The British Prime Minister, David Cameron is off to Brussels today to join other European leaders at a summit convened in order to save the Euro. Mr. Cameron, who is under significant pressure from anti-European Tory backbenchers, will find himself representing a Britain which is now isolated, ignored, hated and to a large extent, completely insignificant.
Britain has only itself to blame for being the most disliked nation in Europe. By constantly pandering to every wish of the United States and by trying to enforce its own will upon other European nations, even to the extent of forcing them to accommodate British police at their own ports of entry and exit, the other member states of the European Union have learnt that Britain is still under the misguided belief that it is an important country in the way in which it was during the 19th century.
In reality however, Britain now is of no significance whatsoever to the rest of the world, being a small country stuck somewhere off the North coast of mainland Europe, with an invisible wall around the country to try and keep everybody out whilst at the same time, expecting everyone else to do as it says.
TheOpinionSite.org was told by a source at the American Embassy in London that “Britain is sometimes useful to us but otherwise just gets in the way.” The feeling coming from this week’s EU summit however is even worse, with other delegates telling Britain to mind its own business as it is not a member of the Eurozone and therefore probably shouldn’t be attending the summit in the first place. Much the same has been said to the other 9 countries that are not in the Euro but which are members of the EU.
The difference between these other non-Euro countries and Britain, is that they are not trying to throw their weight around in the way in which the British always do. They are content to concentrate on the reality that if the economy of the Eurozone crumbles, so does their own.
Nearly 4,000,000 jobs in Britain depend entirely upon trade with other EU countries. Many more depend on that trade indirectly but depend upon it nevertheless. It is therefore obvious that Britain must do everything it can in order to ensure the survival of the Eurozone economy, for without it there will be economic disaster in Britain as well.
It is therefore disappointing in the extreme that many Tory backbenchers, most of whom still believe in the British Empire and have a pathological hatred of all things European, are solely content to snipe at Cameron from a sedentary position, all the time spouting anti-European rhetoric and in the process, making it very much more difficult with David Cameron to get the best deal for Britain.
These MPs want a referendum or, to be more precise, they want Britain to withdraw from the EU altogether. They are cashing in on the anti-European feelings that have been generated over the last 20 or so years by the tabloid press, in particular the Daily Mail and the Sun, which have exploited the ignorance the British people and insured that instead of discovering the benefits which we have all received from Europe, the EU instead is bathed in a cloak of dominance and interference.
Almost every social housing project in the UK in the last 15 years has had money from the EU to support it. Community halls, sports clubs, libraries, childcare facilities and many other places regarded as social necessities have also been funded in full or in part by the European Social Fund. The five weeks holiday, the equal pay, the minimum wage, paternity leave and even the guarantee of a fair trial all have their basis one way or another in Europe.
Anti-European MPs are content to criticise the Human Rights Act and the European Court of Human Rights which owes its existence not to the EU but to the Council of Europe which is an entirely different organisation altogether. As we have pointed out previously, the ignorance of MPs in relation to European issues is stunning.
Very few of our elected representatives truly understand the relationship, political or otherwise, that truly exists between the UK and its European partners. Their ignorance is echoed by that of the general public who either have no interest whatsoever in European affairs or simply can’t be bothered to understand it. They are prefer to be force-fed a diet of anti-European feeling by the tabloids who regularly join forces with the rich and powerful in Britain in order to keep things as they are.
The other major problem is of course that Britain still thinks it rules the world when in fact, if truth be told, the rest of the world is quite content to ignore Britain altogether. The Americans also still believe that they rule the world whereas in reality, it is the Chinese who ultimately have the most financial influence.
Actually, a rather amusing incidents took place recently when officials from the United Kingdom Border Agency were warned by Belgian police that if they were intent on continuing to question certain passengers on a Eurostar train, the officials from the UKBA might themselves be arrested. “You are not in Britain now” said one policeman, “and if these people make a complaint, you will be arrested.”
It is this hangover from 19th-century British imperialism that is the real problem.
TheOpinionSite.org believes that it is time, for the good of all of us, that Britain realises it’s true role in the world. It gives us no pleasure to point out that just about every other nation hates Britain. The Americans hate us because we get in the way, the Europeans hate us because we are xenophobic and anti-European, the Russian hate us for obvious reasons and most of the rest of the world hates us because they still see us as trying to interfere in their own affairs.
That is not a good position from which to start when faced with the most serious economic crisis that Europe has ever seen and when one is trying to negotiate and contribute to a mechanism by which that economic crisis can be solved. Prattling on about minor British concerns in order to satisfy one’s own backbenchers is not the way forward for any Prime Minister when just about everybody else takes the opposite view.
Comparisons have been drawn between Mr. Cameron’s position now, trying to balance the interests of the country against the political pressure from those within his own party, and the position in which John Major found himself when he was prime minister. Major famously referred to anti-European Tory backbenchers as “bastards” who are intent on bringing him down. Much to everybody’s surprise however, major triumphed over adversity and was even victorious in another election.
If David Cameron is to make any useful contribution to this week’s summit at all, he must proceed from a position in which he largely ignores the criticism from his own anti-European colleagues and instead concentrates on what is best for the UK in economic terms. He has the backing of his coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats, an advantage that John Major did not have.
Cameron must stand firm in the face of opposition and even if the likes of the Home Secretary, Theresa May seize the opportunity to try and plunge a knife deep into his back, he must still resist and do what is best for the country’s economy, rather than to appease those who criticise him.
Ironically, this may be the moment where Cameron can for once in his life show that he is in fact a strong leader and is not simply a Prime Minister who looks out for himself and who gives in to weak, ignorant and self interested Tory backbench MPs. This may be his opportunity to show that he really is prepared to put the country first and ahead of his own political motives.
If he is indeed able to do so, he will garner new respect from those who previously had directed nothing but derision and criticism towards him – and that includes TheOpinionSite.org.
In order to do this however, he must take himself into a darkened room where he can think clearly and where he can realise, no doubt with much regret, that he is not the Prime Minister of a powerful and influential country but is instead the leader of a country that is now of very little importance to most other nations in the world; a country that is in reality of even less importance to those nations in Europe who, instead of fighting each other for their own selfish gain, have chosen to work together for the common good.