Supporters of the Euro, and - because one is not possible without the other - a pan-European superstate, have been proved spectacularly wrong. David Aaronovich is among them, but will he admit it? Will he Hanover. Instead, he tries to be funny but fails. Daniel Hannan picks up on his Times post, which is behind the apartheid paywall, in the Telegraph:
In George Bernard Shaw's 1928 play, The Apple Cart, the American ambassador blurts out some momentous news to Britain's King:
The prodigal, sir, has returned to his father's house. Not poor, not hungry, not ragged, as of old. Oh no. This time he returns bringing with him the riches of the earth to the ancestral home. The Declaration of Independence is cancelled. The treaties which endorsed it are torn up. We have decided to rejoin the British Empire!
David Aaronovitch plays with the same idea in The Times today. I think he's trying to be funny, though I'm not completely certain. He uses the word 'ironically' in his column but, like many journalists, uses it to mean something along the lines of 'oddly enough'.
'We British pro-Europeans are beginning to sound more and more like Betamax enthusiasts arguing the superior merits of their systems against the unstoppable VHS tide', Aaronovitch writes. 'The people of Britain don’t get Europe, don’t like Europe and don’t want Europe'. Indeed.
And, since Britain is apparently too small to succeed on its own (pace Singapore, Switzerland, Qatar, Monaco, Norway, UAE etc), he suggests that we join the US. While, as I say, the proposal seems to be intended lightheartedly, the analysis that underpins it – the recognition that our two countries have a shared political culture and that Britain could benefit in many ways from repatriating the American Revolution – is moderate and reasonable.
The flaw in the Shavian fantasy of full amalgamation is, of course, that Americans are as jealous of their sovereignty as any people on Earth. Look at their (justified) suspicion of the United Nations. Look at their reticence vis-à-vis NAFTA. Do you really imagine that they'd accept a political union with 60 million Britons?
Just for the record, what we Atlanticists want is not a merger, but a free trade area. We'd like an organic, not a governmental union; ties between citizens, businesses and civic associations, not a combination of state structures. And we aim for it to embrace, not just Britain and the US, but the community of free English-speaking democracies – the Anglosphere. In fact, by coincidence, Iain Murray and James C Bennet explain how it would work in today's Wall Street Journal.
At least Aaronovich doesn't call his piece "a modest proposal". The next journalist who does should be stewed, roasted, baked or boiled. Or rather, as Giles Coren said, partially parboiled one day and fully parboiled the next.