In recent months, I have progressively moved in favour of the UK leaving the EU unless significant changes could be made in corruption at the centre and a real reduction in regulation which would involve a removal of prescriptive regulation and living with statements of principle such as “Thao shalt not pollute”. However, I now see two reasons for not leaving and these are growing in my mind.
The first is immigration. Mr Vladimir Putin understands that supporting President Bashar al-Assad in Syria with enough arms to literally destroy the infrastructure of the country has resulted in millions on the move and aiming at Europe. Mr Putin understands that the ancient principle of “divide and rule” works and he is on the edge of destabilising the EU. The only way the individual countries of the EU can survive the immigration tide is firm action on a united front. It is not logical that one country on its own can stop the flow.
The second fear I have is that there are significant and repeated rumours, with some evidence, that again Mr Putin (who understands energy politics on a different level compared to our amateurish mutterings) is funding anti-shale groups. Further, that he has been doing so for a long time and intends to keep doing so. There are also rumours of another, oil-producing state, is similarly funding anti-shale groups.
My conclusion is that if the EU does not wake up and work very actively together, then Russia will call the shots, walk into the whole of the Ukraine and then do what it wants, where it wants. Fortunately, at the time of writing, it appears that the “Islamic State” action in Paris has united EU members against such an in-human foe.
We really do have to stop the tide of immigration and that means doing a diplomatic deal over Syria – the price will be interesting. We really do need to develop energy security and that means developing shale gas production very urgently. We do not need more regulations. We do need basic principles laid down without complicating them. That applies to corruption, to shale gas and everything else.
Bill Butterworth 21 Nov 2015