into a now admitted strategic debacle. I speak as a friend of the UK and of a safe, strong and unified Europe. Both sides of this coming negotiations need to repair the damage already done. All British leaders now especially need to work to convince their fellow citizens of the grave danger to their well being of a British exit. One way is to also work for a more just and more equal Britain internally and in the EU.

The US stands for a strong UK but also for a strong, free and united Europe. Let’s get on with it for future generations!

Harry C Blaney III
Senior Fellow
Center for International Policy
Washington, DC, US
US Foreign Service Officer, Rtd