The British separation from the European Union of June 23, 2016, doesn’t precisely replicate the American Declaration of Independence from the British empire on July 4, 1776. However, Britain’s 21st-century rebels and their 18th-century American cousins share several provocative and encouraging traits, which Americans should laud this coming July Fourth.

Let’s deal with the numbers first — and the names. Both numbers and names do relate to the rebellion.

In the United Kingdom’s June 23 referendum, common-sense Rebels whipped Remainers — 52-48 percent. Yes, a narrow margin. However, it is a clear win obtained in a free and fair democratic referendum where both sides had the opportunity to make the case for their preferred relationship between the U.K., their still-sovereign nation, and the EU.

What the EU’s current amalgamation actually constitutes is one of the problems that trouble the free people of Britain. It also troubles large pluralities (perhaps majorities) of the still-free citizens of France, the Netherlands and Denmark.

Now for the names. Obviously, “common-sense Rebels” is my preferred moniker. “Remainers” seems to be the unofficial name for pro-EU British citizens. “Leavers” got some traction in U.K. media for citizens favoring withdrawal. However, there were other names, many of them ugly, snarky, rude and, as a result, politically stupid. There was an implicit class stigmatization, with elites deriding the ignorant peasants much like the way British nobility used to disdain commoners.

Prime Minister David Cameron, a Remainer, said before the election, “I don’t think Britain, at the end, is a quitter. I think we stay and fight.” And anti-EU British voters — particularly older voters — thought he was calling them Quitters.


Cameron will soon resign as prime minister. He will no longer run … the House of Commons.

The numbers matter because they quantify the democratic decision British democratic rebels forced on an EU bureaucratic complex that increasingly operates as distant, arbitrary and autocratic.

The question of what it is brings us back to names. The European Economic Community, or the Common Market, which preceded the EU, was comprehensible. Eliminating trade barriers would spur economic growth. Common economic interests would diminish the likelihood of intra-European wars. What a jolly concept, one British voters could fully support.

In 2016, many still-free Europeans are not quite sure what the EU is. Is it a semi-state? If so, its semi-state has spawned a distant, arbitrary and increasingly autocratic mega-bureaucracy.

Perhaps EU 2016 is best described as an entity whose leaders insistently call for “more Europe.”

However, still-free European citizens wonder whose “more Europe” the bureaucrats are building. At the moment, the “more Europe” they’ve configured fails to stem waves of non-assimilating immigrants. In fact, “more Europe” appears to encourage non-assimilation.


This becomes a security issue, one of physical security and political security. It is an issue few entity elites grasp. Dutchman Pim Fortuyn, a gay sociology professor, raised this difficult question in the 1990s. He acknowledged his question was difficult but said it was also important. However, media instantly portrayed Fortuyn, the very definition of a European liberal, as a racist populist. Totally wrong, he said. He valued hard-won democratic freedoms. Fortuyn said his identity — a freethinking Dutch intellectual who happened to be gay — had value and deserved protection. However, devout Muslim immigrants to the Netherlands demanded that he surrender his freedom. Their religious values took precedence. Fortuyn argued that these immigrants — who, after all, had come to the Netherlands — were anti-democratic religious zealots who were autocratically imposing their identity on him. He chose to resist. Fortuyn was assassinated in 2002 by a radical environmentalist.

Maintaining British political and cultural values — British freedom — played a role in the June rebellion. So did the perceived autocratic isolation of entity elites who disdain genuine political debate (a definite echo of America’s 1776 rebellion).

Functionally, Britain’s common-sense Rebels knew that acceding to “more Europe” simply gave entity elites more power. Entity elites were empire building, and the Rebels were determined to stop it.

Austin Bay is a syndicated columnist and author.

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