Meanwhile top EU functionary Chris Patten (no fan of a referendum himself, I would imagine: his last encounter with British voters did not end well) has re-entered the controversy over the Euro with an article in the London Times. His aim? To encourage Tony Blair to override his finance minister’s objections to UK membership of the single currency. Amongst Patten’s ‘arguments’ are these, er, telling points:
“The truth is that, despite its superior employment policies and regulatory environment (a legacy of the Thatcher and Major years) Britain remains well down the EU economic league table.”
Patten doesn’t say that part of John Major’s success in preserving Mrs Thatcher’s legacy was due to his opposition to EU (over)regulation.
“Even the UK’s impressive employment record does not put it in the top bracket: four eurozone countries have fewer jobless than Britain…”
Strangely, Patten doesn’t tell us which four countries. Well, here’s the answer (for March): Luxembourg (3.4%), Holland (3.6% – February), Austria (4.3%) and Ireland (4.5%), fine nations all of them, but hardly major economies. The UK’s unemployment rate is a little over 5%, pretty good when compared with, say, France (9.1%) or Germany (8.9%).
“Great damage is done to a brave and accomplished Prime Minister and to his vision of Britain’s destiny when he seems more ready to take risks to accomplish the goals of an American President than he is to secure his own.”
No further comment necessary.