Daniel Korski

Europe keeps vexing the coalition

Europe keeps vexing the coalition
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That the Conservatives and the Lib Dems disagree fundamentally on Europe is a well-known fact. But how much they disagree is rarely put on display as clearly as in today’s European Voice. Andrew Duff, Liberal Democrat MEP and president of the Union of European Federalists, argues that the coalition’s European Union bill – David Lidington’s masterpiece – amounts to “legal pedantry” and will make the UK an “untrustworthy negotiating partner, particularly in matters of treaty amendment, which is such an important driver of European integration.”

'At home, referenda will unleash the forces of populist nationalism. Facile coalitions of nay-sayers will form to block Britain's progress in Europe. Regular referenda on issues of mind-boggling complexity will further sour the British people's already febrile relationship with the Westminster parliament and its political parties. Nobody need delude him - or herself that an EU referendum in Britain can be won, at least for a generation.

The blunt truth is that if this bill becomes law no future EU treaty revision will be possible if the UK remains a full member state of the Union. Plan B anyone?'

The two most interesting points are in the last sentence. First, if an avowed federalist feels that the proposed bill will block further integration then perhaps there is more to the government’s initiative than many eurosceptics have wanted to concede until now. Second, there now seems to be an unholy alliance emerging between eurosceptics in Britain and europhiles on the Continent, both of whom contend that the best future for the EU and Britain is one where the two go their separate ways.