Up Delors, yours, the UK
Jacques Delors, of all people, effectively endorses UK eurosceptics saying Britain could go its own way and still remain friends with EU
It's a funny old world, and when it comes to the thinking of the Eurocracy it can be positively barmy. That said, we must give credit where credit is due when a prominent figure in their ranks finally says something that actually makes sense.
Enter no less a figure than Jacques Delors, former President of the European Commission and one time public enemy number one for British eurosceptics. Remember how his hectoring tone against Margaret Thatcher's Britain of the 1980s finally led to that most famous of all eurosceptic newspaper headlines, "Up Yours Delors"?
That was from the Sun in 1990, and the paper spoke for an entire section of British political society that was fed up with the autocratic style that Delors and his cohort had adopted.
Now, sit down with a stiff drink and hear this:
"[Britons] are solely interested in their own economic interests, and nothing else. We could offer them another kind of partnership... If the British do not follow the tendency towards more integration in the European Union, we can anyway stay friends, but in another way."
Yes, that's Jacques Delors speaking this week to Handelsblatt, Germany's answer to the Financial Times.
Warming to his (brilliantly convincing) impression of UKIP leader Nigel Farage, he suggested that the new relationship might take the form of a "free trade agreement".
That is not simply a U-turn of epic proportions, it's a sign that the man has actually faced up to reality, assessed the real-world political and economic dynamics and decided to depart the fantasy land inhabited by most of his erstwhile comrades in Brussels.
Speaking of whom, they're are not going to be happy with Delors' remarks. As Rory Bloomfield wrote in a scathing article on this site on Friday, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy has just launched another broadside against British efforts to repatriate powers, describing it as "Cherry Picking".
It also makes life harder for the softly-softly approach to the EU of the British Prime Minister. If David Cameron allows his euroscepticism to be outflanked by none other than Jacques Delors, he risks being subjected to ridicule by significant sections of his own party.
British eurosceptics have a new hero, and Downing Street and Brussels have a new headache. It's all shaping up for an interesting 2013.
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