America, Britain and Europe

I see that some people in Britain are in a bit of a kerfuffle about recent indications that the Americans would not be pleased if they left the EU. So it seems appropriate to quote at length from a well-known passage by Miriam Camps (1964, pp. 336-7):

Early in April [1961], Mr. Macmillan went to Washington for talks with the new Administration. Although he had met the new President at Palm Beach in connexion with the Laos crisis, the April visit was the first opportunity for a general review of common problems, and Britain’s relations with the Common Market was obviously one of the matters which Mr. Macmillan wanted to discuss. The available evidence suggests that Mr. Macmillan asked Mr. Kennedy a hypothetical question: ‘What would be your reaction if we decided to join the EEC?’ and that he was given an enthusiastic affirmative answer. There is no evidence to suggest that Mr. Macmillan was ‘pushed’ by Mr. Kennedy, as was alleged, and denied, at various times. But it is clear that Mr. Kennedy left no doubt in Mr. Macmillan’s mind that a British decision to join the Six would be welcome and that Mr. Macmillan left Washington convinced that, far from straining Anglo-American relations, Britain’s joining the Community might well lead to much closer and more far-reaching transatlantic links than the British could hope to achieve in other ways. The reflection that the shortest, and perhaps the only, way to a real Atlantic partnership lay through Britain’s joining the Common Market seems to have been a very important — perhaps the controlling — element in Mr. Macmillan’s own decision that the right course for the United Kingdom was to apply for membership. Mr. Kennedy’s warm response undoubtedly strengthened Mr. Macmillan’s own conviction that joining was the right course of action and encouraged him to continue his efforts to bring the sceptics in the Cabinet to accept this view. Also, like the discussions with General de Gaulle and Dr. Adenauer earlier in the year, the discussions with the United States Administration underlined, once again, the fact that ‘association’ arrangements were not likely to be negotiable. It was clear that the United States was prepared to accept the additional commercial ‘discrimination’ against itself because of the political advantages it saw in British membership in the Community, but that it would be hostile to arrangements short of membership which, in its view, would simply increase ‘discrimination’ but would not, like full membership, add to the political stability of the Community or strengthen the ‘Atlantic’ orientation of the new power-complex the Six were clearly coming to be.

43 replies on “America, Britain and Europe”

This was in the IT last week

• Sir, – Raymond Aron wrote in Le Figaro of December, 22nd-23rd, 1962: “Great Britain has been the victim of its victory in 1945, as France between the wars was the victim of its victory of 1918, for the two victories had one trait in common: they were military and not political, illusory and not authentic”.
In his Memoirs of 1983 (English translation 1990), Aron expands on these remarks: “Continental Europeans, all defeated, torn from their habits and traditions, set out for a new future. Great Britain did not see the necessity for renewal: first came the alliance with the United States, then the preservation of the commonwealth, and only thirdly co-operation with the Europeans. Churchill and the Conservatives argued in favour of Franco-German reconciliation, but all the leaders, Labour or Tory, were offended by the actual functioning of the Treaty of Rome. They had not taken the plans for European unification seriously. When they understood their mistake, they launched the idea of a free-trade zone, an initiative obviously to paralyse the formation of the Common Market. After the rejection of the free-trade zone came the candidacy that we could interpret less as a conversion to the community than as a subtle method to destroy it, or at least to reshape it according to their conceptions and their interests.”
Plus ça change? – Yours, etc,
Four Courts, Dublin 7.

You can draw a direct line between US encouragement of UK entry in 1961 and US cheerleading of expansion to the east in 2004. The US objective has consistently been to prevent the emergence of a rival political power in Europe. What better methods than to promote the inclusion of a wrecker (i.e. the UK), or to cause paralysis by encouraging expansion before institutions appropriate to an enlarged EU were in place?

The latest from Wolfgang Munchau on the possibility of an exit by the UK.

If his intention is to show how absurd the debate has become, he succeeds. However, some of the arguments that he advances are also rather absurd. Turkey, by way of example, is in a customs union with the EU since 1995. Were the UK to depart, it is hardly imaginable that the rest of the EU would cut off its nose to spite its face by refusing to make a similar concession to the UK.

It is also notable that voices are being raised on the implications of a Brexit for controls at the Border which confuse the issues of free movement of labour and control of persons at frontiers. Ireland followed the UK with regard to the latter when the UK decided not to participate in the Schengen arrangments to protect the common travel area. Norway and Iceland did exactly the opposite i.e. they joined with Sweden, Denmark and Finland in deciding to participate to maintain their passport union.

