But if attempts to bail-out Ireland in some way represent a takeover, then it is not a happy one. As I wrote on Monday, Ireland's nightmare is fast devolving into a massive problem for Europe and its individual nations. Few will feel this fact quite so clearly as George Osborne, who this morning has been preparing us for British involvement in the rescue plan. As he put it, "Ireland is our closest neighbour and it's in Britain's national interest that the Irish economy is successful and we have a stable banking system. So Britain stands ready to support Ireland in the steps that it needs to take to bring about that stability." But the idea of lending cash to a eurozone member – even with the promise that it will be paid back in time – is hardly going to sit well with a nation trudging through its own age of austerity.
If we do end up handing £6 billion – or more – over to Ireland, then at the very least our government needs to set out, in clear terms, why it has done so. Rhetoric about "national interest" is not sufficient – but a proper explanation of what we stand to gain and lose might just be. When Obama introduced his fiscal stimulus, he went out of his way to enumerate what the public would get for their money. Osborne must endeavour to do the same.