What’s the big idea, Britain?

Philosophers identify two means of dealing with uncertainty: theoretische Freiheit and gelebte Freiheit. If ‘theoretical freedom’ means keeping one’s options open, ‘lived freedom’ means making commitments even at the cost of one’s room for manoeuvre.

Events a fortnight ago in Oxford show how these philosophical differences can split the EU. On 21st September, the Polish foreign minister delivered a speech calling for the UK to make a positive choice and commit to the EU instead of endlessly hedging her bets.

He picked up on three arguments. First, the British position on Europe mistakes room for manoeuvre for true freedom. By maintaining an arm’s-length distance to the EU, London is actually allowing decisions to be made for it elsewhere. By committing to the EU, by contrast, the UK could realise her priorities, becoming more powerful and thus freer in real terms.

Second, the UK’s pursuit of autonomy has moved from the pragmatic to the ideological. Put simply, the British are no longer sufficiently open-minded to keep their options open as regards European integration. Instead, they take ad-hoc decisions and dogmatically pursue those options that come without strings attached.

Third, Britain has failed to acknowledge the degree to which she has already bound herself to the EU. Thanks to the principle of parliamentary sovereignty, the British are used to the idea that past decisions can be overturned at the drop of a hat. The EU works differently – votes in favour of further integration mean renouncing this kind of freedom.

So how did the British react to the Pole’s call for active commitment? The response can be summed up as a polite “no thanks, if it’s all the same to you”. Most Britons, it seems, would prefer to bet on the dissolution of the eurozone than to try actively to avert it.

Some of the responses, however, revealed precisely the little-England mentality which the speech had diagnosed. One rejoinder forgave Sikorski his ‘gross interference’ in the UK’s internal affairs, citing Britain’s famous tolerance, before embarking on an invective which put the lie to that particular national myth.

Was the minister, these commentators wondered, really trying to mobilise the British with a hard-hitting critique or was he in fact publicly blackballing the UK in an abject show of loyalty to other European governments – Germany perhaps?

And who was he to talk of commitment anyway? This was a man with an international background, indeed an English education, and a set of beliefs that have shifted markedly since an early flirtation with Euro-scepticism – clearly a slippery cosmopolitan binding his country before hotfooting it to some international sinecure.

But for the most part, the audience seems to have heard Sikorski’s rounded English vowels and congratulated themselves on the sustained power of Britishness. Here was a foreigner delivering a polemic in the spirit of an Oxbridge debating society – an affirmation of Britain’s perpetual rightness. How perfectly charming.

And this is the point: If British values are being picked up by Europeans like Sikorski, it is precisely because of the cosmopolitan effect of the EU and the fact that, in the context of close cooperation, the UK offers an appealing counterpoint to Germanness. Britishness has persisted because of, not despite, the EU. The British cannot have it both ways.

This chimes with what British analysts like Alan Milward have argued, namely that the European Union has been a means of sustaining the European nation-state in the modern world. EU membership may have entailed painful changes, but the process of adaptation would have been rather worse without.

If there is frustration in Poland, therefore, it is because London seems almost wilfully unaware of the EU’s usefulness in this regard. The UK tells herself that a world without the EU would be that cosy old place where she sails the seas and trades with the natives. In reality, if the EU is suffering, it is because the world has become yet more unforgiving towards flabby European states like Britain.

This may of course mean that the Union in its current form really is moribund. But that in turn only infers that European states need to come up with some other means of survival. In the past, British politicians and analysts were always at the forefront of thinking on the new global and regional architecture. The UK must commit to something.

  1. #1 by Richard Brooks on October 11, 2012 - 2:46 pm

    I hope you don’t mind me saying, one of your best articles yet. Still can’t see it changing any mindsets in the UK. Given the current clutch of politicians on both sides of the house, I can’t see any creative thinking on the EU coming out of the UK for at least 2 parliaments. Sad, because the Eu does need some creative thinking right now.

  2. #2 by Victor on October 11, 2012 - 9:41 pm

    The UK was at the forefront of the foundation of the Council of Europe. It also helped found the Western European Union.

    But when it came to choosing on further integration it picked the European Free Trade Association instead of the European Economic Community.

    Now history is replaying itself. The EU is splintering into the Eurozone/Schengen and the rest.

