The strange case of Radek Sikorski in Oxford

The Foreign Minister of the EU’s 6th largest country (Radek Sikorski, Poland) arrives in the UK and gives a speech on 21st September lambasting Britain’s policy towards the European Union and the reaction is… almost non-existent. Isn’t that a bit odd?

Let me explain a little more.

At the time I read Sikorski’s speech with some astonishment – it takes some guts to go to a country and, as current foreign minister, and make a speech that is so tough on the country where you are speaking. However Sikorski has form in this regard – his Berlin speech in 2011 was a landmark in German-Polish relations. At the time I read Sikorski’s Oxford speech I wondered what the reaction, if any, would be. Now, a few weeks on, I happened to be reminded of Sikorski by this tweet, and set out to discover what reaction Sikorski’s speech received.

Rather predictably, both The Economist and the FT covered the speech, but among the mainstream media that was it. Nothing from The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Independent or the BBC. Sikorski wrote himself in The Times, but due to the paywall I do not know whether they reacted. Outside the UK the New York Times did a long piece about the speech, European Voice has a piece, and a Polish radio station has a piece in English. The Deep End on Conservative Home basically makes the statement that Sikorski’s position amounts to blackmail (although I cannot work out who authored that piece).

But that’s basically it. A few pieces by the press that are already concerned by the practical problems of UK-EU relations, and very little else. I suppose all of this just demonstrates how insular and entrenched the wider UK position is on EU matters, and that anything positive said about the EU just cannot enter the UK public debate.

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    […] ‘ futuro de la Unión será el gran reto de esa consulta’, y el ministro de exteriores polaco Sikorski, que actualmente es lo más parecido al Bruce Springsteen de la política europea, lo decía así: […]

  2. Nick Crosby

    Jon, I agree with your analysis.
    What is striking is
    a) The cool, rational and forensic argument that Sikorski put forward and the emotional response from Conservative Home respondents- which tells me the degree to which the Tory anti-European ‘thinking’ is becoming less and less coherent
    b) That Sikorski makes his intervention as both a friend of the UK and from a pro-Tory/Thatcher perspective.

    When a close friend takes one aside and says you stink of BO, it is time to pay attention. Anti-Europeans, clean up your act…

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