Since the first murmurings about the Schuman Plan reached London in the early fifties Europe has been a bitterly contentious issue in British politics. Even then Ted Heath took one view and Enoch Powell another. And it still makes the sparks fly in all sorts of places – right across British society. Over Christmas my nephew announced that he had “obviously” voted Remain. I replied smartly that there was nothing obvious about it. All this may be divisive- although I seem to remember a convivial lunch following our exchange. But division and argument are, of course, the very stuff from which democracy is made. Indeed one could say that without such divisions that democracy is pointless.
And certainly Europe and now Brexit raises a whole mass of issues- and not just for Britain. It raises questions about how to preserve peace in Europe. It raises issues about immigration. It raises issues about free trade, and about the regulation of business. It raises issues about whether parliamentary sovereignty is more important than influence exerted through the political process in Brussels. It also raises questions about Britain’s responsibilities in Europe and elsewhere and, of course, about the border between Northern Ireland and The Republic.
How are we to get a handle on all this? In my experience the best way of understanding a controversial issue is not to immerse oneself in a text book which gives a allegedly impartial account of the question. This is essentially an exercise in self- anaesthetism. It is far better, and much more fun, to seek out conflicting views the more vigorously expressed the better. In this way the debate comes alive, and the confusing issues have a way of clarifying themselves.
This, at least is the thought which lies behind our Brexit links- to which we are adding adding the following links: Lindsay Jenkins, an anti- EU writer http://www.lindsayjenkins.com The Centre for European Reformhttp://www.cer.eu which is pro Europe but not uncritical, infacts http://www.infacts.org a pro Remain site. and Briefings for Brexithttp://www.briefingsforbrexit.com which is run pro Leave Academics. They are all also to be found among our Brexit lin