It's official: The United Kingdom is now facing its worst double-dip recession since 1975. Figures published just a few days before Queen Elizabeth II's 57th Speech from the throne, which outlines the Government's objectives for the coming year, display the worst economic results for more than a century. However, most British newspapers came to the same conclusion: The Government's programme does not include enough measures to stimulate growth. But growth is indeed at the core of newly elected French president François Hollande's manifesto. Could Britain benefit from supporting his initiative?
A disastrous economic situation
The crisis in which the British people is severe. Forbes asked back in December 2011 if "London could survive as a financial centre". As soon as January, some were bringing the answer: According to Bloomberg, the City "is shrinking faster than any financial centre in the world". Former head of Citigroup Michael Kirkwood noted that it was because of "the impact of the European sovereign debt crisis". In the City alone, more than 58,000 banking jobs have been lost: That's more than any other country in the world.
Although this country refused to sign up to the Fiscal compact because of the impact financial regulations could have on the City, it nevertheless applies a strict austerity policy. But aren't the threat of losing its AAA credit rating, the degradation of the quality of social services and consumption a danger to its national sovereignty? Former Defence Secretary Lord Heseltine put it very simply: "You can not protect the City by drifting away in the Atlantic Ocean". The idea of a coordinated work paper for growth has already been approved by the Opposition, which came first in the latest local elections. It is a message from the electorate.
What should the UK do from now ?
The British government should work on several scenarios. Firstly, if the ratification process of the Fiscal compact is stopped and it is renegotiated, then David Cameron may come back to the negotiating table. The Opposition had adamantly criticised Cameron's vetoing of the treaty, and Nick Clegg said he was "bitterly disappointed" choosing not to sit next to the Prime Minister at the PMQs. If negotiations are resumed at the European council, the UK could get into this treaty and support a growth addenda, while negotiating opt outs from the controversial parts of the treaty hence allowing it to fully become an EU treaty.
The second scenario is the drafting of a new text, in which Britain could participate fully. In this case, London would have a chance to get over the very destructive impact of last March's veto and bring solutions to its partners or "put everything on the table" like François Hollande put it. Britain would then be part of the solution, and no longer of the problem. In both cases, David Cameron ought not to make the same mistakes It is also a chance for him to show his voters he understands their concern.
Divided we fall
There is much at stake for both the British and the Europeans. It is probably one of their last chances to get out of the recession, bring back growth in the archipelago and wider continent as well as put the UK back on the driving seat of Europe – or maybe at least a passenger seat. It must reclaim the position that it rightly deserves in Europe. A European growth agenda can only be efficient if Europe's third economic powerhouse and its 63 million inhabitants participate in it.
Growth can only brought back to Europe through the participation of all member states. It is vital that this country which spearheaded globalisation and invented capitalism understands what is at stake. A country can only remain sovereign when its economy is healthy, and we have reached this moment in history where the only way to return to prosperity is together. The British people must be a part of the drafting and the application of this initiative, because it for them a chance to make cooperation for growth and exponentiate our collective sovereignty.
Further reading :
Queen's Speech: Lots of style, but very little substance, The Independent, 10 May 2012
Queen's Speech will hold littlehope for squeezed Britain, The Guardian, 10 May 2012
Queen's Speech: Why was there no plan for growth?, 9 May 2012, The Telegraph
Will London Survive As A Financial Centre?, 21 December 2012, Forbes
London Shrinks Faster Than Any Financial Center as Banks Come Under Attack, 17 January 2012, Bloomberg
Picture credits :