The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Theresa May, told the country in her New Year message that if her Brexit deal was passed by Parliament, the country could move forward together and begin a new chapter. The government could then work on fixing important domestic issues.
If it were only that simple.
Britain’s participation in the European Union for years, and now the desire to leave has led to a complex and difficult situation as the current political impasse testifies.
After two devastating world wars, the leaders in Europe decided that the only way to prevent conflict was to begin to work together. A few countries began economic integration and cooperation. As this extended into other areas it became known as the European Economic Community (EEC). This Community continued to expand and when a common administration was formed in 1967 it became the European Community (EC). Many of us grew up knowing it as the Common Market.
The European Community continued to grow and expand its influence through the 1970’s. The United Kingdom joined the Community in 1973. This had an enormous impact on trade with Commonwealth countries. In 1992 the Community members agreed on even closer cooperation. The European Community was renamed the European Union (EU). As the agreement was signed in the city of Maastricht, the treaty establishing the EU came to be known as the Maastricht Treaty. This treaty drew an ever-tightening chord around the member nations. It would be true to say that it has some bearing on where we are today. The weekly British magazine The Spectator noted: “Over many years ordinary Britons had become increasingly frustrated that decisions that were once determined in Westminster were now being made by politicians in Brussels who didn’t share their values.”
As the World Politics Review points out: “… it is undeniable that the U.K. had, as a condition for EU membership, accepted important incursions on its sovereign authority and autonomy. It had delegated to EU institutions important authorities over labor mobility, human rights, criminal justice and consumer law.” At the heart of the United Kingdom’s concerns is the issue of sovereignty. French President Macron, underlining his view of the need for more cooperation in Europe said in a speech before the German Bundestag: “…we will have to share, pool together our decision making, our policies on foreign affairs, migration and development, an increasing part of our budgets and even fiscal resources, build a common defense strategy.” (Reuters, World News – 18 November 2018).
Many see Brexit as the way to regain control – as the Brexit slogan “Take Back Control” so plainly states. By leaving the EU it is thought that British sovereignty will be restored. Among those in favor of Brexit are two prominent men in Britain who documented what they see as the defects in the Brexit deal as proposed by the Prime Minister. The authors are the former head of MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove, and the officer who commanded the British forces in the Falklands War, Major-General Julian Thompson. They maintain that the proposed deal has the potential to surrender British national security by subordinating the UK defense forces to EU military control. As the saying goes, “the devil is in the details.”
In the mass confusion of just what Brexit means or doesn’t mean is the clear issue of sovereignty. It appears to be a lose/lose situation in this regard. The sovereignty of the United Kingdom is threatened whether they stay or leave. Again, from the World Politics Review: “The exercise of sovereignty, in other words, often requires difficult compromises over its dimensions. Prime Minister Theresa May’s government is finding just how difficult this can be, particularly when it comes to membership in a regional body with supranational characteristics like the EU. The EU holds all the cards and is not inclined to set a precedent by giving a sweetheart deal to the first nation that abandons it.” It is indeed a thorny issue.
In a recent speech given at the the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Berlin, Chancellor Angela Merkel articulated her view on the equilibrium of interests on an international and parliamentary level. “Nations should be ready to give up sovereignty”, Merkel said in Berlin on Wednesday (14 November). “But this must be done in an orderly fashion, in which case a parliament is indispensable… In the current tense national and international relationships, trust and willingness to compromise are important keys.” (Konrad Adenauer Foundation Meeting Report).
These words would have hardly allayed Britain’s sovereignty concerns among the supporters of the Brexit position.
This is where we need to step back and look at the big picture which God’s word provides for us. Ephraim was promised to become a powerful “multitude of nations.” We recognize Great Britain with her worldwide empire as that multitude of nations. However, we know they were warned by the Eternal God that if they did not obey Him and live a life representative of Him, He would remove their greatness. God, in fact, promised to remove their sovereignty! “Those who hate you shall reign over you … and you shall have no power to stand before your enemies. You shall perish among the nations …” (Leviticus 26:17,37,38).
We cannot know with certainty all that will flow from the Brexit debacle. What we can know with certainty is that this current situation will further weaken the modern-day descendants of Ephraim. After experiencing the fullness of God’s blessings which He promised through Abraham, Britain will also experience the fulness of His corrective promises. (Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 28). God is faithful to all aspects of His covenant. “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to me void, but it shall accomplish what I please …” (Isaiah 55:11).
Although the Empire technically exists with 53 member states forming the loose association of the Commonwealth of Nations, Britain’s greatness is over. Since the Second World War its sphere of influence has been contracting. We can only expect that trend to continue.