Today is the vote for the Brexit, or British exit from the European Union. This has become a major point of contention within Britain and around the world. Americans, by far, support the British leaving the European Union (if they have any opinion at all, that is), though you would never realize it watching mainstream media. I think that the libertarian perspective is fairly obvious here. You don’t need a “free trade agreement” to conduct free trade, and giving up sovereignty is always a bad idea.
Various treaties and alliances are always sold to the public as promoting “free trade”. The fact is that a true free trade agreement could be established with the entire world in one sentence: “We hereby remove all tariffs, regulations, and other barriers to trade with all peoples everywhere in the world”. “Free trade” agreements, like the TPP, are about standardizing these barriers to trade across a wide geographical area and engaging in the kind of entangling alliances that proved disastrous in WWI. They also allow foreign entities to litigate business practices across borders and stifle free enterprise with onerous regulations. In short, they are a power and money grab by big government and big business.
The trade deal aspect of the EU is only one part of membership. There is also a standardized inflationary currency. Luckily for the British, they have had the wisdom to stay out of the euro. The economic problems of Greece and other countries have mostly been absorbed by currency manipulation, and have not effected the British as much as other European countries. An exit from the EU would be much more difficult if it involved changing currencies.
The biggest problem with remaining in the EU is the issue of national sovereignty. The more detached a government is from the people they are ruling, the more prone to tyranny they become. While Democracy is an imperfect system, representative governments are better than non-representative governments, national governments are better than international, state governments are better than national, local governments are better than state, and individual liberty is better than any government rule at all. The European Union is far detached from the British people, and has no obligation to them. Today, most laws in Britain are handed down from unelected bureaucrats.
Decentralization of power is always a good thing. Even if the British vote fails, this is only the first shock. The European Union is not economically or socially stable. By leaving now, the British could avoid a more disastrous outcome as the Euro continues to lose value. The economic problems of the more socialist and less responsible nations within the Union will continue to collapse the entire continent. Germany has been lobbying strongly for a “remain” vote, mostly because they can’t carry the whole weight of Europe on their backs.
The British have always had a strong sense of national pride and independence. Their culture developed the theory of natural rights and common law. They built an empire on free market economics (and military imperialism, but we let’s not focus on that). The British stopped the advance of the Nazis in WWII. As an individual with British heritage, I sincerely want what is best for the country. What is best is to get out now, while the getting is good.