MARGARET Thatcher used to say “All my troubles come from Europe”. Let us remember that quotation this coming Sunday when we commemorate the centenary of the the First World War armistice and the millions whose lives were ended in two world wars.
Ironically, we now find ourselves 100 years on seeking another deliverance from Europe.
On past form we shall get a Brexit deal of sorts in a fortnight – November 21 – or more likely in the wee small hours of November 22.
But we shall only get it if Theresa May thinks, as Mrs Thatcher calculated in 1984 when she won back two-thirds of our excessive contribution to the EC, that Brussels will not give another inch.
But then she has to assess whether the House of Commons would stomach its offer. If not, she must say: “No deal.”
Who would be PM?
Whatever she decides, our politicians had better start putting their thinking caps on, assuming there is any judgment left to cap.
It is doubtful whether we have had such abject political poverty since the Second World War.
I say that while recognising that, on the basis of my direct experience of the EU from 1974-1990, it was never going to be easy to free ourselves of Brussels’s bonds.
Even now, it may well be that Mrs May remains in office only because Jeremy Corbyn leads the Labour Party.
It seems that while Brexiteers and Remainers alike are prepared to wound her they are afraid to strike lest Corbyn walks into No 10.
If this is so – or is the calculation in Brussels – Mrs May seems more likely to return home with a possibly unsellable deal that keeps us tied to Brussels’ apron strings or, one hopes, no deal at all. That is unless the rest of the EU’s 27 nation-states tell France and Germany to stop mucking about and start facing reality.
That reality sees Corbyn and his lethal lieutenant, John McDonnell, settling for something less than a clean break with the EU but then creating one more basket case to go with Europe’s economic mess.
Tory Remainers, assuming they can think straight any more, cannot surely contemplate Britain being wrecked by their unaccountable worship of a failing, corrupt, undemocratic, bureaucratic, protectionist, pretentious and hideously expensive ramp.
In short, can we get a deal that respects the referendum result or not?
Given that Britain under the Tories will not go isolationist – as distinct from Labour’s likely exit from Nato – Europe had better do some hard thinking, too, over the next fortnight.
The real question for the 27 EU states and Commission is whether they can responsibly mess about with Britain when the world is in such a parlous condition.
If ever a time called for statesmanship it is now, poignantly in a month of remembrance of unparalleled courage and carnage. World politics has fallen into such a volatile state that we should be seeking to minimise conflict, not intensify it.
The elected representatives of some 500m souls in Europe need to ponder this grim list of potentially explosive issues that are facing their populations:
1. Megalomaniacs in the Kremlin and White House with the murderous Vladimir Putin persistently trying to undermine the West and the incredible Donald Trump possibly provoking a trade war;
2. Westward migration from Asia and Africa that threatens the stability and culture of the West and the desperate trek North in Central America to the USA;
3. The consequent rise of extremist political groups across Europe as nations revolt, as did the Americans in electing Trump, against a misguided, deaf and politically correct elite that insensitively seeks to control their lives;
4. A world living with the threat and awful uncertainty of bloodthirsty terrorism and rising crime;
5. The rise of China, the world’s largest nation, and, along with Russia, its attempted economic colonisation of strife torn Africa;
6. The level of debt in the democracies that renders them weaker in the face of crises; and
7. The dangerous failure of politicians to keep pace with the poisonous so-called social media.
You may think I am being unduly alarmist.
But political leaders across the world seem puny these days, ill-equipped for the challenge of the 21st century and frankly irresponsible in their risk taking that we desperately need someone to steady the ship.
One way of steadying it is for the EU to put Brexit down to experience and start working on a new model for Europe and relationship with a newly-independent Britain.
If not, our troubles will still come from Europe.