Friday, January 11, 2013


"The Obama administration on Wednesday publicly signalled its growing concern about a possible British exit from the EU, just days before David Cameron sets out plans for a referendum on the issue. US diplomats have privately warned for months that Mr Cameron risked setting Britain on a path to exit with his plan to renegotiate Britain’s EU membership terms and put the “new settlement” to a referendum. But Washington has now taken the unusual step of publicly briefing British journalists that it firmly believes the “special relationship” is best served by the UK remaining at the heart of Europe. Philip Gordon, assistant secretary for European affairs, made it clear that there would be consequences for Britain if it either left the EU or played a lesser role in Brussels. “We have a growing relationship with the EU as an institution, which has an increasing voice in the world, and we want to see a strong British voice in that EU,” he said. “That is in America’s interests. We welcome an outward-looking EU with Britain in it...." Mr Gordon, speaking at the US embassy in London, said that he did not want to interfere in British affairs but discussed the often “inward-looking” history of EU negotiations, noting that “referendums have often turned countries inwards”. “The more the EU reflects on its internal debate the less it is able to be unified,” he said, adding that the continent was more effective when it worked together, for example over the recent oil embargo on Iran. Mr Cameron wants Britain to stay in the EU but is expected later this month to set out a “renegotiate and referendum” strategy, which he would deploy if he wins Britain’s 2015 election. The prime minister wants a looser relationship with an increasingly integrated inner EU core – based around the eurozone – and hopes to repatriate powers to Britain, such as rules limiting working hours."
Jim Pickard & George Parker, "Stay at heart of Europe, US tells Britain." The Financial Times. 9 January 2012, in
"Great Britain has lost an empire and has not yet found a role”.
Dean Acheson. Speech at West Point, 5 December 1962.
The statement made in London no less, by the American Assistant Secretary of State, Mr. Gordon while no doubt unfortunate is par for the course as it relates to the American State Department's long-time view of Britain and the European Union going back to the 1950's. In some ways of course, the statement is superfluous as what is occurring is that British Prime Minister Cameron is engaged in a calculated political maneuver of Disraelian ambiguity and complexity. Au fond the British Prime Minister does not really have an deep convictions as it pertains to Britain and the European Union. Or as it rather vividly expressed himself a few years back when he was leader of the opposition, about the anti-European Union, 'UK Independence Party' that it was made up of: "fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists" 1. Indeed according to a journalist for the Right-wing Daily Telegraph, both Cameron and his Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, view those in and outside of their party who are Europhobic with "metropolitan snobbery" 2. Accordingly, the only true rationale for Cameron's diplomatic and political offensive on Britain's 'redefining' its relationship with the European Union is the rather simple one of political protection. In the current parliament, the subject of the European Union is one of the chief bugbears of the backbench members of Cameron's own party. And Cameron, even if not old enough to have been a member of parliament at the time, remembers quite well the disaster which the endless wrangling inside the Tory Party in the mid-1990's did to John Major's government. This is something which Cameron is desperately seeking to avoid at all costs. No doubt by offering up a smokescreen option of a redefinition of Britain's role in the EU via popular referendum, in the next parliament, Cameron, et. al., hopes to bury the issue until after the elections in 2015. In short, Assistant Secretary Gordon's statement, while understandable enough is wide of the mark as to what is truly intended by Cameron's diplomatic footwork, much less his own innermost view of the subject 2.
1. Edward West, "David Cameron's metropolitan snobbery towards Ukip is a disaster for the Tories." The Daily Telegraph. 7 January 2013, in
2. James Forsyth, "The Cameron Election." The Spectator (London). 5 January 2013, p. 10.


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