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The anger is justified. Politics rarely involves an absolute distinction between right and wrong, truth and error. But Europe is an exception. The Tory eurosceptics were not right on balance. They were one hundred per cent right, for one hundred per cent of the time. The europhiles were one hundred per cent wrong, always, world without end. They are not entitled to a further hearing for their misbegotten drivel. They should only be allowed one sole, single and final indulgence. In front of a soft-hearted Court, they might just about snivel their way to a plea for mercy.

In drawing up the endless charge-sheet against the federasts, let us start with Lisbon. Liam Fox had to leave the government because he broke the rules: harsh, but not unfair. Compare and contrast the last government and Lisbon. Labour kept the threatened European constitution out of the 2005 election by pledging a referendum. Realising that they could never win it, they broke their word: changing a few technical terms, they insisted that they were no longer bound by their solemn undertakings. Their behaviour was vastly more censurable than Dr Fox's. They wallowed in dishonour. If a board of directors had behaved in a similar fashion, its members would have been put in gaol. But Labour did not act alone. They had the help of the Liberals and of Ken Clarke, Michael Heseltine and Geoffrey Howe: equal partners in dishonour and shame. Whenever the word "Europe" was mentioned, the Tory Vichyites would instantly lose all critical faculties: all patriotic instincts. They would behave like George Galloway in the presence of Saddam Hussein.

"Critical faculties" brings us to the Euro. Consistency is not always a virtue: a stopped clock is right twice every twenty-four hours. Often, the issues subtly alter with the passage of the years, so that a wise man should recognise that the terms of debate alter with them. But there are exceptions. The Euro is one of them.


In his last major speech as Chancellor, Nigel Lawson explained why the Euro could not work. The text is worth consulting, for it is a ferocious combination of forensic power and common sense. Nothing more needed saying; Nigel's arguments were irrefutable. But we live in a fallen world. Refuted, broken. a stake through the heart, buried at the cross-roads: the Euro stayed alive. Zombies are a fit subject for horror-films, to frighten the children. But a Zombie currency: that will blacken the children's prospects for years to come.

As a result of the Euro, growth-rates have suffered everywhere in Europe, except in Germany. Then again, the Germans are used to living high on the hog while other Europeans suffer: think 1942. In 2012, again because of a German plot, tens of millions of Europeans will be poorer than they need have been. Levels of youth unemployment are already catastrophic. Social instability is threatened, in countries where social stability is a recent development with shallow roots. There could still be a European spring.

So what is the federasts' response? It is similar to the nomenklatura's in the final days of the Soviet Empire. We have this great project. We are building socialism/Europe. This is such a glorious future for mankind. Surely a few short-term sufferings are a cheap price to pay? Thus the delusions of the European elite play havoc with the lives of the peoples of Europe, who merely want a currency in which they can earn, spend and save – without crippling their country for years to come.

Fred Goodwin's name has become a spittoon. I suspect that this is somewhat unfair, and that Sir Fred was not significantly worse than a dozen other bankers. I hope that he finds future outlets for his energies and talents. But he will never again be allowed to take charge of a bank. Yet politicians who supported the euro are still governing countries. The saboteurs are still in charge of the machinery; the perpetrators of economic treason still run finance ministries. There is an infinity of good reasons for eurosceptic rage.

Ministers have to keep their feelings under control. In the presence of stricken continental euro-fantics, most of us know how we would respond. We would gloat. In charge of the national interest, David Cameron and George Osborne have to be more grown-up and try to help the Europeans find a way out of the mess which the Euro has created. But the rest of us can revel in the discomfiture which, after all, we predicted.

That said, anger is an emotion, not a strategy. It is a pity that Monday's debate is taking place, for it will not help the euroscep cause. To understand why, let us return to Lisbon. That was a betrayal founded on a lie, The sovereign people ought to have been outraged. Over the years. municipalities have maintained lamp-posts, to disseminate light. They could also be used to punish darkness. A few stretched necks on the nearest lamp-post: a deserved fate for the evil-doers of Lisbon.

I thought that there would be protests, even if – alas – no lynchings. There were no protests. On the contrary, whenever the "Sun" put Lisbon on the front page, the news-stand circulation fell out of bed. That was not the finest hour in the history of the sovereign people. On the contrary, they were wet and feeble. Vox populi has never sounded less like vox dei. But they are the only sovereign people we have.

We eurosceps must learn our lesson. The British people are with us, as long as we do not become too swivel-eyed. They will not be enticed by a diet of Bill Cash and Douglas Carswell. Instead of pressing for a debate which will merely make the Tory party seem disunited, the eurosceps should have been preparing the ground for future advances, under a majority Tory government. Once that happens, it is inevitable that there will be a re-negotiation of British membership of the EU. I am equally certain that when this takes place, David Cameron will be leading from the front, out of conviction. He will do it because he believes in it. He will also be aware that were he to anything less, his party would become ungovernable.

So the Eurosceptic crusade has time to hone its agenda, which should be a relatively simple process. Let us return to a Common Market, reinforced by intergovernmental cooperation, and with no other powers or competences. If the Europeans will not accept this, we withdraw. Two years ago, over Lisbon, withdrawal would have been a problem, which is why, before the Election, David Cameron abandoned his pledge to renegotiate Lisbon. That renegotiation could only have been enforced by a threat to leave. Even then, the others would probably have forced us to the brink. Confronted with that prospect, the City would have panicked, with malign electoral consequences. Hence David Cameron's reluctant retreat from the gates of Lisbon.

But it was a mere reculer pour mieux sauter. These days, the threat of withdrawal from the EU would be much more credible and cause much less domestic alarm. Europe is crippled. They need us. A resolute British government, offering help but also determined to protect its own interests, has much more room for manoeuvre.

There is also the European Court of Human Rights. Recently, there have been suggestions of a compromise, under which it should do less. That is not enough. We want the ECHR out of our legal system, bag and baggage.

One final point. The eurosceptics should use their leverage in the constituencies to ensure that no-one who is unsound on Europe is ever again selected to fight a Tory seat.

Another final, final point. British euroscepticism has won. Our opponents are in complete disarray. So let us not waste time with foolish debates which clarify nothing. There are moments when it seems as if Tory euroscepticism has been so long in opposition that it is no longer psychologically prepared for victory. So let us eschew foolishness and prepare for re-negotiation.  

46 comments for: Bruce Anderson: Tory euroscepticism has been so long in opposition that it is no longer psychologically prepared for victory

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