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Friday 3 April 2009

French Bad, French Good

Eurosceptics are an interesting bunch. They are invariably ready with the usual battery of soundbites: unelected bureaucrats, federal drift, Brussels diktat, all are deployed against the perceived array of dreadful foreigners telling us free spirited Brits what to do. And as for the French, well, for them a particularly strong scorn is reserved: we have to put up with all the directives, so the tale goes, but the French can just please themselves and get away with it. Thus the EU is portrayed as being biased against the UK, a playing field that will never be level – or not as level as some would like.

And then along comes the G20.

The medium term, sustainable, prudent defender of the colour Broon is perceived here as wanting further “fiscal stimulus” – for which read more government spending – from other participants in the proceedings. In this he is further perceived as allied to new White House incumbent Barack Obama. Not all Eurosceptics resist any idea of further government intervention – or even any government intervention – but there is, as the average statistician might say, a strong correlation between the two.

So, when German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Nicolas Sarkozy came out against further government intervention, with Sarko even suggesting that he might not sign the end of conference communiqué, Eurosceptics were in new territory. They’re suspicious of the Germans, and dislike the French, but hate Pa Broon even more. So the French go from dastardly zero to financially sound hero in one bound.

Now, all it needs to tie the silly beggars up in knots properly is for Jean-Claude Trichet to signal the adoption by the European Central Bank (ECB) of a sound money policy. Again, not all Eurosceptics are paid up members of the Freddie Hayek Glee Club, but there’s another of those strong correlations.

Of course that won’t happen. Which is good for your average Eurosceptic: too many about turns and folks might wonder where you really stand.

[Postscript: It was no surprise to me that the spoiling chucker of the Microsoft product used to put this post together managed Obama and Merkel, but not Sarkozy]

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