Mandelson,Clarke and Alexander-a new campaign group supporting the EU

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Offline the leveller

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Brexit or Brinfluence?

Thursday, 18 July 2013 10:52



ON JULY 15th a triumvirate of politicians declared their support for Britain?s membership of the European Union (EU).

Peter Mandelson, a former Labour Party minister, Ken Clarke, a Conservative Party minister and former chancellor, and Danny Alexander, the Liberal Democrat chief secretary to the Treasury, unveiled the manifesto of ?British Influence?, a new campaign group. ?Far from leaving Europe, Britain should be leading Europe,? it proclaimed.

The enthusiastically pro-European language echoed an earlier, simpler time. In 1975, when Britons voted in a referendum to remain in the European Economic Community (EEC), the EU?s precursor, such talk was the norm. Businesses, commentators, Conservatives and the sensible wing of Labour lined up to advocate staying in Europe. Margaret Thatcher, later an arch-eurosceptic as prime minister, joined in?sporting a fetching woolen jumper depicting the flags of the member states.

So let's get this right. The Danny Clarkelson Troika are proposing that Britain engage fully and more deeply with the European Union.
Now the EU and indeed Mr Verhofstadt and Barroso, talk of more democracy through fiscal and political union, essentially a European Superstate. So what Mr Mandelson, Clarke and Alexander are proposing is the complete handing over of control and sovereignty to a Foreign power.
 There is a word for that ........ Ah yes that's it -

Today, things are rather more complicated. In January David Cameron annouced his intention to hold a referendum on Britain?s EU membership in the next parliament. Today?s union is much larger than the EEC and reaches much further into British life. Now, unlike then, fellow member states are wracked by economic crisis. The Tories are divided: at most a quarter of their MPs are convinced of the case for continued membership. Eurosceptics, by contrast, are many and well-organised. On Tuesday the Institute for Economic Affairs launched a ?100,000 prize for the best plan for an orderly British exit ("Brexit") from the EU.

But as the British Influence manifesto argues, the basic case for British membership remains strong. The single market makes Britain wealthier, and a seat at the table gives it sway in Europe and beyond. Perilously few prominent voices are willing to make that argument. That the group?s leading spokesmen from the two main parties?Mr Clarke and Mr Mandelson?are both figures of the past is telling.

Behind closed doors, businessmen fret about Britain?s slide towards the exit. But wary of displeasing eurosceptic customers and shareholders, few are willing to make the point out loud. Peter Kellner, a pollster, notes that the strength of the ?in? campagn in any referendum (as in 1975) will depend on the pragmatic economic case, but argues that it is up to the private sector to make that point.

In the absence of such voices, the debate will concentrate on the wrong things. Six months after Mr Cameron?s speech, it is dominated by subsidiary disagreements about the case for a referendum (on which Labour remains split) and the details of any unilateral renegotiation (likely to prove cosmetic at best). The crucial argument?why Britain should stay in the union and lead reform from within?is subdued. British Influence?s initiative is therefore welcome. But without a larger, noisier choir of supportive voices, its own influence could prove too small.


The Economist online here

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Read their manifesto here

« Last Edit: July 23, 2013, 10:23:39 PM by the leveller »

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