Forgetting the controversy surrounding various opportunistic remarks made by British politicians regarding their fear of East European immigrants swarming westward, David Cameron, Britain’s Prime Minister, made what some regard as an important speech on Europe yesterday.
In a political context, Mr Cameron was actually talking directly to those within his Conservative party who campaign for Britain to leave the European Union. In so doing, they have made life very difficult for their leaders over the past 30 years and have helped to foster the popular impression that Britain’s commitment to the EU has always been very weak. There are a great many things wrong with the EU today, but the Conservatives have never been very interested in addressing them and making the organization stronger and more successful. Their agenda is simply to pursue British economic interests where possible or threaten to leave the EU if they don’t get their way.
Cameron’s speech was expected to announce the holding of a referendum in Britain on continued EU membership and indeed, he did promise a referendum if his party forms the government after the next general election. However, he still sees that as a last resort and has promised to renegotiate the terms of Britain’s EU membership and to seek to revise the existing treaties either in Britain’s favor or to seek exemptions from those parts that Britain doesn’t like.
Thus, for example, Mr Cameron will seek to ensure that Britain would not be bound by the current working hours directive, would be exempt from many treaty agreements in the fields of the environment, social affairs and crime, would be bound by fewer obligations set out by the European Commission and that Britain would enjoy the protection of its commercial rights in the single market as the eurozone members continue to strengthen their co-operation. Other EU member states will be forgiven for not seeing Mr Cameron’s demands as based on the principle of win-win.
More importantly we can see, through Mr Cameron’s speech, the British Conservative’s dark vision for the future of their country’s economy. In order to revive stagnant Britain, the Conservative Party wants to create a low wage economy with an unregulated and poorly educated labor market to the north of Europe. In this shareholders paradise social inclusion and mobility will be set far behind the simple making of profits in the national agenda. The Conservative program is, as usual, designed to benefit the few at the expense of the many and, in effect, they actually want to become Romania’s competitor as an attractive location for inward investment from the rest of the, non-EU, world. Britain’s manufacturing sector has been decimated and cannot provide sufficient investment for growth on its own.
How far Britain has fallen and continues to fall, since the end of its imperial peak in the mid twentieth century. Why would hordes of East Europeans, or anyone else, want to go there?
Cameron’s speech below, and a written version of it is here.
By Ronnie Smith, Guest Writer
(photo source: Number10.gov.co.uk)