Obama’s rank smell off defeat is the West’s most unwanted fragrance

CONGRATS this week to oddball scientist, Christian Poincheval, for an invention which, if not mind-blowing, should certainly improve the winds of any environment he inhabits.

So ashamed of the odours emitting from his derrière, the flatulently-challenged Frenchman has created a pill to make farts (sorry, but there’s no other word for it) far less objectionable, with bouffée aux chocolat and attar of roses highly recommended.

A consignment of the wonder drug might be welcome at the White House, where the air is rank with the stench of defeatism, after the latest round of talks with Iran over the ayatollahs’ A-bomb ambitions unsurprisingly ground to another impasse.

On reflection, impasse is probably a misnomer if you’re a member of Tehran’s Team Jihadi and its camp-followers in Hezbollah, Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and other motley bigots, ever willing to perform acts of mass destruction on behalf of their patrons, the saintly mullahs.

Because Christmas – even if they think it’s a pagan festival – has come early for them. And it is hugely due to the magnanimity of lame-duck President Barack Obama, who continues to achieve the near-impossible feat of buddying up to the West’s worst foes, whilst making enemies of the West’s best friends.

PEACENIK PRESIDENT: But Obama is seen a wobbly-kneed, accident-prone, token leader

LAME-DUCK LEADER: Obama is seen a wobbly-kneed, accident-prone, token president by every AK47-toting jihadi

In defiance of ultimatums dating back over 12 years to fess up to the truth behind its multi-billion-dollar nuclear agenda, in Vienna last week Iran once again danced rings round negotiators from the UN Security Council permanent members: America, Britain, France, Russia and China, plus Germany, the so-called P5+1.

By all means send your International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors to see our bustling bazaars, admire our wondrous mosques and the ancient ruins of Persepolis, said the smiley Iranians.

The IAEA tourists might even be lucky enough to see dissenters’ corpses dangling from cranes or the regular, pro-regime demos, so well choreographed sceptics might be inclined to believe they aren’t quite as ‘spontaneous’ as the local, state-controlled media reports.

But let’s forget any silly notions about UN watchdogs taking a peek at our subterranean atomic secrets – all purely for domestic electricity purposes, of course.

Okay, IAEA chief, Yukiya Amano, is furious, demanding Iran ‘provides timely access to all relevant information, documentation, sites, material and personnel,’ and wants an explanation about explosives tests that could be used to develop nuclear detonators.

But, after a dozen years of conflabs, what’s the rush? So why don’t we just forget that November 24 deadline for these ‘final talks’ we set last January – after the last round of ‘final talks’ failed – and take a time-out until, say, next July before we chat again?

Meanwhile, our tens of thousands of centrifuges will continue to spin, we’ll avoid any messy, new sanctions Obama’s Republican rivals want foisted on us and thanks again for lifting that ban on us selling oil and unfreezing our overseas billions.

All agreed? Great! So adios, ciao, toodle-pip or whatever they say in Farsi. Oh, and have a nice day.

The only plus is that US Secretary of State, John Kerry, has racked up so many Air Miles visiting the five plonkers+one, he can afford unlimited tickets on Richard Branson’s £100,000-a-seat rocket ship, should it’s ever be deemed space-worthy.

PLAYING HARD BALL: Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Khemenei, is a  Islamo-fascist, rapidly imposing his Shia extremist ideology across the Levant

PLAYING HARD BALL: Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khemenei, is a Islamo-fascist, rapidly imposing his Shia extremist ideology across the Levant

If I’m sounding flippant over a situation so dire as this, when the sponsor-in-chief of world terrorism is winning yet more time to weave its web of evil, I make no apologies. Because this never-ending charade has become the mother of all diplomatic farces.

The responsibility lies at the feet of two men: a dithery American president, who – whether he likes it or not – speaks for the free world, and his adversary, a religious fanatic, hell bent on resurrecting the ancient Persian Empire’s influence anywhere he can get it to take root in today’s incendiary Middle East.

