Ramifications Of The Lisbon Treaty.
Listening to the news that the Tories will apparently hold a referendum on the Lisbon treaty, if they win the next general election in Britain, set me thinking how Europe haunts the Tories, as much today as it did when John Major or Margaret Thatcher had power, but the political ramifications are potentially wider.
It seems unlikely that the Tories would reopen the Lisbon treaty when the other nations and states have in one way or the other ratified it, the last one will soon be the Czech Republic, but if they did that in Britain then it would surely open up old wounds, yet again the perennial bogeyman of Europe would be attacked and more British xenophobia stirred up.
The relationship between Britain and Europe is a fraught discourse, primarily because it brings up, indirectly, the decline of Britain has an Imperial power and the necessity for her to have good relations with European countries, who previously were considered to be nobodies or minor competitors. Accepting Europe has never been an easy thing for the British, despite holiday homes in France and the millions that visit Spain or traipse around Italy, Europe is not a welcomed subject across the political spectrum, and that is where any debate on the Lisbon Treaty becomes politically interesting.
Should a referendum be held then you would have the sight of little Englanders, ancient Tories, neofascists, Tony Benn and various unreconstructed lefties united in arguing against the Lisbon treaty, in part as a way to criticise and distance themselves from Europe, both as a political setup and as a continent.
Whatever happens it will be messy politics, as clearly Britain is unlikely to leave the EU.
However, a negative outcome for the Lisbon treaty as an expression of discontent against Europe, or for British nationalism, would leave the political leaders in a perilous position, either having to ignore public opinion, which probably would be highly critical of the EU, or cause political splits in the mainstream parties.
So whatever happens Europe will continue to dog the Tories.
Update: Occasional racist and bigot speaks out at Tory party conference.