One of the gripes Britons have about the European Union is that they think the big decisions are stitched up between the Germans and French. Anti-Europeans are fanning this feeling in the runup to the referendum on whether the United Kingdom should stay in the EU, saying that Britain has little influence on what happens in Brussels.
Reforming the European Union involves more than renegotiating the UK’s relationship with it. That may sound like a statement of the obvious. But in the British debate over staying in the EU the two have virtually become equivalent, largely because David Cameron, the newly re-elected prime minister, has promised to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with the EU before holding a referendum on continued membership.
David Cameron looks to be preparing for the possibility that his plan to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with the European Union will fail. The UK prime minister would then campaign for the country to quit the EU in a referendum he plans to hold by 2017. That seems the best way to interpret his appointment of a eurosceptic foreign minister and the nomination of a little-known former lobbyist as Britain’s European commissioner.