The FT is now, correctly, describing the situation with regard to the long-promised speech by Cameron as a “public relations shambles”.

As to the behaviour of the Labour leader, he is now ruling out the possibility of Labour making a commitment to a referendum part of its election platform. As Cameron is now moving the date of the speech, it might be appropriate for Labour to reciprocate and stop his MPs voting with Conservative eurosceptics e.g. in relation to UK demands on the EU’s long-term budget.


Part of Milliband’s role, as a politician, is to amplify Conservative chaos wrt Europe.


In political terms, referendum yonks away – its all about the next GE. Having the Tories in such disarray over EU that even the voters can’t miss getting the impression they can’t have any idea what they are doing is his priority. The LDs are electorally finished, so all Labour have to do is appear less chaotic on EU than Cs and they have a tactical victory.

In the meantime, even Miliband recognises the idea the UK might one day leave is likely to wake up a few people who might have become a tad complacent.


None of the major parties is in great shape really.
Labour have their own legacy problems . The Tories have Gideon.
If the LD got rid of Clegg they’d might be in with a fighting chance.

Labour strategy is that the LD brand is easily undermineable. As a result they are the only destination for the vast majority of europhile votes, so as long as they stay less eurosceptic than the Cs, they mop up.

Balls is the Labour shadow chancellor and for the votes of people worried about the economy he isn’t going to be much of a magnet with that Brown gang history of his. He is a soft target even for Gideon.

If the austerity -> export economy experiment doesn’t work, and I would be very surprised if it did, then its up to the LDs and Labour to articulate Keynesian criticisms of it in a convincing manner.

The LDs have taken themselves out of the game on that one via their brink of office conversion to the austerity cause.

Labours timidity on this indicates that they still aren’t really sure they believe it themselves, yet. But as and when and if they do, they have a far lesser collection of absurdities in the public sector than Ireland does – thus its not likely to be such a difficult sell.

The bond markets never backed up Osbourne’s ‘gilts strike thesis’ but that didn’t matter because ordinary punters were shielded from that inconvenient fact by media coverage and repetition of the idea that without austerity, Britain was Greece.

The backdrop is less easily misrepresented now though, and that could go further. Don’t ignore what is happening in Japan currently.

Couldn’t the Tories change tack on austerity by dumping Gideon ?

Labour are still vulnerable to the fact that they were in government when the economy crashed. Light touch regulation, PFI and “an end to boom and bust” are all going to come back at them.

The Tories can’t really change tack. 1922 is very powerful. The public beleive that about 25% of all benefit payments are fraud. Its fantastic for many Tories – an opportunity not to miss.

But can they win votes with a triple dip? And then what if they lose the AAA ?
Even if the whips keep them, in line what is the point ?
Gideon said the economy would be humming by the time of the next election. It won’t.

” on the day he died, the President of the United States, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Majority Leader of the United States Senate, the Chairman of the National Committee were all Irish,all Catholic, all Democrats. It will not come again.”

@ grumpy

To come back to your point about the attitude of Miliband cf.

If, as Miliband believes, Cameron “is essentially sleepwalking us towards the exit door of the EU” what is he doing tripping him up in the middle of the night in cahoots with the eurosceptic right of the Conservative party?

He cannot have it both ways! Bad and all as Ireland is, one has the impression that the UK is now run by a gaggle of privileged undergraduates who are too clever by half.


“If, as Miliband believes, Cameron “is essentially sleepwalking us towards the exit door of the EU” what is he doing tripping him up in the middle of the night in cahoots with the eurosceptic right of the Conservative party?”

He doesn’t believe that, he knows it is possible, but unlikely. He is trying to remain publicly responsible and a europhile vote collector, whilst seeking to keep the Tories battling among themselves over Europe. He wants to keep them on the boil.

On your last point, they were basically all signed up to the various teams and ideologies even before they arrived at college. They are undergraduate politicians, but with a bit more experience.


“If, as Miliband believes, Cameron “is essentially sleepwalking us towards the exit door of the EU” what is he doing tripping him up in the middle of the night in cahoots with the eurosceptic right of the Conservative party?”

You aren’t twelve by any chance are you? 🙂

He doesn’t want to be seen by the Euro-sceptic average voter as being the guy who blocked the good ol’ Tories from getting tough with and sorting out Europe. He wants Cameron to either made a fool of himself by failing to do that despite having the apparent opportunity, or have to play the defender of Europe himself at some point. EM is avoiding an elephant trap and providing DC with enough rope.

I must admit I’m struggling to read that article clearly, can you expand on it?

Ooops, wrong quote. Should be

“Miliband is putting party interest ahead of what he clearly implies is in the interest of the UK.”

