Will Hutton tricks out a nasty diplomatic undertow to his walkout. If things go belly up with the Euro, not only will the UK suffer economically, it may get the blame for it not working:
Worse, we have made it significantly harder for the 17 members of the eurozone rapidly to put in place the cluster of policies needed to save the euro. Chancellor Merkel said the compromise was workable – to widespread German scepticism; the European Central Bank warmly welcomed the progress, but announced no new measures. If the euro breaks up because its members have to move clumsily and slowly outside the formal EU treaties and institutions because of Cameron’s veto, the resulting series of bank collapses and consequent depression will hurt Britain badly. What’s more, fellow Europeans will not forgive us for a generation. This is a catastrophic moment in British and European affairs.
The over-riding preoccupation was to manage his tribe, now in thrall to the worst of ancient Tory instincts that have been so consistently wrong. In no circumstance could he risk having to take a treaty change through the Commons relying on Lib Dem, Labour and a minority of Tory votes, accompanied by an ever-more hysterical insistence that there should be a referendum on Britain’s relationship with Europe. The paradox of referendums is that they are anti-democratic devices, only ever deployed by politicians and commentators if they are certain about the result; this is why they are the favourite device of despots and dictators. The Tory right, certain of the result, given overwhelming press support, smells blood; if they can engineer a referendum, Britain can leave the detested EU.
And it may well come to pass… Eventually.. Though my feeling is that the British press have come late to this party themselves and tend over polarise matters in line with their own familiar (and preferred) Eurosceptic/Europhile binary.
In bigger picture, Anthony Painter came much closer to the much harsher reality underlying Britain’s incipient culture war on Twitter last night:
“We are waving the ship goodbye but we’ll soon realise that the mooring rope is tied to our ankles…”
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty