You can’t get more basic and deep in the gut than this: The European Union elections over the weekend were really all about that live rail of politics everywhere — immigration.
Talk about it frankly as a politician and you’re a dead person walking, politically speaking. Or you’re tagged as a xenophobe, in which case you might as well be dead.
Not in Britain, however. Certainly not for ex-Foreign Secretary and maybe soon-to-be Conservative Party leader Boris Johnson, who was — I’m not making this up — born 54 years ago on New York’s Upper East Side.
When Boris shakes his ragged blond mop of hair and talks about taking back control of immigration, he does so in measured British tones but has lots of fellow Brits nodding in agreement. Barring serious injury to his tongue from his foot, he looks like the odds-on choice to succeed Prime Minister Dither herself, Theresa May as Conservative leader.
Mrs. May is a fine lady, better suited perhaps to endeavors other than governance. Her own party had to tell her explicitly to get lost after rejecting three exit deals she negotiated with the EU leaders in Brussels.
The deals had strings that would have kept the United Kingdom attached to Brussels till the sun sets on the EU empire — which will be a quarter past never as far as the globalists who run the EU show are concerned.
And boy, did Nigel Farage talk about immigration. And in not-so-measured tones. His four-month-old Brexit Party (standing for Britain should exit the EU) plastered buses with giant pictures of immigrant hordes.
OK, subtlety is not dear Nigel’s forte; but winning is.
His party swept up more of the vote than any other U.K. party and won a record 29 British seats in the European Parliament, especially trouncing Mrs. May’s Conservative Party, which wound up with a paltry four seats.
For Mr. Johnson and Mr. Farage in Britain and many of the 400 million eligible EU election voters on the continent, immigration is tightly bound (but not gagged) to a concern about national sovereignty — the desire of the people in each nation to have the right to do what’s necessary to preserve what makes Britain British, France French, Italy Italian, and so on.
It matters to all 28 countries in the EU because, although the European economic union is a mutually beneficial, tariff-free and borderless single market, its member countries increasingly feel the thumb of a single governing apparatus headquartered in Brussels.
Exactly what effect the EU thumb has on immigration and sovereignty is briefly and plaintively expressed in a resignation letter that Mr. Johnson, who was foreign secretary, wrote last June to Prime Minister May. In it, he refers to the 2016 referendum on whether to leave or remain in the EU, which the “leavers” won it with 17.4 million votes versus the 16.1 million that “remainers” cast.
“It is more than two years since the British people voted to leave the European Union on an unambiguous and categorical promise that if they did so they would be taking back control of their democracy,” Mr. Johnson wrote.
“They were told that they would be able to manage their own immigration policy, repatriate the sums of U.K. cash currently spent by the EU, and, above all, that they would be able to pass laws independently and in the interests of the people of this country,” he wrote. “That dream is dying, suffocated by needless self-doubt.”
On the other side of the leave-remain divide, Hillary Benn, a Labor Party member of Britain’s Parliament, has argued that immigrants are a net plus for the U.K. economy and that if fellow Brits think leaving the EU will stop the free flow of people from southern and Eastern Europe, those Brits should think again. Brexiting the EU would simply put Britain in the same spot as the U.S. and other non-EU countries that have huge inflows of immigrants.
What Mr. Benn doesn’t say is that governments not under the control of a supranational apparatus like the EU can regulate the flow of immigrants. The U.S. government, for example, could — if it mustered the will to so — curb much of the immigration in the U.S. by ending chain and lottery migration and stiffening requirements for all immigrants, as President Trump has urged.
Admitting any and all relatives of immigrants already here has boosted legal immigration in the U.S. from about 250,000 a year back when Jack Kennedy was president to more than 1 million a year now.
Boris Johnson and his fellow “leavers” say Britain should decide who gets to immigrate, based on what skills Britain needs at any specific time and on English language facility.
Like other “remainers,” Mr. Benn says EU membership has meant greater influence in Europe and a bigger voice on the world stage. Some Britons bereft of the milk of human kindness say he claims this while howling at the moon.
If you find Mr. Benn’s “remain” case heartfelt but not terribly persuasive, you must be paying close attention to a European issue that affects you, too. It’s about nationalism, putting your country first — short of war if humanly possible. And why that’s good for everybody everywhere.
Oddly, the Conservative Party’s David Cameron made the best case for leaving the EU in a letter to its leadership when he was the the U.K.’s passionately pro-EU prime minister.
Mr. Cameron laid out fixes needed to satisfy some of his fellow Conservatives’ growls about a U.K. that found itself inundated with low- or no-income immigrants from poorer EU member countries. Britain, he wrote, has “got to be able to cope with all the pressures that free movement can bring on our schools, our hospitals and our public services. Right now, the pressures are too great.”
Picture a supranational potentate of the American Hemispheric Union headquartered in Guadalajara and an American president pleading on bended knee to this grand Poobah for the right of the U.S. to say how many people and of what qualifications can immigrate to our shores yearly.
If what you imagine is Mr. Trump’s immigration appeals to a Congress not wearing its hearing aids, you really are paying attention.
On sovereignty, Mr. Cameron wrote that he wants to “end Britain’s obligation to work towards an ever-closer union” with Brussels.
“We also need,” Mr. Cameron pleads, “tougher and longer re-entry bans for fraudsters and people who collude in sham marriages.” He laments that “it is easier for an EU citizen to bring a non-EU spouse to Britain than it is for a British citizen to do the same.
Much of the globalist Mr. Cameron’s statements on immigration and sovereignty are surprisingly persuasive nationalist arguments. If that makes you long all the more to join Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson for some libations and nationalism tonight — and reminds you of Mr. Trump’s proposed immigration redo — you get an “A” for attentiveness and a lifetime exclusion from the EU and the American Hemispheric Union, should one ever be proposed.
It will be. The U.S. is awash in globalists.
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