If the USA, Germany and Ireland all think it’s worthwhile lecturing and hectoring the UK to stay in, we must be onto something with our proposal that we need a new relationship. The change of government language seems to be waking the rest of the EU up to what a smashing deal they get out of the UK’s current membership. They are understandably very reluctant to lose it or see it changed.
The EU gets large sums of our tax revenue to send to other parts of the union. They get great access to our fishing grounds. They make our companies follow detailed rules for everything they sell not just in the rest of the EU but also at home and in every other world market, whether those markets want those regulations or not. They get access to our labour market for anyone from the continent. Continental companies can have good access to our lucrative consumer market, and use it to sell us more than we sell them.
We are used to be threatened and being sent the bill. I have lost count of the number of times I have been told “You will not have any influence” if the Uk demands some changes. My response is that we have no wish to tell Germany or France what to do, but we do wish to govern ourselves without EU controls on so many areas of policy.
I am sick and tired of having to counter the lame threat that they will not trade with us anymore if we dare to ask for better terms or if the British people vote to head for the exit. They have no counter to my polite reply that I am sure the UK will wish to carry on buying BMWs and Mercedes after we have left the political, fiscal, banking and monetary union which is the new EU. Of course France and Germany will want to protect their trade with us and will understand that that requires mutual agreement and co-operation.
The government is right to point out that the UK cannot possibly join the banking, fiscal and political union now being created. We are not in the Euro and have no intention of joining it. It is in the EU’s interest to find a way of permitting good trade between the Euro area and the UK without expecting the UK to join the political union. The EU has to understand that there are two different types of member, Euro members and non Euro members who do not plan to join the currency. They have created the divide by making the EEC into such a centralised powerful international government. The UK never voted for that and most in the UK have no wish to belong to a United States of Europe.
The British people will ultimately decide this. In the meantime the UK government is right to explain the problem to the other EU members and suggest it is in our mutual interest to sort it out amicably and sensibly. Lecturing us, hectoring us, or threatening us, is not the way to win the UK people over to full membership of the EU. It is the way to drive a further wedge between Euroland and us.