The British coalition government led by Prime Minister David Cameron has rejected a new treaty, favored by France and Germany, which attempts to “save” Europe’s common currency by committing member states to balancing their budgets and sacrificing some of their sovereignty to a central fiscal authority.
Hungary was the only other EU member state to dissent, joining Britain in preventing unanimity across the European Union and causing great frustration to pro-EU governments.
Cameron delivered stirring remarks in defense of British sovereignty to the press and the public:
Sorry, that was fictional Minister Jim Hacker from the 1980s British television comedy Yes, Minister.
Here are some of Cameron’s remarks:
The decisions taken here tonight all flow from one thing: the fact there is a single currency in Europe, the Euro. Britain is out of it, and will remain out of it. Other countries are in it, and are having to make radical changes–including giving up sovereignty to try and make it work.
I still prefer this timeless exchange from another episode of Yes, Minister:
Sir Humphrey: Minister, Britain has had the same foreign policy objective for at least the last five hundred years: to create a disunited Europe. In that cause we have fought with the Dutch against the Spanish, with the Germans against the French, with the French and Italians against the Germans, and with the French against the Germans and Italians. Divide and rule, you see. Why should we change now, when it’s worked so well?
Hacker: That’s all ancient history, surely?
Sir Humphrey: Yes, and current policy. We had to break the whole thing [the EEC] up, so we had to get inside. We tried to break it up from the outside, but that wouldn’t work. Now that we’re inside we can make a complete pig’s breakfast of the whole thing: set the Germans against the French, the French against the Italians, the Italians against the Dutch. The Foreign Office is terribly pleased; it’s just like old times.
Hacker: But surely we’re all committed to the European ideal?
Sir Humphrey: [chuckles] Really, Minister.
Hacker: If not, why are we pushing for an increase in the membership?
Sir Humphrey: Well, for the same reason. It’s just like the United Nations, in fact; the more members it has, the more arguments it can stir up, the more futile and impotent it becomes.
Hacker: What appalling cynicism.
Sir Humphrey: Yes… We call it diplomacy, Minister.