Coffee House

Cameron says ‘No’

9 December 2011

7:43 AM

9 December 2011

7:43 AM

It looks like Britain could be heading for renegotiation with the EU sooner rather than later. The UK, Hungary, Czechs and Swedes last night stayed
out of
a 27-member EU Treaty. ‘I don’t want to put it in front of my parliament,’ said Cameron. But in an historic move, the deal is going ahead anyway, with 23 members: the
Eurozone, plus the six states who want to join. ‘We will achieve the new fiscal union,’ said Angela Merkel. Nicholas Sarkozy is upbeat saying it has been an ‘historic
summit’ which will change the EU ‘radically’.  If so, then Owen Paterson is right in his interview with James Forsyth in the new Spectator: Britain will have to reassess its
relationship with this ‘radically’ different EU.


Cameron did the right thing. And, as he says, he didn’t really have an option. This wasn’t him being petulant — it’s just a simple reflection of where opinion is in his
country, and parliament. As I say in my Daily
Telegraph column
today, the new Treaty is not about saving Europe. It’s a power grab by the French and Germans. Sarkozy wanted power to be transferred from the UK financial services
regulator to a new pan-European regulator. Under the terms of Cameron’s ‘triple lock’, any transfer of power would have triggered a referendum. By his own (welcome) reform, the
Prime Minister didn’t have the power to sign along the dotted line. The Czechs and the Swedes are going to discuss the issue in their parliament, and may join later — although
it’s unlikely.

This now poses a very serious question: how will these 23 members proceed? The EU is designed to regulate 27 member states. ‘We will insist that the EU institutions, the court and the
Commission work for all 27 nations of the EU,’ says Cameron. Listening to the other leaders today, they seem to have other ideas. So where does this leave Britain? This is a very different
question, that will now have to be at the centre of our EU policy.

UPDATE: As Colin says below, the BBC will be keen to present this as Cameron unilaterally vetoing a deal the rest of the EU was all set to sign. But look
around. Sweden’s Fredrik Reinfeldt has just echoed what Cameron said in the press conference: he couldn’t have signed up for Treaty change because his country and parliament would
not wear it. There is, said Reinfeldt, ‘no support for a treaty change
in Sweden as of now. We are of course willing to discuss different measures but I think the core of the problems we have in Europe is economic. They need to be dealt with now and in that capacity a
treaty change could be too time-consuming.’ The Swedes and Hungarians met last month to compare notes: both agreed that they could not sign Treaty change on the night. The Czech PM, Petr
Nečas, had announced before the summit that he didn’t want any Treaty
change — but if the EU17 wanted to pursue fiscal union, then he’d support them. This was also Britain’s position. Let’s remember, nothing agreed last night will fix the debt
crisis. The only link is that, if they agree fiscal union, Merkel may be more inclined to let the ECB print money and inflate the debt away.

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Show comments
  • Hamish

    The biggest squeals will undoubtedly emanate from the UK MEP’s desperate to retain their snouts in the trough of inflated largesse their positions enjoy.

  • Cynic

    @ButcombeManA disgraceful ducking & diving on this from “Wee Dougie” on Today. While listening to him I couldn’t help thinking that maybe Ed was seeing the electoral advantages of offering an in/out referendum.

  • Cynic

    I have to admit, I thought Cameron was going to bottle it and sign up and said as much when I was asked yesterday. That was the opinion of those who asked me, too, so we are all pleasantly surprised and I apologise for my doubts. What we need to do now, however, is work at extricating ourself from the rules and regs and set about reinstating a trade only agreement as is allowed in Lisbon. Nothing that was agreed will fix the euro so we don’t need to tie ourselves to the sinking ship. Just think what we can do with all the VAT revenue and the daily contribution to the European Dictatorship!

  • David Lindsay

    Kinstonian, £50 billion a year, if they really pay it (and I don’t believe that for one moment), is peanuts compared to what they ought to pay.

    Where else would they go? Half of them are really American companies that do not like the tax regime there, i.e., the fact that there is one. Just as the super-rich who would allegedly move if we taxed them only want to live either in london or in New York and have either already left America or alreday been refused entry there. It is time that all people’s bluffs were called.

