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on 8 July 2013
A clear expose of diverging developments of Europe versus Britain. It also raises the question where will it end in future.
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on 8 July 2013
The book contains useful facts.
I was less impressed with the final "future history" chapters. I don't believe that it is possible to forecast the results of withdrawal.
I suspect that Mr Charter may be a little pro-withdrawal.
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on 11 April 2015
The UK joined the Common Market in 1973. Now, April 2015, there is a General Election. UKIP calls for withdrawal , SNP wishes Scotland to stay in, the Conservatives and the Greens are pledged to a referendum, Labour and the Liberal Democrats are committed to renegotiate our terms of membership. The author spent six years as Times Correspondent in Brussels. He presents a well written guide for the interested voter, to help her to decide -"Should we bid Europe au revoir?".

There are caveats. The book is three years old. Many leading post holders in Brussels have changed. More than that, the Greek crisis has assumed critical dimensions. Populist nationalist parties have arisen elsewhere - Podemos in Spain and, of course, Marine le Pen's Front National. Nonetheless, this book is a good foundation to assess these changes. Not everything has changed so much.

It is not a quick read. I took a chapter at a time every day or so. Trying to read it carefully and seriously.

We get a concise history of "the Market" from its emergence in the early 1950s, its growth and metamorphosis thereafter, taking in the accession of new members. He shows how its reach has expanded in scope and depth. He shows examples of good and bad practice in the citadels of Europower. Attitudes of British politicians and the British media are described down the years - a picture of increasing discomfort with the Brussels project, a deep feeling that London and Londoners do not want to be part of a United States of Europe or a continental constitution modelled on the Bundesrepublik.

Throughout he weighs up the pros and cons of UK membership. A detailed closing chapter looks at ten key areas - from peace to fish. I would not attempt to summarize this in any detail. He does make clear how difficult it is to show the effect since 1973 on the specific if not narrow trends of economic growth and trade in precise terms of pounds or indeed euros. If we cannot assess the past, how can we predict future patterns in an uncertain global economy?
One theme comes over loud and clear - that even if the UK leaves the EU, Europe and the EU will still be there. Au revoir will not be adieu. In LBJ's phrase - are we better in the tent?

Charter provides a clever epilogue, set in 2023. What if? Labour won the 2015 election narrowly and ED is PM. However - and this shows the problem with crystal balls - he says the party had committed itself to a referendum in its manifesto. Well it didn't so the referendum of 2017 [a close victory for the au revoiristes!] would not have happened.

Still a big recommend.
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on 3 July 2014
It is refreshing to see a Brit discuss Europe without descending into rambling anti- or pro-EU incoherence. David seems to have a good grasp of how Britain got to where it is now, and systematically sets out the consequences both of staying in and leaving the EU in a remarkably even-handed way. He is not afraid to demolish the weaker arguments on either side (and frankly, there are plenty). I thought this was a superb, solid, detailed yet readable book. It ably fills the vacuum left by the appallingly low quality debate on the EU in British press and politics.
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on 18 April 2013
I read this book immediately after finishing 'The Great Deception: Can the European Union Survive?' by Christopher Booker and Richard North (highly recommended, by the way), which takes the story of the EU, and Britain's relationship with it, up to 2005.

'Au Revoir, Europe' pretty much fills in the gap between 2005 and the present and offers a great deal of insight into the options open to the UK regarding its continued relationship with the EU.

The author goes on to suggest that many of the options touted for the UK are simply not credible, or over-simplistic i.e. re-joining the EFTA, re-establishing links with the Commonwealth, adopting a Swiss-style bi-lateral trading agreement etc., for many and diverse reasons.

This book clearly spells out the consequences of staying in the EU or leaving, both of which involve a certain amount of pain for the UK. The picture painted for the immediate future is pretty bleak but I think this book is a useful tool for deciding how much pain is acceptable, and in what form it is likely to take.
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on 29 August 2013
The book is written from the perspective that withdrawal is somewhat inevitable. That said there is a presentation of both sides of the argument that is very thought provoking.

Perhaps the most telling part of the book is that the attitude towards Europe in Britain is largely conditioned by the disingenuous presentation of Europe by politicians of all shades that has stoked a specific perception of what the country was opting into.
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on 18 July 2013
A readable summary of the arguments for and against Europe.

Would recommend to anyone who wants to prepare for a referendum
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on 19 July 2014
Keep reading it in bite sized chunks.very informative .glad I bought it
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on 21 June 2013
This is one of several books on the EU debacle. I am often accused of not reading the 'for debate' and in consequence being biased. After reading this book I have no need to look at both sides, since the 'for argument' is discussed here, Whilst I do not agree with the author's viewpoints in the last chapter (he tends to assume that Britain must rely on the EU in some form or another - at least that's how I read it) I would not hesitate in suggesting this book should be in every household in Britain.
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on 17 May 2013
Most commentaries on the EU focus on its current impacts: the sceptics focussing on the negatives and the dwindling band of supporters on its positives.

This book goes well beyond that. It provides a factual summary of the pluses and minuses of membership, and then goes on to describe the mechanics of UK departure, and the likely consequences for our nation.

In so doing it provides a much-needed framework for making the decision to leave.

However the author does not pick up on the level of unrest in the other EU nations, other than noting that every nation that's been given a vote on the EU has voted against it.

I think that's a serious omission, since when the UK does leave, it will be negotiating with Continental politicians who are terrified of setting a precedent. Thus the negotiations are likely to be as bruising as the dishonest ones that preceded the UK's joining, and our representatives will have to fight as hard and dirty as their opponents. That's quite feasible, since the UK has a trade deficit with the rest of the EU and provides much of its finance. But it'll need a much more competent and honest group of UK leaders than we currently have.

Still, this book lays all the groundwork, and perhaps a later book might suggest how deploying professional hard cases as negotiators would do the trick.
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