UK will regret leaving the EU, and not just because of the Ryder Cup

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 October, 2018, 5:03pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 October, 2018, 5:03pm

Watching the joy of the fans following Europe's crushing defeat of the United States in the Ryder Cup was a marvellous spectacle. I am sure it did not escape the notice of many in Europe that there was a large British contingent in the team. Even if the European Union may hold no emotional resonance for many in the UK, coming together with our European friends in sport clearly does.

Given the above, it's ironic that the idea of European unity really germinated in the hothouse days of the Blitz in London during the second world war. This period gave time for the émigrés of occupied Europe to reflect on what had happened and how Europe had to change in the future.

Unlike in the first world war, neutrality had not spared Holland and some of the Scandinavian countries from occupation. They and others concluded that a union of the European counties would spare everybody the blight of war and occupation in the future. And in this they were encouraged by the British.

And once Britain was a member of the EU, its influence in two key areas was critical: namely the construction of the free internal market, and the enlarging of the EU with new members from Eastern Europe. This latter development was a typical British foreign policy interest: to maintain a balance of power in Europe and stop the whole European construct being dominated by Germany and France.

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So while Britain helped to build up the idea and institutions of the EU, it still remains somehow emotionally detached, except on those rare occasions as in the Ryder Cup last weekend, when many of us felt the joy of sporting success alongside our European friends and partners.

It is going to be more difficult than many in Britain realise when, in six months’ time, we finally leave an entity we did so much to help create and define.

Nicholas Rogers, Mid-Levels