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How the terms of debate on Europe changed

30 January 2013

The website of the new Centre for British Influence through Europe reveals just how far on the back foot the pro-Europeans are. Its introductory article states:

‘It is also wrong that the other extreme think that they own the European flag in their belief that the only future is full on in.’

This is a major concession by the pro-European forces. It is strikingly different from the Britain in Europe message that this country must join the single currency and be at the heart of Europe.

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Now pretty much everyone accepts that Britain isn’t going to join the Euro and isn’t going to pursue ever closer union with the rest of the European Union. The debate is about how much looser Britain’s relationship with the other EU member states should become.

We should all be grateful to those who campaigned to keep the pound against the political class consensus. They have changed the parameters of national debate.

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  • global city

    I genuinely believe that even many of those most passionate about the EU do not fully understand it. You get the impression that it was taken on board and just accepted, as an article of faith, with little analysis beyond this. The way they explain it’s benefits, how they plea for the UK to be ‘at the heart, fighting for the national interest’, etc, exposes either utter naivity or utter cynicism, and it is usually the former.
    Many of the most splenetic Europhiles that I know are now also beginning to check their enthusiasm, as the debate has highlighted issues that they had never really considered before. We all know the blind and glib support that many liberal/leftists give to ‘ishoos’ that they passionately support, but given the horrible, creepy and underhand way that the EU has been presented in this country as something that it is not, they are not entirely to blame for thinking of it as benign. Now that issues are being aired, you can see a shift in attitude, a growing unease that, perhaps, the eurosceptics were not actually swivel eyed xenophobes but may in actual fact be right.
    I was amazed at the response of the Liverpool Post’s main business editors contemptuous dismissal of Cameron’s speach last week, as it mainly exposed just how little he knew about even basic stuff about the EU. He went on about free trade areas and how the world is copying the EU’s development model (he also suggested that Liverpool was dependent on EU trade, which is complete nonsense, the city being on the ‘periphery’ as inward looking bean counters see the EU’s seaboards).
    I have always felt that they can’t all be part of an ugly conspiracy to deny our folk their freedoms and the country it’s global standing. The screeching of brakes and backtracking may prove that I was right. there may well be a good flow of people moving from the ‘phile’ camp to the sceptic position as the debate unfolds in coming years.

    • timinsingapore

      Lots of judgmental adjectives here, global city, but not much substance … anyone who regularly reads Spectator comments may feel that in describing the Europhiles as ‘splenetic’ you have attached the word to the wrong side!

      • global city

        Of course there are lots of judgemental adjectives (to say nothing about loads of typos). There always are, from either side of the debate. How would you describe all the talk of the sky falling in if we do not go along with euro directive 200013/496 on the size of tubes of bunion cream….yes?
        I would, though, read my post again, as within the invective laden shouting there are quite a few points of substance.

  • Colonel Mustard

    What a great photo. The “bloomin’ old rag” looks good in that.

  • 2trueblue

    Listening to MPs today in parliament was interesting and the debate is now more open than it has been for years. That in itself is a breakthrough. The public get a better view and where their MPs stand, and whom amongst them think that we, the public, are not entitled to a view never mind a vote. It is just getting interesting. Whatever intentions Cameron had we at least will learn who stands where.

  • Peter Jackson

    ‘It is also wrong that the other extreme think that they own the
    European flag in their belief that the only future is full on in.’

    What does this mean?

  • Adrian Drummond

    This term “pro-European” is a misnomer. Most people are pro-European they just don’t agree with the EU elite. The correct term should be pro-federalist.

    • Adrian Drummond

      I would like to add that this is a critical point. The pro-federalists will try and frame the narrative that anyone against their federalist agenda is anti-European – this is not only a false premise but is also nonsense.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      Well how about just cut to the chase and call them marxist-leninists?

      And their authoritarian menagerie is called the EUSSR?

      • telemachus

        Oh dear
        Why do you revanchists not get the reality

        Total trade between the UK and the EU-26 in 2011 amounted to £357bn. Total trade between China and the EU-27 was £366.6bn and between the US and EU-27 £600bn.

        So: EU-27 exports to China and the US combined were £446bn compared with EU-26 exports to the UK of “just” £199.4bn. (The EU-27 figures include the UK, clearly).

        The “logic” is that China and the US need the EU more than they need the UK.

        • global city

          But if you sell underwear why would you refuse to sell to one customer simply because she was not in the WI?

      • dalai guevara

        More worried about the secret courts and Stalinists here, mate…

        • the viceroy’s gin

          There’s that now and more to come, mate.

          Of course, they’re boiling the frog using “democracy”.

          Marxist-leninists are big on “democracy”.

  • HooksLaw

    All correct. I think it was the tories and Hague were ridiculed for campaigning to keep the pound. It was the tories who voted against the Lisbon treaty.

    The mood has changed because of the failure of the Euro and the realisation that monetary union will lead inevitably to actual or de-facto political union.

    So when you say ‘those’ what you really mean is that the only defence we have is the tory party and those that campaign against the tory party and conspire to keep it out of government are the real traitors.

    • Wessex Man

      So what are you saying Hooky, that you believe call me Dave is actually going to deliver on a referendum sometime in the future if the Tories somehow manage to get elected to power in 2015, when he couldn’t even do it in 2010?

      They like the Lib/dems and Labour will promise you anything to get elected and you are a fool to believe a word he says.

      • anyfool

        Do you not realise that if the Tories managed to get another hundred or at least have a comfortable majority in the next parliament you will get most if not all you want.
        Cameron and co if so minded would not be able to finesse or deny a vote as the Tory Party would be firmly Eurosceptic and anyone who tried to stiff the ballot would not be leader for long.
        Any other result is is a EU state with the UK at the door squealing to be let in.

        • Wessex Man

          What planet do you live on Call me Dave isn’t going to be Premier after the next election “a hundred or a comfortable majority”

          He’s Ted Heath in disguise!

  • Rhoda Klapp2

    Now if only the pro-EU side would stop lying, or the media would call them out on the porkies, or there could be a robust cost-benefit analysis, we could get on with a proper debate. If only this wasn’t being treated as a party split bubble story in some very influential but living-on-their-laurels magazines. Oh, and the BBC need to grow up, too.

    • telemachus

      Always the BBC
      In fact as a Tory Mouthpiece run by an Ex Tory Chair you would expect that

    • dalai guevara

      The biggest lie is that the EU costs us 50 million quid a day. Who came up with that, let me see…

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