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October 21, 2004

Hugo Young memorial lecture.

An unfeasibly boring lecture on the relationship between Europe and the UK. Note that throughout, "Europe" and "European Union" are regarded as the same thing. It is simply regarded as inconceivable that the interests of "Europe" might not be best served by the "European Union". Still, here is a taster:

It carries the implication - never properly challenged by pro-Europeans - that Britain does have a clear choice: it can opt for complete freedom of action outside the European Union or surrender its independence to Brussels. Sovereignty, in this mindset, is indivisible. Once passed to Brussels, it is lost to Britain. The debate about our relationship is thus held on ground chosen by Eurosceptics - the Union, they say, is a zero sum game; the only question is whether Britain emerges a winner or loser from the all-night bargaining sessions in Brussels. And more often than not, the sceptics will always claim, it is a loser.
Never mind that this argument has long defied the realities of the modern world; that for a medium-sized nation on the edge of Europe, the option of independent action is a mirage.

(I've never really understood this argument. We've always been a medium-sized nation on the edge of Europe (and are currently the fourth largest economy in the world but let that slide) and at times we have been capable of independent action and at other times not. I do wish someone could explain exactly what it is about these times that make us incapable of such independence.)
The speech can best be translated into real language by resurrecting the words used to describe the options of women in unfavourable circumstances: "If rape is inevitable why not just lie back and enjoy it?"
We do not, rightly, say that anymore so why should we in the political sphere?

October 21, 2004 in European Union | Permalink


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» Europe and Britain from L'Ombre de l'Olivier
Tim Worstall links to a rather annoying lecture given by Philip Stephens of the Financial Times in honour of deceased Grauniad political hack Hugo Young. In it Phil seems to confuse Europe, the EU (as it is today) and its former guise the EEC. [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 21, 2004 2:17:07 PM


He quotes Michael Heseltine: "A man alone in the desert is sovereign. He is also powerless." deliberately missing the point (as did Heseltine) that the UK outside of the EU is not, per se, in a desert. There are actually a whole lot of other countries out there.

Posted by: Weasel Bearder | Oct 21, 2004 11:17:37 AM

Heseltine is saying there is an advantage to tying yourself together with 5 tired old men.

We can all die from dehydration together, rather than walk out all alone!

I used to like Heseltine, ah the folly of youth!

Posted by: Rob Read | Oct 21, 2004 3:32:42 PM