It is a leitmotif of this site that our media has little interest in the negotiating position of our EU neighbours. This was evident yet again in yesterday’s coverage of the debate about whether Britain should seek to remain a member of Euratom.
If you burrow away beneath the headlines about the Government, Labour, the Commons, nine revolting backbench Tory MPs and the Cabinet Minister who declared “we will not be leaving Euratom. We do not have the numbers in Parliament”, you find the following.
“A source from the European Commission confirmed that, legally speaking, the UK would have to leave Euratom as part of Brexit.” That quote is from the Guardian – in paragraph 20 of a story headlined “UK should stay in Euratom nuclear body, says Labour”.
Our point is not to have a hit at that paper, whose coverage of the row has been little different from anyone else’s.
It is, rather, that the Commission appears to believe that we will be obliged to leave Euratom when we quit the EU in less than two years time on March 31 2019.
It may be that the Commission’s view is legally dubious; or that the EU 27 do not agree with it, or that even if the Commission is right a way could somehow be found to keep Britain in Euratom as a member were the Government to ask to remain a member.
There is, however, no reason to think that the decision now lies in our hands alone. The contrary view is part of a lack of curiousity about European politics that is no less likely to be found among Remainers as Leavers – at least, if this contretemps is anything to go by.