What Now For Europe?

Sunday 29th June

As predicted Mr. Cameron was defeated and humiliated in Europe.  And one would have thought that this might be a terrible thing, but as in the Boer War and Dunkirk the English celebrate brave defeats almost more than victories.  How will Cameron standing alone against 26 other nations and losing play out in the long run.  He may strangely enough get some kudos, especially among UKIP supporters or Eurosceptic Tory MPs, but for quite the wrong reasons.  Those who think he has just edged us a lot closer to Brexit are over the moon.  But those of us (like me ) who think he has damaged us in Europe may be wrong too.

What we shouldn’t forget is that the other countries in Europe do not want us to leave at all.  We may be an occasional nuisance, but we are a great market for all their goods.  It may well be that Cameron will actually get more sympathy, even from Mr. Junckers by throwing his toys out of the pram than by behaving sensibly.

There are now two competing themes in Europe.  One is for closer and closer Union, even in the end being to all intents and purposes a United States of Europe, and there are a few who want a looser, less cohesive Europe where there is less power at the centre.  Funnily enough the two ideas may not be totally incompatible.   The troubles with the Euro came about largely because the states choosing to use it were so different economically.  If they all had the same rates of tax, and the same economic policy it might have  made more sense.   Essentially we may be heading for a two-tier Europe, the Euro-Zone united and basically one country, and Associate members allowed to trade with and having some rules in common, but having greater divergence from the centre.  It may be the only way to hold us all together.

In a strange way Cameron, though playing an extremely dangerous game, where even if he gets some reforms and recommends a yes vote could still lose that referendum, may actually get the other big countries in Europe to now negotiate seriously.  Ironically the man he needs most to make this happen is Jean-Claude Junckers.