Sunday, 11 December 2011

Veto now, we toe the line later- Why u can't drive away from the EU in a VW

In all the analysis about Cameron's veto there seems to be a prevailing sense of nervousness. Despite all the bonhommie between Cameron and Clegg this is an idealogical cavity that not even these two mouth mechanics can bridge. Cameron much to the delight of his base finally let his stiff upper lip do the talking in Europe. The problem is the liberals, labour, Heseltine et al do have a point concerning our trade relations with the EU. We can 'want to be in Europe but not run by it' all we like but that works under the somewhat misconceived presumption that following a veto at a moment of crisis the EU will still want us. Cameron made this veto because he was backed into a political corner. He is playing a zero sum game that may be advantageous politically but catastrophic economically. We cannot be Switzerland because we are rarely if ever politically neutral. We cannot be dependant on a transatlantic alliance dream of the 80's because the world has changed and the Americans aren't that interested if we're not part of Europe. Cameron can bank on the unpopularity of the liberals for the coalition not to collapse. But if what is the best political outcome for Cameron comes to pass- namely that the EU fails spectacularly (a very real possibility) then the UK's export base will collapse too. The basic point here is that had Cameron carried out this action before as a point of principle, as part of an electoral promise, rather than default response to protect the bankers then our EU partners would have seen it coming and not be plotting 'a revenge'. Cameron's timing has been shambolic and we can only really afford to drive away from the European project in earnest if we are pulling away in Jaguars made in Britain!