    The creation of the European Stability Mechanism and the discussions about an Eurozone budget and EZ Assembly mean that Western Europe will put pressure on the remaining Eastern Europe non-EZ members to adopt the Euro or be relegated. The discussions about the Financial Transaction Tax and the potential increased use of enhanced cooperation and treaties outside the EU framework, as well as the development of the Justice area, also point in this continued historic direction. UK vetos are irrelevant.

    In a few years the UK could find that the Eurozone has integrated to the point that remaining outside is just as unpalatable as remaining in EFTA.

  3. #3 by Anthony Eaton on October 12, 2012 - 10:20 am

    Just now and then the “Little England” mentality has come in useful, particularly to France when her now best friend invaded and left the United Kingdom alone. I must admit to bias, as a staunch member of UKIP.

    • #4 by Spyro on October 12, 2012 - 1:49 pm

      Aside from the obvious lack of geographical reasons as to why the UK was spared from land invasion while France was not, the Little England mentality was not in the slightest relevant back then. Remember Churchill calling for the USE, and how British politicans were key participants in the early European discussions.

      In any case this sort of mentality is what will soon turn the UKIP into the EIP. Cheers

      • #5 by Calvin on October 19, 2012 - 4:39 pm

        Churchill did call for a USE but he no wish for Britain to be part of it. He saw it more as part of a way to line up against communist Russia and to prevent more European wars (both of which Britain had to fix/intervene in) In the end, the idea turned into Nato which has kept the peace in Europe, whilst Brussels stood by and debated a lot as the Balkans descended into hell.

  4. #6 by Felix on October 12, 2012 - 1:35 pm

    Anthony Eaton, don’t kid yourself. It was for us, the Americans, that sorted the the crap in Europe twice already. First time it was a stalemate at Verdun. Next time the Germans kicked our ass, conquered France and cornered England on your little pathetic island. Just because you and your French cousins were on the podium when the surrender was signed it only means you got incredibly lucky, that’s all.

    • #7 by Mikko on October 18, 2012 - 12:19 pm

      Funny, I thought that D-Day ( when US finally entered the war) was only possible thanks to this little pathetic island. Not to mention how important player it was in Africa and Asia. You know, this little pathetic island still was a global superpower/empire back then.

    • #8 by Robert C on October 22, 2012 - 12:04 pm

      What a little tirade of sad self hatred, Felix.

      The Germans “kicked our ass” (clearly you can’t spell because an ass is an animal, not a part of the human anatomy) so badly that they:
      1) Failed to invade the UK and destroy the RAF;
      2) Finished the war with all their cities destroyed as a result;
      3) Ended up with the UK in control of a large part of their country, with military bases on their soil for decades after.

      That kind of “kicking our arse”? Seriously, I am not one to engage in British triumphalism and would be the first to admit that the Soviets and Americans played a bigger part in destroying the Nazis. But without the UK holding out in the way it did, the Americans wouldn’t have even engaged with the Nazis, let alone be able to fight them successfully.

      Go away and learn some history and English, Felix, and then start making comments.

      • #9 by jon livesey on November 6, 2012 - 2:30 am

        Ironic, I think, that Felix posted his ignorant little rant on the week that sees the anniversary of el Alamein, the very first battle that saw any of the allied armies unambiguously defeat an Axis army in a set piece battle.

  5. #10 by Pedro on October 13, 2012 - 7:39 am

    The not-so-united kingdom isn’t even able to hold itself together. Scotland in 2014 is just the first domino to fall. Even their closest neighbours are tired of little englanders’ xenophobia, insolence, beligerence, and nonsense. These people are just naysayers, envious of the Franco-German founded European Union because they themselves can’t hold anything together that’s worth anything…..

  6. #11 by Bastian on October 15, 2012 - 1:49 pm

    The English don’t have to subdue to a centralized and autocratic €uroland because they have London as a global financial centre and do not rely on German transfer payments beyond what is “harvested” by The City. Anyway, the English geostrategic position was always to prevent and counter any “unification” of Continental powers. Any Continental power agglomeration must never become stronger than England with its global Anglophone allies. As long as NATO remains the clamp between €uroland and the USA, England (with London) will do better outside any EU which is more than free trade.

  7. #12 by Patrick on October 15, 2012 - 2:41 pm

    The English “geostrategic position” has backfired spectacularly. Just as the UK hoped to weaken the EU by widening it and bringing in more states, this only served to accelerate integration and marginalise Britain. Just as countries like Sweden and Poland would previously have supported Britain, now they look towards Germany. Europe is more united now than at any point since the Peace of Westphalia.

