The UAE along with many other countries in the world wants a strong and united European Union, as a substantial political force that can counterbalance American arrogance, and as a trading partner that will remain very important even as the Asian giants become more dominant. Most countries in the global community appreciate the European respect for the rule of law and their tradition of tolerance, along with their centuries of cultural history.

It will shock British Prime Minister David Cameron that the world sees Britain as an integral part of that vibrant community of European nations. It is obvious that Germany leads the EU so any statesman visiting the continent must go to Berlin first. But Britain, France and Italy are all seen as essential opinion formers in the communal process of decision-making in the EU. Therefore, it is dangerous for Britain when Cameron continues to isolate it from the rest of Europe.

His eccentric combativeness when dealing with his peers in the European Council has alienated many potential friends and supporters of the plan to reform the EU. Countries like Italy, Hungary, Poland and Denmark want to liberalise the EU from its restrictions, and they know that the UK would be an important partner in this process of forcing protectionist Germany and socialist France to agree. But they do not want to be associated with Cameron’s petulance. As a result, the case for reform may fail.

Cameron is missing out on the chance to lead in Europe for the sake of arguing with the fringe UK Independence Party (Ukip), which threatens some of his right-wing MPs. Their noise over the supposed volume of EU citizens coming to work legally in the UK has rattled Cameron and some of his more xenophobic MPs. Rather than dismissing their campaign as a distraction from the important job of getting Britain back to work, Cameron has made an almost fatal mistake of treating their comments as serious, which may end up with his seeking an unnecessary referendum that may well threaten Britain’s continued membership of the EU. This would then condemn it to irrelevance in the councils of the world.