Anne Applebaum: Cameron’s eyes are on the City

Anne Applebaum, The Washington Post, December 12, 2011 [extracts]


The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, did not intend to emerge from negotiations in total isolation. In essence, he tried to blackmail the rest of Europe: You agree to give special protections to the City, Britain’s financial services sector — all of those men doing deals in offices — and we will agree, grudgingly, to a new European treaty or amendments to those that exist.

But some of what he wanted was redundant, and some of it was presented too late or with too much arrogance. “Nobody understood what Cameron wanted — nobody,” one diplomat told the Financial Times. “We were talking about big things — saving the Euro — and he was asking for peanuts. It was not the time or place.” So the 26 went ahead and did a deal without him.

Everyone else in the room thought the priority was to save the European economy, and they arrived prepared to give things up. In their view, Cameron behaved as though his priority was to save the City, and he arrived with demands. As an even more undiplomatic diplomat told me, “He cares more about those spivs in the City than he cares about us.”
Britain’s recession, the worst in decades, is almost invisible in booming central London. And the London City now has more in common with an offshore hub like Dubai than it does with Paris or Berlin.

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