Barak Obama declares he ‘wants a strong Britain in a strong Europe.’ That’s telling us. Like many phrases it has a glib resonance that doesn’t make sense when generally applied. The Irish lobby being what it is in America, would any of his predecessors have similarly declared that they wanted 'a strong Ireland in a strong UK’? How far might this tidying up of loose and untidy islands go? Will we ever hear: A strong Cuba in a strong US’….A strong Taiwan in a strong China’ or perhaps ‘A strong Japan in a strong China’?
Another quite important American phrase is: ‘no taxation without representation’ with, presumably the caveat that this doesn’t apply to other countries if it suits American interests as defined by the State Department.
The question is whether it really suits our interests, and here it becomes as baffling as Ben Jonson’s The Alchemist. Two Jacobean con-men, Captain Face and Subtle along with the prostitute Dol Common conspire to rip off Sir Epicure Mammon and a lawyer’s clerk named Dapper. Sir Epicure Mammon is fooled into thinking Subtle and Face possess the secrets of the Philosopher’s Stone which can turn base metal into gold. Dapper is fooled into thinking he is favoured by the fairies and if he should but:
Three drops of vinegar, in at your nose:
Two at your mouth; and one, at either ear;
Then, bathe your fingers’ ends; and wash your eyes;
To sharpen your five senses; and cry hum,
Thrice; and the buz, as often….
The fairy Queen will make him lucky at cards.
I suspect Captain Face and Subtle would have had an easy time with contemporary politicians.
Since 1979 Britain has paid in £228 billion to Brussels, amounting at present, £50million a day. This is to an organisation unable to audit what it spends, to an organisation that no one in Britain gets to elect.
Those business men who do well from Europe remind us that 50% of our trade is with the EU and that catastrophe would ensue should we leave. The democratic deficit doesn't figure on their books. Others argue that our total trade surplus with the rest of the world in 2011 was a positive £17.6 billion as opposed to a total deficit of £46.6 billion with the EU.
Around 1800 BC the city of Athens paid an annual tribute to Crete in the form of seven men and seven girls. These were ‘fed’ to the Minotaur. In my mind Athens got of lightly - at least it did then.