By Paul Goodman
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So when he takes up a new venture it's worth keep an eye on it. He is now Chairman of Open Europe, and has a piece today behind the Times paywall. He writes that:
"The shape of a new Europe therefore writes its own script – a neighbourly
alliance, partly federal, partly by treaty between independent states, in
which those who want to share a currency and economic sovereignty and those
who just want co-operation would be equally welcome. Only trade, the bedrock
of the original Common Market, would be universal. In truth, it is not the eurozone that is the “core” of Europe – it is the
In other words, Lord Leach believes that Britain can have its cake and eat it – that it can stay in the customs union and leave pretty much everything else.
Or, as he puts it, "limit Brussels’
involvement in areas such as policing and crime, fisheries, farming,
employment law and regional policy".
Why? Because, in his view, Germany, paying out as it is to keep to keep the Eurozone afloat, doesn't want to lose a fiscally conservative northern ally in its struggle with fiscally lax southern states – or for the EU to lose Britain's markets, its financial centre, its support for democracy and free trade, and its muscle as a military power. "Germany is ripe for change," he writes. Open Europe has been pushing this view for some time.
The Franco-German alliance has been the motor of "ever-closer union" since the Common Market was founded. It is very hard to believe that this will change.
But whether it does or not – as the great Eurozone unemployment machine grinds on – we won't have a clearer view until after the German elections next year.
Nor will the Government propose a major repatriation of powers to Germany and other EU countries. Nick Clegg certainly wouldn't have it, and David Cameron probably wouldn't either, at least before the next election. Lord Leach knows this. So why his article? My eye rests on the section that says that the voice of "moderate sceptics, who want to stay in the EU but might want “out” if the
Government can’t negotiate a changed relationship…is too seldom heard."
Which suggests that we will hear it more loudly from Lord Leach, that backer of winning causes, in the New Year.