What on earth was David Cameron thinking when he went to Brussels to join the talks on the future of the EU?
He managed to enrage most of those present by his intransigence over the issue of European proposals for further financial regulation in Europe, splitting the European Union, after failing to secure “safeguards” for the City of London that he demanded as the price of Britain approving a new treaty for the bloc.
Lord Snooty almost certainly misread the signals coming from the EU, probably believing that Germany would not force his issues to a point where he had no choice but to play his veto. Germany possibly also thought he wouldn’t press the point so far, but would be willing to roll over on certain issues. In the end, his decision to force a breakaway treaty within the EU came after a standoff with France and Germany, who rejected Lord Snooty’s demands for legally binding commitments to shield the City of London from new and wider regulations.
“I had to pursue very doggedly what was in British national interest. It is not easy when you are in a room where people are pressing you to sign up to things because they say it is in all our interests,” Mr Cameron said.
Well, let us examine that statement!
The City of London, and the very small number of extraordinarily powerful (and obscenely wealthy) men who run the Square Mile, have, through their friends and lobbyists in the Tory Party in Parliament, let Cameron know in hugely certain terms what his future would be, if he were to accede to EU requests for further financial regulation. The City does not like financial regulation, because it gets in the way of business. The City has taken this view for hundreds of years. At the turn of the eighteenth century, Alexander Baring, 2nd son of Francis Baring of the prestigious banking family said;
‘...I consider every regulation to be a restriction and, as such, contrary to that freedom which I have held to be the first principle of the well-being of commerce…’
Nothing has changed in the minds of British bankers since that statement was uttered, and no-one proposing wider regulation of the financial sector is going to be given a wide audience in London.
We have banking regulations, of course, it’s just that they are not enforced very well, or really at all, to any great extent. You only have to look at the level of downright fraud committed by our High Street banks to realize the truth of that assertion.
The financial mess we are currently laboring with was caused directly by these very banks. They played around with financial products which they did not understand sufficiently, they gambled on other people’s debts in the sub-prime scandals, they encouraged their people to sell worthless and dangerous products to gullible investors, and they made fortunes gambling in proprietary trading. Then, when they were broke, they went bleating to the Government for a bail-out, and we were forced to pick up the tab for their incompetence, their arrogance, ignorance and greed (thanks Steve Knightley), all the while, being told that it was our duty and in our best interest to do so!
Can someone help me understand how our best interests are served by continuing to bail out these conmen, crooks and thieves, without any kind of gut-wrenching regulation being imposed on the bastards in return.
The British financial sector, which is all we have left now that most other meaningful jobs have been destroyed, exists to serve the interests of a very small group of elites. They serve the politically exposed criminals and foreign dictators who use the London market to launder the looted contents of their bank accounts out of the reach of their true beneficial owners; they serve the interests of tax evaders, both from home and abroad, they facilitate the onward safe-passage of bribes and corruption on an international scale; they gamble recklessly with the contents of their Treasuries, and then pay themselves bloated bonuses.
We now know that 98% of the FTSE 100 companies (which includes all the major banks) pay little or no tax in the UK, so what benefit do we really get from them? If you need financial services, it is now a given that you will be gouged, cheated, ripped off and sold wholly inappropriate products. If you want a pension, it is an accepted fact that you will have much pulled out if it by the way of inflated and almost invisible charges.
These are the products whose promoters, ever so quietly, through their friends on the Tory back benches, sent the message to Lord Snooty. ‘…If you don’t want to end up like John Major, fighting a constant back-bench army of ‘Euro-bastards’, make sure you know where your (and our) best interests lie…’
Lord Snooty has won himself a reprieve. He will have pacified his Euro-demented back-benchers and given himself some breathing space. He has done his job by his mates in the City, who will be happy that they may not have to face greater EU regulation.
However, Cameron’s bid to secure a new protocol on the City’s exclusion from new rules won little or no support from other EU members, and was barely discussed in detail during the ten-hour summit. Mr Sarkozy merely dismissed the demands as “unacceptable”.
Snooty came home with nothing, except having succeeded to marginalize Britain even more in the eyes of the wider EU members. He may think that the EU can do nothing in the wider scheme of things, Haig, the Foreign Minister was wittering on about ‘protection by treaties’ on Radio 4 this morning.
For myself, I expect that if the new club members form a group, of which Britain is not a member, then they will almost certainly not let us come to their parties! Britain’s ultimatum has infuriated many European leaders who saw Britain as the biggest obstacle to a rigorous treaty to improve eurozone governance and resolve the sovereign debt crisis. Some in the negotiation said the decision to stand firm would have repercussions. “This is going to cost the UK dearly. They have antagonised everyone,” one senior EU official said.
Still, as long as the City gets what it wants, they won’t give a fuck!