The Gordian Ratchet

The excellent film "The Lion in Winter" concerned the somewhat strained marital relationships between Henry II and his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine. At one reflective pause during the mayhem Henry says "From where we started how did we come to this?" and Eleanor replies "Step by Step, my love, Step by Step". In the same way, when people ask how Britain has come to a pass where the existence of the nation as an independent state hangs by a thread, the answer is the same, every turn of the ratchet carrying us closer to a federal Europe, while resistance seems to only slow the process, never reverse it.

Many will remember how Margaret Thatcher recognized the effect of a ratchet in economic and political developments and how she, for good or ill, did seize her moment and succeeded in turning it back. In order to unpick the effects participation in the European project has had on the UK the country would be faced with making massive changes to its legal, political and economic landscape. Indeed, the tentacles of the EU have penetrated so deeply into our society that the federalists hope it would be impossible to unpick the knots which now bind the nation.

However there are examples which should prove that the task is not impossible if only there is the will. At the time of the Restoration the ministers of Charles II believed that every law passed by Cromwell's government had been illegitimate and returned to the status quo ante, thereby rejecting all the legislation passed under the Commonwealth.

An even more famous example of solving an apparently impossible problem by a quick and decisive action can be found in Greek mythology: the Gordian knot, tied by Gordius, King of Phrygia and father of Midas, and so intricately entwined that no one could undo it. A saying developed that whoever succeeded in untying the knot would become the ruler of all Asia. Many tried, but all failed. According to legend, Alexander the Great merely drew his sword and cut it through with a stroke.

Although some might hesitate at such a drastic solution there is no doubt that, should a sovereign Parliament choose to repeal all legislation passed since the accession to the EU, which had in any way been tainted by a connection to EU directives or regulations, then Britain would have immediately regained almost all it has lost. No doubt there would be legislation repealed which the country should wish to re-enact but this time it would be by elected representatives, not Brussels bureaucrats. The work involved would be considerable but MPs would compensate in some way for the years during which they have drawn fat salaries while passing all effective power to Brussels.

No one doubts there would be problems to but as Churchill said, "the problems will argue for themselves". Britain can ignore the faint hearts, slice through the Gordian ratchet as Alexander did the knot and free itself from the federalist trap.