I just hope I’m also wrong in my dread of our new Foreign Secretary, William Hague – the most strongly eurosceptic person ever to hold that position, the mastermind behind the Conservatives’ withdrawal from the EPP in the European Parliament, and a man who, back in 2001, led an explicitly anti-EU general election campaign that revolved around the populist nonsense-slogan “Ten Days to Save the Pound”.
Recent devolopments have not been much more promising, an alleged draft letter from Hague leaked to last weekend’s Observer, promising “to demonstrate to the British people and beyond that the UK’s relationship with Europe has really changed… the British relationship with the EU has changed with our election… we will fight our corner to protect our national interests”.
Of course, there’s a good chance that Hague’s euroscepticism may be countered by former MEP and Commission employee Nick Clegg also attending Cabinet in the apparently-offered role of Deputy Prime Minister, but as of 11pm on Tuesday it remains unclear just what role the Liberal Democrats are going to take in this apparent new coalition.
I hope I’m proved wrong. In Hague’s favour, he’s certainly not stupid. And it’s always far easier to take tough, controversial stands in opposition than it is in government. He may yet temper his rhetoric and the Cameron government may yet start to take a more sensible, pragmatic approach towards the EU. I very much hope so – because I, for one, am convinced that the only loser in a “fight” between Britain and the EU (Hague’s phrase) would be the UK.