So Obama is to weigh in against Brexit. I’m glad. Not because I’m anti Brexit – though I am, just* – but because at last we’re beginning to notice the elephant in the room.
Tory and Labour Eurosceptics are different beasts, and not solely because the former have been more numerous and vastly more toxic to their party. They are different because Tory scepticism targets Brussels diktat while left critiques focus on the fact, more evident post Soviet collapse, that the EU is in the last analysis pro capital and anti labour. (Witness the ECB’s out-hawking of even the IMF in last year’s scorched earthing of Greece for punitive and exemplary rather than fiscal or economic reasons.)
That Tory scepticism is reactionary goes without saying. (But let’s pause to celebrate its spleen on human rights and labour flows, the latter obliging Cameron to grandstand on a ‘benefits tourism’ the facts show to be negligible.) What does need saying though, and loudly, is that it’s a bit rich of Gove et al to object to Brussels diktat when Washington diktat has for decades driven every aspect of Britain’s foreign policy and increasingly – War on Terror, TTIP, one-sided extradition arrangements – its domestic policy too.
That irony begets another. Tory eurosceptics are fans of the ‘special relationship’ with the USA. Gove is smart as it happens, but by and large we shouldn’t overestimate eurosceptics’ powers of reasoning. I’m inclined to take at face value their dewy-eyed faith in said relationship being premised on shared linguistic, cultural and historic values. I dare say they really do think in such terms but they’re quite wrong to. The ‘special relationship’ is contingent on Britain’s usefulness to Washington as bridgehead into Europe, itself contingent on membership of an EU which, as those who followed events in Georgia and Ukraine will have noted, looks more and more like the political and economic wing of NATO in the new cold war on Russia.
Obama, no doubt in coded language, is about to remind Tory sceptics of a few basic facts of life.