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Monday 28 January 2013

Boris In The EU Playground

After Young Dave made his jolly good speech on the EU, and no doubt hoped to keep the Tories together as a result, it did not take long for pundits across the political spectrum to point out that he was doing no better than Harold Wilson with Labour in the mid-70s, and that the end result, especially if he didn’t get most of what he wanted, would be a whole lot worse.

But even a united front from Andrew Rawnsley and Peter Oborne has not put off the cheerleaders for Cameron’s jolly wonderful wheeze, who have now been joined – so that Tories, who should know better, think he’s loyal, rather than an unprincipled opportunist – by occasional London Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, in his latest “chicken feed” generating column for the Maily Telegraph.

Bozza has hit on one problem with Young Dave’s approach, and that is that it does not stand serious scrutiny, as Rawnsley and Oborne showed. What percentage of demands satisfied will be “sufficient”? Isn’t Cameron tying his hands by saying he’d campaign for a Yes vote before he starts negotiating? What happens when businesses get fed up and up sticks to the European mainland in the meantime?

So the Boris solution is to demand that his readers “Look Over There”, and especially at Mil The Younger. “Only a coward would deny the people their voice on Europe” he proclaims at the outset. This is because Labour is not unequivocally promising voters a referendum. Bozza concludes that this means they aren’t interested in democracy, because other countries have them.

But other countries have all sorts of customs that we don’t. He cites France, but won’t be advocating their system of internal democracy. Ditto Ireland, because he won’t be wanting their Single Transferable Vote system for us, either. And it goes without saying that he wouldn’t want the proportional systems of Denmark or the Netherlands, though he wants to quote them as exemplars.

Surely to goodness there must be scope for reforming the EU and helping it to become more competitive” says Bozza. One would expect a former MP and Mayor of London to not need to ask that question – he should be able to answer it himself. And he should say what he means by “competitive”, because all that we’re hearing so far is (for instance) the ability to force workers to do more hours.

Britain’s destiny is to build links with the BRICs and other emerging markets” he blusters, while missing the point: that “destiny”, as he puts it, is most likely to be realised via the collective strength of the EU. And that is the depth of his insight, something not thought through as he dashes off his column before another agreeable Sunday luncheon, and the Tel’s subs then let it through.

And he got bunged £5,000 for that. Nice work if you can get it.

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