Another day, another concession to the Europhobes (it’s time to stop beating about the bush – these people are not ‘sceptical’; they haven’t considered rationally the benefits and costs of Britain’s membership of the EU; their opposition is ideological).
But each concession will never be enough: David Cameron agrees to publish a bill fixing an ‘in-out’ referendum by the end of 2017; the Europhobes – disregarding any possibility of unilateral renegotiation that many of them used to crave – want it sooner. Their rabid anti-European appetite will never be sated until Britain leaves. And what then? The trading relationship so beloved by Nigel Farage and other Europhobes will be on the EU’s terms – not ours. Like Norway, we would pay but have no say. Is this sovereignty?
The talk of ‘Brexit’ is already having a negative effect on Britain’s standing in the EU and the country’s influence on what the Union does.
Each concession will never be enough
It’s hard to see a British commissioner getting an influential role in the next European Commission – he might be gone in two or three years’ time. Why would the European Parliament elect a British MEP as its president, or as leader of one of its main political groups? Why would a Brit be promoted to a senior role in the European Commission’s administration, when the country is threatening to leave? Other countries will be sceptical about trading support with the UK on EU legislation – we may not be around to return the favour.
Step by step, concession by concession, Britain is reducing its own ability to influence EU affairs, to shape the Europe of the future. We are in a vortex of increasing irrelevance and powerlessness – and one day soon may carelessly slip down the plughole and out of the EU.