I can’t help feel that the “No” campaigners are, either by rhetorical intent or by muddle-headedness, confusing powers with abilities. Regardless of whether or not the first page of the constitution says it doesn’t replace national law (which it says) or whether or not these are powers we need to retain locally anyway (red tape is red tape: if government is ratified by its closeness to the governed then Anglesey for the Irish!) why would we be determined to keep making decisions on the small changes of direction, whilst forfeiting our right to make decisions on the large?
We’re a small country: we have the ability to set certain economic laws and targets because the law says we do. But we don’t realistically have the power to negotiate with somewhere like China because our influence says we don’t. With what does the ability, the authority, provide us, when we’re powerless to act on our self-determined, minor prosperity?
For a small country sovereignty, like virginity, exercises its ultimate power and significance in the act of giving it away. Elements which the EU requests from us, which we do not hand over, we will probably find ourselves allying with US policy. This does not weaken us: we hand over abilities that almost any decent civil service and judiciary could handle, so that we have a share of power that would otherwise be denied us.
What else are we protecting, realistically, apart from a political construct that stands or falls on its realpolitik worth? Strip it of the trappings of culture and heritage that mad Jimmy Goldsmith draped over it all. Is it really sovereignty, if all that’s left is a tacit international approval of us playing with our toy boats in the bath?