If consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds, which is almost the only good remark attributed to Emerson (as well as being almost a remark he did make) then there is no future in trying to fit the collective mind of the EU into a size 8 hatbox. A union avowedly pusuing ever greater integration is now an organ of discord, and the question is not whether the UK (hereinafter referred to as London in order to reflect political realities, however distasteful) will leave but why it ever applied to join in the first place. Differences of outlook have been becoming more ominous for several years. One has sympathy for the poor spokesman who had to explain why it was once noble and idealistic of the west to bomb Serbia’s cities with a view to detaching Kosovo , whereas the actions of Russia in stopping Poroshenko’s forces bombarding part of what he claimed as his country’s population in order to keep them on Kiev’s electoral roll, were entirely different and utterly evil. When the EU reached a membership of fifteen (unfortunately and inexplicably including Greece) anyone with a milligram of political nous could see that was the point to stop for a decade or three, however hard Nato squeezed the European arm. A further mouthful of eastern Europe looked unappealing at the time and has indeed resulted in painful indigestion. In any case the approach was always entirely wrong. If the project was to have any chance of success it had to be carried on as a crusade (the word not yet expunged in those days). To conceive it as an effort at ‘ever greater integration’ and entrust the task to a largely self-appointing class of eurocrats was folly in red bloomers. What has emerged is an ever more complex bureaucracy, impenetrable in fact, unless you happen to know a side door and the password to use on approaching it. I would like to start a rumour that a man is employed in Brussels whose only work is pushing the trolleys full of the daily correspondence sent to one of the Commissioners, from her office to the incinerarium, but it would cause trouble since it would undoubtedly soon appear in one of the British newspapers as a well-known fact.
Political union is clearly a non-starter, and that was obviously already clear to the Brussocrats when my wife’s native land rejected in a referendum the proposed Lisbon treaty (a.k.a ‘constitution of the European megastate’) which foresaw a future where laws, policies, regulations, and general interference with real people should be as decided by world leaders and their special advisors, with elections to continue of course, as a kind of colourful meaningless folkdancing. (The Irish were to their credit the only nation of 27 which insisted on asking the people what they wanted, producing a result which dismayed that fluent gasbag Barroso; to their shame, the Irish, when they were told they had given the wrong answer, had another go, and approved the treaty.) Economic union may advance economic growth, but we all know the benefits will go to those who are already rich and privileged. Moral union. There used to be a lot of proclamation from Brussels about European values. For some unprovable reason (though most of us could make guesses) that sort of talk has gone quiet recently. A pity. Just think what Europe would be like if we could achieve something there. Danes allowing starving widows to keep the small change with which they reach Denmark. Hungarians saving all the money they spend on razor wire (offences, not defences); (perhaps they could use it for Rom villages in Hungary). The French could provide clean water, warmth, sanitation and food to strangers (and to SDF – 14 dead on the streets of Paris already since the New Year). Wealthy Greeks could start paying some of their taxes. The Dutch could be friendly to their Moroccans. The British might allow refugee children into their country. (On that last point, 30,000 refugees admitted would be less than one for every 2,000 of the current population. Most people would never even see one of them.) The Spanish… But enough!
 this action must of course be sharply distinguished from the campaign in which London nobly bore its share of bombing the infrastructure, sewage plants, and from time to time hospitals, of southern Iraq, between 1991 and 2003; that was for a wholly different purpose, namely to bring democracy to that poor oppressed country.
Question of the week : the British government is at present enveloped in difficulties over preparing a list of psychoactive substances that exist, or might at some time in the future exist, which with their 36.9% of the vote on a 66.1% electoral turn-out they feel qualified to order people not to consume, to insert into themselves, to prepare, to buy or sell, or do any of the other things which lawyers could think of people doing with them. While they are wrestling with the issue could they spare time to explain to the public why that very psychoactive substance, beer, looks likely to gain an exemption?