With his peacenik default setting, Obama’s messianic belief he could end all conflicts has morphed into a perilous vision of a wobbly-kneed, accident-prone, token presidency, derided by every AK47-toting jihadi.

To underline his detachment from reality, the other day he fired his Defence Secretary, Chuck Hagel, viewed by Oval Office confidants as having fallen under the spell of America’s military, who recognise apathy when they see it.

In contrast, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khemenei, is a hardline Islamo-fascist, rapidly imposing his Shia extremist ideology across the Levant – from Tehran to Beirut, Baghdad and beyond – by means of ruthless violence and toxic, diplomatic blackmail.

One man seeks only to placate his foe; the other only to subjugate or annihilate all who oppose his pitiless ambition. And you don’t need me to identify which is which.

BITING BACK: Yukiya Amano, the IAEA boss, is furious Iran's time-wasting and failure to come clean about its atomic ambitions

BITING BACK: Yukiya Amano, the IAEA boss, is furious Iran’s time-wasting and failure to come clean about its atomic ambitions

So imagine the nightmare scenario that would unfold from a thermonuclear Iran, which once used unarmed children as cannon-fodder to test the whereabouts of minefields in the war against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq with their tiny feet.

Israel – a Western democracy if not by location in the cauldron of hate – is already on notice from Iran’s former president, the odious Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, that it will be ‘wiped off the map’, so would have no recourse but to retaliate in nuclear like for like or take pre-emptive action.

Saudi Arabia, like Israel a snubbed US ally, would seek its own Armageddon weapon to protect the Sunni Islamic states from Shia vengeance and probably turn to Pakistan for an off-the-shelf A-Bomb.

Teheran’s proxies, Hezbollah in Lebanon – which last week boasted it had received the latest Fateh-class, Iranian missiles – and Hamas in Gaza would be further embolden by Obama’s inertia to pose an even greater, real and present danger to Egypt and the Jewish state.

Meanwhile, Syria and Iraq would continue to burn while Obama fiddles and the self-styled Islamic State would continue to attract wannabe jihadis from its international reservoir of psychotic talent, if only to defend the Sunni cause against rampant Shiites.

If these are not sobering enough thoughts, add to them the direct threat to the West from the snaking tentacles of Iran’s Republican Guard, prompting and funding terror attacks in our homelands by its covert agents or egging on ‘lone wolf’ self-starters.

However, one ray of hope is on the horizon: Obama, the wrong man in the wrong job at the wrong time, has less than two years to serve.

The only doubt is whether we can survive that long.

Forget out-UKIPing UKIP – play up the plus side of immigration instead

ACCORDING to my doctor, there are two sorts of cholesterol: the goody variety, HDL, which makes us purr like a Rolls-Royce, and naughty LDL, which clogs up the blood vessels of those with a lusty appetite for animal fats.

Likewise, there are two, principle types of immigration: talented, educated incomers, who help make the host nation richer, and those at the fag-end of the earning scale, who do the low-skilled, heavy-lifting.

Like it or not, every post-modern economy need a dollop of each, from degree-burnished graduates to oil the gears of industry, the professions and City, to those who’ll serve minimum-wage hard time in jobs beneath the dignity of work-shy locals, like the 100 Hungarians to be employed by sandwich-maker Greencore in Northampton.

But how much of each commodity is tolerable is the question driving politicians across the industrialised West to distraction.

In the USA a debate rages about President Obama’s call to decriminalise ‘wetback’ illegals – ‘wetbacks’ because they crossed the Rio Grande to reach their promised land – while Europe wrestles with porous borders inflicted by the Schengen Agreement.

Meanwhile, Calais’s mayor chides Britain for having a benefit system so generous that’s it turned the drab Channel port into a magnet for stateless Asians and Africans, looking to hitch an illicit ride to Dover.

Hardly surprising, then, immigration has become the most emotive of buzzwords and a dark spectre haunting the UK’s 2015 general election.

