the EU, with its mountain of regulations and wasteful farm subsidies, is essentially beyond reform. The fact that other European countries, for their own reasons, have also turned against the EU has refuted the myth that only Little Englanders or xenophobes oppose the EU.
Britain now desperately needs an opposition with a comprehensive, alternative vision of British foreign policy that breaks with the Foreign Office's post-war obsession with Europe. Such a vision would flesh out new trading and defence alliances for Great Britain on an international scale to meet the needs of an age of globalisation, the continued dominance of the United States, and to the rise of China, India and the rest of Asia. It would also require a new, much looser relationship with the EU. None of the pretenders to the Tory throne, however, is offering anything like this. Apart from the rhetoric, of course, nothing really ever changes in the EU. A report from the independent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) in Washington last week found that the EU protects its farming more than anybody in the world. The EU also subsidises exports dumped on developing nations more than any other bloc, accounting for 85-90% of the world's export subsidies. These figures demolish the widely-held belief that the EU and US are equally protectionist when it comes to agriculture. America is bad enough; but the EU is beyond the pale.
The blunt truth is that the euro zone's poor economic performance and high unemployment are likely to be with us for the foreseeable future while the Brussels bureaucracy is forever trapped in its own regulatory mindset. As a result it is only realistic to conclude that there is little hope for the EU. It stands condemned to permanent decline, making it time for Great Britain to start thinking of forging a new, looser relationship with its European neighbours, most of whom seem resigned to accepting decline. Working out how to do this should be one of the Tories' main concerns in their current leadership contest. Clearly, this is not a task for Mr Clarke; but it is easier to rule him out than to identify anybody who is up to the job.