Cameron is playing with fire on the EU

Cameron's European policy could signal the end of the UK as we know it.

Cameron’s European policy could signal the end of the UK as we know it

It became an iconic image of the referendum campaign on Scottish independence. Having abandoned Prime Minister’s Questions to head north of the border, an almost tearful David Cameron pleaded with Scots not to leave the UK.

“I would be heartbroken,” Cameron declared, “if this family of nations was torn apart”.

But with Conservatives on the front and backbenches seemingly obsessed once again with Europe, the reality is that despite all his warm words, Cameron’s European policy could prove to be the death of the United Kingdom as we know it.

When incoming SNP Leader and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon called for any vote on EU membership to carry the consent not just of the UK but of each constituent part of it, she was rebuffed. It was, critics argued, just another attempt at driving a wedge between Scotland and England in the SNP’s bid to secure independence by the back door.

This reaction from many on the right simply served to demonstrate their ignorance about Scotland’s feelings on the subject. It also highlighted Downing Street’s failure to appreciate that its policy of appeasing UKIP has far bigger ramifications that anyone in the Cameron machine has considered.

Polling by YouGov,for example, has shown that support for EU membership in Scotland far outstrips that seen across the rest of the country. The reality is that a Scottish vote to stay in being overridden by a UK-wide vote to come out would hand the SNP an spectacular own goal.

But it is not just those committed to the break-up of the UK who are calling for such a policy. Speaking during First Minister’s Questions last week, Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones argued that the UK cannot and should not leave the EU based on English votes alone.

Pointing out the irony of the situation, Jones delivered a speech later in the week in London in which he raised the stakes still further. Speaking as someone passionately committed to the UK he declared:

“That would put us under enormous strain, and could only serve the interests of those who wanted the United Kingdom to cease to exist.

“It is ironic that those who are pressing for an in/out referendum on the grounds of their commitment to the United Kingdom may actually be imperilling the very future of the UK as presently constituted.

“And that would be a matter of grave concern to the majority of people in Wales.”

When he came into office, David Cameron spoke of an era of respect for the devolved bodies. What we are quickly learning however, is that the Prime Minister’s warm words are meaningless. Number 10 prefers to put political calculations vis-à-vis UKIP well ahead of the national interest. In doing so, it could well be David Cameron who signals the end of the UK as we know it.

On the EU David Cameron is playing with fire. What scares me is that he either doesn’t see it, or he is carrying on regardless.

Ed Jacobs is a contributing editor at Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter

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8 Responses to “Cameron is playing with fire on the EU”

  1. Selohesra

    Dave is offering the British people a choice – do LFF not trust the British people to make up their own minds? Perhaps we don’t know what is good for us whereas you do – hint of arrogance there?

  2. madasafish

    So a Welsh Minister thinks that with 3 million population – and with an economy dependent on fiscal transfers from England – he can dictate policy to a country of 64 million.

    Very democratic…

  3. Guest

    No, he’s offering vote rigging and foreign cash, like the AV referendum, not to mention billions lost in investment even if the afaik (see that? Opinion!) sensible choice is made. The choice is at a general election, as you talk about your multiple personalities and 0.1% of your arrogance.

  4. steroflex

    James, if the Labour Party is to be taken at all seriously, it must start examining European diplomacy.
    Nobody wants to see our trade with Europe ruined. Everyone wants to be able to move freely around Europe without the bore of passports etc. The four freedoms within Europe are terribly important. It would be lovely if Europe was not rapidly morphing into something else.
    But it is. Nobody seems to be paying attention. While the Labour Party has taken its eye off the ball, the EU has morphed and is in fact morphing fast into the Federal State which is run, like Soviet Russia, by an unelected Commission of second raters. This is not bitter raving. Please read the Humboldt Speech of M. Barroso or listen to M. Juncker’s views. Anyone who doubts this simply has not been doing their homework. And the Labour movement really ought to be able to look the truth in the face.
    If we played the Article 50 card and then joined EFTA and the EEA with a view to getting an even better deal, that would be a good thing, bringing us up to the level of, perhaps, Norway. What is so terribly depressing is that none of this is ever discussed and Ukip is left to run wild over immigration which, in turn, is deeply affected by the ECHR – another European institution which needs examination.
    The EAW is a good example of how we have simply sacrificed our historic right of habeas corpus to Europe without even a parliamentary debate.

  5. Guest

    Plenty of people want to see our trade with Europe blocked.
    Plenty of people want to block movement for the 99%.

    Your whining about the elected commission (yes, MEP’s elect it now) is sad.

    Smashing our ties to the EU, and then giving up a massive amount of democracy, getting a far far worse deal..and still losing access to the trade treaties the EU has negotiated. Norway spends a lot of time and effort lobbying EU members on it’s views because it has no voice for itself.

    EFTA also means joining Schengen, which would empower the UKIP voices. And no doubt you’re massively concerned about the requirement to pay workers, or to not torture people, or those other nasty ECHR requirements.

  6. steroflex

    Guest, allow me to say that I do not want to see our trade with Europe blocked or even interrupted for one second.
    Do you know how the Commissioners are elected? Do you know how the list is presented and voted upon? Do you know who selects the all important list itself? In no way is it anything like the USA! I really do object to “whining”. Is that sort of language really helpful?
    Smashing our ties to the EU is not what I am saying at all: I just do not want our country to be part of the Federal Union and the Euro. I want to see our parliament ruling our country. Don’t you?
    Do you know how few governments the EU has actually secured trade negotiations with? China, Russia, India, Brazil, USA are not among the long list of missing countries.
    I think that we are actually quite able to handle our own laws without the ECHR, don’t you? After all, we invented the list: it is the European judges who are bending it out of shape.
    I am not going to descend to the gutter and use emotive language. Why bother? The facts speak for themselves.

  7. Guest

    They do, as you work from the sewers. using the language of hate.

    You lie, repeatedly. You are completely anti-trade, if you want out of the EU. As you ignore the MEP’s voting on commissioners. It’s entirely helpful to discuss your views, yes, as you try and ban criticism of them.

    And severing, with associated blood, I see, to make sure that there’s even more massive losses, as you make excuses and lie about the trade treaties the EU has, and claim that workers don’t need to paid, and that torture is fine and dandy, that those things are in your world “bending” the law out of shape.

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