Even in Switzerland, the elites are sold on the European Union, though it remains outside. It has a virtually irresistible draw in all European countries for the people that Mr Gladstone disparaged as ‘the Upper Ten Thousand’ (who today probably add up to the Upper One Million). As a result, Switzerland is gradually allowing its exceptionalism — in tax and banking, for example — to be eroded. On the other hand, the Swiss people are stoutly sceptical and have become more so. In February, they voted for a referendum limiting the free movement of EU citizens into their country, and so their EU relationship is now in flux. In this remarkable country, only 5 per cent know the name of their president. This is not because they are indifferent to politics, but because most decisions are still taken at the most local level (the commune), and so the man at the top can be blessedly obscure.

This is an extract from Charles Moore’s Notes in this week’s Spectator.

Tags: EU, Switzerland