Saturday, 10 December 2011

Two Speed Europe

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David Cameron’s use of the veto in Brussels this week may be the beginning of the end of the UK’s full involvement in Europe. In truth we have been uncomfortable bedfellows with our European friends. Like a badly arranged marriage there has been a very uneasy relationship where we seemed to do nothing more than tolerate each other. While we appreciate each others arts and cultures, there is a void between the two beyond appreciation. We are an island race insular and cut off from intricacies of European life. The notion of Europe as an ideal super state with a single currency ruled by Germany and France from Brussels sits about as easy with the average Brit as rule from London by a UK led Super state would fit with them. Cameron, by using the veto, may be taking a risk by putting the UK outside the room while the important talks about the way forward with a European super state take place. The erosion of British sovereignty and British interests has been taking place since the UK joined Europe. From a British point of view it is hard to see what being part of this European community has given the average man on the street. This is the reason why there will not be a referendum on the issue of the UK staying part of the community. I personally don’t think this will ever happen, in fact there is more chance of the UK leaving by steps such as those taken by David Cameron this week.

The truth is though that the major political parties in the UK are not too concerned about the average family in the UK. They never have been. The Tories shut the mines, closed the steelworks and crushed the heart out of communities up and down the land. We are now reliant on importing huge amounts of coal and gas from our European friends. The Labour party ruled during what should have been an opportunity to grow a new Britain, prosperous and forward thinking, but instead chose to waste this huge potential and become a gluttonous and lazy government more intent on taking us into needless wars, bank deregulation and over spending in the public sector with no real improvement to public or community life. The Liberals are so keen on getting in power they would jump into bed with anyone just to taste it. At present, it is clear they will do anything to retain a seat at the right hand of power. 

The Conservative led coalition government have a mountain of debt left to clear brought about in part by the previous administrations lack of control on a banking sector it let free. Now the world is being controlled by banks and trading rooms don’t believe for a moment these dogs will be brought to heel or put back on the leash. Like it or loathe it the only way forward will be an uneasy alliance with the financial sector until the books are balanced. Greece has gone bust, Italy and Spain are on the brink, Ireland has severe austerity measure which include a VAT rate of 23%, France could teeter if Italy fails to pay its debt. Europe is a house of cards with many of the foundation cards removed or crumbling.

In the UK somehow we think we are detached from this. The English channel acting as a separator of the reach of European combustion. But we are not. However, if we leave Europe what will really happen. Will Europe cease trading with the UK overnight  or even over a period of time, months, years, decades. I think the answer is it won’t. Europe still wants trade. We import more European goods than we export. Even though UK exports are at an all time high to Europe. Would we stop taking European goods. Would Europe stop taking British built goods. The answer is of course not neither would make financial sense.

So what would we lose and what would we gain? There is a crude expression which says it’s time to shit or get off the pot. We do need a referendum because the ideal of Europe sold to us in the 70’s is far removed from this monolithic, lumbering and non-working folly of the 21st century. The Euro as a currency clearly is filled with flaws. Just one of these being many the countries who signed up for it not being in a financial position to actually qualify for it in the first place, because they lied about their financial strength in order to qualify. The truth is if the super state succeeds (which I doubt) Germany will rule the roost with France as their whipping boy and all the rest as their lackeys'. Will we ever have a government with the strength to return the question of the UK’s attachment to Europe to its people. Regardless of the outcome of that vote, were it to happen, I don’t think so. So what we will have will be a two speed Europe with the UK now in a position of lessened influence, regardless of the spin from Downing St. Though I know why Cameron used the veto. This is why European integration does not work for Great Britain. It really is time to shit or get off the pot.

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