With most of the UK election results now in, we now know that the Conservatives will be the biggest party in what the UK terms a “Hung Parliament” (where no party has a majority).
Much has been made about how a Conservative government under David Cameron would be the bull in the EU’s china shop – but taking power from Brussels, whilst sounding attractive to the ever-eurosceptic British populace, is easier said than done.
What powers do you want to take back? How do you amend existing EU legislation and/or Treaties to ensure this is the case?
Then there is that oh-so-crucial relationship with the other EU leaders, whom in the interests of trade – if for nothing else – Mr Cameron would want to keep close. Yet it is already an open secret that Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany – arguably the most powerful politician in Europe right now – and Mr Cameron do not get on, mainly as a result of the latter’s short-sighted and ill-informed decision to pull the UK Conservatives out of the EPP group in the European Parliament.
Not only that, but will an inexperienced Mr Cameron, a relative unknown on the world stage, be able to stand up to the experienced Nicolas Sarkozy? The French President must be licking his lips at the prospect of negotiating critical EU policies through the night with a relative ingénu from across La Manche.
Further afield, the US is unlikely to be a supporter of a UK government which is openly hostile to EU integration. No wonder President Obama has already started to bypass “Perfidious Albion” and go directly to the leaders who pull the strings at the heart of Europe.
A Cameron government may well make the EU sweat, but it will ultimately be the UK and its citizens who will stand to lose if Cameron fails to play his cards right at future EU Summits. All of which leads us to the uncomfortable prospect of the UK perhaps successfully repatriating powers, whilst simultaneously losing them where it really matters.