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9 December 2011: The day Britain left Europe
by Newropeans-Magazine
2011-12-14 07:28:35
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David Cameron emerged as the villain of the hour in the early hours of this morning as news broke that after tense all-night discussions, the UK has vetoed treaty change to save the faltering euro. The meeting then went to plan B, forging ahead on a new treaty between the 17 countries of the eurozone. This may sound like a small detail, but in reality is huge. As the world press is reporting this morning, this effectively means the UK has left Europe. And even the UK’s usual allies in the American media were aghast.

“UK Threatens Eurozone” headlined ABC News this morning. “UK to Euro nations: We’re out, good luck” heralded CBS News this morning. The reason for Cameron’s veto is bound to make him even more unpopular globally. In order to give his assent to the treaty change, which would not have affected Britain but only the countries using the euro, he demanded that the UK be given an opt-out from proposed increased regulation on banks and financial traders. France and Germany balked, and Cameron walked.

Putting the global economy at risk in order to protect London City traders may not be the most popular stance given the current economic crisis. And Sarkozy emerged from the meeting this morning eager to exploit this. “You cannot have an opt-out and then ask to participate in all the discussion about the euro that you did not want to have, and which you also criticised,” Sarkozy declared at a hastily arranged press conference. It took Cameron a full half-hour after Sarkozy spoke to comport himself and figure out what he was going to say in his own press conference.

Cameron’s intransigence may please his eurosceptic backbenchers, but it will enrage his global allies and the markets. It will also have serious consequences for the future of the EU and Britain. The Eurozone states, plus six others who do not use the euro but will join the pact anyway, will form a new treaty for a fiscal union. Those countries can be expected to join the euro eventually. That leaves four EU states outside this ‘core’ European grouping. Hungary says it just needs to get the approval of its parliament before it signs up. Sweden and Denmark have said the same. That leaves only the UK outside of this bloc.

As the Economist’s Charlemagne blog noted this morning, this is effectively the beginning of the end for the UK’s place in Europe – it is a divorce. The tight union formed by the inner states will move ahead if the specifics are ironed out today. It is still uncertain whether Denmark and Sweden will be a part of this, and whether all Eastern European states will want to go along. But one thing is clear – the UK will not be a part of this process.

The UK will not either have to leave the EU, or watch the EU to become an irrelevant skeleton of its former self while the eurozone moves forward as the new federal entity. This is what Sarkozy has wanted for a long time – an EU without the UK constantly saying no and slowing it down. It looks like he is now getting his wish, which explains why he was looking so confident at last night’s press conference. Cameron, not so much.

Of course even the 23-country deal could unravel today – the details still need to be worked out. But the lines have been drawn, and the future of a two-speed Europe has been decided. Cameron will go back to Britain this afternoon, while the remaining EU states stay to take the decisions that may or may not prevent the collapse of the global economy. The UK has been left isolated and on the outside, looking in. Dave Keating

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Emanuel Paparella2011-12-14 10:19:27
I have a modest proposal: the UK, as the very name UK would suggest, should consider going back to its glory days: re-conquer all its former colonies and re-establish the empire with London as its capital; a sort of Roman Empire redivivus; that will teach those arrogant Europeans off the island…. That ought to be not that difficult; after all there is already a queen in place waiting in the wings who could bring back the glory days of Queen Victoria, and there is plenty of pomp and circumstances around, which once the empire is re-established will be real and not fake. It will need a powerful army; oh well, it can call on its major ally, the US in a supporting role. Eventually, it may even persuade the US to join the Empire and return to its glory days when it was a colony of England, or at the very least establish the confederacy of the Anglo Saxon world. That will get Sarkozy and Merkel and their concept of the greater France and the greater Germany parading as EU.

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