To all intents and purposes, the UK is already out. We stayed still. Europe galloped away without us.
No doubt we can find some elegant formula to paper over the split. As my friend Daniel Hannan puts it, we could devise a Swiss arrangement while pretending that we are still EU members. No point frightening the horses.
For those readers who missed it, the UK is preparing to pull out of almost all areas of "Justice and Home Affairs", the so-called Pillar III of EU jurisdiction. (Pillar I is the single market, and Pillar II is foreign affairs)
This is revolutionary. We are withdrawing from 130 directives, covering everything from the European Arrest Warrant, the European Public Prosecutor, to the European justice department (Eurojust).
Luckily, Tony Blair negotiated the right to a mass opt-out on this Pillar III corpus to be exercised before it all becomes justiciable at the European Court (ECJ) in 2014, a move that would transform the ECJ into Britain’s supreme court. (The same ECJ that rubber-stamped the rights violations of Connolly, Andreasen and Tillack, and against which there is no further appeal.)
We did so on the grounds that the UK’s Common Law foundation requires special treatment, but nobody really thought at the time that we would use the opt-out. It was a sop to placate people like us at The Daily Telegraph until the Lisbon storm had passed.
Well, it turns out that Theresa May is opting out. Some say she will have to opt back in immediately to almost all of it. We will see about that.
The withdrawal from the insidious arrest warrant gives me particular pleasure. I covered the legislation as it rolled through the Brussels and Strasbourg machine years ago.
We were told categorically that it was to cover terrorist offences only. Then it became "terrorist-related". Then serious crimes. Then the final draft appeared and it included such issues as xenophobia, a term that other parts of the EU machinery had extended to include euroscepticism.
Finally, we discover that it is being used to arrest people who fail to pay parking tickets. Any political magistrate can have you extradited for anything without having to put up evidence. Free speech is not safe, as the criminal witchhunt against the rating agencies in Italy shows all too clearly.
(Incidentally, Germany simply ignores the warrant. It won’t even extradite a member of the SS to Denmark. Yet we turn over anybody, even to one country on the Danube that has sacked its judges and stacked the judiciary)
Meanwhile, the EU’s onward march to a banking union, a fiscal compact, and variants of fiscal union have simply left us behind. To whom – by the way – will the new banking union be accountable ? To national parliaments and courts ? Obviously not. It will "answer" to MEPs and the ECJ.
A whole superstate structure is coming into being. It cannot be democratic because there is no European political nation or shared political language, and all attempts to mimic the vibrant democracies of the ancient states have failed. The European Parliament has its charms but it is not a body that can hold a powerful executive to account. Eurosceptics warned from the outset that EMU was unworkable as constructed. Monetary union would engender crises that forced ever more extreme solutions to keep the show on the road, acting as a powerful catalyst for full political union. They have been entirely vindicated. This is exactly what has happened.
It is now clear that Britain’s decision to stay out of the euro at Maastricht was a de facto decision to leave the EU aswell, as Britain’s political leaders feared even then. It has a taken two decades but we can almost all see now that a free and self-governing Britain can no longer be part of the Project.
This is the backdrop to William Hague’s speech this morning, his cri de coeur, his warning that anger over EU encroachment has reached boiling point. "A great machine that sucks up decision-making from national parliaments to the European level until everything is decided by the EU. That needs to change. If we cannot show that decision-making can flow back to national parliaments then the system will become democratically unsustainable."
Obviously, nothing is about to flow back. The EU is going headlong in the opposite direction. What Mr Hague is really doing is preparing the ground for withdrawal.
Of course, we don’t to want lose the EU single market – Margaret Thatcher’s bittersweet triumph, 20 years old this month – and Europe does not want to lose our market. We will have to work it out. Relations are likely to be stormy for the next few years.
Yet once the boil is lanced, we may find that our relations with Europe improve dramatically. The moment that the EU no longer threatens our laws, our parliament, our democracy, and our way of life – that is to say, the moment we take the stone out of our shoe – almost all hostility will drain away.
We can all become lovers of Europe again. Good fences. Good neighbours.