The United Kingdom’s departure from the multinational bloc was inevitable from the start.
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From the moment the United Kingdom joined the European Economic Community (the European Union’s predecessor) in 1973, the countdown clock to Brexit had already begun ticking. It was just no one knew January 31, 2020, would be the day the bell rang, time’s up!
Throughout its 47 years of membership, it was clear Britain was never quite happy with its position in the bloc. Though a full member, it continued to use its own currency and opted out of the Schengen Agreement, which promotes open borders among member nations. The UK also chose not to participate in a program for joint EU military operations.
Yet the concessions were not enough. Contention over EU membership boiled over until a 52-percent majority of citizens voted to leave in June 2016.
Many reasons have been cited for the complex relationship: Britain’s imperial past casting a cloud over its membership—the strip of water separating the country from what is often referred to as the Continent—and wariness of the shifting alliances that have played out in Europe since the Norman conquest of 1066.
Some even say the Brexit referendum results would have shown more support for departure if done earlier.
British approval “of membership has only briefly been above 50%, and by 2010 was dipping below 30%,” Financial News reported. “A referendum back then most likely would have resulted in an even bigger majority for leaving.”
The UK was hesitant to join the bloc in the first place. While a member, it often grumbled about many of the integration suggestions that came up. Words like “awkward” or “semi-detached” were common descriptions of Britain’s membership.
Though still a work in progress, many in the nation seem to be breathing a sigh of relief for having finally quit the bloc. “We are at the end of a very long road,” said Martin Callanan, a Conservative minister, as Brexit day approached.
Why has Britain been so at odds with its mainland partners?
Even though the UK has officially left the EU, the two parties will continue to squabble over Brexit details. Until the end of 2020, Britain will remain within the EU’s economic arrangements, including the tariff-free single market and the customs union, during which time Prime Minister Boris Johnson hopes to conclude a wide-ranging trade agreement for the EU. Both sides face challenges as they define their post-Brexit stances.
Three weeks before Britain was due to leave the European Union, the president of the European Commission warned that the UK will not get the “highest quality access” to the EU’s market after Brexit unless it makes major concessions.
In a friendly but frank message to the UK, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said negotiating a new UK-EU trade deal will be tough. She also said the end-of-2020 deadline that the British prime minister has imposed on negotiations makes it “basically impossible” to strike a comprehensive new agreement in time.
International trade agreements typically take years to complete. Though Britain has a one-off option to request an extension to this so-called transition period for a further two years, Mr. Johnson has insisted he will not be taking that up. This means discussions over the future relationship on an array of issues, including trade and security, will have to be completed this year.
If no agreement is reached and Mr. Johnson refuses to take up the option of the extension, then tariffs and other impediments on trade between the two sides will have to be put in place.
Prime Minister Johnson also said the UK is seeking a wide-ranging free trade deal but does not want to agree to keep all EU rules and standards.
This is a thorny issue. Speaking at the London School of Economics before her meeting with Mr. Johnson, Ms. von der Leyen warned that “without a level playing field on environment, labor, taxation and state aid, you cannot have the highest quality access to the world’s largest single market.”
“With every choice comes a consequence. With every decision comes a trade-off,” she warned.
The EU worries that Britain plans to cut environmental and employment standards in order to position itself as a low-regulation, low-tax competitor to the bloc.
Mr. Johnson sought to allay those fears, telling Ms. von der Leyen the UK would continue to maintain high standards “in areas like workers’ rights, animal welfare, agriculture and the environment.”
In short, both sides have many wrinkles to iron, kinks to straighten, and jagged-edged rips to sew up.
Mr. Johnson’s demandingness over future-deal terms gives a taste of how Britain has always perceived itself as a land apart—a significant reason why it could never quite fit in the EU.
Just as the United Kingdom is geographically disconnected from mainland Europe, it is also disconnected socially, economically, militarily and politically from Europe-at-large. The man- and woman-on-the-street in the UK is British, first and foremost, and then European (that is, if it is convenient, practical and does not interfere with being British).
Britain has long held an island-nation mentality, as the country is physically separated from Europe. It tends to favor its own interests above the collective mindset of the Continent.
Ironically, it was Winston Churchill who called for a “kind of United States of Europe” in the grim aftermath of World War II.
In a speech in Zurich in 1946, Churchill outlined his vision for post-war Europe. Peace and prosperity, he said, could only come if France and Germany put aside their centuries of mistrust and start operating as partners.
“The structure of the United States of Europe, if well and truly built, will be such as to make the material strength of a single state less important,” he said. “Small nations will count as much as large ones and gain their honour by their contribution to the common cause.”
Churchill, notably, did not envision Britain being part of this grand endeavor. Its role, like that of “mighty America” and even of Soviet Russia, would be to act as “friends and sponsors of the new Europe.”
That perception about Britain’s role provides one explanation to its ambiguous relationship with Europe in the decades since.
Though the UK-EU partnership seemed to work for a little while, their path into the future was fraught with roadblocks, bumps and chaotic turns that seemed to detour into uncertainty.
But with fundamental differences between them, separation was inevitable. There were too many disagreements, too many misunderstandings.
What ultimately went wrong?
Had Britain grown tired of European technocrats overruling British lawmakers and telling the UK what laws Europe would allow to go unchecked? Was it Europe’s insistence that the UK accept any and all immigrants into its fold, regardless of UK immigration laws or how it would affect Britain economically, socially, politically?