MANY HAPPY RETURNS: Party boss Nigel Farage (left) congratulates Mark Reckless on his return to parliament - as UKIP's second MP

MANY HAPPY RETURNS: Party boss Nigel Farage (left) congratulates Mark Reckless on his comeback to parliament – as UKIP’s second MP

Predictably, it once again played into the UK Independence Party’s clutches in Thursday’s Rochester by-election, when Tory defector, Mark Reckless, reclaimed his old seat to become the archly anti-EU party’s second MP, after Douglas Carswell held Clacton.

Whether Nigel Farage’s purple bandwagon gathers further momentum by next May 7 is a matter of intense debate.

What’s clear, though, is UKIP’s anti-politics populism strikes a chord with a section of the electorate heartily disaffected with the snotty Westminster elite’s belief it rules by divine right.

Meanwhile, as Clacton and now Rochester has proven, even rabid Tory Euro sceptics are realising it’s a waste of hustings time trying to outstrip UKIP’s Little Englander agenda.

And Labour’s latest wheeze, newly unveiled by shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper, is one of the feeblest attempts yet at playing to the gallery’s fears about Johnny Foreigner.

After months of inertia and leader Ed Miliband’s ratings plummeting like a thermometer outside an igloo, the party that opened the floodgates to unfettered immigration is now calling for Britain’s border police to be boosted by 1,000 extra personnel.

This, says Cooper, can be funded by charging a £10 ‘entrance fee’ to incomers. Except – as the Home Office was delighted to enlighten her – thanks to the European Union’s visa-waiver scheme, the moolah raised will hire just 59 immigration cops.

MENTAL ARITHMETIC: Shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper, discovers Labour's immigration sums don't add up

MENTAL ARITHMETIC: Shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper, discovers Labour’s immigration sums don’t add up

Similarly inane is Labour’s plan to stop migrants claiming benefits until they’ve been in Britain for two years, not the current ceiling of three months.

This, of course, would require an EU treaty change, by which time piglets will take off from Heathrow’s tenth runway, alongside the usual procession of Jumbos.

What gets forgotten, overlooked and ignored, however, is that the great immigration debate in Britain is several centuries old and every wave – from Farage’s French Huguenot, lace-making ancestors to Irish navvy canal-builders, Jewish tailors and West Indian NHS recruits – met with vehement hostility before they melted into the fabric of British society.

Even Enoch Powell, UKIP’s spiritual godfather and best remembered for his notorious, 1968 anti-immigration ‘rivers of blood’ speech, once played a leading role in wooing Commonwealth citizens to settle in the UK to fill staff shortages in the health and public transport sectors.

Today, UKIP is banging Powell’s drum and giving a disingenuous, one-dimensional picture of greedy, grasping, benefit-scrounging foreigners – of which there are undoubtedly an untold number – for whom Britain is a land of give and take…the nation gives and they take.

And this demi-truth is resonating, especially in deprived areas where immigration has had a detrimental impact on housing, schooling and jobs, because successive governments have serially failed for decades to heed the warning signs.

Only now has their folly been rumbled and the three major parties – that’s if the Lib-Dems still qualify as one – are playing catch-up, though they don’t stand a snowball in Hades’ chance of out-UKIPing UKIP.

However, obscured by Farage’s scare tactics is a multi-faceted image of immigration, one in which business cries out for talent that can only be sources from abroad and industries, like farming, which needs minimum-wage labour to bring in crops that defy automated harvesting.

The recent report from University College London (UCL), then, makes uneasy reading for the anti-EU, anti-immigration lobby, because rather than draining Britain’s exchequer, European migrants made a net contribution of £20bn to it between 2000 and 2011.

UKIP GODFATHER: The late Enoch Powell - famed for his notorious 'rivers of blood' speech - was responsible for a wave of immigration into Britain

UKIP GODFATHER: The late Enoch Powell – famed for his notorious ‘rivers of blood’ speech – was responsible for a wave of immigration into Britain

If there is a downside, don’t blame the Czech nannies, Spanish nurses or Polish plumbers drawn to the UK because of high unemployment in their own states, but non-EU migrants who, according to UCL, cost Britain £120bn in 1995-2011.

