Alex Massie

Club Rules, Brussels Edition

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Ben Brogan's latest post offers a revealing glimpse into the oddness of the eurosceptic mind. He begins:

To the dismay of many of his colleagues preoccupied by the euro crisis, the Prime Minister has been adept at nurturing strong personal relationships with Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy. Instead of confrontation he has engaged constructively with them, to the extent that they listen to him and are willing to consider his attempts to press the British interest. The German chancellor was delighted to discover that Mr Cameron was not the swivel-eyed euro loon she had feared, but a charming and reasonable young man. The French president meanwhile bonded with mon ami Dave over Libya and – pace the odd shouty moment – likes doing business with him.

If I understand this correctly, some - even many - Tory MPs think it regrettable that the British Prime Minister can do business with the leaders of France and Germany? Indeed, according to Brogan, they are "dismayed" by this. Golly.

That said, Brogan is of course right to note that the EU remains driven by the Franco-German alliance. How could it be otherwise, however? There are plenty of reasons to be grateful that Britain is not a member of the eurozone but it's obvious that those benefits are not wholly cost-free. And, evidently, naturally and properly one of those costs is a certain loss of influence. The future of the eurozone is a matter of concern for all europe but, for obvious reasons, it will be decided by the members of the eurzone. It seems perverse to suppose that countries who are not members of the club should have full voting rights on matters that are not their immediate concern.

Again, that doesn't mean Britain should have joined the euro. According to Brogan, however:

The Europe of 27 is, as ever, shown to be a Europe à deux. In Paris on Friday Mr Cameron was denied a press conference, because what he had to say didn't matter as much as what Mr Sarkozy and Mrs Merkel will stitch up. And what they are cooking won't be known in detail until it is presented to the rest of the EU in Brussels later this week. The French like to talk of European solidarity, as long as it's defined in Paris and Berlin.

Well, yeah. You can't have it both ways and no matter how much Britain would like to be in that happy position the game just doesn't work like that. Full members will decide club rules and associate members will have to live with the consequences of those decisions. That, naturally, is a consequence of their own decisions.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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