I’ve just come from a briefing with a European Union official. He was asked whether Lord Lawson’s call for Britain to leave the EU was a ‘dinosaur argument.’ In response, the official paused. He smiled in an indulgent way. He tilted his head: ‘Mrs Thatcher’s finance minister, who is the father of such a good cookbook author – .’
Another pause, another smile, a gaze at the ceiling for a moment, then: ‘Of course it’s not a dinosaur argument, because it very much reflects debates in certain segments of British politics and as such is something we are constantly confronted with.’ Another pause. Perhaps that word ‘confronted’ was a bit too direct for a fonctionnaire.
He began to speak in a more emollient manner: ‘If you simply look at the role the UK has played in debates on such things as the internal market, a British disengagement in any form lowers the quality of policy making.’ A continued engagement by the UK ‘is always welcomed.’
There you have it, the euro-elite: patronising, dismissive, and deaf to argument, all at the same time. Good luck with that renegotiation, Mr Cameron.