Top positive review
Slightly out of date but still explains why the UK ended up with a referendum
on 11 September 2017
It may seem odd to review this book now - I read it first long before the referendum and found it to be an even-handed non-hysterical analysis of the pro- and anti-Brexit cases. I have been re-eading it partly as I remembered that it had some useful comments on the various post-Brexit arrangements that might be put in place - the Norway & Swiss models, the WTO set-up - with comments on the advantages and disadvantages of these. Of course, the book was written before the referendum, and is a little dated but in these areas the comments are still valid as the UK and EU negotiate the divorce settlement.
As a somewhat reluctant Brexiteer (I would have preferred to stay in a reformed EU where the direction of travel was not inexorably to a federal europe where being outside the Eurozone would have had implications for the UK), I was also surprised that I foound myself more postive about Brexit as the book brought back into focus the clear intentions of the European elite with regard to Euro federalism. I also found the comments about the use and mis-use of EU structural funds particularly apposite - I re-read the book on holiday on the Portuguese island of Madeira where I marvelled at the billlions of euros spent on grand engineering projects which seemed disproportionate to the tiny population of less than 300,000. Not all of this was funded by the EU but much of it simply would not have happened had EU structural funds not been available and now Madeira has enormous debts but there is scant evidence that all these projects have improved its economic competitiveness.
Although parts of the book are out of date, I think it also provides a good analysis of how the EU became such a toxic issue - the drift away from the EU started years ago, and our politicians were economical with the truth about the loss of soveriegnty right from the beginning. No-one could have foreseen in 1973 the huge explansion of membership, with mainly poor under-developed nations joining the queue, so the finances changed significantly over the years. It is a pretty good explanation of how the UK got to where it is. The book seems very even-handed to me, and highlights some of the wilder claims of the referendum campaign, such as the loss of 3m jobs or the additional cost to UK families from leaving the EU, as the propaganda tactics which they clearly were. I recently read a dry but detailed analysis of the survey results leading up to the referendum which showed that some of this scare-mongering back-fired on the Remain campaign.