    NATO is a bone of contention not only for the Americans but also for many other European countries (like Germany) who see it as a cold war relic and an obstacle to greater rapprochement with Russia. I wouldn’t count on it hanging around for too much longer, especially if the remaining member states move towards greater military and defence cooperation, something which Britain has always blocked but the Americans have encouraged.

    It’s too early to see how London’s place as a financial centre will be affected by its EU exit. But the outcome of case T-45/12 will give us some idea. To recall, this concerns the UK challenge to the ECB’s attempt to stop non-Eurozone states from trading in Euros. The recent NYSE/Deutsche Boerse failed merger gives an indication of the way the wind is blowing.

  8. #13 by Alan on October 15, 2012 - 8:39 pm

    Use of the phrase “little England(er)” destroys the author’s credibility in one shot and demonstrates the attitude of a bigot—never mind the institutionalized bigotry of the EU at large.

  9. #14 by Bastian on October 15, 2012 - 10:05 pm


    Never as United? Yes, but with the exception of the post WWII era never as so politically weak.

    Unification as it seems to take place now under the precinct of the financial crisis will become so expensive for Germany and other northern countries that it cannot hold for long. Whereas England (GB) is already saving by not having to take the risks of the ESM, Target 2 etc.

    The €uro was an advantage for certain indudtries and their owners but bad for the majority of people, first in Germany/Austria/NL and now also in Greece and other debt countries. You probably do not know that Germans and Austrians live in austerity (Harz IV, stagnating or declinng real incomes etc.) since 2003.

  10. #15 by Tony on October 16, 2012 - 9:59 am

    Germany failed to dominate by military means in WWII, but it is now dominating Europe by economic means – WWIII without a shot fired, but being friendlier about it.
    The mass of legislation coming out of Brussels is creating an ever-deepening bureaucratic control of Europe – the antithesis of democracy and is certainly modelled in the French mode of government.
    What the UK wanted when it joined the EEC was a free-trade area and that is what it still wants.
    Sitting thousands of kilometres from Europe, I can see the various debates without getting personally involved in the results of this war of words.
    UK will be well shot of the EU and the Euro as continental Europe plunges headlong into economic chaos by the incredibly stupid currency war that will destroy prosperity in the whole of Europe for decades and possibly for generations in the case of the “Latin” members of the EU.

    • #16 by Doreen on October 16, 2012 - 4:23 pm

      Now that is just deluded.
      First, if Germany is dominating Europe, that is to some extent inevitable, seeing as its population is the biggest by a considerable margin, and it has the biggest economy by a considerable margin. German domination of Europe would be much more acute if it acted exclusively in its own interest, without any constraints by EU regulations, Common Market rules, common monetary policy etc.
      Second, there is no “mass of legislation coming out of Brussels”, that’s nonsense. Read the literature – there are studies examining exactly how much of national legislation in EU member states comes “from Brussels” and how much is due to national legislatures. Suffice it so say the latter dwarfs the former. Moreover, nothing that comes “out of Brussels” has not been agreed by the British government and/or British MEPs and/or drafted British EU officials. Like it or not, the EU can do precious little without the consent of the member states. The number of cases where Britain has been outvoted or overruled is tiny. The norm is to work on stuff until a consensus has been reached in the Council, which does include Britain. Stuff Britain has opted out of it can hardly complain about.
      Third, sure – a free trade area is what Britain wants, but that comes at a price. The price is common regulation, not least to stop Britain swamping the EU market with inferior goods, for example what passes for sanitary appliances in the UK. :)
      Finally, the miracle of the Eurozone is that countries that have been at each other’s throats just a few decades ago are now vouching for each other, even forgiving some debt. Don’t you see what a turnaround that is? Yes, people who never complained about a 14th salary in a year nor about endemic corruption for decades now have to pay the price for living above their means. The chickens have come home to roost, and of course, nobody likes it. But it’s not the Euro’s fault – the Euro is just the reason why countries are forced to help each other out and not resort to printing more money, which went oh-so-well in the past … So maybe looking a little closer from farther away might help to see things clearer.

  11. #17 by VANICHE on October 16, 2012 - 10:26 pm

    The EU is not the path to Freedom but serfdom and a new German overlord. A new sozialismus tyranny is rising once again and it’s futile to put rational arguments to the indoctrinated that blindly worship the dogma.

