Last week, the government announced an increase in Britain’s NATO deployment to Eastern Europe. We’ll be sending more troops to Estonia, and fighter jets to Romania. It’s a timely reminder that, pace Project Fear, Brexit doesn’t mean we stop cooperating with our European allies.
Remainers often tell us that the EU will punish us for voting Leave with a bad deal. Political posturing by European politicians is taken at face value and cited as evidence.
But that line of argument is specious. Not just because a spiteful, adolescent negotiation is in nobody’s interests. But because our relationships with our neighbours in Europe go deeper than the EU.
Our defence cooperation – through NATO – predates the EU by decades. Our trading relationship goes back centuries before that.
Even tariff-free trade long predates the European customs union. It’s over a century and half since Britain first signed a free-trade agreement with France.
British Europhiles still seem to look at our relationship with Europe in purely binary terms: either we’re part of a European superstate, or we’re cut off from the continent.
Yet Britain doesn’t need to be in a political union either to trade with European countries, or to cooperate in areas of mutual interest.
There are more – and better – ways to play a constructive role in both Europe and the world. Taking back control gives us the freedom to do so.