David Blackburn

A hard-headed case of <em>déjà vu</em>

A hard-headed case of <em>déjà vu</em>
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It was as if we’d been transported back a week – here was William Hague talking about ‘hard-headed foreign policy’, the very phrase that David Miliband had used before he swanned-off into the wilderness in a floral shirt.

The details of the two speeches had much in common – an emphasis on free trade, a promise to garner new strategic and economic partnerships in South America and the Near East, balance in the Israeli and Palestinian dispute, global solutions to climate change and a promise to export human rights.

Hague differed in not mentioning liberal interventionism and laying historical and partisan claim to free trade, arguing that the European Commission’s protectionist bent was ‘backward-looking and doomed to fail’. The challenges of globalisation, he said, required urgent action and co-operation between EU member states to preserve free trade, a process that is already underway. This allowed him to segue into the fantasy of repatriating powers from Brussels - a little meat served ‘bleu’, as the French would say, for the conference hall.