  12. #18 by Arvor on October 18, 2012 - 9:12 am

    By 2040 countries like Indonesia or Mexico and a whole lot of others would have economies that would rival and alot which would dwarf Britains in size, the shift in economic weight and eventually overall geopolitical power will affect every European nation state and the only hope for anyone living in this continent to have some sort of heft in the “new world order” of things is in forming an ever closer union, even with such a union the EU by 2040 or 2050 would have an economy that is smaller than countries like China and India at best it could remain a distant 3rd or 4th from it’s current 1st but that slide is better than what individual EU countries even the likes of the UK would be relegated to on their own .

    • #19 by Calvin on October 19, 2012 - 4:42 pm

      You’re right, small countries like Switzerland, Norway, Singapore, Australia, Israel, South Korea. None of them have money. Oh wait, they do, and they’re half the size of Britain. If population had anything to do with productivity, Africa would be the powerhouse of the world.

      • #20 by Arvor on October 26, 2012 - 9:46 am

        I was talking about the relative geopolitical weight of countries in a changing world order .

        I have no problems with the UK relegating itself basically into an EU vassal state and global irrelevance, as long as this English self effacement does not hinder European interests then im all for it .

        Frankly Europe and the Eurozone has a great destiny ahead of it and we have been slowed down long enough by little Englander ideologies, so bring on the UK referendum and please do vote to leave our union thank you very much .

  13. #21 by max on October 18, 2012 - 10:11 am

    Great article. Let’s hope enlightenment does not hit these Isles too late.

  14. #22 by Pete on October 18, 2012 - 1:49 pm

    Clearly this article has been posted by a pro Federalist leaning character who believes in democracy but has a different view to most others.

    I thought democracy means you vote in a body which runs a countries affairs. Based on this premise, the EU is NOT a democracy.

    How on earth can a country’s integration by stealth into a centrally managed socialist straight jacket help any country?

    Are the consequences being seen in the likes of Greece and Spain not enough? Do people really think that this is still a good idea?

    The EU is simply becoming a watered down version of the USSR – and look what happened to them, BANKRUPT – I’m afraid the likes of the Polish got away from the frying pan and now their simply sleep walking into the fire.

    The reason Europe is/was strong was because France is France, Germany is Germany and the UK is the UK – the best way countries can become well off is if they are productive and competitive and not strangled with reams of red tape – no country needs to attach itself to something else because other countries are advancing their economies.

    Any country, no matter how big or small they are must make sure they:

    a. Focus on what they do best and constantly seek to do better and fight for new markets
    b. Live within their means
    c. Keep the economy on a sensible monetary footing, i.e control inflation, govt spending etc.
    d. Invest well in decent education, not just money but well designed programs fit for the workplace (like Germany does very well with apprenticeships)
    e. Get away from all this left wing political correctness non-sene and focus on common sense
    f. Govts stop trying to manage everything centrally, create good business conditions for businesses to flourish.

    All the EC/EU ever needed to be was a free trade area, none of this big central government staffed with failed politicians who cant even balance their own books – no wonder the Euro is such a disaster and the sooner we leave the EU the better.

  15. #23 by Steve Holmes on October 19, 2012 - 1:17 pm

    Unlike our politicians who all seem to be in thrall of the corrupt and over-bureaucratic EU, the majority of UK citizens fail to see why we have to contribute many £billions that we can ill afford, merely to trade with other European countries.
    The best way to sort out these UK/EU ‘difficulties’, would be for the UK to hold a ‘proper’ referendum. That of course will not take place because the politicians are very fearful of the result……….but unless it does happen, then the UK is likely to remain the most factious member.

  16. #24 by jocelyn braddell on October 19, 2012 - 2:32 pm

    If the EU accepts the Nobel Peace Prize it must withdraw from NATO and the EU Army should not engage outside its members borders and above all be a Peace Keeping force whose troops are not trained to murder. All USA armaments should be withdrawn by USA government and a Nuclear Free area be declared and registered under International Law

  17. #25 by Roger Cole on October 21, 2012 - 3:13 pm

    As an Irishman, some of your contributors might agree that I would have more reason than most to join in the attack on GB. However, I believe what motivates many people in Britain is a belief in national democracy and calling them ‘little Englanders” is a form of racism. Neither are they alone. The massive austerity being imposed on the Irish people by the Irish government because of their fanatical commitment to Europe is causing a growing level of alienation from the EU, and I suspect the same process if happening in the other counties in the EU which are also suffering from growing levels of poverty as a consequence of its continuing commitment to the neo-liberal economic policies that caused the crisis in the first place.
    If the decision to give the Nobel peace prize to the EU whose policies include supporting totally unjustified sanctions on Iran that is preventing it from importing medical supplies because they might have nuclear weapons in the future while at the same time actively supporting Israel that does have them, is an indication of the future foreign policy of the EU, then a peaceful negotiation of its dismantling and its replacement by a partnership of independent democratic states for the purpose of trade would be a much better vision of the future of the Europe than the what is on offer now.