Even this huge sum, though, should be put into context, because it’s dwarfed by UK nationals, who cost the country £591bn over the same time frame.

So, at the risk of sounding neo-liberal, I suggest that much of what Farage peddles is selective twaddle as he and his mavericks ride a wave of xenophobia on a balloon of hot air.

That in no way diminish the glaring fact that the putrid edifice of the EU – not its peoples – is in drastic need of reform and there should be no further empire-building by an unelected commission and its clique of Europrats, who mainly serve no useful purpose but their own.

Prime Minister David Cameron has vowed to renegotiate Britain’s terms of EU membership and put them to a referendum in 2017 should he be re-elected next spring.

If Europe’s leaders ignore his rational arguments Britain will quit, UKIP will be cock-a-hoop and parties beyond the EU’s fringe – especially France’s far-Right National Front – will be further embolden to copycat Farage.

So UKIP’s second by-election win on the spin spells trouble not just for the UK’s political elite, but for all those at the helm of every nation in Europe.

Brussels take note…and beware.

Qatar: the West’s best of ‘frenemies’ – it buys our arms and funds world terror

IF money talks, then the pipsqueak, maverick emirate of Qatar has a voice like a foghorn.

However, it isn’t the ear-splitting volume of what’s bellowed that matters, it’s the mixed messages emanating from the capital, Doha, that beggar belief.

Because Qatar parrots from two scripts: one echoes the mantra of pro-Western, freewheeling capitalism; the other promotes a credo of anti-Western extremism, manifest in colossal financial support to terrorist franchises fomenting Sunni Islamist violence throughout the hellhole of the Middle East.

So, even by the Gulf’s duplicitous standards, few states are shot full of as many contradictions as Qatar, per capital the world’s third richest country – after Luxemburg and Norway – according to the International Monetary Fund.

Covering less than 4,500 sand-strewn square miles, its population of 1.8 million includes only 288,000 Qataris, the rest being expats and bonded foreign labourers, there to serve the absolute monarchy of the Al Thani clan and make the statelet prosper.

And prosper is an understatement. Sitting on the globe’s largest natural gas field and oil reserves conservatively estimated at 25 billion barrels, Qatar can indulge its sovereign wealth fund’s whims in a vast hash of investments.

They range from an airline and the TV channel, Al Jazeera – whose propaganda stretches far beyond the Middle East to Europe and the USA – to gargantuan chunks of international conglomerates.

JEWEL IN THE CROWN: Harrods is a flagship bauble in Qatar's huge investment portfolio

JEWEL IN THE CROWN: Harrods, the London store for the super rich, is a flagship bauble in Qatar’s huge investment portfolio

The £100-billion Qatari Investment Authority (QIA), for instance, includes in its share portfolio huge stakes in Volkswagen, Siemens, Harrods, The London Shard, Heathrow Airport, Paris Saint-Germain soccer club, Royal Dutch Shell, Tiffany, Sainsbury’s, BlackBerry, Barclays Bank and a cluster of other stellar institutions.

Currently, the QIA is trying to buy London’s Canary Wharf, though so far its overtures have been rebuffed.

But, with £25-billion a year flooding in from energy sales, Qatar can punch multiple times above its miniscule weight and uses its vast wealth to exert disproportionate influence in all manner of subversive ways.

That’s why the mini-emirate is the cuckoo in the nest of international affairs.

Under the autocratic rule of Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, who seized control of the country from his father, Khalifa, in 1995, Qatar’s brand rapidly expanded and it’s been further burnished by Hamad’s son, Tamim, who took over in 2013.

The 33-year-old emir has continued the deceit of being the West’s best of ‘frenemies’ by continuing to buy in Western expertise, weaponry and commercial assets, while exporting extremist Wahabbi Islam anywhere opportunity presents itself.

