Jan 24, 2013

Cameron’s ‘a la carte’ EU idea just national chauvinism?

David Cameron is playing to his base, largely, in giving Britons the option of divorcing the European Union. But European leaders are warning there will be consequences -- for the EU and Great Britain.

Professor Damien Kingsbury

Crikey international affairs commentator

The English have always been ambiguous towards “the continent”. It is, as any self-respecting English person will tell you, full of foreigners. And England’s Conservatives, particularly their more reactionary, chauvinistic rump, have always been anti-European Union.

So, as the EU contemplates moving towards greater integration, it was not entirely surprising UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced overnight he would hold a referendum on whether the UK would remain within the EU and, if so, on what terms. There was some ambiguity in Cameron’s speech, with some viewing it as a bet each way on the future of the UK’s relationship with Europe.

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6 thoughts on “Cameron’s ‘a la carte’ EU idea just national chauvinism?

  1. Mike Flanagan

    Thanks to Prof Damien but I think Angela Merkel will teach him how to whistle “Dixie” on his finely tuned british lone-some-ness.

  2. Gavin Moodie

    It is true that the European Union suffers from a ‘democratic deficit’, due (partly) to the EU Parliament not having enough powers. But leaving the EU would damage the UK greatly.

    The UK Government doesn’t do enough to build popular support for Europe. London is plastered with union jacks but it is hard to spot an EU flag flying. In contrast, EU flags are all over Berlin while the German flag is not so ubiquitous.

    It seems the 2015 UK election is going to be a de facto referendum on UK’s membership of the EU.

  3. Doug

    One thing that is blatantly missing from this analysis is the internal politics of the UK and the push for Scottish Independence within the EU, where the ‘Better Together’ campaign (Lab, Con and Lib-Dem) have run hard on Scotland having an uncertain future as they claim Scotland would be expelled from the EU as an independent country. It now looks like the only way for Scotland to remain in the EU will be to vote for Independence.

  4. j.oneill

    When Charles de Gaulle vetoed Britain’s attempt to join the EU in the early 1960s he did so partly on the grounds that he was not convinced that the British were committed Europeans. Nothing has happened in the intervening half century to suggest that de Gaulle was wrong.

    This was true long before Scottish independence was a serious prospect. The point Gavin Moodie makes is a valid one. Although symbolic, the comparative absence of EU flags in the UK is deeply telling on a number of levels.

    If there is a genuine referendum on the question of continued UK membership the pools suggest that a solid majority will vote to opt out. That will be Britain’s loss and the EU’s gain. Who really wants to remain in union with such a difficult, self-interested and uncommitted partner?

  5. Jim Moore

    There was no need to use the “PIGS” acronym in this article as it is written just the once. Unless, that is, the writer just wanted to stick it to the spicks and micks again with this highly derogatory term.

  6. Adam Smith

    Reading the Professors article it seems to me that the British TORY Conservatives may have a kind of identity crisis. Why? To the best of my understanding of British/European history, It was Winston Churchill amongst others, who campaigned for the establishment of European Union. I can only imagine that should the great people of Britain decide to resign from the European Union, they’ll have to reinvent themselves by creating new trading blocks so as to preserve their current capital base. Who knows, they (The Tories) might even see a kind of renewal of empire with other nations, even here in Australia and New Zealand. In any event, it will be interesting times as nations emerge out of that terrible GFC.

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