Sunday, December 11, 2011

Radical Euroscepticism has resulted in a massive failure of diplomacy

Experience has taught me that scepticism is an extremely healthy worldview, so long as it is tempered by a touch of pragmatism and a generosity of spirit. But, if you are arguing with someone who appears so sceptical that they will reject any possible mutual search for common ground, the motivation to continue to engage with that person rapidly evaporates.

Many in the British Conservative party have been pumping out antagonistic posturing sceptical rhetoric about the EU for decades. The current economic crisis has caused the heads of European governments to finally lose patience with such Eurosceptic rhetoric, and the consequences are clear to see.

The UK has become isolated from its partners in Europe: Britain has been forced into a position in which it alone has to veto proposals accepted by the rest. Without the Eurosceptic rhetoric, Britain would have been able to develop allies in its alternative view of how to tackle the crisis. Indeed, it is possible that such proposals might never have come forward in the first place if other countries had perceived Britain as interested in pursuing compromise solutions. Instead, when David Cameron made some modest suggestions, he did not have a friend in the room.

As Andrew Rawnsley has written, "Even Eurosceptics will soon find that there is nothing splendid about isolation. Our capacity to shape the future of the world's wealthiest economic bloc, which is also our most important export market, has just been dramatically diminished. This will have consequences not just for Britain's influence in Europe, but its standing in the world." The only thing Cameron has blocked is British influence.

Radical Euroscepticism - the kind of scepticism that exhibits itself as rampant antagonism towards the EU - has resulted in a massive failure of diplomacy. It has meant that David Cameron has been unable to build relationships within the EU. This historic diplomatic failure may have long-lasting repercussions for British jobs.

Photo: "Frog" by Jonathan.vail