So David Cameron vetoed the new deal in Europe before it had even been written. As far as we can tell, Cameron’s position was that Britain must be exempt from any new regulation of the financial sector (you remember them, the ones who got us all in a mess to start with). Clearly Sarkozy (and others) were not going to be told at gunpoint that the British wanted a competitive edge over everyone else in what is supposed to be after all a free trade area – and said so. The result? British walk away before the real negotiations have even begun. No chance for compromise. No chance to argue our case. We aren’t playing.
Of course the Eurosceptics are cock-a-hoop. They should be – if Britain ever leaves the EU in the future, it will probably because of that one petulant moment when we vacated our chair at the top table.
The remaining countries at the table will still make their decisions, and make no mistake we will be affected by what they decide. We just have no input any more.
A sensible position might have been to take part in the negotiations, and then exercise our right to say no when the detail had been thrashed out. Even Thatcher and Major always stayed at the table, always fought Britain’s corner to the last.
This is a cop out and leaves us isolated and exposed. It’s a sop to the Eurosceptic back-benchers and the Eurosceptic press.
If the EU is a juggernaut travelling down the motorway (or autobahn/autostrada/autoroute) we are now riding on the roof. We cannot reach any of the controls and we certainly don’t have the ear of the driver.
And frankly, if we go around enough sharp bends we could easily be flung aside.