Financial crisis deepens British Euroscepticism

Fri, Oct 12, 2012, 01:00

THE EURO CRISIS has caused the biggest change in how Britain positions itself in the world since the 1960s, according to Roger Liddle, the British Labour Party’s frontbench spokesperson on Europe in the House of Lords.

Apart from traditional eurosceptics in the Conservative Party, the Labour peer said that there was now a broad spectrum of anti-EU opinion within the Tory party.

He was speaking at a conference on the politics of the euro zone crisis at the Institute for International and European in Dublin yesterday.

Lord Liddle concluded that opinion polls point to a British exit from the EU, noting that more than 40 per cent of Britons are “extremely hostile” to Europe.

Olaf Cramme, a German national who is a visiting fellow at the London School of Economics, also spoke of the marked shift in public opinion against the EU in his home country. He told the event that it is becoming increasingly difficult to persuade German public opinion to accept deeper European integration.

Cramme noted that while populist tabloid anger about the euro crisis has softened, high-brow opposition has stiffened.

European issues will play out “forcefully” in the next general election, scheduled for September 2013.

Loukas Tsoukalis, professor of European integration at the University of Athens, said that as recently as three months ago most German politicians favoured forcing Greece out of the euro. That has since changed, he said.