A French Official today said this:
The UK is like a man who shows up at a wife swapping party without his own wife.
These were the famous words used by Lady Thatcher during her statement to the House of Commons on the 30th November. They also happen to be the words that could best come from anybody who is even moderately in favor of the European Union upon hearing of David Cameron’s European adventures.
It goes without saying that he has made a mistake. The short-term politics of it are for him good. Not only have Tory Backbench Eurosceptic come out to pile praise on their Dear Leader for saving them from the EU(SSR?), but Labour are now in a difficult position.
The Labour Party had been enjoying having Cameron between a rock and a hard place, unable to move and being slowly squeezed to death by the European project and various individuals who could charitably described as mad.
It is obvious that there needs to be reform of the EU, and of the Euro. Neither will be destroyed by Britain’s rather farcical attempt at preserving our national sovereignty. A new European wide treaty was (and is still) needed. The proposed treaty would have bought the EU closer in terms of financial integrity, ensuring that current and future financial crises can be robustly dealt with.
The proposed treaty, it is said, included provision for a Financial Transaction, or ‘Tobin’ Tax. I am glad that we did not sign up to such a proposal, which would disproportionately affect the United Kingdom and the City of London. It is important that this is not imposed on the United Kingdom. Luke Bozier points out here that the City is responsible for more than one million jobs in the United Kingdom and creates tax revenue which is equivalent to the size of the budget of the National Health Service. We clearly cannot afford to lose those jobs or that income, and I applaud David Cameron for not signing up to that.
The really tragic part of the story is this. Cameron had to give some meat to the Tory Sharks. It was either concessions from France and Germany, or it would be small chunks of his political career. The 1922 Committee was said earlier in this week to be preparing letters to the effect of proposing a leadership election. We are once again being governed by a Party that is obsessed with an issue that the Public really don’t care about, much to our national detriment.
Cameron needed something that he could wave, to show that Britain wasn’t becoming an offshoot of France and Germany. He returned in triumph by openly admitting that he has wrecked proposals for an EU wide treaty. Britain is thus to be left behind as European Governments sign multilateral agreements to the effect of a treaty.
We will be the only nation not to sign up to this agreement. Our nation is slowly becoming more isolated under the Conservative Government.
And yes, I do call it a Conservative Government. We have once again seen that the Lib Dems in Government (“on your side”) are nowhere to be seen. It has been reported today that Nick Clegg was only told of the deal at 6am this morning, just before David Cameron held his press conference to announce his foolish mistake.
Be under no illusion, the Lib Dems are having no influence on the decisions that matter.
On the NHS, the £3.5bn reorganization is still going ahead. Tuition fees have been increased by 300% to £9,000, and applications to University are down by an average of 15%. The AV vote was lost. And now, to cap it all, the most pro-EU Party has supervised our withdrawal from Europe’s top table.
I am unsure as to whether Labour would have acted differently were we in this position. I do not know what Ed Miliband would have done if he were Prime Minister. I suspect that he would have been more generous to the EU, but that is only speculation, and I know that others in the Labour Party think that we would have acted differently.
The Party should remember this fact. We are now contributing £4bn a year to the EU in order to sit back and watch other Countries take decisions over our future. To coin a phrase, rather than sitting at the top table of Europe we in the kitchen, hunting for leftovers.
Cameron may be the Neville Chamberlain of the 21st Century. We may struggle to politically attack him over Europe.
We can damn well try.
Update: Further detail on the treaty has been published by the BBC:-
- a commitment to “balanced budgets” for eurozone countries – defined as a structural deficit no greater than 0.5% of gross domestic product – to be written into national constitutions
- automatic sanctions for any eurozone country whose deficit exceeds 3% of GDP
- a requirement to submit their national budgets to the European Commission, which will have the power to request that they be revised
- eurozone and other EU countries to consider, within the next 10 days, providing up to 200bn euros to the International Monetary Fund to help debt-stricken eurozone members
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