Credit where its due; Jean Claude Juncker has played a blinder today. Over the past week – fuelled by ‘leaked documents’ and hyperbole – the European Commission had allowed it to be known that Britain would receive the obscure Climate Change and Energy brief.
Instead, when today the UK was handed the portfolio of Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union for its nominated commissioner, Jonathan Hill, the President of the Commission accomplished the feat of making a significant demotion look like a victory for the Prime Minister.
David Cameron, along with the rest of the political establishment, has been outfoxed by an age-old game of expectation management. Those cheering the appointment seem to be operating under the logic that the definition of victory is not losing as badly as you first thought.
So far only a few savvy journalists have realized the truth. In reality, going from holding the foreign affairs brief in the Barroso commission, to overseeing the regulation of financial services under Juncker – regardless of how worse the alternative was – is little more than a kick in the teeth from Europe.
Britain’s new commission brief is being spun by Downing Street as a vital victory in the battle to protect the City from excessive regulation, something Get Britain Out has warned about in previous articles. Lord Hill’s new job was apparently secured after tense talks between Downing Street and the new commission president.
So, clearly a victory for British influence in Europe then? Wrong. Far from running cap in hand to beg mercy from the unelected European Commission – in order to protect British jobs – how about we simply regulate our own financial services?
As a sovereign state we could do just that. Only by getting Britain out of the European project can we safe guard financial services, a vital industry responsible for providing 1.2 million Britons with their livelihood and the Treasury with over £62 billion in taxes last year alone.
Instead, the UK has been relegated from the top table of European power. We’re adrift with a commissioner who, far from looking out for the City, will be forced to renounce his allegiance to the UK and swear to protect the interests of the European project.
And if that new allegiance fails to tame him, Lord Hill has been assigned two ‘super vice presidents,’ who will steer and coordinate his work and set the agenda and direction of his portfolio. Britain’s Commissioner will be under the direct control of two former Prime Ministers, from countries that have no substantial financial services sector.
Jean-Claude Juncker has played a cynical ruse, which Britain has fallen for. The victim of his games will undoubtedly be our vibrant financial services industry.