In a letter published in The Times today (21st March 2003), Michael
Fabricant argues that Britain must not only consider the future of a
post-war Iraq, but also the future of Britain’s own political, economic and
strategic alliances. "I believe that following France’s threatened use of
the veto in the United Nations after a series of similar efforts to thwart
British policy overseas both in the UN and in the European Union, Britain
should conduct an informed national debate to determine our nation’s future
alliances" says Michael Fabricant.
The text of The Times letter now follows:-
While some might say it is convenient for the Government to provide a French
scapegoat for its diplomatic failure abroad, it also reflects a deeper
frustration born from a series of failed negotiations in other forums, from
beef rows to indecision on the European agricultural budget.
An idealist, Tony Blair thought he could be at the heart of a new Europe.
Instead he found to his shock, when he recently attended an Inter
Governmental Conference to discuss reform of EU finances, that Chirac and
Shroeder had got there first and had forged an immutable deal. Blair’s
hopes, and John Major’s before him, that an expanded Europe would
naturally lead to a looser confederation of states and a reduced budget were
When the Iraq war is over, Blair should pause and coolly reassess our
relations with other nations and consider who our real friends are. More
importantly, Britain should set out to analyse our economic future.
Despite regular calls for the Government to undertake an analysis of the
costs and of the benefits, both direct and indirect, of our EU membership,
the Government has always refused.
One US Government analysis claims that as the UK already has access to
European markets by virtue of our membership of the World Trade
Organisation, the net benefit of our membership of the EU is MINUS $45
billion a year. To put it another way, the EU costs us the equivalent of
around 80 brand new district general hospital being opened annually.
Alliances change, nothing is for ever. France puts her self-interest first
– and so now should we. France’s veto may have caused our nation to cross
a Rubicon. Technology makes geography irrelevant; economic and strategic
compatibility will dictate alliances in the 21st century. An informed
debate on our nation’s present and future alliances, both economic and
diplomatic, is well overdue.