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You Can Smell the Fear in Barroso's Nostrils

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Jose Manuel Barroso, the President of the European Commission's interview in today's New Statesman is a master class in delusional vapouring. He is terrified by the markets, which today have dealt another under the plimsoll line blow to Spain, he is horrified by the future, and worse, he is mortified by the possibility of democracy in action. His, and his colleagues in Brussels actions when the former Greek PM suggested a referendum - Papandreou was out of the job with the week - spoke volumes.

However the really depressing thing about his comments about the place of Britain in the world is that they are so tired and predictable, notwithstanding that they are so wrong.

They are also historic and frankly absurd. So he thinks that Britain would be diminished out in the real world. He thinks that somehow we have more influence as one of 27 (almost always in the minority) round a table, drafting a position, rather than out there on our own, making policy and agreements that suit us.

Try a thought experiment. Imagine Britain wanted a free trade agreement with Australia.

For various reasons the process would rattle along pretty quickly. This is how the Australian's regard our relationship, "Australia has a significant relationship with the UK underpinned by our shared heritage, common values, closely aligned strategic outlook and interests." We both recognise that trade between our two nations would be improved by such a deal, and we are already strong trading partners. Australia has a long experience of conducting sovereign trading agreements and has the Cairn's group. It has such deals include the US, New Zealand, Chile, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia. It is working on China, Korea, the Gulf states, Japan, India and Indonesia.

So how about the EU and Australia? Remember that prior to Britain joining the Common Market we had a deal with Australia and the rest of the Commonwealth destroyed by our membership.

The EU has been conducting negotiations since forever and the first tiny agreement on wine and science was signed in 1994, since then there have been incremental and very difficult talks, leading to a collapse of an agreement on coal in 2003 and so on. We are no nearer a fundamental trade agreement.

If Britain wants to hold its head up high, if we want to trade with the world and prosper, we can do so better without the drear suffocation provided by the Brussels establishment.

Barroso tells us that he is surprised at our attitude,

"I ask myself: "How is it that this country is so open to the world, and apparently so closed to Europe?" It seems a contradiction."

It is no contradiction; it is because we are open to the world that we have lost our patience with an EU that is inherently inward looking. It is because we know that we can operate better and freer on our own than in the EU, with its permanent tariff barrier to the rest of the world, with its 'everything but farms' approach to global trade, with its condescension and its arrogance and its lack of vision.

Britain is happy to live with the hard work which freedom will entail. We are prepared for the future, but to do so we must be captain on our own bridge.