Former British Defense Secretary: It’s Time to Leave the EU

Liam Fox says 'Brexit' may strengthen NATO's political role
Liam Fox

Liam Fox / AP

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The European Union’s prospects are grim, and Britain would be better off surrendering its membership in the organization, according to a prominent member of Britain’s Parliament and former UK defense secretary.

“I think Schengen has unraveled,” Dr. Liam Fox told the Washington Free Beacon during an interview Monday, referring to the agreement which allows for freedom of movement between many EU member countries.

Fox is a strong advocate for so-called “Brexit,” shorthand for Britain’s departure from the EU, and did not hesitate to say the current European system is failing.

“I’m in a burning building and the fire will eventually go out, so I’m just going to stay there?” Fox said. “That strikes me as being an absolutely irrational choice. And if we do leave the European Union, it sends a very clear signal to the bureaucrats that things cannot continue as they are without the whole thing eventually fragmenting.”

Fox lamented that Europe is becoming less relevant on the world stage and is facing serious economic challenges that its bureaucratic class is failing to address.

“[Europe] is a shrinking economy; it’s got a shrinking diplomatic influence; it’s got a shrinking military capability,” Fox said. “And yet they talk about the Europeans as though they are at the high point of the Roman Empire. There’s a dangerous delusion in all of that, and it is ordinary, young Europeans who pay the price.”

The Conservative MP noted that the average unemployment rate across the EU is 8.9 percent, with the Eurozone figure even higher, and added that while Germany’s unemployment rate is 4.3 percent, it appears to be at the expense of other EU members.

“So, if [the EU] is so great, then how come it’s not working for most of its citizens?” Fox asked, saying the system is economically unsustainable.

Fox also cited the need to control immigration as justification for departing the EU.

“For some parts of the country you have the identity question on immigration, for areas where there’s very high numbers, its about public services and pressure, and then on top of that you’ve got the security issue,” Fox said.

Fox repeatedly argued in the interview that Britain will be capable of managing its own economy as a sovereign nation and does not need the EU controlling it. He did add that if the UK left, it would still work with the EU and seek deals when something is mutually beneficial to both sides.

Fox acknowledged that the EU had successfully helped turn Greece, Spain, and Portugal from military dictatorships into democracies, and also served as an important bloc to counter Soviet Communism during the Cold War.

But he believes Europe’s weakness now extends to security issues, and argued that a UK exit could strengthen NATO.

“I think it might possibly impact NATO in that it stops the illusion that the EU has of itself that it is some sort of security organization,” Fox said. “Britain [leaving the E.U.] might give the impetus back to NATO to have a more political role, which has been to an extent [diminished] by the European Union.”

Fox cited Russian president Vladimir Putin as a reason for Europe to take its security more seriously.

“Putin has two deeply held beliefs which make him incompatible with the free family of nations,” Fox explained. “The first is … he genuinely still holds to the old Soviet concept that he should have a veto over the security and foreign policy of his immediate neighbors. And secondly, he believes that ethnic Russians should be protected by Moscow, and that safety of ethnic Russians does not depend upon the Constitutions or laws or governments under which they live, but by an external power.”

As for the United States, Fox said the next president must believe that America can be the answer to the world’s problems rather than the cause of them.

He also explained the importance of American values to world order and how the next president “should believe the championing of American values is ultimately in America’s interest” as a “force for good in the world.”

Aaron Kliegman

Aaron Kliegman   Email | Full Bio | RSS
Aaron Kliegman is a Media Analyst for the Washington Free Beacon and a Master's Degree Candidate in Johns Hopkins's Global Security Studies Program in Washington, D.C. Prior to joining the Free Beacon, Aaron worked as a Research Associate for the Center for Security Policy, a national security think tank, and as the Deputy Field Director on Micah Edmond's campaign for U.S. Congress. He graduated from Washington & Lee University in 2014 and lives in Washington, D.C. His Twitter handle is @Aaron_Kliegman. He can be reached at kliegman@freebeacon.com.

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