By David Seymour
It is a novel concept, and one unknown in sport, that playing in the second division is an aspirational limit. Yet that appears to be what is happening to this country.
In the extraordinary joint press conference of the Prime Minister and French President yesterday , David Cameron made it clear that he wants the UK to slip out of the European mainstream and Francois Hollande appeared content to let that happen.
All round, it was a difficult day for Mr Cameron and relationships. The media focus was on his problems with Nick Clegg but it wasn’t easy with the French President, either, considering that the PM had refused to meet him while he was campaigning for the presidency and, since the election, he has been encouraging rich Gauls to come and live in Britain to avoid high taxes.
The Prime Minister yesterday went further than he has done before in making it plain that he wants to see this country have a different relationship with the EU. And that means being in the slipstream of a closer, more powerful eurozone.
Does M. Hollande care? It is rather like asking if leading Scottish football clubs want Rangers to stay in their Premiership. It would be better for all concerned if they were but, if they aren’t, the rest will survive.
France and Germany, in particular, have always wanted the UK to be at the top table with them. It makes them stronger and Europe stronger – and us stronger, too, though the eurosceptics can’t understand that. But if our Government is determined to play in the second division, we will just have to be allowed to get on with it, the French and Germans stoically shrug.
Certainly that was what President Hollande seemed to be indicating yesterday.
Britain is edging towards an extraordinary situation in which we are deliberately choosing to become an irrelevancy. Of course this country is too strategically important and wealthy for us to become completely irrelevant but the ambition of the eurosceptics for the UK to become like Norway or Switzerland is hardly the stuff of grand ambition.
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