If David Cameron's proposed referendum were to be held today the verdict would be an unequivocal 'DEHORS!' As for the French, a BVA poll for Le Parisien-Aujourd'hui en France suggests that 52% of French voters would like to see Britain out of Europe, although another poll gives a slight advantage to those who would like les Rosbifs to remain.
French politicians have added to the negative view of Cameron's demands for changes in EU rules which he says are too constraining, with François 'Normal Flamby' Hollande insisting that the EU must be accepted as it is and Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius saying that Europe was not a self-service canteen where people pick and chose what, and how much, they want to eat, and that if Britain wanted to leave he'd roll out the red carpet.
Now all this kerfuffle might suit Cameron, whose arm-twisting of Europe may succeed in holding off the rabid dogs of his anti-EU right wing backbenchers, and it is certainly right up Hollande's rue to see his government Bashing the Brits at a time when he desperately needs to improve his popularity ratings with French voters, but at the end of the day it's all bluster and posture.
After all, who but the most cynical of British Europhobes seriously believes that Britain would have anything to gain by leaving Europe? Access to the Single Market would be severely curtailed and Britain's efforts to create an EU economic powerhouse capable of offering at least limited resistance to the threat posed by up and coming economies around the world would come to naught. And if there is anyone out there who is naive enough to believe that Britain's 'Special Relationship' with the USA could help it overcome the major trade difficulties which would inevitably follow a 'Brexit' they need to be sectioned under the Mental Health Act as terminally deluded individuals who are hell-bent on self-harm. America's strategic prioritising eyes began swivelling eastwards of Europe and towards the Far East years ago, as it is there that future planetary battles for economic and military superiority are destined to be fought.
The French would not fare any better in the event of a British exit, again for mainly economic reasons. The City, for all of France's efforts to depict it as the Devil incarnate of Evil Capitalism, is absolutely essential to France's economic survival as a major world nation. The City is the world's leading financial centre, and it's role in facilitating French and European exports to the rest of the world is pivotal, as is its role in attracting foreign investment to Europe from every single sizeable country or alliance of countries around the world. All the major French industries are present there for this reason, and Britain's isolation from Europe would seriously jeopardise France's trading position with America, Asia and others and further isolate it from the world's investment tissue. There is no EU equivalent of The City, mainly because all past efforts to create one have been stymied by......France itself, for reasons of national rivalry, notably with Germany. Then there's defence, and any EU without Britain would be a paper tiger in terms of its capacity to react militarily to threats from outside Europe. That is currently being cruelly and ironically demonstrated in France's ongoing Mali campaign by the fact that without British, American and Spanish military transport and refueling planes, France's limited number of old and ageing aircraft would not have been able to take the 3,700 and counting French troops to the theatre of operations.
This pseudo-spat is typical of how Europe is run. All serious issues within the EU which demand the presence of realism and clear-headed thinking are obfuscated by narrow national interests, be they electoral or other. Britain has a list of perceived griefs that it would like the EU to address, and common sense demands that a compromise be thrashed out around the table. It's as simple as that.
So Mesdames et Messieurs our political leaders, it's high time you stopped playing to the gallery with your empty threats of a referendum and invitations to the British to leave and started doing what we, your taxpayers, expect of you, which is to find solutions to problems.
Is that really too much to ask?