Birmingham Post Comment: Free Trade Ideal Lost in Fog of Political Hot Air

Article excerpt

The European Union is in a mess, but only the most blinkered of politicians failed to see the latest crisis coming.

The constitutional treaty, decisively rejected by the French and the Dutch, would if passed have been the point of no return. Years of pretence that the EU was merely a trading arrangement would have been exposed for the nonsense that it was. With a constitution in place, Europe would move seamlessly towards political union.

Is that actually what the member countries want? Some of them, perhaps, but it is deeply ironic that the French, the midwives of the European dream, were the first to say Non to the constitution.

That Britain is not now going to get its referendum on the constitution comes as no surprise. The result of such a poll, surely a rejection on a scale far more crushing than France delivered, would precipitate a terminal crisis for Tony Blair and his European supporters.

The question now is where does Europe, and Britain, go from here?

The growing swell of Eurosceptic opinion is indicative of a concern that the supposed economic advantages of the EU are not going according to plan, never mind the more controversial question of political integration.

The Euro is a weak currency, the European Bank appears to be devoid of any real policy on interest rates while the promised benefits of low unemployment and low inflation are yet to be delivered. …