Not for the first time, London Mayor Boris Johnson has waded into the debate over Europe, saying London is better off leaving an ‘unreformed’ European Union (EU), that there’s no need to fear an EU exit, and there’s a report by his economic advisor today to prove it.
But would Boris really be prepared to leave Europe? Or is it a ploy to establish his Eurosceptic credentials to accompany his bid to stand for Commons re-election in 2015?
After all, it is doubtful the pragmatic mayor would pick a side over the ideologically-fraught issue of EU membership if there isn’t something in it for him. Boris has urged ‘Cast-Iron’ Dave to sound tougher on so-called renegotiations and defend London from EU interference. He knows the public will not take the PM’s plan seriously if he’s not prepared to walk away when the EU fails to offer substantial reforms.
Inevitably, Boris’s statements have been followed by rumours of positioning himself as the next Tory-in-Chief. He already distinguished himself from the Prime Minister by calling the Israel’s assault on Gaza ‘disproportionate’ and ‘ugly’. There is a sense the next Conservative leader will inevitably have to be a Eurosceptic in order to resolve the internal divisions in the Tory Party. Undoubtedly Boris is aware of this and he is engaging in political intrigue worthy of a Hilary Mantel novel.
Nevertheless, it is still difficult to see what Cameron hopes to achieve from renegotiation unless it is to snatch a Yes vote from the jaws of defeat, and seal the Brussels question for decades. But a fundamental rewrite of the rules is clearly not on Cameron’s agenda. What minor tweaks he will present to the public won’t deliver our consent for continued vassalage to Brussels. So it seems to be a foolish gamble, now descending into a farce as bumbling Tories compete to sound like Eurosceptics for the sake of their eager and struggling supporters.
The Tory Party is led and run by those who have nothing to begrudge Brussels; instead much of Cameron’s circle has bought into the dream of a European Union. Those ravaging defence cuts aren’t just about reducing the deficit. The political establishment is preparing for the day an EU army is defending these shores!
Despite the pretence of renegotiation, there will never be a reformed EU which can accommodate British national interests; it is increasingly obvious we must Get Britain Out. The promise of an In/Out referendum, just like Boris expressing Eurosceptic sentiment, is being used to jockey for position and ease political differences within the Tory party, nothing more.
One cannot shake the feeling this is all just a shallow game to woo disgruntled Tories now voting UKIP with a show of hardened attitude. While the Tories are very good at politicking, they can never sell sincerity when it comes to their numerous U-turns. ‘Cast-Iron’ Dave and Boris are both used to turning with the wind. When the wind is blowing elsewhere so will the pronouncements from the top.