Gale`s View – 28th December 2011
There are many on the government back-benches – and I am just one of them – who, recognising the value in terms of exports and jobs of our trade with mainland Europe, support the concept of a Common Market. Most of us are also passionately opposed to a Federal United States of Europe, to the common currency and to fiscal union. That is why so many of us, who are Eurosceptic but not part of the Out at all costs” tendency, believe that the Prime Minister was absolutely correct to use the United Kingdom`s veto in Brussels before Christmas to distance Great Britain from a hastily cobbled together deal that was patently not in our own national interest.
Most of us, and I include our own household in this, are likely to find ourselves facing a financial hangover as a planned austerity Christmas” has given way to the usual not-budgeted-for excess. We may have enough painkillers to see us through to the New Year but at some point fairly soon there will be an unpalatable headache and a day of reckoning.
And so it is with Europe. As we went into the holiday season it was becoming clear that the Not a Treaty” agreement stitched up by, chiefly, Germany and France was beginning to unravel. What may have seemed like a good idea to Heads of Government, save for David Cameron, gathered together in the small hours of a winter`s morning, has become much less attractive to elected members of some national parliaments left at home to pore over the fine print and to work out that the late-night agreement” is not likely to find favours with their voters either.
Much has been made, by the media, of the fact that England was (not for the first time) standing alone as one against twenty six” and of a two speed Europe”. If the rest of the European Union membership wishes to blunder on down the Autoroute towards an economic pile-up in the financial fog then there is probably little that anyone outside the Eurozone can do to divert them from self-destruction. There can be no doubt, though, that we, in our own interests, are better off sticking to the Route Nationale.
Deal? Or No Deal? In the hysteria surrounding the Prime Minister`s use of the veto many commentators lost sight of the fact that the terms of the Brussels treaty” do little or nothing to address the very major structural issues facing the Euro as a currency and not just one but all of those countries unwise enough to have adopted it. The PIGS” ( Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain) are still in Carey Street and a weather eye on French banking institutions suggests that some of them, at least, are in deep trouble. The likelihood post-Brussels still has to be that a number of States will renege on the agreement, that one or more Southern European Euro-states will default and return to a local currency, that more European banks will go to the wall and that possibly even the Eurozone in its entirety might disintegrate. While that latter prospect might cause some glee amongst those that loathe all things European a currency meltdown would not be in the best interests of UK limited. Countries that are on the rocks cannot afford, and will not buy, our exports.
Britain defending our own interests in isolation provided, before Christmas, a useful smokescreen to allow the Eurocrats and their political masters to deflect attention from the real issue that is the potential economic collapse of the Eurozone. The party is now over. In the cold light of a New Year`s dawn those really responsible for the mess are either going to have to watch their whole European Project go belly-up or they are going to have to take some very harsh and electorally painful decisions. For M. Sarkozy, facing a Presidential contest in France, and for many others, 2012 is likely to prove an extremely difficult year.