    In any case, there is an overriding point of principle where the City is concerned: the writ of Parliament does not run there, depriving the British inhabitants of both parliamentary and municipal democracy.

  • The Engineer

    To the person blogging under the name “Maggie”

    WE know who the real Maggie is and you should be ashamed for putting forward your toxic views under that name.

    Of course you are entitled to those views and to express them but even if your real name is “maggie” you should do so under amore appropriate name (such as Karl)

    I suspect that the choice of pseudonym is intended to be ‘ironic’ – actually it is merely childish.

  • CHF

    ” The only link is that, if they agree fiscal union, Merkel may be more inclined to let the ECB print money and inflate the debt away.”

    I don’t think she will, you know. I think she honestly thinks that more rules, with more (unspecified) “automatic consequences” for breaking them, will be enough. They think the Greeks and others have been foolishly profligate and must be constrained, by proper rules (although the Germans were happy enough to have them use the borrowed money to buy German goods, I should think).

  • Sir Everard Digby

    Panto season in full swing again I see? Politicians only seek to gain from situations personally. Cameron wins in several ways:

    1. Our trade with the EU will be no more affected by this than it was by our decision not to join the Euro.Our roads are full of Eurpoean lorries so they need us as much,if not more than we need them.

    We now have a reduced liability to future bailouts.

    Our economy has a degree of detachment from Europe now,which may allow it to be seen in a more positive light than the basket cases of the Euro zone.

    If Europe seks to introduce a banking tax, we may benefit from those trying to escape it.

    Voters here are largely negative about Europe.They will like this

    A referendum could have resulted in a ‘let’s stay in’ vote. That would have made signing up to this type of treaty much easier for Cameron to do – will of the people after all. Not so easy without this,unless you are the Labour Party
    of course.

    He has split the Tory right neatly by doing this.

    He could never sign it – imagine the fall out? Tory right vs Lib Dems,Labour stirring away in the middle and constant reference to the referendum that never was.

    This was not a tough choice for him but he has gained politically from it. Helped by a poisonous Frenchman’s comments.

  • Havena Clew

    Things could unravel pretty quickly from this point, I feel. The Euro Project which is an every-tightening strait-jacket, is bound to collapse in its present form. Everyone in the know is preparing for it. So why keep throwing more money at it? (although none of it is from the ECB).
    Interesting to see Alex Salmond is once again ahead of the game, looking toward Scandinavia for future ‘ties’.
    Little England, is of course, a misnomer. I have long thought that an England free from Scotland and the shackles of the EU would be a rather ‘Big England’, a beacon of light, creation, free-enterprise in the world. You see? Havena Clew!

  • commentator

    Is Maggie Christine Lagarde in disguise? Judging by the hysterical ravings further up the thread, it’s time for some stronger medication….


    You are dead right, Fraser, in your prediction of how the BBC is portraying this – nothing if not entirely predictable are they!

    Meanwhile, as a committed metropolitan, europhile, would you care to justify to us why the UK should continue to contribute £9bn net pa to that lot.

    Given the flood of coming encroachments though,what is going to put you on the spot in the next twelve months, is facing up to the inevitability of a straight in/out referendum. No hiding place then matey.

  • Tom B

    Crikey – has Cameron had his defining moment? Let’s hope so and that he keeps his nerve. Should be fun to see him explain all this to Clegg. This could be a winner for the Tories.

  • Dennis Churchill

    The next group of polls will decide the course we will take.
    The Franco-Germans overplayed their hand and will have frightened a lot of the other countries. The zone has turned into a Franco-German area where they impose policy on the others.
    Demographics mean that Germany has a very limited future as a major power. Within a generation its population will have fallen to under 60 million and a third of them will be over 65.
    The EU’s pensions are a Ponzi scheme, without a growing population it will collapse.

  • Kingstonian

    David Linsay – what is it with your obsession about turning the City into a London Borough?

    Do you seriously propose that the UK will be better served by a London Borough which “retains all its pageantry and charity” rather than £50 billion a year in tax revenues?

  • DavidDP

    “Labour should seize the initiative, promising that the mass repatriation of powers “

    Labour’s current policy is still to join the Euro. How credible do you think this policy shift will be for voters? How credible, in fact, do you think this suggestion is for the party?