Eurosceptici zijn gematigd; eurofielen zijn onredelijk

Euro-enthusiasts trot out the same line whenever David Cameron does something of which they disapprove. The PM, they say, is “caving in to UKIP extremists” or “trying to appease the Tory Right”.

I understand why they do it. The last thing they want is to argue their case on its merits. They don’t like to mention that our EU budget contributions have quadrupled over five years – and that’s before you count the extra £1.7 billion “prosperity surcharge”. They prefer not to defend the idea that we must turn away skilled workers from English-speaking countries to admit unskilled workers from Europe. Easier by far to build up a caricature of Eurosceptics – as unreasonable, angry, obsessive, nostalgic, racist, blah blah – and then pretend that the PM’s sole motivation is to appease these pantomime villains, thus casting him as both weak and unprincipled.

But who is it, exactly, that the PM is appeasing? Who is it that wants a lower EU budget, controlled immigration, a referendum on membership? The British electorate, that’s who. On all these questions, David Cameron is in line with more than 80 per cent of the country. He is, if we must use the Europhiles’ pejorative phrase, “caving in” to the general population. Or, to put it more neutrally, he is behaving precisely as a democratic politician is supposed to behave, listening to public opinion.

I’ll go further. Euro-scepticism – which I’ll define in its loosest sense as wanting to see powers returned from the EU to national and local authorities – is now the majority position, not only in Britain, but across the Continent. The only place where it has almost no purchase is in the Brussels institutions.

Lees deze column van Daniël Hannan verder op The Telegraph