What are we to make of the Prime Minister's 'NO'. Small word. Big impact.
Since the vote to remain in the EEC in 1975, (I voted to withdraw) I have accepted membership of what is now the EU - and wanted 'the club' to function as successfully as possible. However, I was implacably opposed to the UK adopting the Euro in place of Sterling. Always reckoned that the Euro was a huge mistake, which at some stage will collapse in acrimony - though hopefully not in a disorderly way. In the meantime, I have and will continue to support the Prime Minister's efforts to support the Eurozone - short of paying for the irresponsible and incompetent financial management of its members.
I had hoped there would have been a treaty which the Prime Minister could have signed in Brussels. There would have been a right rumpus, but I would have supported him. But there wasn't, and he didn't, and Coalition MPs accept that he was right. There was no way that David Cameron could sign up to what was on offer - a blatant attempt to blame the UK for the mess that the Eurozone has become. And a blatant attempt to force the City of London to pay for its mistakes. The Prime Minister said NO. He did what he had to do. He accepted the burden of responsibility dropped on his shoulders. He did what no other British PM has ever done before. David Cameron refused to be bullied by EU leaders, who were absolutely astonished to hear the word NO.
So where are we now. In some ways nothing much has changed, and yet everything has changed. The Eurozone countries will carry on Canute-like to keep the Eurozone intact. The de-democratisation of Europe will gather speed, as elected politicians are cast aside, and sovereign governments hand over control of economies to EU institutions. It may even be that EU countries will try to push through financial regulations which will undermine the wealth-creating, tax-paying City of London. But the EU now knows that for the first time ever, the UK has a Prime Minister who will say No in defence of British interests. As with all forms of human activity, the second time is a lot easier than the first. If our Prime Minister continues to show cool resolution, supporting the Eurozone efforts to manage their economies as they wish, backed up by a willingness to say NO, he will have the full support of most of his party and most of our Lib Dem colleagues as well.