And speaking Europe, a group of EU Federalists have gone so far over the weekend to suggest that the UK should be offered some form of second class status within the EU. Their logic is that this will settle the English question and allow them to move on with a more Federal EU.
While this proposal might seem tempting to the Euro-skeptics I believe it also highlights the dangers to the UK of going down such a route of either EU withdrawal or second class status, as I discussed previously. Numerous professional bodies, including notably the CBI are dead set against any such idea. Why? Because they recognise that UK will be diminishing its powers of negotiation in various matters and might well find itself facing the situation where it has to accept something that all the other member states have agreed too, as a condition for continued trade with the EU.
In short if you’re skeptical of the EU the worse thing you could do would be leave or allow the UK’s veto and influence over EU policy to diminish. As the saying goes, keep you’re friends close, your enemies…even closer.
Indeed the very things the Tory’s moan most about the EU, the European Human rights act or the courts in Strasbourg making inconvenient rulings. These would not go away, the UK would still need to pass some sort of human rights act (if it wanted to remain a member of the EU, NATO, the UN and a host of other international bodies) and set up a form of supreme court to regulate that. I can guarantee you, the very same problems emerging with the Strasbourg court would thus simply relocate to London.
Immigration into the UK would not decline, indeed by shutting the door to the EU the traffic would increase (as those entering the UK to immigrate into the EU would cease to leave and the French would now have absolutely no incentive to stop anyone sneaking in via Calais).
Federal EU and underpants Gnomes
And just to show that the underpants gnomes school of politics extends beyond the US congress, Tories, UKIP or the SNP, the EU federalist seem to think:
step #1 Sort out the UK euroskeptics
step #2 – ????
step #3 United States of Europe
In reality its not that simple. Pro-EU as I am I would argue that the democratic deficit within the EU would first need to be addressed first. That is to say, a democratically elected and accountable commission and EU president, rather than the current situation of office holders being arbitrary appointed by technocrats in smoke filled rooms. They seem to believe we can sort this problem out afterward, but I would argue it needs to be sorted out before a more Federal Europe emerges.
Without this democratic deficit being addressed a Federalised EU is extremely unlikely to ever be approved by the voting public (we Irish for one will have to have a referendum and think you can guess the result!). Furthermore, as the current crisis in the eurozone shows, it would likely prove unworkable and impractical, an will inevitably end in tears.