WORLD CUP WINNER: Tamim al-Thani, the young emir of Qatar, plays host to FIFA boss, Sepp Blatter

WORLD CUP WINNER: Tamim al-Thani, the young emir of Qatar, plays host to FIFA boss, Sepp Blatter

Though not official regime policy, Qatar gives a nod and wink to its host of obscenely rich citizens’ generosity to Al-Qaeda offshoots throughout the war-torn region and provides sanctuary to reviled hate preacher, Yusuf al-Qaradawi.

The spiritual guru of the terror franchise – whose followers praise the Islamic State’s (IS) barbarities in Iraq and Syria as ‘great victories – once told Al Jazeera of his admiration for Hitler’s genocide of the Jews, vowing, ‘Allah willing, next time it will be at the hands of [we] believers.’

However, Qatar’s recurrent problem is misreading the runes, never more naively than in believing the Arab Spring would somehow herald an era of Sharia sunshine to replace the people’s yen for accountable democracy.

Despite Doha’s best efforts to prop up Egypt’s brief, Muslim Brotherhood government, the army’s counter-coup put paid to it.

A similar strategic cock-up besets Qatar in post-Gaddafi Libya, where it bankrolls Libyan Dawn, a bunch of jihadi thugs busy lining their own pockets through oil piracy in Tripoli.

Ditto meddling in Syria, where the emirate’s middlemen fund the Al Qaeda-linked cutthroats of Jabhat al-Nusra, only to have seen them seriously squeezed between forces loyal to the Al Assad tyranny and IS’s savages.

And Qataris could hardly hide their embarrassment when the Afghan Taliban were invited to open an office in Doha, only to hoist their inflammatory black flag over the building.

Then there’s the emirate’s funding of Hamas – long branded a ‘terrorist entity’ throughout the West – whose leaders purloined Qatar’s £250-million gift ‘to ease Gaza’s suffering’ to buy arms and build the network of terror tunnels which Israel destroyed in Operation Protective Edge.

Meanwhile, a six-star Doha hotel suite is where Hamas’s political supremo, Khaled Meshaal, calls home, counting his estimated £1.6-billion fortune, while his people scavenge through the ruins of their war-ravaged dwellings for the bare necessities of life.

It was reportedly at Meshaal’s request that Qatar allied itself with Turkey and laid down conditions for a ceasefire with Israel that heavily favoured Hamas…until, that is, Egypt pour scorn on them and sorted out a truce that reflected reality.

WORLD CUP LOSER: Qatar soccer chief, Mohamed bin Hammam, said to have paid out millions to secure the oily emirate's soccer fortune

WORLD CUP LOSER: Qatar’s disgraced ex-soccer chief, Mohamed bin Hammam, reportedly paid out millions to secure sport’s greatest prize for the oily emirate

However, the emirate’s mule-headed determination to stamp its authority on anything and everything in the Middle East still knows no bounds, whatever the neighbours say.

And several can barely contain their rage over Qatar’s obsession with its revolutionary buddies, however impeccably Islamic they are.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have already withdrawn their ambassadors from Doha and, in July, Bahrain detained three Qatari as spies.

Still, there was some good news for Doha last week when FIFA – who else, when money talks so loudly? – dismissed accusations Qatar had ‘bought’ the 2022 World Cup, despite an Everest of circumstantial evidence that the emirate’s disgraced soccer sheikh, Mohamed bin Hammam, secretly paid millions to buy the votes of football officials worldwide.

The sweeteners, claim FIFA insiders, were doled out not to influence the destination of the Cup, but for bin Hammam – now banned from the game for life – to replace the smug Swiss, Sepp Blatter, as soccer’s unassailable supremo.

Qatar, though, is not out of the dock yet.

Instead, it faces stinging condemnation over its ruthless treatment meted out to poor emigrant worker, at least 1,000 of whom have died while working on the £77-billion World Cup construction sites. And that horrific number is expected to reach 4,000 by the time the tourney kicks off in eight years’ time.

Most scathing is a report by Amnesty International, which stated workers were effectively slave labour, forced to work 14-hour days for months on end, without wages, in temperatures of up to 45C/113F, and without adequate access to water, safety equipment or medical care.

