When Ted Heath dragged his reluctant country into Europe in 1972 he deliberately misrepresented the organisation we were joining as a trading arrangement, a Common Market, though he claimed later that it was a surrender of sovereignty to start on the path to ever close union. He knew that and if others didn't realise it then they should have.
Since then as the organisation grew in power it changed its name first to the European Economic Community,then to the European community and finally full admission of what only Heath had realised in 1972 ,a European Union, on the road to a full federal union .Which is exactly what's wrong with it today: It isn't.
A union is an entity like a nation with common standards a common identity in which the more prosperous parts help and support the more backward areas as Britain does (inadequately)with regional aid,the Americans with defence spending and the Australians with cross subsidies between states. A union has common finances and a common budget. It's money flows are redistributed round the whole rather than monopolised by any one part.
Europe's so called Union has none of these characteristics.While talking about "ever closer union" it hasn't got far enough down that road to be anything better than the common market it started out as and still remains.Which is why membership has been, and remains, so damaging to Britain
In a market it's each part for themselvesi in a forum which depends on competition rather than cooperation.In a market the strong prevail and the weak go to the wall.In a market there's no machinery for either protecting the less competitive units,for helping them out of their difficulties or for bringing them up to a common level.In a market they decide their own fate and succeed or fail by their own efforts rather than by centrally controlled and managed policies.In a market winner takes all. And keeps it.
Which is a fairly accurate description of the so called union,In it super competitive Germany piles up huge surpluses which drains demand ,jobs and money from the others . This "union" has no system of redistribution or regional policy comparable with that of a nation state because Germany which was ready to spend enormous amounts to bring its kith and kin in east Germany up to something nearing a common standard is not prepared to do the same for lazy Latinos or irresponsible Irish or the Bumbling British who misguidedly believe that "punching above their weight" really means living beyond their means " by running a growing trade deficit,now 6%and rising most of it with the rest of Europe.
There's the paradox.Membership would benefit Britain only if it were a genuine union.But the only moves to create this are in theEurozone from which we're excluded.So we're relegated to Europe's remainder bin as a peripheral annex clinging to a market in which we're loosing out
Complacent Brits may think that they have a divine right to maintain a standard of living they no longer earn .They may believe that being part of a "union"will bring help and support They'd be wrong. .The fate of the uncompetive is clear from the appalling treatment of Greece. Having made the mistake of seeking unity through the Euro its members will try to make it work by strengthening central institutions and building on their bail-out fund a9to which we refuse to pay) to a European budget and an economic policy from which we will be excluded .We'll be peripheral.
A vote for "remain" not only sanctions whatever the EU does in future,particularly decisions for and by the Eurozone but is a vote against fighting back by rebuilding manufacturing The means of doing this are proscribed by Brussels from state aids, a more generous regional policy, conditions on contracts requiring work in this country,or any restriction on sale of crucial industries firms and assets .It's not a vote for a "Britain stronger in Europe".It's one for relegation to the plangent whining periphery which Europe reserves for its losers.