Some of the deals that David Cameron and George Osborne get up to are so large and the details so financially obscure that I, for one, am quite sceptical as to what motivated them in the first place.
In the case of the vast subsidies that go to land-owners and consortia who run solar cell farms and vast sea acreages of wind turbines, Cameron and Osborne have what seems like a reason — man-made global warming — if you are a fellow believer. Then there’s HS2, a super-fast new railway from London to the north. Then there’s the latest one, a large French-owned nuclear reactor to be built at Hinkley Point, Somerset, designed by British civil engineers and largely paid for by a Chinese loan.
But why have Cameron and Osborne have gone such a bundle over getting the Chinese involved? Xi Jinping , the Chinese President, is coming here next week. Could it be that a widening out of trade with China is in the offing? So far, only 3% of our export trade is with China and that’s mainly taken up with Chinese children coming here to our private schools or in selling luxury goods to Chinese tourists. This relatively trivial level of trade with China (and many other countries, too) could be amplified considerably if we were allowed to by the EU.
However, if we came to an understanding with Xi Jinping that trade could be greatly augmented in the coming decades then that would be just the right sort of argument that could be used by many Tory MPs as backing up leaving the EU in the coming referendum. The government could get off the hook they are now on with an increasing majority of the country wanting to leave, even though the government, formally, wants to stay in.
It’s just a speculative thought that there is much more in this new relationship with China than meets the eye.