Despite an under-sea tunnel connecting mainland Britain to continental Europe and housing the biggest and culturally most diverse city in Europe, the UK still suffers from island mentality occasionally. You would’ve thought the days of splendid isolation as a foreign policy have long gone. Yet, Prime Minister Cameron went to an EU summit last week with the aim to save the euro. He came, he saw and returned to his Island rather isolated in not such a splendid fashion.
Many a Conservative backbencher is crying the country should have a referendum on EU membership as they find the nation is giving away its sovereignty for nothing or very little in return. Cameron argued at the time that there could be no question of a referendum when the priority is to save the euro. On last Friday’s EU summit to do just that, Cameron came, saw, played and lost, as he found the interest of a few bankers more important than the general prosperity of the country. The British economy depends greatly on the country’s financial sector and it has given us great prosperity in the boom years. However, claiming the City’s interest are the country’s interest is a fallacy. The prosperity of the boom years happened to be build on air and reckless behaviour and many in society are now reaping its sour grapes. After the fall of Lehman inciting the global economic crisis, the argument was that banks needed to be bailed out or profit considerably from other forms of government support to save the economy from collapse. The sector was saved, however, the economy crippled. In the process many lost their jobs and businesses weren’t able to borrow. Meanwhile senior bankers paid themselves generous bonuses for failure. Many British banks haven’t done too badly in the last quarter despite so-called challenging economic circumstances. Yet, further job cuts have been announced, businesses are still struggling to obtain funding and the economy is moving at snail’s pace if moving at all. Besides all that the FSA has recently come to the conclusion that no one can be held accountable for the collapse of RBS that has taken the economy hostage. So are we truly to believe that the City’s interests are the interest of us all?
Cameron’s tough stance might be celebrated by the eurosceptics of his party, but his veto has given him nothing in return. Merkozy don’t seem that bothered that Cammie doesn’t want to play game. The vast majority of EU country’s have agreed to a treaty within a treaty and those who haven’t were diplomatic enough to take the issue to their respective parliaments rather than saying just flat out no. Cameron did not get the guarantee for the City he wanted and any room to wield any influence on the issue of Europe and saving the euro has gone up in smoke. The Prime Minister is very aware that the country can’t do it alone. The special relationship with the US is really not that special and the Island won’t be that much of interest to the US, or any one else for that matter, if it refuses to actively engage in the EU. The time has come for Cameron not only to clearly define his commitment to the European project, but also what exactly is truly in the nation’s interest.
top image: BBC