Better in than out?

Relations between Britain and Germany have always been a tricky subject to tackle.

Rob Langston
Rob Langston

We share an intertwined past, there is little doubt about that, even beyond the twentieth century.

Lately, there has been a greater divergence between the two as Germany takes a lead role in tackling the eurozone sovereign debt crisis.

Clearly, British politicians would like to play a greater role in solving the eurozone debt crisis as it has great ramifications for the British economy.

There has also been a difference of opinion between the two on a financial transactions tax, which many in the UK believe will harm the economy – reliant on the financial services sector as it is.

This has led to some degree of sniping from the sidelines with German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble predicting the end of sterling – an exteremely diffiult issue for many politicians in the UK. Except for Michael Heseltine. (blog continues below)

Schäuble’s comments overshadowed British prime minister David Cameron’s visit to Germany, but not too much it would appear, with Cameron unable to find much common ground with German leader Angela Merkel.

But it’s clear there is a divide between the centre-right government in Berlin and the centre-right/liberal coalition government in London.

In the UK there seems to be a measure of mistrust of German influence in some circles.

UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage lambasted European leaders in the European parliament last week, claiming a German-dominated Europe had come into effect.

Farage, well known for his championing of independence from the European Union, has objected to the way in which governments have been changed.

There also seems to be a degree of “Why should we listen to you?” being played out in the German media, with the UK’s high unemployment and huge debts highlighted.

There may be some jostling for power among the European elite, yet, while the UK remains outside the eurozone it will find it hard to dictate or even influence the agenda.

In times such as these, British politicians may not just start to wonder whether the UK should remain a full member of the EU, but also the unmentionable alternative of whether it should consider full euro membership.