    • #26 by jocelyn braddell on October 23, 2012 - 3:29 pm

      It is notable that the USA is intent on breaking the level of trust in diplomatic communications at every level. Thus allowing them speak and act with violence in all their areas of interest

  18. #27 by David Ruddick on October 22, 2012 - 4:03 am

    Why has the term “little-England” been used? The writer must be aware that the UK consists of more than just England.

  19. #28 by droom on October 22, 2012 - 10:52 am

    Great article indeed. And a bravo to the broader perspectives of Felix and Pedro.
    It is time the UK will be confronted with a mass movement on social media on the Continent of the EU with the slogan “Kick the Brits out (of EU)”. Cameron should become the paria in the EU for as lomg as he does not leave the EU.

    • #29 by Robert C on October 22, 2012 - 11:55 am

      Kicking the Brits out of the EU, eh?

      So presumably the EU is so rich that it has no need of our net contribution to the budget and is doing so well economically that it has no need for the second largest consumer market after Germany?

      If however, “kicking out” means offering a free trade agreement while meaning we don’t have to engage in the anti-democratic charade that is Eurofederalism, that sounds like a GREAT idea.

      What is the threat supposed to be in “kicking out” Britain, exactly?

      • #30 by Arvor on October 26, 2012 - 9:52 am

        Britain will have to continue paying to EU budgets as long as it wishes to trade with us wheter it is in or out … just like the Swiss or the Norwegians .

  20. #31 by Wim Roffel on October 22, 2012 - 11:58 am

    I wish my government (the Dutch) was as wise as the British. But they insist on keeping our heads in the ever closer tightrope.

  21. #32 by Froggy on October 22, 2012 - 12:06 pm

    @David Ruddick
    “little-England” because England is leading the pack… with some reluctant parts of it, like Scotland, Wales and even Cornwall. I guess Scotland would not request independence if England would be less anti-EU.

  22. #33 by Froggy on October 22, 2012 - 12:22 pm

    @Robert C.
    “little-England”‘s logic, isn’t it ?
    UK net contribution is close to nil. Your market is only 60 millions people and decreasing : check the level of population into our different countries.
    And if I do understand, you would like to get all the profit of OUR European market without the commitments which go with it…
    The threat would be a status like Norway or Switzerland : any trade has to follow the European rules, certainly not the Swiss or Norwegian ones.
    Are you ready for that ?

    • #34 by Hoover on October 28, 2012 - 10:31 am

      I’m unclear why you’re claiming the population of the UK is 60 million and falling when it’s 63 million and rising. I’m also puzzled as to your claim that the UK’s net contribution is close to nil when it’s 7.4 billion GBP – the second highest.

  23. #35 by mak Noakes on October 22, 2012 - 3:24 pm

    Typical tactics of believers in the undemocratic,profligate Soviet style empire,growing in Brussels,anyone who opposes is a racist,a little Englander for example.There will never be rational discussion concerning the EU,they have sullied the waters from the beginning.The pro EU,British FCO,laid out their strategy 40 years ago to marginalise opposition by calling them little Englanders and bigots.Seems nothing has changed,another version of this is calling those who oppose the unaudited,corrupt and unelected centrist power mongers is anti European.It is the EU that is anti European,its crazy economic and social policies are leading to the rise of nationalism and islamism all over Europe.They are prepared to destroy liberal democracy and impoverish whole countries to achieve their rotten, federal vision.

  24. #36 by ASF on October 23, 2012 - 1:01 pm

    What any one can expect from a country ruled by upper class twits, Hurray for Average Britain!

  25. #37 by Joe on October 23, 2012 - 7:08 pm

    Robert C :What is the threat supposed to be in “kicking out” Britain, exactly?

    It’s a sort of supremacist thinking that has dogged European society for centuries, and still haunts some people. That a people would want to be free to choose their way, in their own way, whether that’s in or out, give some of them a reason to call for specific political figures to pe made into pariahs for merely disagreeing with their own position.

