Sunday, 11 December 2011

Perfidious Albion and where it leaves Wales

Cameron's veto was ballsy but do we really want the UK on the fringes of Europe?

Did Cameron call it right?

Being the only EU member not to sign up to a new accord makes the UK look like a socially awkward accountant, walking like "Rain Man" around Brussels looking in vain for sandwiches with the crusts cut off. Of course this will only be how the rest of Europe sees "us".

Back home the blue-rinse brigade and Colonel Blimps will welcome Cameron back with the finest chutneys, warm beer and thousands of off-key performances of Land of Hope and Glory. "We're an island again! Huzzah!"

Cameron stuck by his word – he refused to sign up to a treaty that would transfer powers to the EU from Westminster. Despite looking over his shoulder at 80+ eurosceptic backbenchers baying for blood, I don't question Cameron's sincerity. I don't think he was ever going to sign up for this. He would probably have been looking at the beginning of the end of his tenure as Prime Minister if he handed over any economic powers to the EU.

If however the UK Government think that the EU (or should that be Sarkozy and Merkel) will let Cameron get away with this unscathed without sour grapes then they'd be wrong. Cameron took the big call and might very well have saved "the city" but he could've caused a lot more problems for the rest of us in the long term.

The EU will never bow down to the wisdom of the United Kingdom, say "you were right all along", drop all pretences of political union and adopt English as a working language - perhaps even put some Old Etonians in high positions in the EU bureaucracy to "sort them out!"

There won't be tears shed when/if the UK leaves, they won't "regret it", they won't be crying over a photo of David Cameron while half way through a tub of Häagen-Dazs. It'll be "tschüs" and a door slammed quickly in the UK's face - perhaps with relief. Come to think of it, this is probably how the respective nations of the UK would react to independence – except the "British" who will be on the third tub of chocolate chip cookie dough wiping their tears with a dusty "Wills & Kate" flag.

The UK might not be leaving the EU party yet. It's nursing a cheap can of beer in the kitchen alone with Sweden, Hungary and the Czechs popping in, smiling and asking where the sausage rolls are before leaving and closing the door behind them – more a courtesy than genuinely backing the "British" view.

Rhodri Morgan summed up in the Western Mail a key issue affecting Wales and it's future relationship with Europe.
"For Wales I always used to start from What’s best for Airbus?, not What’s best for the City?"

Would a quintessentially European company like Airbus now think twice about investing in a sidelined UK?

It's unlikely that Friday's events will really have that much on an impact and (to answer my original question) at the most fundamental level David Cameron probably made the right call for the UK. However Rhodri's quote does indirectly illustrate the wider problem - Welsh interests in the EU will never be a priority and happily put at risk to protect whatever the UK Government decides is "more important".

That "more important" bit being London's financial services sector. I'm not naïve enough to think that it doesn't underwrite the rest of the UK but isn't that thinking and policy crippling Wales (and indeed parts of England)? It looked as though the Coalition Government understood that there needed to be a rebalancing of the UK economy but now it seems as though we are locked in to another cycle of dependence on shifting other people's money around.

"Don't worry if we piss off the frogs and krauts that buy your stuff, rubber stamps your farming subsidies and Objective One funding - that lovely dole money will keep pouring out of the city and down the M4. Now shut up, do as your told, and be grateful."

Cameron the British Bulldog. The bulldog might be a fine symbol of "British spirit" but bulldogs are also inbred, live short lives compared to other dogs, suffer painful hip and breathing difficulties and are pretty dumb and aggressive.

I'd rather pick a Welsh spaniel....


  1. A remote region of an isolated state, that looks like our fate. Tied to an economy that relies on the City of London and speculation to bring in the money... not a happy prospect.

  2. Why should Wales tie itself to an increasingly corporate and fascist Europe. What we should be aiming for is independence from London and Brussels. Look at the fate of Ireland, confronting a decade of penury in order to prevent the German and French banks suffering a haircut. Now they'll have to give up their corporate tax rate as well. Poor sods ...a remote region of a failing empire.

    Ireland really prospered when it dumped the link to sterling and let the punt float, then they joined the euro and killed the Celtic tiger.

    Every Swiss canton can levy it's own income and corporate tax yet Europe wants tax uniformity from Donegal to Limasol ... mad.

    We should stop worrying about Colonel Blimps and start worrying about Wales, a free Wales with its own currency. Meanwhile Europe ditches democracy and appoints the Goldman Sachs boys to rule over Greece and Italy.

  3. Thanks for the comments.

    Anon 18:47 - I have my own reservations on the EU, but I certainly wouldn't describe it as fascist though clearly individual member nations have problems with a rising far-right. Corporatist - definitely and it's a big problem.

    The EU is rather flexible in how it's (confusing) bureaucracy and layers of government operates. We have a two-speed Europe already - those in the Euro and those outside. I see no reason why Wales couldn't prosper as part of the "slow lane", with either our own currency or keeping sterling.

    Wales can be a fully participating member of the EU without necessarily being full in - adopting a position similar to Denmark or Sweden, realising that we need to be there, but not deliberately sidelining ourselves like the UK seemingly wants to. I suppose you could describe it as a "cordial euroscepticism/euroneutral" as opposed to the europhobia of Cameron's backbenchers and the likes of UKIP.