The EU is good to us but it has all the power
Last weekend, EU leaders unanimously approved tough guidelines for negotiations on Brexit, and Ireland got a special nod. The Government sees this as a major coup. Yet it feels like we are stuck in the middle of something not of our own doing. We are like children sitting on the stairs, listening in as their parents downstairs argue about the upcoming divorce. Who will get custody of what?
Prior to last weekend, Kantar Millward Brown measured the public's relationship with the EU and how it has evolved. On the face of it, we seem positive towards all things European. Three in four of us believe the EU has been good to us since we joined in 1973. Nearly a similar amount (71pc) feel the EU has been good to us over the past 10 years. On both metrics, those most likely to concur are from the professional classes (ABs), those aged 65+ and the farming community, to whom the EU has been a godsend.
And yet there is a nagging sense that all is not well; there is an undercurrent of cynicism/suspicion about the EU: 73pc of us feel that the EU has more control of our economic situation than the Government. This may be a pragmatic response, but it does project a sense of impotency about our own destiny. Whether you blame the EU or our own legislators is another story.
Interestingly, when asked if the EU will respect Ireland's special position with the UK when they get down to the brass tacks, barely half of us (51pc) feel that they will. Just 28pc feel our relationship with the EU will strengthen over the next five years vs 23pc who feel it will weaken.
One thing is for sure, it's a tightrope we are walking, and with the EU holding one side of it and the UK holding the other, we can only hope that neither shake that rope.
Paul Moran is an associate director with Kantar Millward Brown.