Ideas European Council

EU just can’t accept that Britain is right

If Britain is marginalised after last week’s fractious European Council, it’s only because the continent is furious that the UK never signed up to its troubled euro project, argues the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.

Published on 12 December 2011 at 14:56

I know some people are unsettled to see all these powerful Europeans getting so very, very cross. Angela Merkel has said that we weren’t even negotiating properly. Nicolas Sarkozy can hardly bring himself to mention Britain by name and has been filmed apparently refusing to shake David Cameron’s hand. Across the Continent, the papers are full of wrathful headlines about the general arrogance and stupidity of the Englanders/Anglais/Inglesi. I watched some poor Lib Dem Euro MP who seemed about to explode with disgust at the UK’s handling of the recent summit.

And there must be many people in this country who find themselves a bit spooked by the vitriol of the criticism. For some days, the BBC has been telling us in sepulchral tones that we are “isolated” and “marginalised” – as if a decision had been taken to abandon us in our misty island like a bunch of woad-painted savages. So I hope everyone will be reassured if I point out that our European friends and partners aren’t really angry about the summit. Everyone is behaving as if there were something epoch-making about David Cameron’s use of the veto – as though some national Excalibur had been finally plucked from the rock, or as Trident had at last been launched from its briny lair.

The reality is that plenty of prime ministers have blocked things that aren’t in this country’s interests – from Thatcher on the EU budget to Tony Blair on the withholding tax. And plenty of other prime ministers have been far more obstreperous than the British – one thinks of Felipe González of Spain, who used to hold up EU summits until he felt he had got his hands on enough Irish cod and haddock.

No, they aren’t really angry with us for opposing the new Treaty for Fiscal Union. The reason our brother and sister Europeans are so chronically enraged with the British is that we have been proved completely right about the euro. For more than 20 years, British ministers have been coming out to Brussels and saying that they just love all this single-market stuff, but that they doubt the wisdom of trying to create a monetary union. And for more than 20 years, some of us have been saying that the reason a monetary union won’t work is that you can’t do it without a political union – and that a political union is not democratically possible. Read full article in The Daily Telegraph

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