The European Commission seems unable to negotiate a strategic vision of Europe’s future in the wake of Brexit. That presents you, Monsieur President, with a unique opportunityby Richard Dearlove / December 13, 2017 / Leave a comment
I would like to congratulate you on your stunning electoral success. Those of us who know and love France are excited by your election to the Presidency of the Fifth Republic. France, inspired by the prospect of your leadership, is rediscovering its self-confidence and political élan after a difficult period of introspection. We wish you well on the challenging path of economic and social reform. Your British admirers well understand that Brexit for you is a secondary problem, though in your recent publication “Revolution,” your do refer to Brexit as Europe’s crisis and a symptom of Europe’s fatigue. From that I understand that the future of Europe is at the forefront of your political concerns, even if the specific implications of Brexit for the UK are not.
I appeal to your sense of history and strategy in your analysis both of Europe’s crisis and the practical aspects of Brexit. Our two countries have a common history that in war and peace has helped to shape the destiny of Europe for more than a thousand years. In the last century we stood together to protect the values of European civilisation through the darkest days. The Entente Cordiale, which we signed in 1904, has characterised this relationship and its spirit endures to this day.
Britain has always been a European power but in its soul never a continental one—Napoleon and De Gaulle both grasped this essential distinction. It also explains the UK’s attitude to its membership of the European Union. We have always pursued a policy of exceptionalism, believing fundamentally in our difference from other member states: hence the British rebate, our refusal to join the euro and the Schengen Agreement, our constant pressure for a politically shallow union, our discomfort with Franco-German domination of many issues, and Cameron’s final attempts to extract further concession for special treatment.
Read Jay Elwes’s recent interview with Dearlove: I spy nationalism
Despite our different attitudes to EU membership, in particular our clashing views on Europe’s political future, we have maintained excellent bilateral relations across the broadest range of topics. I would point you towards our defence, intelligence and security cooperation (where my own experienced was gained) as an exceptional example. No two European nations have worked together more closely in these most sensitive of areas where special levels of trust are necessary and exercised…