The answer: all the above.
There was, nonetheless, one additional looming issue. In any agreement, particularly marriage agreements, two parties must fully come to terms with and even disclose their history to one another in order to reach mutual understanding. If this step is omitted, one of the sides could potentially accuse the other of fraud, should some previously undisclosed inconvenience come to light.
Unwittingly, there could have never been full disclosure on the part of Britain—it is not fully aware of its own ancient past! Had it known it and disclosed it, both parties may have opted to steer clear of a partnership in the first place.
A look at Britain’s history reveals an additional reason behind its untamable spirit and estranged EU relationship. The relatively tiny island nation, once the seat of a world-leading global empire, has spawned a long line of royal leaders who helped influence and shape the policies of entire nations.
Its ancient past holds the key to why the island nation of the British peoples always had a mind of its own—why it ruled or directly influenced one-quarter of the Earth, giving rise to the once-popular saying, “The sun never sets on the British Empire.”
Something about its past explains why, at its zenith, the British Empire managed to stretch across the planet, including Ireland, Canada, the original 13 colonies of America, Bermuda, Jamaica, South Africa, Egypt, Sudan, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, India, Iraq, Burma (today’s Myanmar), Australia, New Zealand and Fiji, to name a few.
Britain’s distinctive precedent explains why it has grown used to ruling on its own and charting its own course into the future. To understand this detail from Britain’s origin is to understand why, naturally, it has bristled whenever bureaucrats approve EU restrictions over British laws.
Brexit merely confirms it further.
As Britain was striving to enter the EEC in the 1960s, then-president of France Charles de Gaulle accused London of a “deep seated hostility” toward European construction and of “being more interested in links with the US.” (It is interesting to note that Prime Minister Johnson himself was born in New York, and only renounced his American citizenship in 2016.)
The entire world remains in blissful ignorance of the startling beginnings of the world’s greatest nations, especially the unique link between Britain and the United States.
The connection between these two nations goes way back, to much earlier than the times of the EEC. Further even than the American Revolutionary War.
To truly understand those national links, one must go to where they are first mentioned.
In early biblical times, a unique blessing was passed down from Abraham, through Isaac and Jacob (who was renamed Israel), ultimately to Joseph—namely to his sons Ephraim and Manasseh. The blessing involved a promise that someday the descendants of the older brother, Manasseh, would “become a people, and he also shall be great.” Additionally, the younger brother Ephraim “shall become a multitude of nations” (Gen. 48:19).
The book America and Britain in Prophecy, written by this magazine’s publisher and editor-in-chief David C. Pack, presents proof after proof of how these blessings have been poured out on the modern descendants of these two brother nations.
No other nations in history come close to fitting the bill. Indisputably, only America can historically qualify as the “great” nation and Britain as the “multitude of nations.”
Only with this understanding can all Bible prophecies directed to the people of Ephraim—meaning Britain and the peoples still linked to its “multitude of nations”—be unlocked!
One of these prophecies is in Hosea 7: “Ephraim, he has mixed himself among the people; Ephraim is a cake not turned. Strangers have devoured his strength, and he knows it not…and they do not return to the Lord their God, nor seek Him for all this. Ephraim also is like a silly dove without heart: they call to Egypt, they go to Assyria” (vs. 8-11).
While this prophecy speaks of a time soon to come, note that it highlights Britain’s proclivity to “mix” itself among certain groups of people, and to be “a cake not turned”—God’s words.
Not sure? Go get a Bible and read it! Then think of its “half baked” dealings with other nations.
Notice too that the Creator compares it to a “dove.” This is a fascinating symbol, especially considering that doves are known to mate for life. Make note that God likens it to not any normal dove, but to “a silly dove without heart.”
Beyond Brexit, this nation is foretold to again get tangled in regrettable international affairs, until it finally learns an important lesson: It must “return to the Lord their God” and “seek Him.”
People in Britain and America, along with Canada, Australia, New Zealand and other English-speaking nations, do not know what is set to occur for their peoples because they do not know how to identify their origins in Scripture.
No wonder God lamented in the book of Isaiah: “The ox knows his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel does not know, My people do not consider” (1:3).
Note that God is specifically addressing the modern descendants of Israel. Awe-inspiring prophecies regarding history’s great nations have yet to be fulfilled. Roughly one-third of the Bible is prophecy, which is history written in advance by inspiration of God.
Consider the following excerpt from America and Britain in Prophecy: “God’s Holy Word clearly reveals that His entire plan of salvation is inseparable from, and relates to, the nation of Israel. Notice: ‘Who are Israelites; to whom pertains the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises…’ (Rom. 9:4).”
The book continues: “Now ask yourself: Why is it then that the English-speaking peoples most profess to believe in the Bible and the God it describes? Why is it that all peoples of the world professing worship of the God of the Bible, were at one time taught by these English-speaking, Anglo-Saxon people? Why is it that these same people have done more to preserve the Bible than any other? Is it not also strange that these nations have proliferated the Bible around the world far more than all other nations put together?”
If you would like to learn more about America and Britain’s biblical origins—and why they are such uniquely blessed and prosperous peoples—read America and Britain in Prophecy.
The future no longer needs to remain shrouded in mystery and uncertainty.