But, as the Qataris might say, that’s a small price to pay for the kudos of being the first Arab state to host the World Cup.

The curious EU ‘club’ that rewards failure and punishes success

WINSTON Churchill once described Russia as ‘a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma’ and today he might well have said the same about the European Union.

Because, nothing is ever quite what it seems in the Alice Through the Looking-glass world of Brussels, where transparency is as rare as hens’ teeth.

Far from being a fraternity of hail fellow well met, the whole edifice is riven with self-interest, Machiavellian infighting and coded language so inscrutable, either its meaning gets lost in translation or the message it conveys depends on whose ears it falls on.

There are, in fact, two EUs: the theoretical club, driven by dreamers with a vision of a United States of Europe, where all citizens are equal and peaceable; then there’s the actual one, where the vested interests of the kingpins – Germany, Britain, France, Italy and, to a lesser extent, Spain – rule the roost and call the shots.

So don’t mess with the German auto industry, literally the engine of its economy. No tinkering, either, with France’s agrarian follies, hence the farce of the Common Agricultural Policy, CAP, whereby French farmers get paid absurd sums to play with their boules.

Italy’s fashion sector is similarly ring-fenced and Spain’s pot pourri of industries, ranging from tourism to wine to olive oil to banking and construction, earn it a free pass.

And then there’s Britain, the globe’s financial epicentre, but semi-detached from Europe by the world’s biggest anti-tank ditch and full of idiosyncrasies, like driving on the wrong side of the road.

The EU considers Brits its awkward squad; free-market, anti-protectionists, who demand answers to commonsensical questions snotty Europrats ignore…like why the European Court of Auditors last week refused to sign off Brussels’ accounts for 19th successive time and why there’s a £5.5-billion black hole in this year’s £117-billion spending.

Which is why the latest brouhaha between London and Brussels smacks of pure hypocrisy on the EU rule-makers’ part.

Because the UK chose not to inflict upon itself the masochism of the dysfunctional Euro – along with a paralysed European Central Bank – by injecting cash into its economy via quantative easing (QE), it has emerged from the 2008/9 financial crisis faster and stronger than the Eurozone nations.

Though by no means out of the financial excrement, unemployment in Britain is a fraction of Spanish, French and Italian levels, and the Coalition government – give or take a Lib-Dem – is far more pro-enterprise than anywhere in the still-floundering EU.

EURO MELTDOWN: As the EU struggles, Britain pays a high price for controlling its own destiny - and currency

EURO MELTDOWN: As the EU struggles, Britain pays a high price for controlling its own destiny – and currency

That, in itself, should be an object lesson to Brussels in can-do economic competence, not the £1.7-billion penalty imposed on the UK for outperforming its EU partners since 1995.

The surcharge – which factors £7-billion into Britain’s GDP gleaned from the immoral earning of prostitution and drug pushing – comes on top of the country’s net contribution to the EU budget, predicted to be around £10-billion for 2014.

Clearly, ladies of the night and spliff vendors should spend more time off the streets, since their efforts, while welcome in some quarters, aren’t in the national interest.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister David Cameron is righteously indignant over what’s described in bland, EU-speak as ‘a correction to Britain’s contribution’.

The government of Greece – the Eurozone’s basket case – feels similarly narked, since it must cough up hundreds of millions it hasn’t got to prop up powerhouses like Germany.

In Britain’s case it was given until December 1 to pay or face a £41-million fine, plus punitive interest of £2.3-million a day or 52% per annum on the £1.7-billion.

Never mind Wonga.com, according to one seething Tory MP, such usury would make ‘the most predatory payday loan-shark blush.’

So Chancellor George Osborne was despatched to Brussels on Friday on a damage-limitation mission, after Cameron said he would not pay the ‘completely unacceptable’ bill, warning it would reduce the chances of the UK staying in the EU.

Some kind of iffy creative accountancy has now been cobbled, with Osborne claiming the amount has been reduced by half, interest charges axed and the UK can stage-pay the outstanding £850-million next year.

