Did someone say “Brussels”?
Remember those scenes in the old Pink Panther movies where Inspector Clouseau’s boss, Chief Inspector Dreyfus (played by the underrated Herbert Lom) would hear Clouseau’s name, and immediately develop a tic, twitching his eye nervously, and eventually ending up in an asylum ranting and raving about Clouseau, and trying to kill him?
That’s British euroscepticism right there, wrapped up in an inability to approach the European question rationally. Instead, a blue flag with gold stars or a trigger word “Brussels” usually sets the ranting off, and off it goes, sometimes for days on end. It’s that irrationality, displayed by David Cameron’s fear of returning from an EU summit with anything approaching “compromise” that has Britain in its odd position now.
In recent days, Cameron and Osborne have been trying to staunchly defend Britain remaining in the EU, an organisation that they spend most of their time if not belittling, then certainly not defending. Nick Clegg gets lambasted, with his actual Britishness called into question, for suggesting that the EU is actually quite useful for Britain. Where will it all lead? That’s a tricky question, but one thing is clear. The events of recent days now means that any compromise by Cameron will be met with cries of “traitor” by the eurosceptics, because for them the ratchet only goes one way, and that is out. The more the EU is belittled, and the more aggressive the attitude becomes, the more likely that a vote will be held in the near future on British withdrawal from the union.
There’s nothing inherently undemocratic about that, except for the fact that most British politicians seem to want to keep Britain in the EU. But how can you sell such a bill of goods to your voters when you’ve spend years denigrating the product? It could prove impossible to get the anti-EU minky off their backs.