rule it out
AS THE POUND
usually aim for a pessimistic note in my columns, and I am loath
to disappoint this time. However, I at least want to start this
column by imparting some news of great joy. The British will not
trade the pound for the Euro, if given a straight choice. I will
return to the deceptively subtle caveat later. However, all other
things being equal, the British will always refuse the Euro. It
is not just that there is
a massive majority of people against British adoption of the Euro.
The rejection is deeper in that there has been a public debate
(two sides rather than the debates in much of the Continent where
only one side get to talk). It is now clear that the British are
against full participation in the European project, and it is
equally clear that the
European project demands that all the participants be fully engaged.
is now becoming clear to many that the European integration process
will not stop until every cultural vestige of "Englishness"
is subsumed into the greater European mush. When the imperial
system of measures is ruled illegal, (amazing but true) then
even the least informed begin to wonder whether Europe is merely
a free trade zone, or something more sinister. The question then
arises, will the British follow the logical consequence of their
opposition to further integration, and come out of the EU altogether?
AND GROWING BAND
of the unreported developments in British politics has been the
growth of overtly anti-European Union groups in the UK. The media
have focussed on other matters, the moderate anti-Single currency
crowd, the slow
movement of the Conservatives towards a coherent Euro-scepticism
and the collapse of the pro-Single Currency camp. The concentration
on the dead duck of a Single Currency tends to obscure the wider
picture Ė the fact that an
influential, growing and active minority wants to withdraw totally
from the European Union. Will this groundswell of opinion
force Britain out of the EU in a tidal wave of popular revulsion?
Will the people power of Tallinn, Leipzig and Prague show itself
in London, Birmingham and Manchester, with totally new and unspoiled
parties gaining power by acclamation? Not bloody likely. However,
despair not, Englandís time will surely come.
am I so confident that English independence will again be on the
agenda (if it is not the inevitable choice)? I simply believe
that England is unsuitable for the EU. If you write in a critical
way of the French governing class, then you had better be
prepared to duck for cover, if you are English. The most abusive
and/or critical e-mails I get are from the tiny antiwar.com readership
in continental Europe. The sheer fact is that the continental
elites dislike the British. How else would one explain the resigned
tolerance towards the French, German or Spanish transgressions
of EU "law", while there is unmitigated fury if the
British try to do the same? De Gaulle was right, Europe is continental
and Britain is maritime; both England and Europe would be better
off if England left.
are few English people who want Britain to be members of the common
European currency. One of the few is Tony Blair. Few doubt that
he will do anything to bring
in the Euro. One of these methods may be (in fact is very
likely to be) to hold a referendum not on submergence into Economic
and Monetary Union; instead he will hold it on the subject of
continued membership of the European Union. The calculation will
be that the British are naturally more conservative, and while
they may not be willing to lose their own currency they will also
be unwilling to lose membership of the European Union. Related
to this is a fear that the British will not be able to go it alone
in the big ugly world. The conventional wisdom is that the British,
if given the choice of independence or continued membership of
the EU, on whatever terms, will choose the EU as they did in 1975.
This may be conventional, but it could also prove wrong. In 1975,
the Pro-EU forces outspent the anti-EU campaign by twenty times.
Thatís right, twenty times. No one believes that this imbalance
can occur again. The government has even moved to ensure that
the anti-Euro campaign will be limited in its expenditure, and
will only be able to spend a third of any pro-Euro campaign. Although
this is both a travesty of democracy and therefore entirely predictable
from this bunch of petty-fascist thugs, it shows that opposition
to the EU is so strong that it now needs to be legally restricted.
This was not the case in 1975. What happens if the vote does not
turn out as the government requires? There may be no option but
to leave (although the politicians will try to wriggle out of
this). It could turn out that Tony Blair will give Britain back
its independence, although please do not tell him this.