Better off in than out, whether we like it or not
Our little country has more power than we think -- and it's in everyone's interests that we are kept happy, says Brendan O'Connor
It was tempting there for a day or two, living in this little beleaguered country, to see David Cameron as some kind of hero. He stood up to Merkozy, his ratings were up, and he was now leading his country into becoming a fully semi-detached member of Europe. In a way, it seemed, briefly, as if Cameron was doing what we have wished so many times our lot would do: put it up to Europe.
Except, having scored his Little Britain point and given rise to a brief orgasmic rush of ecstasy in Britain, the Brits now find themselves waking up to what Cameron actually did. He has isolated Britain from her 26 neighbours essentially in order to protect one thing, which is the UK financial services industry. This has been presented as some kind of patriotic move whereby Cameron protected a struggling indigenous UK industry from the crazy bureaucrats in Frankfurt and Brussels. But let's not forget that there were very good reasons for the imposition of the so-called Tobin tax on financial transactions.
The financial services industry ruined the world. And the dogs on the street could now tell you that Goldman Sachs, and most of the other big financial institutions that survived, haven't suffered at all for that most heinous crime. Wall Street continues as ever, except now with the confidence that they will never be allowed to fail, that when they do the worst, they will be bailed out. Bonuses will be back to par this Christmas, and there's less competition, what with a few of the big boys, such as Lehmans, having gone down. And clearly business continues as usual in the City of London too, where the barrow-boy gamblers have been focused on profiting from everyone else's doom and moving through Europe attacking one country after another.