For the first time since I first heard of Jacques Delors I feel like buying him a drink. And I wouldn’t even try to lace it with cyanide.
Moreover, now that this sage man of impeccable moral character has effectively applied for UKIP membership, I wish to make an admittedly unauthorised apology on behalf of Britain for that unfortunate 1992 Sun headline (UP YOURS DELORS).
At the time I thought this was one of the three best tabloid front-pagers ever. For the record, the second was also from The Sun (ARGY-BARGY!, in response to the sinking of the Belgrano during the Falklands war) and the third came from The New York Post (HEADLESS BODY FOUND IN TOPLESS BAR).
Of course back in 1992 Jacques was still a bad boy. He was trying to bully Mrs Thatcher, as she then was, into granting him dictatorial powers over Britain. All he got in response was the headline for which I’m now apologising.
It takes a bright man to realise the error of his ways and a strong one to make a public admission to that effect. This Monsieur Delors has now done by reiterating all the same arguments dyed-in-the-wool conservatives like me have been making since I was young (that is to say for a hell of a long time).
Britain, said Jacques in an interview to a German newspaper, would be better off out of the EU. And – shock, horror! – her exit would not lead to an instant severing of all trade relations, as Messrs Cameron and Clegg would have us believe.
‘If the British do not follow the tendency towards more integration in the European Union,’ said my new mate Jacques, ‘we can anyway stay friends, but in another way.’ One obvious other way, he suggested, would be for Britain to sign a ‘free trade agreement’, and wiser words have never been spoken, not even by Nigel Farage.
Much as one would like to believe that Jacques has washed his hands of the whole euro-fiasco, or become an Anglophile, or else repudiated his socialist convictions, this is probably not the case. It’s just that he agrees with Rumpy-Pumpy, who currently leads the European Commission, that Britain can’t be allowed to ‘cherry-pick’ the bits of the EU she likes and dump those she hates.
He and Rumpy-Pumpy must have sat down together, split a bottle of something bubbly, and decided that the EU would be better off shot of Britain’s malevolent presence. But one way or the other, he has shown more common sense than our so-called leaders have displayed so far, if ever.
Manifestly absent from Jacques’s interview were any traditional harangues packaged with veiled threats that, should Britain leave the EU, she would languish in the economic doldrums. He didn’t even mention the 40 percent of our trade that comes from the 27 EU members. Perhaps he didn’t want to hear the stock response that the USA alone accounts for 30 percent. Or else he chose not to sound stupid by implying that this 40 percent would be gone faster than you can say ‘embargo’.
Such disingenuous idiocy he left to Dave and Nick. What Jacques actually said was that if Britain did leave the EU, she would still be a ‘partner’, because she is ‘strategically and economically important’. Just so.
Perhaps Jacques really should be made an honorary member of UKIP. Considering the alternatives, I wouldn’t even mind seeing him as British prime minister, provided he learns to speak English properly. But neither of those decisions is mine to make.
All I can say is, ‘What are you having, Jacques?’