However, what the waffle doesn’t address is why the UK was saddled with the burden in the first place.

This latest spat comes at a moment when Cameron plans to outline proposals to cap immigration from Europe, possibly by introducing an Australian-style point system to deter benefit-scroungers or demand that migrants have a job offer and, if not, the funds to support themselves for three months until they find work.

SHOWING THE WAY? German Chancellor Merkel makes her point - literally! - UK Premier Cameron

SHOWING THE WAY? German Chancellor Merkel makes her point – quite literally! – to UK Premier Cameron

It’s an issue that runs straight into another Brussels’ brick wall, but one which Cameron is tailoring to woo Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, who desperately wants the UK in the Union and faces her own problems over unfettered immigration.

However, the runes on both contentious matters directly affecting Britain – the ‘correction fee’ and curbing incomers – make unpleasant reading on both sides of the Channel.

While wriggle room may have been found to reduce the price Britain must pay for its success, Merkel is under pressure from Brussels not to compromise on the free movement of peoples, a pillar of EU statism.

This was highlighted by the influential political magazine, Der Spiegel, last week, which claimed Mutti – as Merkel is affectionately known in Germany – was prepared to accept a British bye-bye, the so-called ‘Brexit’ option, from the EU.

However, as I said, much can be lost in the translation. That’s why sources close to the German leader quickly pointed out that she considers Brexit ‘möglich’, which means ‘possible’ and she fears it, because she distrusts the profligate France and wants Britain to remain her partner.

With UKIP’s anti-European mavericks and Conservative Eurosceptics rumbling with discontent, Cameron is stuck between a similar rock and hard place.

Despite promising an in-out referendum on the EU in 2017 if he’s re-elected next May and his own, declared intention to campaign to stay in, the Prime Minister is likely to face a tough job convincing a British electorate increasing hostile to Brussels to trust his judgement.

Rightly, they pose the question: if the EU isn’t for its people, what is it for?

‘You can screw it’ – that’s what today’s metrosexual males think of doing DIY

WEEKEND bliss for my late, lamented father-in-law, George, was to escape to his garage-cum-workshop and strip down an engine, replace any tired parts, then completely rebuild it, sound as a bell.

A self-taught engineer and Dunkirk veteran, George was typical of a generation of make-do-and-mend blokes who could perform minor miracles with their hands, while escaping the clutches of ‘er indoors.

Once, in those pre-designer-label, cuisine refinement days – when Moben wasn’t invented and Pedini sounded like a Tuscan cheese – George knocked up a very passable set of kitchen cupboards, with sliding doors and gilt handles, which made the family home the envy of the neighbourhood.

He sawed, planed and painted boxwood in cherry-red gloss, set it up on a pine frame, all carefully mitred, and nailed the lot to the walls. No power drills or electric sanders then – or Rawlplugs – never mind swish, black granite worktops; just good, old Formica.

Way back in the 1950s Sweden hadn’t made flat-pack furniture its contribution to civilisation and a couple of blokes called Richard Block and David Quayle were still mulling over what to call their first builders’ merchants, before they stumbled on the handle, B&Q.

Dads could do things then, scribbling down a design on the back of a cigarette packet and not relying on a print-out of incomprehensible instructions, loosely translated from Serbo-Croat, which invariably meant there were a several bits left over. If you were lucky, that was.

Admittedly, from the 1970s onward, DIY came into its own with the advent of Ikea, though I’m still banjaxed by some of their jargon – Liatorp, Tjenda, Kallax anyone? – and they’ve some items so cunningly fashioned, for the life I can’t work out of me what they’re for.

A DYING BREED: Fellas into DIY are fast fading - but they do get more sex

A DYING BREED: Fellas who are  into DIY are a fast-fading bunch – but university boffins say they get more sex

As it happens, I’ve become pretty ace at assembling Ikea stuff. The trick is to follow the instructions to the letter and not get ahead of yourself by thinking you’ve second-guessed the brainbox who authored the directions.

