The EU/UK relationship is now like a bad marriage

With the EU, the UK is like the poor husband who can never get anything right for his wife. What is going to happen to this odd couple? After all, however down he feels, the husband isn't so sure about a break up

Can the marriage last?
Sir John Redwood MP
On 3 February 2015 09:54

As the Euro area lurches into another phase of its rolling crisis, with the EU authorities taking on the voters of Greece and Spain, the relationship between the UK and the EU is also shaky.

The UK is like the poor husband who can never get anything right for his wife. He buys her presents but is told they are the wrong gifts. He gives her money but is told it is not enough.There are always new bills that are said to be extra above the regular housekeeping.

He never knows how much it will be from one month to the next. His wife thinks him a cheapskate, the husband thinks he is spending far too much to keep the relationship going.

The husband agrees not to watch the cricket, a game he loves, because it is not an EU game. He is then criticised for not being enthusiastic or attentive enough when the couple settle down to watch the Eurovision song contest instead.

He every now and again asks for a bit of freedom, some deregulation, to relieve the domestic pressures of a life measured out for him. He is told he is not pulling his weight and should be lucky the rules are so light.

When he complains that he is being asked to give money to too many of her nephews and nieces, he is told family matters. When he says he wants the spare bedroom back as a study he is told that her cousin has every right to lodge their rent free whilst trying to find a job.

His long suffering wife sees it very differently. She just wants a husband who loves the common European home, respects it and the other family members, and accepts its rules and behaviours. She cannot understand why he is always wanting to change things, pull out of common agreements, and demands more time for himself.

He is just selfish. She hates him penny pinching, and still can’t understand why he doesn’t trust her and the rest of the family with a joint bank account.

He would feel it if they broke up. Who would do the washing and ironing then? She doesn’t want a break up, as she secretly accepts his DIY, salary, and home maintenance come in handy. She accepts now she did go a bit far in banning his roast beef dinners once, and now quite likes them when he does the cooking.

She just wants him to knuckle down, show a bit more give in the inevitable give and take.

The strange thing is he is not so sure about the break up either. He hasn’t worked out that the Chinese laundry would do all the shirts and sheets very cheaply and well, without all the aggravation.

He would be free of the house rules save when he went back to visit. He doesn’t feel he has much say over them at the moment, so what if he was not in future part of the row over what they should be?

What is going to happen to this odd couple? And why did the Governor of the Bank of England venture a criticism of Germany recently, for not sending more money to the poorer countries in the Euro?

Does this mean the UK negotiating position is shifting away from concentration on Mrs Merkel?

Mr. Redwood's writing is re-posted here by his kind permission. This and other articles are available at

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