X

Create an account to continue reading.

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles
For unlimited access to The Spectator, subscribe below

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles

Sign in to continue

Already have an account?

What's my subscriber number?

Subscribe now from £1 a week

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
 
View subscription offers

Already a subscriber?

or

Subscribe now for unlimited access

ALL FROM JUST £1 A WEEK

View subscription offers

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Login

Don't have an account? Sign up
X

Subscription expired

Your subscription has expired. Please go to My Account to renew it or view subscription offers.

X

Forgot Password

Please check your email

If the email address you entered is associated with a web account on our system, you will receive an email from us with instructions for resetting your password.

If you don't receive this email, please check your junk mail folder.

X

It's time to subscribe.

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access – from just £1 a week

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
X

Sign up

What's my subscriber number? Already have an account?

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Your subscriber number is the 8 digit number printed above your name on the address sheet sent with your magazine each week. If you receive it, you’ll also find your subscriber number at the top of our weekly highlights email.

Entering your subscriber number will enable full access to all magazine articles on the site.

If you cannot find your subscriber number then please contact us on customerhelp@subscriptions.spectator.co.uk or call 0330 333 0050. If you’ve only just subscribed, you may not yet have been issued with a subscriber number. In this case you can use the temporary web ID number, included in your email order confirmation.

You can create an account in the meantime and link your subscription at a later time. Simply visit the My Account page, enter your subscriber number in the relevant field and click 'submit changes'.

If you have any difficulties creating an account or logging in please take a look at our FAQs page.

Features

The coming showdown

17 November 2012

9:00 AM

17 November 2012

9:00 AM

Angela Merkel is running out of nice things to say about David Cameron and the Tory rebels who are dictating his European policy. Der Spiegel magazine recently compared the British to ‘at best spectators in the gallery like Statler and Waldorf, the two old men on The Muppet Show’. This was apparently after a briefing from Merkel’s office.

If she thinks the Tories are bad, the public are much worse. Over the summer, the European Commission asked 32,000 people across the continent what they thought about the EU. The Poles are still enthusiastic, the austerity-stricken Irish less so. The Italians are smarting from having lost their prime minister and the Greeks are a bit raw over the sado-austerity. But the most hostile EU member state, by a clear margin, is Britain. Barely a third of us regard EU membership as a benefit and just one in six of us take a ‘positive view’ of it.

As Merkel will know, there is only so long a democracy can be kept in a club against the wishes of its people. The EU model has so far depended on the collusion of elites, but in Britain this model is failing. Public opinion has found a way into the debate, being regularly and elegantly expressed through parliamentary rebellions. The most recent one saw the House of Commons tell the Prime Minister not to come back from next week’s summit with an EU budget for 2014-20 that involves spending increases. Having already portrayed himself as a veto-wielding Boudicca, it would be hard for Mr Cameron to defy them.

[Alt-Text]


As one senior diplomat puts it, ‘a ruction is now far closer than we think’, but not because of British exasperation. The ruction could come from Merkel and others who are thinking of ways to circumvent Britain, cutting us out of the important decisions while keeping our £8 billion-a-year membership fees.

If Cameron wants a frozen EU budget, all he needs to do is wield his veto and one will be imposed automatically. But he’d face bitter resentment from the smaller, newer EU member states that have been promised far more subsidy.

So when it comes to the next big debate — banking regulation — the other EU member states may simply seek to cut Britain out of the equation and agree a deal among themselves, just as they did last December. In this way, Merkel would have set up a new power bloc, formalising the group that carried on when Cameron found himself edged out last Christmas. The new banking regulator would be free to regulate business out of the City of London, ignoring British complaints.

Unacceptable, Cameron may say. He’d be right. But what is his alternative? To withdraw from the European Union involves a battle for which his coalition government is utterly unprepared. This leaves him vulnerable, and Mrs Merkel knows it. The Brits may be heckling already, but things could get a lot worse — and her Muppet Show has a long while left to run.

Give something clever this Christmas – a year’s subscription to The Spectator for just £75. And we’ll give you a free bottle of champagne. Click here.


Show comments
Close