Britain up to now has been involved in Europe but not committed to it. The British prefer expedience and improvisation rather than commitment to long-term ideals. Acceptance of the euro also requires the abandonment of a symbol of imperial greatness, namely the pound. Abandoning irrelevant symbols from the past is something else the British are not very good at.
The process of disengagement has already begun with the inability of the Government to explain the case for Britain entering EMU. The Conservatives will fight the next election on an anti-European platform and a promise not to "abandon the pound". If the opposite case is not put, the unshakeable insularity and xenophobia of the British will make this a winner for the Conservatives. Being out of the euro will further marginalise Britain in Europe, making the case for withdrawal from the EU a winning platform for the Conservatives at the following election.
There is good and bad in this: the rest of Europe will be glad to see the back of the tiresome British but the British themselves will have to find something else to blame for their manifest failures. Keen European federalists like myself, who hoped that Britain would use its latent genius and energies in shaping the new Europe will have to be content with the thought that unity will proceed more smoothly without them.
W H WHITE
South Creake, NorfolkReuse content