Tony Blair is right - leaving the EU could be a monumental error
The world is changing - it was ever thus - and it is disheartening to see an apparent increase in British people who seem to be saying, perhaps without realising it, "stop the world, I want to get off".
Prime Minister David Cameron's latest spat with the European Union (EU), this time over the setting of its budget, seems to be part of a drift towards a possible UK withdrawal.
Former Labour PM Tony Blair said this week that withdrawal would be "a monumental error of statesmanship". It may be unfashionable to agree with Mr Blair but on this issue he is spot on ...
Addressing a business audience in London, Mr Blair said leaving the EU would be "politically debilitating, economically damaging and hugely destructive of Britain's true long-term interests".
He added: "Europe is a destiny we will never embrace easily. But it is an absolutely essential part of our nation remaining a world power politically and economically."
The Conservative Party tearing itself apart on Europe is nothing new. It was the Eurosceptics who back in the 1990s caused huge damage to John Major's Government.
He supposedly referred to Eurosceptics in his own cabinet as "bastards".
But the anti-EU bandwagon seems to be gathering pace and it feels like many people in the UK would now favour us going it alone.
Some have a romantic Rule Britannia-esque notion of the UK going it alone and being a major economic player on the world stage. This may be a delusion.
While Britain does still punch above its weight in some respects the global trend is now very much towards immense trading blocs.
There is the BRIC countries - Brazil, Russia India, China - the US of course and the EU.
The EU has negotiated dozens of free trade treaties with these major powers. Once we leave we would have to renegotiate each one. It could take years and our bargaining position would be considerable weaker.
While there maybe a significant amount of anti-EU sentiment among the public, within the business community there is very little.
It knows that 47% of UK exports go to EU member states while 50% of foreign direct investment is from EU countries.
Last week the CBI president, Sir Roger Carr, said UK membership of the EU was the "launchpad" for much international business.
He added: "Whatever the popular appeal may be of withdrawal, businessmen and politicians must keep a bridge to Europe firmly in place."
Cameron, and his Chancellor George Osborne, are well aware of this and may be just playing a political game by pandering to the anti-EU lobby - albeit a dangerous one.
They are leaving open the door for Ed Miliband to form a powerful pro-EU alliance with the business sector in the run up to the next General Election.
There is much talk of a possible referendum on EU membership but at the risk of sounding arrogant I'm not sure there is enough understanding among the general public of the complexities of the issue and the possible implications of withdrawal.
For example, there is complete confusion in relation to the European Human Rights Act, which generally gets a very bad press.
In many peoples' minds, the act is an instrument of the EU and withdrawal would free us from its evil clutches.
In fact, the Human Rights Act has nothing at all to do with the EU. It originated from the Council of Europe and the European Convention on Human Rights in 1951. Even outside the EU, we would still be bound by the treaty.
Nigel Farage, leader of the anti-EU UK Independence Party appeared to be taking advantage of this confusion only this week.
Responding to Tony Blair's speech, he said: "Britain is not at the heart of Europe, we are not in the euro, we do not share Schengen (free movement arrangements) and we will not accept legal control from the European courts over our justice system."
What we need is informed analysis - not Farage's empty and misleading rhetoric.
Is the EU an expensive, bloated bureaucracy in desperate need of reform? Yes, but that is not a good enough reason to cut off our nose to spite our face by leaving.
Tony Blair says the crisis in the eurozone actually presents Britain with an opportunity to take a leading role in its restructure.
He said: "The field is wide open for the UK to seize the initiative on shaping the future of the bloc, rather than "waiting passively to consider an agenda set by others.
"If the strategic rationale for Europe remains strong, then it cannot be in Britain's interests either for us to be marginal to the debate about its future or indifferent to its outcome.
"But if we want to participate we have to do so not just as Brits but as Europeans, not semi-detached because we are contemplating the option of leaving, but in the thick of it because we intend fully to remain at the heart of it."
In, out - shake it all about? It is not a decision we can take lightly and definitely not in a fit of Little Englander pique.