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Postings from December 2008
From: Nicholas Clark
December 14, 2008 15:13
Message ID: 20081214231333.GI58284@plum.flirble.org
Frank and I, unlike the civil servants, were still puzzled that such a
proposal as the Europass could even be seriously under consideration by
the FCO. We can both see clearly that it is wonderful ammunition for the
anti-Europeans. I asked Humphrey if the Foreign Office doesn't realise
how damaging this would be to the European ideal?
'I'm sure they do, Minister, he said. That's why they support it.'
This was even more puzzling, since I'd always been under the impression
that the FO is pro-Europe. 'Is it or isn't it?' I asked Humphrey.
'Yes and no,' he replied of course, 'if you'll pardon the
expression. The Foreign Office is pro-Europe because it is really
anti-Europe. In fact the Civil Service was united in its desire to make
sure the Common Market didn't work. That's why we went into it.'
This sounded like a riddle to me. I asked him to explain further. And
basically his argument was as follows: Britain has had the same foreign
policy objective for at least the last five hundred years - to create a
disunited Europe. In that cause we have fought with the Dutch against
the Spanish, with the Germans against the French, with the French and
Italians against the Germans, and with the French against the Italians
and Germans. [The Dutch rebellion against Phillip II of Spain, the
Napoleonic Wars, the First World War, and the Second World War - Ed.]
In other words, divide and rule. And the Foreign Office can see no
reason to change when it has worked so well until now.
I was aware of this, naturally, but I regarded it as ancient history.
Humphrey thinks that it is, in fact, current policy. It was necessary
for us to break up the EEC, he explained, so we had to get inside. We
had previously tried to break it up from the outside, but that didn't
work. [A reference to our futile and short-lived involvement in EFTA,
the European Free Trade Association, founded in 1960 and which the UK
left in 1972 - Ed.] Now that we're in, we are able to make a complete
pig's breakfast out of it. We've now set the Germans against the French,
the French against the Italians, the Italians against the Dutch... and
the Foreign office is terribly happy. It's just like old time.
I was staggered by all of this. I thought that the all of us who are
publicly pro-European believed in the European ideal. I said this to Sir
Humphrey, and he simply chuckled.
So I asked him: if we don't believe in the European Ideal, why are we
pushing to increase the membership?
'Same reason,' came the reply. 'It's just like the United Nations. The
more members it has, the more arguments you can stir up, and the more
futile and impotent it becomes.'
This all strikes me as the most appalling cynicism, and I said so.
Sir Humphrey agreed completely. 'Yes Minister. We call it
diplomacy. It's what made Britain great, you know.'
[pp.119-120 _The complete Yes Minister // The Diaries of a Cabinet Minister
by the Right Hon. James Hacker MP._ v "The Writing on the Wall" *]
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