Achtung, Bigots!

Last week began with a rather blunt warning from Angela Merkel the German chancellor that the UK might be going “point of no return” as far as remaining an EU member thanks to the antics of Cameron in attempting to appease the UKIP bigot brigade.

It would be useful for Cameron to walk a while in Merkel’s shoes (that way if he say’s anything that makes her angry again, he’ll be several miles away and he’ll have her shoes ;D).

Merkel knows that if she and the EU start conceding on things to Britain, then she’ll have every EU nation looking for this and a lot of the things they’ll want are the sort of thing Germany and Britain don’t want. Also Germany is a federal country. She needs to consider how this will play out in the federal regions of Germany. If she starts making concessions to a foreign country on say, this £1.7 billion bill the British have just received from the EU, and then not give similar leeway to say Bavaria, it would lead to the accusation of double standards…and much use of words such as “Scheibe” or “Arschloch”.

And Merkel’s views were echoed by other EU leaders, even those in Scandinavia who would normally be considered British allies. Conceding ground to the UK on immigration, human rights or this new bill of £1.7 billion is out of the question.

Even the Dutch, who will pay more per capita than the UK, are being clear that they will pay up (they are planning to go over the numbers and make sure its accurate, but they are clear that they will pay what they owe). They didn’t “summon” their EU colleagues, like some mafia don, to an “emergency” summit over a updated bill. I mean I assumed, they’d take this money out of the British rebate. That took my brain about 10 seconds to figure out. One must wonder what went on in this room, as this was pointed out to Osborne, who burst out of there thinking he’s won some sort of reduction, when of course he hasn’t…its just maths doesn’t seem to be his strong point…and he’s the Chancellor! :crazy:

And even here in Britain, Cameron got a frosty reception from the normally Tory friendly CBI. They recognise that immigration is crucial to maintaining a labour market and British membership of the EU is critical for trade. Recent reports from UCL make clear that immigrants from the “new” EU nations (who joined in 2004) represents a £5 – 10 Billion gain to the UK economy. If we count all migrants from the EEA the figure jumps to a gain of £25 billion.

Leaving the EU would (according to the LSE) would cost the UK between 2.5 – 9.5% of GDP (keeping in mind the Great Recession has “only” cost the UK 7% of GDP).

Merkel, like many EU leaders, is also of course a conservative and a believer in free markets. But unlike Cameron or Farage, EU leaders (and the CBI) understand what that means. Restricting immigration, would mean (to put it in economic language) the imposition of a substantial trade barrier. This would be incompatible with both EU common market rules and the normal rules of market capitalism.

And EU leaders know all too well what happened the last time politicians in Europe decided to appease a bunch of loud mouth, right wing national socialists. That ended very badly.

Also, I would argue that a major problem with Merkel, something that became clear during the Eurozone crisis, is that she is a fairly unimaginative politician. I for example would argue that there is a need for reform of the EU. That perhaps we need to get away from a one size fits all membership policy, something which is probably beyond the imagination of Merkel or many current EU leaders.

And most of Merkel’s core supporters are German retiree’s, terrified of anything that will affect their pension or devalue their fixed income. Naturally therefore, she doesn’t want to do anything that will tip the scales radically.

However part of the problem here is that what the Tories are demanding isn’t a negotiation, it’s a hostage taking. Cameron is effectively blundering into the EU with a gun and threatening the EU into doing something his way “or else”. The EU naturally will say no to such demands. A negotiation would involve some sort of quit pro quo. If Cameron is unwilling to concede any ground, then why should the EU help him out with, fears over benefits tourism to Britain?

And in any event a recent Court ruling in Europe in Germany’s favour, could well render this whole thing moot. Of course anyone who followed the statistics would know “benefits tourism” always was a fantasy creation of the right wing media. Either way, it shows that working with the EU is better than the Tory tactic of trying to fight city hall.

There is little point in the UK asking for things the EU can’t deliver. Cameron’s requests regarding immigration and human rights violate not just EU laws but the rules of the Council of Europe, which is a separate organisation to the EU (even Norway, Switzerland and Russia are members). The EU naturally, can’t change the CoE rules, other than the rule that EU members must be members of the CoE (which they would be reluctant to do for what should be fairly obvious reasons). And as I pointed out before, the UK leaving the council of Europe (which would be the only way to satisfy the current Tory/UKIP demands) would put the UK into the same category as dictatorships such as those in Belarus and Uzbekistan.

And recall that the UK either downgrading its EU membership, or leaving altogether would actually play right into the hands of the Eurocrat federalists as it would amount to the taming of the British shrew, as I discussed in a prior post.

Ultimate the British problem with the EU is this insular closed minded xenophobia of some British towards anything foreign. For example I recently sent an invoice to our purchasing department from a European company, for them to pay. After it sat on their desk for several weeks they threw it back at me because they wanted certain “details” from the company…all of which I got from the original invoice! While it contained some French e.g. the address (which would hardly be a surprise, a Belgian company based in Belgium, what are the chances?), the term “lettre” (means letter), but it it was fairly obvious what they were charging for (they put that bit in English!) and it was clear where they wanted the money paid too (BIC, IBAN number’s all clearly labelled as such) and in what currency (speaking of which why don’t the keyboards here have the “euro” symbol on them?). But the finance people seemed to have gone “oh foreign stuff, scary!” 88| and gone into some sort of total brain lock.

Another time, at a different university, I told them I was going to Lithuania for a conference. They started quoting me foreign office advice that was clearly about ten years out of date (i.e. when it was still behind the iron curtain!), which suggested I take dollars and try to barter with locals. I took a wad of Euro’s and waved them at the first taxi driver I met, who took me to a cash machine where I got some of the local currency for my shopping (taxi driver was happy to be paid in euro’s), then paid all the bigger bills with my credit card. Again, there’s this insular attitude that everywhere east of Dover is almost Injian territory.

This I find is all too common of British when they deal with foreigners, notably those from the continent. It’s not the 1500’s. You don’t even have to learn French or German these days (just have Google babelfish handy!). It’s a matter of taking 5 minutes to try and understand other people and not asking for something that can’t be delivered.

Cameron and UKIP remind me of this drunk I saw on a Glasgow street once, having a fight with a bus shelter. He’d keep running into it, swearing at it for getting in his way. Run into it again, fall down and start swearing at it, rather than simply walk around it.

Blundering up to Merkel and saying “eh you fritz, do things our way or else!” and “fritz” will respond by suggesting one should “Verpiss dich”.


One thought on “Achtung, Bigots!

  1. Having lived 20 years in other cultures I’ll go along with all of that! Always enjoy your pithy commentary and now Hub wants the link to your blog too (and he’s half N Irish … uh oh, it will probably take you guys 30 seconds to establish how you are related … not that I’m biased or anything … just very, very experienced 😉 )


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