Monday, 22 February 2016

Halfway in, halfway out?

Cameron’s return from Brussels with his agreement on ‘special status’ for the UK reminded me of the old story about the trade union negotiator who came back to his members and told them that he had good news and bad news.  “The bad news,” he said, “is that I haven’t been able to get us a pay rise.  In fact, I’ve had to agree to a pay cut.  But the good news is that I’ve managed to get it back-dated.”
Cameron seems quite pleased with himself for having got a deal in which he’s not only not achieved what he set out to achieve, but if we believe what he says, he may well have succeeded in reducing UK influence on key decisions in the future, by placing the UK outside the inner circle, as a sort of ‘half-member’ of the EU.  Thankfully:
·         ‘half-membership’ won’t be on the ballot paper for the referendum – if it was, it might be something that I’d have real difficulty supporting, and
·         he’s cynically misrepresenting what he’s achieved. 
He might want to present it, for his own political ends, as being a step halfway out, but the reason that the other 27 have agreed it is that it’s a lot less significant than that.  Does anyone really believe that they’d agree to a whole new class of membership applied to one state only and still allow that state to have the same amount of clout in decision-making as the others?
They’re happy for him to present it as he wishes, but they probably suspect that they’ll be able to row back even on what little has been agreed after a change of government in London at some future date.  That would be entirely in line with the long-standing pragmatism of the whole institution.


Anonymous said...

On a similar theme - Two contradictory statements by Theresa Villiers, NI Secretary of State, within two days of EU campaign starting.

1. ‘I believe it is time to take back control and I will be campaigning to leave’. Ms. Villiers goes on to say that ‘ taking back the power to make our own laws in our own Parliament and control our own borders, we are also strengthening our democracy.’
T. Villiers, Conservative Home, February 21, 2016

2. Asked whether Brexit would mean tighter border controls with the Republic, Ms. Villiers said: ‘That’s not inevitable at all. I don’t think anyone should assume that border checks should be introduced as a result of a UK exit. ’
T. Villiers Belfast Telegraph, 23 February 2016

So - can Ms. Villiers, or indeed anyone else from the anti EU group, please explain to me just how do you have control over a 500km border - a border that has historically been used to smuggle arms, cattle, fuel, tobacco, and people, without having border checks?
Also as someone from Ynys Môn – what would the situation be at the port of Holyhead ?
Border checks or no border checks ? Is it me - or have I missed something here ?

John Dixon said...

I think that the only thing that you may have missed is that the UK establishment doesn't really count the Irish as being proper foreigners.