Max Hastings of the Financial Times is worried that Britain will detach itself from the European Union in a fit of absent-mindedness. (Registration required for link.)
A new YouGov-Chatham House poll shows that 57 per cent of respondents want a referendum on continued British membership of the EU, in which 49 per cent would vote to leave. The poll also asked so-called “opinion-formers”, who unsurprisingly make a different judgment: 53 per cent oppose a referendum, and 63 per cent favour continued membership. But it seems rash to underrate the danger that, during the next decade, Britain will leave the EU almost by accident, because nobody has sold the arguments for staying in.
Righto, Max, nobody has "sold" the arguments for staying in, as long as you don't count the Labour and Tory parties, the BBC, virtually every British daily paper, and the rest of the "opinion formers" to which he refers.
Interesting phrase, that. Apparently it is now assumed that in the U.K., you have opinions formed for you by Those Who Matter. D.I.Y. opinions are no longer à la mode.
Hastings has exercised his cerebrum in root cause analysis.
The nation currently lacks a vision of how it will earn its living through the 21st century, a vision that the coalition government seems unable to provide.
Could there be a more concise "vision" of statism? God help a Britain where individuals decide for themselves how they will earn a living. That's the government's job. The Soviet Union never failed to tell its miserable population how to earn a living.What's that, Comrade? You feel the call to dedicate yourself to astronomy? Sorry, Boris, it's just not on. Report to the Magnetogorsk steel plant Monday at 6 a.m.
British EU membership has been a key element in the nation’s identity for 40 years. But it is now in serious question, because many British people see not just the euro, but also the EU, as a failure. They wish to escape, though with no coherent or credible idea of where else to go.
Why must they go anywhere else? Why can't Britain just be Britain? (Well, for one thing, it's now a Bantu-Islamic catchment area, but that is -- in the currently ubiquitous phrase -- another conversation.)
As British as rain, steak-and-kidney pie, and the EU, eh, Max? Begging your pardon, but it has been a key element in the identity of the trans-party, trans-national, trans-everyone-but-themselves financial Establishment. The rest of the British people have a bad attitude about the EU partly because people like you have never been willing to permit them to vote in a referendum on the subject. They are stubbornly cross about being told which shoe they are to put on first in the morning by a professional technocrat elite in Brussels.
The difficulty facing the political class, including those who recognise the economic importance of EU membership [who else but the political-economic limousine class?], whatever its difficulties, is that nobody today knows what the Europe of the future will look like.
Or maybe they know, and that's why they want no part of it.