This past week, Ed Miliband has taken the Prime Minister to task over Europe and his failed attempt to keep Jean-Claude Juncker from becoming commission president. He described Cameron’s performance as “utter humiliation” and a “masterclass in how to alienate your allies“.
The Guardian reported over the weekend that the debacle over Juncker could move the UK closer to the EU exit door and give the British public the extra push needed to sicken them of the European project once and for all.
But really, whilst Cameron’s Euro antics have been keeping the talking heads in Westminster busy, has anyone else really bothered to peer up from the football long enough to notice?
The British public are famously apathetic towards European politics, outwith UKIP-related activity anyway. In the last European elections, only about a third of eligible voters turned out to cast their ballot. Of that, a fairly large amount showed up just to register a protest vote for UKIP.
Going back a few weeks, I don’t recall anyone talking about Jean-Claude Juncker or his policies. Until Cameron got involved, I don’t recall much talk of the elections at all. Had he chosen not to be so vociferous about Juncker’s campaign, I imagine the election would have went past for the most part entirely unnoticed by the majority of the British public.
The sad fact, however, is that the public would do well to pay more attention to what is happening in Europe. Whilst Cameron’s campaign was probably ill-judged given his lack of support from other leaders, the points he made in regards to Juncker were mostly correct.
Whilst the voting results would suggest otherwise, Juncker is far from the darling of Europe and it’s likely that many of the other leaders voted him in whilst disparaging his policies in private. Juncker’s appointment was really a symptom of the rife democratic problems running through the EU.
In that respect, Cameron was correct to have concerns over Juncker’s appointment but at a time when he aims to lead a renegotiation in terms with Europe, the Prime Minister has once again shown the crude diplomatic hand that has seen the UK left standing outside tent time and time before.
Whilst his performance over the past few weeks probably won’t do him much harm with the British public – and his stubbornness may even win him a few new Eurosceptic fans – Cameron’s biggest folly has been to alienate the very people he will be counting on to work with him should the UK decide to renegotiate their place within the EU.
Does anyone really care about what goes on in Europe? Unfortunately for Mr Cameron, the Europeans still do.