It’s in Britain’s interests to be more involved in Europeby Peter Mandelson / November 16, 2011 / Leave a comment
Published in December 2011 issue of Prospect Magazine
Take a leap of faith. Assume that, despite the woes in Greece, Italy and elsewhere, the roughly sketched out eurozone rescue plan succeeds in saving the currency union, in some form. Assume that the eurozone, whoever is in or out, is set decisively on the path of closer fiscal union and collective debt liability. Assume that all the consequent decisions about eurozone structural reform and the difficult political adjustment required are put in place. If the euro crisis is to be resolved in the long term, these things have to happen. Where does this leave Britain?
For most British Eurosceptics, the fact that Britain has found itself drawn into supporting the troubled eurozone, either through the International Monetary Fund or directly, as it has with the Irish bailout, is the unacceptable price of European union. Euroscepticism has been the majority view in the Conservative party for the last 20 years, but it is now the unanimous view, Kenneth Clarke notwithstanding. October’s parliamentary revolt by backbenchers over a referendum on British membership of the European Union was chiefly a disagreement over tactics, not principle, that divides a Eurosceptic government from its extremely Eurosceptic dissenters.