Just find a large enough space to lay out all the parts, open the little bags of fixing gizmos, check they’re all there and get ready for a couple of hours of headbanging, cussing and twirling Allen keys.

However, it now seems – like George – I’ve become a bit of a dinosaur, because DIY has become so passé and naff today’s generation of metrosexual males avoid it like being seen without facial stubble.

I mean could you imagine the likes of David Beckham, Jude Law, Christiano Ronaldo or Brad Pitt strapping on a tool belt and getting stuck in to putting up a curtail rail. Neither can I (well, maybe Brad would).

This translates into Britain’s DIY retailers taking a financial hammering, the reason for which Homebase – which is closing a quarter of its stores – last week identified as due to ‘a generation less skilled in DIY projects.’

And, though the sector is still worth a whopping £7.3 billion per year in the UK, according to the Daily Telegraph, that’s its lowest annual turnover since 1999. So, if it continues to plummet at its current rate of 13% per annum, DIY will be dead as a self-chiselled dovetail joint by 2040.

METROSEXUAL MAN: But to fellas like him, plucking nasal hair is more important that DIY

METROSEXUAL MAN: But to blokes like him, plucking out errant nasal hair is more important that DIY

Apparently today’s 20-to-30-something fellas are more like their mums, having had their dad’s ‘traditional skills’ lobotomised.

Only five per cent of 18-24s, apparently, would attempt to unblock a sink. So, mention a rubber plunger to them and their minds will immediately jump to the conclusion: ‘Wow…sex toy!

Transfixed by their iPads, smart phones and gizmos that could launch an Apollo moon mission, I suppose it’s only to be expected post-Millennia man has lost touch with being a real geezer, in the old-fashioned meaning.

I’d speculate few own a tool box and fewer still have felt the heady rush of self-satisfaction and testosterone coursing through their veins as they re-hang a door, change the washer on a leaky tap or put together a flat-pack shelf unit.

At the risk of sounding sexist, the right-on, bully-girl, feminist PC lobby is mostly to blame for the emasculation of the masculine species.

No bloke dares be seen ogling at a Page 3 pin-up nowadays, while lads’ mags are full of beauty hints – what’s the best hair fudge or how to perk up your pecks – and snaps of grungy girls you would want to be seen out with on a dark night in Greenland.

Meanwhile, the liberal media are gushing with advice about how fellas should ‘embrace their feminine side’, learn to cook sushi and understand all those strange symbols on clothes labels, so they don’t shrink their Armani T-shirt.

This probably accounts for the number of guys entering TV baking contests and getting into hissy fits when a female competitor nobbles them, by taking their fruit-of-the-forest soufflé out of the oven five minutes before it’s risen.

Only in private can fellas let loose their red-blooded instincts, which accounts for the floodtide of interest in Internet porn. After all, someone has to be gawking at it and it’s not likely to be the ladies of local Women’s Institute, in between jam-making and renditions of Jerusalem (though I wouldn’t put it passed them).

So manual labour is increasingly seen as something to be contracted out to others, he-men, with mitts like shovels, who can tile a bathroom and tell a lump hammer from a lump of lard.

FLAT-PACK IS FAB: Ikea is Sweden's contribution to modern-day civilisation

FLAT-PACK IS FAB: Ikea is Sweden’s contribution to modern-day civilisation

Quirkily, the metrosexual male’s role reversal isn’t necessary what all women want. Because, as they settle into their roles as wives and mums, they desperately want a man about the house, who can wire a plug and fit a laminated floor, not some fop who spends hours in the bathroom mirror plucking out errant nasal hair.

Meanwhile, there’s an upside to being a dab hand at DIY: you get more sex.

A study by sociologists at the University of Washington found that couples who follow traditional gender roles around the house – wives doing the cooking, cleaning and shopping; men doing the DIY and fettling the car – reported greater bouts of boudoir Olympics.

So, not to mince words, if men want to get laid, they should do more screwing…in the DIY meaning of the word, that is.

Anyway, must go. Have to re-fix the pergola roof, because you never know what that can lead to.