The Economist has spent years trying to convince the British that the European Union and the euro are very much part of the UK future. No wonder then that Bill Emmott, editor of the europhile magazine during the years 1993 - 2006, is still so blinded by this empire in decline that he compares being part of it with membership of the UN - and Fifa!
On a recent BBC Newsnight debate, Jeremy Paxman drew applause by popping up on a screen a photo of Herman Van Rompuy, the rather nondescript Belgian president of the European Council, and asking the audience whether they had voted for him and even knew who he was. Argument over: of course we’d rather not be bossed about by unelected officials whom we can’t even name.
Except for this. It was tosh. Why didn’t he also put up photos of the Secretary General of Nato, or the head of the World Trade Organisation, or the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the International Maritime Organisation, or even the head of Fifa? We didn’t vote for any of those either; they come from funny foreign countries and we don’t even know their names – except perhaps the President of Fifa.
So, whatever the Eurosceptics, and especially UKIP, try to say, the debate about British membership of the EU cannot be reduced to a choice of black or white, shackled or free, servile or sovereign. Unless we want to pull out of all of these organisations, that is. It is a matter of degree, of shades of grey, of how much loss of sovereignty is too much, of much more boring issues of benefits and costs.
Bill Emmott is currently the chairman of London library. It might perhaps be a good thing if somebody would ask him to spare us from further Fifa comparisons and instead concentrate on chairing the books.