Germany’s finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble says that, once the euro has been stabilised, Britain will join ‘faster than you can say Gott Strafe England‘, or words to that effect. His colleagues also suggested they have a secret plan to prevent Britain’s referendum on repatriating a few marginal powers from Brussels. On the first point, it takes refreshing effrontery to make such statements when the euro (and the EU, come to think of it) has been shown up for the economically illiterate, ideological contrivance it is. On the second point, they needn’t bother. The trick isn’t in preventing a referendum but in going ahead with it — provided that Nick Clegg and his Parteigenossen can word the question (sorry about using Germanisms, but ‘all of Europe speaks German now’, as we well know — nicht wahr?). As someone who used market research for 30 years, I can assure you that the wording of the question can skew the answer. From the height of that experience, I can offer Nick a few friendly suggestions:
1) Would you like to a) live in a large house in the shires by staying in the EU or b) live in a cardboard box under Waterloo bridge by leaving?
2) Would you prefer driving a) a Mercedes by staying or b) yourself up the wall by going?
3) Would you choose a) jobs and growth by staying or b) unemployment and stagnation by leaving?
4) Would you rather spend your holiday in a) Nice by staying or b) Peckham Rye by going?
5) Would you rather lead a) a prosperous life by staying or b) a bayonet charge by leaving?
Any one of these, Nick, and everything’s hunky-dory. Or, as we’ll soon be made to put it, Alles in Ordnung.