The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

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The people have spoken

Dr Helen Szamuely


Across the European Union the people have spoken, if mostly in silence. And the politicians, the establishment, the euro-elite do not like what they are saying. Nor do they like to be reminded that they are dependent on the people for their power and position.

In the United Kingdom the vote for the European Parliament went up, at least partly because of the coincidence with the local elections. Even with all of that, there was only 40 per cent turn-out. The legitimacy of the European Parliament is not acknowledged by most voters in this country.

The rise in the turn-out can also be attributed to the number of people willing to vote for the UK Independence Party, whose clear call for the country’s withdrawal from the European Union seems to be heeded by more people than politicians find comfortable. They prefer to think of various spurious reasons for the result.

In fact, it is all very simple: euroscepticism is growing in the United Kingdom not because of fear of enlargement or of mass immigration; not because of xenophobia; not because of little Englandism. It is growing because more and more people are taking the trouble to find out what the European Union is about and decide that they do not like the inward looking, statist, protectionist, over-regulated, sclerotic political, social and economic structure that it has developed into.

The politicians of this country must pay heed to the voters’ clearly expressed views on European integration and the whole European project.

But the eurosceptic movement must not rest on its laurels. We have done the easy part: we have shown the European Union up for what it is and the British electorate, as, indeed, the electorate of other member states, has accepted it. We must now produce ideas and policies that are feasible alternatives to Britain’s membership of the European Union.

The Bruges Group, as the leading eurosceptic think-tank in the United Kingdom will now turn its attention to producing policies that will be acceptable to the people of this country in their newly assertive, eurosceptic mood.