Posted by: aboutalbion | February 28, 2016

EU referendum vote (2)

It is said that history never repeats itself … but has the UK been in something like this position before?

In the early 1530s, England’s King wanted to negotiate a ‘special status’ with the pan-European organisation we now call western Christendom and which was centred in iconic buildings in Rome.

The King’s negotiators failed in their task on that occasion, and the King led England away from European Rome by legislation in 1534.  At that time, I note that there were other nationalist movements agitating for a break with Rome in northern Europe.

From 1534, England was running its own country and passing its own laws.  But did it lead to stable and sustainable governance of England?

The history books I read suggest that there was civil strife in England, and eventually civil war, for over a hundred years after 1534.  We refer today to the two sides as high church Anglicans (who wanted to continue post-Constantine arrangements in the Church of England) and Puritans (who wanted to return to pre-Constantine arrangements in church life).

Fast forward to today, and I can imagine that the ‘staying in’ organisation will assert that the UK has indeed achieved a ‘special status’ within the EU in the recent negotiations, and therefore a vote to remain in the EU will avoid civil strife and maintain the current status quo.

I can also imagine that the two ‘leave’ organisations might be conflicted over how much EU inspired legislation of the past two generations needs to be repealed so that UK citizens feel that they have indeed left the EU.  I speculate to myself that a ‘No’ vote might be followed by a century of civil strife between the ‘metric’ party (who want to keep the metric system we have adopted) and the ‘imperial’ party (who want to return to lbs and ozs and feet and inches).  Both parties would be claiming to enact their referendum manifesto commitment to run our own country and pass our own laws.

As I look ahead to the outcome of the in-out referendum, I find that history reminds me that every action is liable to be followed by unintended consequences.

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