Wham! A history of the UK in the EU


There is a spooky parallel between the Wham! story and the UK’s involvement in the European Union. To truly appreciate it, you have to listen to all of the relevant songs in their entirety and not worry too much about the details (e.g. the years).

  1. The UK’s entry into the EU was subject to intense debate (Album: Fantastic)

One side portrayed the positive case a bit too strongly, as Club Tropicana, in which drinks (i.e. the wine lake) were free and membership was a smiling face (e.g. smiling at the thought of common regulations).

The other side couldn’t think of anything worse than ‘death by matrimony’ (i.e. at the coercive effects of a union).

2. Some choppy years (Album: Make it Big)

Some supporters began to worry about missing it when you hit that high (i.e. the fast pace of neofunctionalism without sufficient UK attention) while making it clear that they weren’t planning on going solo (i.e. EU withdrawal).

However, by this time, opposition was hardening. Critics of the EU made some strong statements about her wanting everything she sees (i.e. there being no limits to European integration), the need to work constantly to Give you money, All to give you money (ooh) (i.e. pay millions of pounds per day to the EU), and the immense disappointment at hearing about having a baby (i.e. EU expansion) coupled with a passive aggressive statement about expressing happiness under duress (i.e. you can’t complain about the EU to the PC brigade).

Still, during this period, stoicism won out. Eurosceptics were worried about hearing some stories about another lover (i.e. secret negotiations about more expansion) but they still didn’t want their freedom. Girl, all they wanted then was you (i.e. to retain membership in the hope of better relations – doo, doo, dooo).

3. A reframed relationship (Album: Music From the Edge of Heaven)

By the New Labour years, a new story emerged, based on the phrase If you’re gonna do it, do it right – right? Do it with me (i.e. it’s time for the UK to show leadership and set the EU agenda).

However, the general feeling is that this effort was in vain, and that giving EU my heart came with the risk of the very next day EU giving it away.

By then, Eurosceptics had had enough, describing sarcastically the EU’s designer clothes (bought with a UK subsidy), signalling a desire to say Au revoir, mon amour (again, sarcastically, in pigeon French), and hinting at the hope of splitting up to avoid your mind games while still sometimes having sex (i.e. let’s have a trade agreement without political union).

4. The solo years

By this time, George Michael was getting freaked out about his predictive powers, going solo to see if he could break the spell. He knew that the gift was still there when he predicted that the bankers and big business would get away with their role in the financial crisis

Then, much like Christopher Walken in the Dead Zone, he couldn’t keep quiet when he saw what was coming during the Brexit referendum. His last good song, Freedom, was a scathing criticism of the idea of state independence in an interdependent world, coupled with the prediction of a campaign based on – albeit uncoordinated – falsehoods and false hope.

George’s final word on the subject is that,  All we have to do now Is take these lies and make them true somehow. It is a tale of making the best of bad situations; a message of hope in a bleak future.

George’s only complaint by the end was that very few people heeded his warnings, preferring instead to hold on to the misguided belief that these were nothing more than catchy pop songs. Where would we be today if more people had listened to George?

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