Christopher Fildes

It’s an overdue jolt for Europe’s tram on the line to ever-closer union

It’s an overdue jolt for Europe’s tram on the line to ever-closer union

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There has to be a first time for everything, and now the French have taken my advice. ‘Allez France’, so I urged them last week, ‘votez Non, votez souvent’ — and they did. Offered Europe’s new constitution on a plate with lettuce round it, they sent it straight back like a grounded soufflé. Now I expect to be told that the soufflé’s collapse was all my fault. It has to be somebody’s. Blame is drifting round the Eurosphere like a dark cloud, looking for someone to rain on. Jacques Chirac and Tony Blair now look all set to blame each other. Eurocrats blame the folly of asking impossible questions like this, and try to pretend that the whole aberration never happened. This gambit has worked in the past, after all. Too many careers have been invested in the notion that Europe is on a tramline towards ever-closer union for mere voters to be allowed to push the tram into a siding. Career investments on these lines, or tramlines, are a French speciality. Before signing up for the euro, France insisted that the job of its bank manager should revert to Jean-Claude Trichet, of the Banque de France. In the grand tradition of jobs for les gar