Juncker is Symbol Not Cause of Cameron Opposition to EU

Daniela Schwarzer runs the German Marshall Fund of the US in Berlin. She has written an article posted by British Influence http://bit.ly/1nOE0AP arguing that the UK opposition to Jean Claude Juncker is correct as his nomination represents a deepening of the EU integration project. Her nuanced article is first-rate but her argument that the arrival of Juncker as EU Commission President is unacceptable and could lead to Britian leaving the EU is not backed by a sense of history as I argue below in a comment posted on the GMFUS web site.

Sorry but the idea that the emergence of JC Juncker will take UK out of EU is just wrong. In 1997, the English Conservative Party went into their longest period of opposition since the 19th century. They decided to make hostility to the EU, the leitmotif of their Innenpolitik. The language of unreserved hostility to Brussels, to the EU, to Tony Blair (seen then as pro-European) was relenting and sustained by all four Conservative Party leaders ever since. It has been impossible to be selected as a Conservative MP without swearing an oath against Europe. Tory leaders made the demand for a referendum their main appeal – on the EU Constitution, on Lisbon Treaty and now In-Out. It really is important for analysts in Eurozone Europe to understand how profoundly political and existential the Conservative Party opposition to the EU now is. No-one in London knew who Juncker was six months ago and no-one paid any attention to the workings of European political parties even though they had signalled for years the idea of putting up candidates in an ersatz Commission president contest via the EP vote. In 3 months Juncker will be forgotten like Jacques Santer was. But the Conservative opposition to the EU cannot be managed by installing someone else a EU Spitzenfigur. This is as profound a transformation of the Conservative Party as happened over free trade or catholic emancipation or irish home rule. David Cameron is prisoner of a party which he does not lead on Europe because he is himself the generational product of a profoundly anti-EU ideology within the party. There is not much Mrs Merkel or Brussels can do. This has to be worked out within the pathology of British political identity.

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