Protection of NATO is the main driver of US geopolitics.

European weakness in this area best demonstrated in its failure in Bosnia.

@ grumpy

Let’s put it like this! Van Rompuy will shortly be tabling his proposals on the long-term budget, taking up where matters left off before Christmas. The negotiations will hinge on various highly sensitive issues as far as Cameron is concerned, notably the UK budget rebate, the cost of agriculture and the level of administrative spending in the EU generally.

Miliband can do what he did when he a Cameron last exchanged views in the matter i.e. see it as just another stick to beat him with in the context of domestic politics or take the wider – statesmanlike – view that there are bigger Europe-wide interests – including those of the UK – at stake.

Let us wait and see!

Meanwhile, there will be another opportunity to gauge the lie of the land after Cameron’s much touted speech which is now brought forward to 18 January (in the Netherlands). If, as seems likely, he promises a referendum – but probably at some considerable remove – it is hard to see how he could cap it with a veto of the EU budget in early February at a juncture when the EU – and the EA in particular – faces the risk of a re-ignited euro crisis. Or how Miliband could encourage such an outcome.

Hey DOCM, what’s the word on the wire on this one?

It Begins: Bundesbank To Commence Repatriating Gold From New York Fed.

Trust the Bundesbank to have a plan while the rest of them are still drinking the Kool-aid. 7/2 says that the bank is trying to precipitate a return to the Deutschmark, with or without agreement from the German government. Brings a little more clarity to official positions in the UK I think.

PR guy might be away for a few days.

@ Brian G
No breaking of the sov /bank link then? Sov debt continues to head north but there is a short term cashflow benefit. Also, if it’s that straightforward, what’s all the fuss (and waiting) all about?!

@ Fiatluxjnr
Obviously they see it as a non event in a wider economic context….However, it does seem to imply a highly protectionist (fearful?) German public mentality.

Others (now including Bill Gross of Pimco it seems) are using it to question central bank trust i.e. trust in fiat currency itself.

Certainly a very curious development, which now seems to be confirmed:

Austerity is going very well. VW euro sales down 22% – I wonder will that register in Deutschland. Those are German jobs at risk.

“Demand for new cars in Europe fell to the lowest level recorded since 1995, closing a year burdened by heavy declines in all major euro zone economies.
Two fewer working days on average helped send new car registrations in the European Union tumbling 16.3 per cent last month to 799,407 vehicles, according to data published by the European automotive industry association ACEA.

The figures highlight the crisis for automakers in Europe, where over-indebted banks will not lend cash-strapped consumers the funds to buy new cars as austerity pushes joblessness to a record high of almost 12 per cent. Even Volkswagen’s sales of its core VW brand fell 22 per cent. The December plunge at its luxury brand Audi nearly matched that.”

But good news for Dorks.

Japan has gone over to the other side and the US may follow, targeting inflation rather than deflation. What will Europe do ?


“It’s hard to see Dear Old Blighty getting much out of leaving the EU.”

The Spanish and Greek youths may look to join them on the outside soon. The union is a bit lobsided at present. More of a disunion.

Good wording/ quote from the Ir Times

“The figures highlight the crisis for automakers in Europe, where over-indebted banks will not lend cash-strapped consumers the funds to buy new cars as austerity pushes joblessness to a record high of almost 12 per cent. Even Volkswagen’s sales of its core VW brand fell 22 per cent. The December plunge at its luxury brand Audi nearly matched that.””

It should be sent to the Bundesbank labelled;

First Year Economics-Lesson One.

@ Paul W and Flj

There are numerous aspects to this development, the Telegraph, and especially AEP, not being a good guide on any of them. Some suggestions in the best order that I can think of.

(i) the legitimate concern of the German electorate regarding their accumulated wealth

(ii) the report of the German Court of Auditors

(iii) the stand-off between the German government and the Bundesbank under Weidmann on policy in relation to the euro; what better way to confirm the “independence” of the Bundesbank than to be seen to be protecting its golden eggs?

(iv) the anomalous situation in itself (which dates from the Cold War era)

(v) the wider positive political reaction because of (i) above and the fact that the action in itself underlines the fact that Germany has recovered, under Schroeder and Merkel, her full freedom of action on the international scene.

My own estimation is that this will become quickly yesterday’s story (like many of the other tantrums indulged in or organised by the Bundesbank).

@ Joseph Ryan

Germany has moved well beyond Economics 101. It has been here before post Lehmans and expects to be there again, use the same steps to compensate, and return fit for the next round.

Comments are closed.