Remember when you were younger and you had a friend whom everyone else thought was a dickhead and you’d say “No, he’s actually a good guy when you get to know him,” and then he’d set fire to somebody’s hair and make you look like a twat?
That’s Ireland’s predicament with regard to Britain in Europe. The hard truth is that it suits us better to have Britain in the EU, from a trade perspective but also from a free trade and low tax angle. Relations with the UK have, since the days of John Major and Albert Reynolds, improved on an almost yearly basis. The problem for us is knowing whether Britain actually wants an ally or not.
Take David Cameron’s demands on the City of London. They’re no more unusual than our position on corporation tax or CAP, yet Britain seems to have an inability to build coalitions of
mutual interest, even in a climate of growing irritation at the high-handed Berlin-Paris approach. If we attempt to help Britain build a counter-balance to Berlin-Paris we need to know that Britain is in for the long haul, and not really hoping that the whole premise fails, and that’s the issue.
If David Cameron cannot show too much enthusiasm for fear of triggering the growing (and possibly) dominant headbanger faction in his party, then we can’t take the risk, and that would be such a terrible shame. In short, Britain needs to make its mind up, by proposing a comprehensive final settlement as to what sort of membership it is willing to hold, or else leave all together. We can’t keep going on like this, and Ireland (and the other small member states) has to be very wary of lashing herself to the British mast if the Tories are actively going at it from the other side with an axe.