Britain, the Six and the World Economy
The European Community and 1992
Britain in the New Europe
Europe's Endangered Liberal Order
The Importance of Being English: Eyeing the Sceptered Isles
What If the British Vote No?
The End of Europe?
Letter From London: One Market, Many Peoples
Will the Crash Scuttle the European Project?
Saving the Euro, Dividing the Union
Could Europe's Deeper Integration Push the United Kingdom Out?
The New British Politics
What the UKIP Victory and the Scottish Referendum Have in Common
The United Kingdom’s Retreat From Global Leadership
Should It Stay or Should It Go?
The Brexistential Crisis
Putting a Safety Valve on Democracy
The Conservative Case Against Brexit
Euroskepticism's Biggest Fallacy
Why Brexit Would Benefit Europe
The Pragmatic Case for Brexit
The New Divided Kingdom
A Brexit Post-Mortem
Life After Brexit
Brexit's False Democracy
What the Vote Really Revealed
The Roots of Brexit
1992, 2004, and European Union Expansion
The Irish Question
The Consequences of Brexit
Scotland After Brexit
Will It Leave the United Kingdom?
The Swiss Model
Why It Won't Work for the United Kingdom
NATO After Brexit
Will Security Cooperation Work?
A Brexiteer's Celebration
A Conversation with Kwasi Kwarteng
A Remainer’s Lament
A Conversation With Ed Balls
May's Brexit Mastery
Time for the United Kingdom to Move On
It is now up to British voters to decide whether the United Kingdom should leave the European Union—not to foreign leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama and IMF head Christine Lagarde, who have offered their advice on what the right choice might be. The voters, however, would do well not to automatically dismiss what Obama and Lagarde have said. Rather, they should reflect on their substantive merits.
The truth is that the case for “Brexit” does not hold water. Although there is much to criticize about the EU, its existence is an important achievement, which would be put in peril by the United Kingdom’s departure from the bloc. Conservatives, classical liberals, and advocates of free markets should be particularly wary of becoming cheerleaders for the EU’s demise. Instead, they ought to be at the forefront of efforts to reform and improve the bloc.
Free-marketeers and small-c conservatives might see Euroskepticism as a natural extension of free-market convictions. For fervent believers in the strength of competition, including between different currencies and regulatory and tax systems, European integration might look like a misguided attempt at integrating markets via the unnecessary centralization of political decision-making. And so it seems logical for the president of the Czech Republic, Václav Klaus, to compare the EU to the former Soviet Union, and for free-market think tanks to criticize the EU’s populist overregulation, common currency, and common agricultural policy, among other things.
But Euroskepticism is not an inevitable corollary of free-market conservative thought—something that the iconic voices of the free-market movement well understood. Friedrich von Hayek wanted a European federation. He called “the abrogation of national sovereignties” that it would entail a “logical consummation of the liberal [i.e. free-market] programme.” Hayek, who later received the Nobel Prize for Economics, recognized that the efforts to liberalize trade in the nineteenth century had ultimately failed because European countries lacked a joint system of governance that would keep domestic protectionism and nationalism at
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