The veto of a new EU Treaty was necessary ground clearing.
It has confirmed that the UK is different from the continent. We are not now in a two speed Europe . The UK has no intention of joining a later train to European integration. Changing the ever popular EU analogy, the UK is on the by-pass, to avoid the likely Euro crash on the main EU street.
Today we are still in many ways in the same position as we were in last week. We are out of the Euro. As a result we have never been at the “top table” discussing high finance and Euro matters, because it does not apply to us. This is not some new exclusion crisis. We have not been thrown out of the room by Mr Cameron’s actions. We were out of the room thanks to Mr Blair and Mr Brown sensibly keeping us out.
We now have confirmed what many of us feared. Our EU partners are out to tax, regulate and damage our financial services industry, just as they have done to our fishing industry, our alternative remedies businesses and many others.
We have sidestepped much of the bail out cash and action needed for the Euro, which is good news. The current government has been better on this than its predecessor, who wanted us to pay our full “share”.
In at least one important respect we are in better position today than last week. The EU now knows that this Prime Minister can say “No”. The EU has got used to dealing with weak previous governments under Blair and Brown, who always were willing in the end to rub out a red line or allow a UK national interest to be damaged in the interests of a deal. They accepted three new treaties which transferred major powers from the UK to the EU. Even John Major, who achieved the crucial opt outs from the social chapter and the Euro itself, was not willing in the end to veto a whole Treaty. The EU now knows that this PM might veto, and could veto again. That changes the game a bit.
So far so good. Now the UK needs to define its national interest and tackle the immediate problems where the EU agenda does not suit us. The Tobin tax is presumably history, as the veto can apply to that as well. I doubt Germany and France will rush one in for Frankfurt and Paris, though London would be delighted if they did. If they believe in it, why not do it?
The EU financial regulations are a growing reality. The UK will need to push harder for working versions that allow good successful business to remain somewhere within the EU. Many other business and environmental regulations harm EU competitiveness, costing us jobs.
The Uk should present a constructive plan for jobs and growth which includes repeals and amendments of EU regulations. In an ideal world the rest of the EU would see they need to make changes with us, as all of the EU has a jobs problem. If they will not, the UK needs to start negotiations on what it needs in order to have a sustained growth and recovery programme at home.