    Free will… they just don’t get it.

  26. #38 by Joe on October 23, 2012 - 7:13 pm

    jocelyn braddell :It is notable that the USA is intent on breaking the level of trust in diplomatic communications at every level.

    Actually it’s notable that it’s flatly untrue, but that you promote the idea anyway. I understand the longstanding tradition of European populations uniting themselves with a happy, hateful lie. It takes an especially two-dimensional mind, one especially incapable of synthesis, to find bogeymen useful.

    It does little to salve the fact that the US are Europeans’ only genuine friend in the world, upon whom they can count in any serious matter, suct as the US already has in triming the edges off of Europe’s financial problems to prevet it from cascading.

  27. #39 by Robert A on October 29, 2012 - 7:13 pm

    it is pretty simple what we Brits want from the EU.
    A vote .

    Nobody in continental Europe seems to understand that simple basic fact.

    It is not a question of the UK leaving the EU.
    Rather a question as to where the EU itself is heading.

    Lets open up the entire European Borders with no restriction to trade or immigration from all part of the world.
    Lets have better tolerance on ethnic religion and interests throughout EU policy . please.

    Are we not the same kith and kin fellow brother regardless of borders.
    What are you frightened about ?

    Why cannot someone from China/Russia etc be head of the EU.

    Afterall we have a German queen in England.

  28. #40 by Alan on October 30, 2012 - 2:49 am

    Quote: “UK relegating itself basically into an EU vassal state and global irrelevance, as long as this English self effacement” UNQUOTE

    Will people please stop using “UK” and “England” interchangably. It shows up your ignorance. England is only one part of the UK. Thank you.

  29. #41 by Pedro on October 31, 2012 - 6:21 am

    uk and england is not used interchangeably. I make a distinction between the Europhobic, xenophobic, ignorant little englanders driving anti-EU policies in the name of the uk, and the Welsh, Scots, and Northern Irish! It is ignorant to suggest that Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland are of the same opinion of little england. Thank you.

    • #42 by Hoover on November 1, 2012 - 8:42 am

      Ah, yet again the “little Englander” epithet is deployed. Do those in favour of more Europe have anything besides insults?

      I see fewer and fewer practical arguments, and more and more lashing out with name-calling politics. That’s no way to win the debate!

  30. #43 by Crystal Ball on November 5, 2012 - 7:43 pm

    I would expect nothing less from the muddled thinker writing this article! Formerly worked in Brussels and Berlin…..I wonder who that could have been for?
    Now working in Poland, the country that contributes a tiny amount to the EU budget, but receives the most in return!
    He comes from the Isle of Man, but apparently spends little time there, according to his above credentials. One could be forgiven for believing he doesn’t much like Islands!
    Please try to remain objective when you publish, otherwise your written words have no more validity than any other “rabid” EU ideologists!

  31. #44 by jon livesey on November 5, 2012 - 9:15 pm

    This column is a perfect example of the way the EU has come full circle. It started as a trade organization, and here is an author writing an impassioned plea for the UK to “commit” to the Eu which mentions trade only once, and that indirectly.

    It seems that like all utopian schemes, the EU has taken on a life of its own, at least in the minds of its supporters, that intends simply to perpetuate the institution, not to fulfill its original goals.

    Before the EU was created, Western Europe routinely saw 5% annual growth, balanced budgets, a trade surplus, and effectively zero unemployment.

    Today it has zero or negative growth, 11% unemployment persisting for a decade, a current account deficit, high budget deficits and growing debt.

    I’d say it’s no wonder that the proponents of the EU defend it in terms of the survival of the institution rather than its results. It is quite simply less embarrassing.

    Like the author, I think the UK should commit to something. It should commit to continuing to grow its exports to markets outside Europe, it should commit to making its labour markets more flexible. It should commit to reducing the amount of regulation of business and industry that exists to keep Brussels busy rather than to benefit the consumer.

  32. #45 by bartman on November 6, 2012 - 7:17 am

    “Put simply, the British are no longer sufficiently open-minded to keep their options open as regards European integration.” Or you’re not hearing the UK say “no further integration.”

    This is a piece about independence vs commitment at the national level, by a writer clearly lacking respect for the same phenomena at an individual level or, for that matter, at any intermediate, sub-national level. Classic EU/EMU disease.