A cunning plan
Eurosceptics adopt an old Marxist technique
BRUSSELS-BASHING is never out of season inBritain, but the past few weeks have been unusually strenuous. On December 16th TheresaMay, the home secretary, proposed capping the number of EU migrants entering Britain. OnJanuary 13th David Cameron, the prime minister, received a letter signed by 95 Tory MPsdemanding a parliamentary right of veto over every piece of EU legislation. The next dayBusiness for Britain, a Eurosceptic group, argued that only firms that export to other EUcountries should be subject to common regulations.
Such proposals contradict the fundamental principles of the EU single market, which relies onfree movement of people, common rules and a degree of pooled sovereignty. Underminethese and it will collapse, as other MPs, diplomats and Britain’s reformist allies in the EU havewarned. One Tory MP, close to despair, shakes his head at his colleagues’ lack of realism. Dothey really think they will get what they want?
The answer, in some cases at least, is no. Outists seem to be adopting the old Marxist ploy ofthe transitional demand: requests that are likely to remain unfulfilled but help to expose thelimitations of the prevailing order. The equivalent, for those agitating for Britain to leave theEU, is to call for the country to cherry-pick bits of EU membership—and, on failing, hail itsghastliness. Business for Britain, for example, accepts that Britain’s partners will not agree to“unilateral opt-outs for British industries”—yet demands a series of such exemptions. SeniorTory sources speculate that Ms May too knows that her immigration proposals would requireBritain to leave the EU.
Polls suggest that although voters are hostile to European immigration and rules, they arewary of renouncing the single market entirely. Mr Cameron is committed to renegotiatingBritain’s EU membership, then putting it to a referendum. Though some Euroscepticbackbenchers scorn that plan in private, only the most rebellious are willing to do so publicly.But by demanding impossible changes, those who want to leave can simultaneously name-check
the prime minister’s plan, indicate their dissent and nudge ordinary Britons towardsoutism. This may be particularly useful for Tories positioning themselves for the next leadershipcontest. “Can Theresa May lead us out of the European Union?” asked one tabloid, helpfully, inresponse to the home secretary’s thoughts on immigration.
Political leaders who want Britain to stay in the union must perform a delicate balancing act inresponse. Pooh-poohing outlandish demands would look patronising and unambitious. Butechoing them would spook business. On January 15th Ford, a carmaker, firmly advised againstleaving the union. The same day George Osborne mounted the pro-membership tightrope. In agood speech, the chancellor of the exchequer warned that Britain could leave the EU butprescribed mostly Europe-wide reforms to improve matters. It was a deft display. As theoutist demands become noisier—and their impossibility more evident—he and Mr Cameron willhave to perform it many more times.
1.rely on 依靠;依赖
例句:It would be rash to rely on such evidence.
2.close to 离…近;与…关系密切
例句:Only Cowans played anything close to his trueform.
3.at least 至少
例句:What they wanted most from the president was a leader who at least would try toeducate the country.
4.likely to 可能
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