Sunday, 11 December 2011

Did Cameron wish for a furious Clegg?

It isn't just me who was rather irate about David Cameron's handling of Europe early on Friday morning. It appears that Nick Clegg his Deputy is equally angry.

Of course in 1992 the Prime Minister was special adviser to Norman Lamont on Black Wednesday when his reaction to an Exchange Rate Mechanism crisis was to up interest rates first from 10 to 12%, then to 15%, then back down to 10% and withdraw from the ERM. All in the space of 24 hours. Maybe if he had stayed around the table in Brussels for a few extra hours we would have had some diplomacy, but then maybe we didn't have a diplomat at the table. Two years later there was a Cabinet member training in the way diplomacy works in Europe, but he was sleeping in his flat in Sheffield at the time of the negotiations.

So what was the problem that Cameron ran across, surely it couldn't have been the issue of more fiscal union of the Eurozone countries, that was something that his Chancellor George Osborne had been talking about for months. Although I doubt his talk of a two speed Europe was going to be us against the other 26. Or does that become a three speed Europe those in the Eurozone, the nine not in that yet and then us now?

As for the autonomy of 'our' banking sector, the Tobin tax that was negotiated had a separate veto attached to it. So what additional threat was the Prime Minister protecting his friends in the city from, as this wasn't mentioned in the communique from the EU leaders.

The Prime Minister said that he couldn't let 'our' banking sector suffer while he protecting the parts of Britain that we enjoy like the single market. HANG ON A SECOND! The single market was set up to allow freedom of movement of resources across the EU whether labour, trade, influence etc. So the Prime Minister to protect the single market is ring fencing one favoured indusrty and vetoing the rest of the 'single market' from making inroads or approaches to changing that dynamic. What if the Germans were to do the same with their car industry, or the Estonians with their internet business, or sacre bleu the French were to do the same with their viticulture. Bang goes the champagne at Tory conferences.

How can the UK operate in a single market if he claims that it has the sole property rights to a certain industry? It doesn't work. Either you are in a single market where the industries can decide how and where they wish to operate or you are not. So how is the PM protecting a single market by doing this. What if a new industry wants to relocate to the UK, but the other EU countries that currently have parts of it are reluctant to let that go. The PM will argue that we are in a 'single market' but they will reply, but you have your banking industry, remember Brussels.

The Prime Minister may well have backed himself into a corner in order to protect just one industry. He has decided to lift us out of the centre of the EU. As the Guardian reports Clegg fears as
the "lonely man of Europe", with less influence, not more, for the City of London, less influence with the US and less foreign investment.

If Cameron has indeed put the interests of the city above manufacturing and real jobs he will find it increasingly hard to rely on support from the Lib Dems. If the fall out from this decision to step outside of the decision making of Europe means that we have to try and survive on our own pulling power Cameron may realise that unlike in the time of some of his influential forebears, there is less of that than 100 or 200 years ago.

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