Sorry Britain, but nobody cares about your little election – try being relevant next time
David Cameron being Prime Minister really doesn’t matter to the rest of Europe
(The Independent 6 May 2015)
Congratulations Brits! By voting in the election, you have taken part in your beautiful democracy, and exercising a right so many others fight for around the world.
However, as exciting as it may be for you, the rest of Europe doesn’t really care about the outcome, as the UK stopped being relevant some time ago.
How did that happen? It wasn’t sudden event, but developed gradually. It began as a niggling resentment of the EU. This became an ideological position, and soon spread across the country. It infiltrated the political system, and ended up pushing Brits away from the rest of Europe.
Today most of you want to remain part of the EU. At the same time, opinion polls shows that the majority of you also want to get a better deal. The cost of membership is far too high, the argument goes. But then there is the Ukip school of thought, that says the UK should leave completely. And despite the polls saying that only 10 per cent of the electorate support Ukip, David Cameron has responded, and as well as saying he’ll renegotiate UK’s deal with the EU, he’s also promised to hold an election on EU membership by 2017.
This all reveals a very specific attitude that sums up British society. One always tries to get a better hand, every time and everywhere. Wherever there’s a congregation, you always want to be in the VIP area, eating and drinking only the finest food and wine, from gold-plated plates and cups.
All other EU member states have accepted the terms of the union. Some of them are even willing to accept extreme hardship – just look at the Greeks, who have stayed put (alas with threats), despite experiencing prolonged austerity.
One might say it’s time to call Britain’s bluff at the European table. But before that happens, let’s be clear: you can’t cherry-pick exclusive membership terms and end up benefiting from the free movement of capital and goods, but not the free movement of people.
If the UK leaves, the rest of Europe may well lose a valuable trade partner. But let’s face it: we’d all be wishing farewell to that awkward guest who came to the party, but then announced shortly afterwards that they wanted to leave. And if this happens, the people who’ll be affected won’t be the politicians or the rich businessmen who prop them up. The actual cost would be carried by ordinary British people, who would lost out hugely if the country gives up the huge investments and trade opportunities the EU offers.
As soon as Britons understand that the UK can’t have a better deal, the faster you’ll be on the autostrada to relevance once again. UK elections may actually be exciting for us once again. So Britain: accept the EU membership terms with a stiff upper lip, just like you’ve done before. It’s easy: keep calm, carry on – work with us through adversity, and not against us – and soon enough you’ll be enjoying the party with the rest of us.