Coffee House

Cameron prepares his European argument

17 December 2012

4:30 PM

17 December 2012

4:30 PM

If logistics had allowed, David Cameron would have given his long-awaited speech on Europe tomorrow. Instead, it’s been postponed until January and we had to make do with a statement on the European Council in the Commons today

It’s quite clear that Cameron is thoroughly bored of these meetings: he complained that it was the seventh he’s attended this year and that he ‘wouldn’t describe it as a landmark council’. When Ed Miliband mocked the Eurozone countries for coming up with a timetable for having a timetable, Cameron chuckled and nodded.


But Cameron does think that something big came out of this summit. As he put it, ‘the principle has been established that changes in the Eurozone, requires safeguards for those outside.’ This was a reference to the fact that changes to banking union require majority support among both Eurozone ins and outs. Cameron called this a ‘big breakthrough, a major breakthrough’.

I suspect that it will form a substantial part of his Europe speech when it finally comes. For what he’s so desperate to do is to show his party that he can use greater integration in the Eurozone to bring powers back to Britain while reassuring businesses that this process won’t lead to this country leaving the single market.

P.S. Miliband had one very good joke today. In reference to Cameron’s claim that his approach to European policy-making was tantric, Miliband quipped that the PM was ‘parliament’s answer to Sting. They’ve both fallen out with the police.’ This led to the two leaders bandying song titles across the despatch box.

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.

Show comments
  • Boudicca_Icenii

    Who cares whether Cameron can ‘bring a few minor powers back to the UK.’ We don’t want a few piddling little powers returned – we want our country and our Sovereignty back. All of it.
    That means OUT and negotiate a Trade Treaty.

  • Hexhamgeezer

    Song titles? It’s a shame one of them wasn’t ‘We gotta get out of this place”

  • RKing

    Just cut the crap Cameron and give us the referendum….. ASAP!

    I think we’re all getting pissed off with it now!!!

  • WIlliam Blakes Ghost

    But Cameron does think that something big came out of this summit. As he
    put it, ‘the principle has been established that changes in the
    Eurozone, requires safeguards for those outside.’ This was a reference
    to the fact that changes to banking union require majority support among
    both Eurozone ins and outs. Cameron called this a ‘big breakthrough, a
    major breakthrough’.

    Who does Cameron think he is kidding. Qualified Majority Voting is going to be expanded across most areas of EU responsibility in 2014. There are 27 members of which 17 are Eurozone members. Do the math!

    Not only that but all new countries will be required to join the Eurozone so how long is it before its a 20 to 10 split and how long before its 25 to 10 split?

    I know Dave’s employed a bunch of idiots in Downing Street but surely even they can see the transparent weakness of Dave’s argument? Particularly as its clear that the Europeans want to suck the life out of the City Of London financial centre. I do hope Cameron has something stronger than that in his speech because if not he’s going to be laughed all the way back to Brussels!

  • HooksLaw

    The BBC currently telling us what nice people the owners of the Telegraph and Spectator are.

  • anyfool

    P.S. Miliband had one very good joke today.
    He has one us every morning first thing, he looks in the shaving mirror and slyly whispers to himself, those fools are going to make me PM.
    The really nightmarish funny bit is, he might be right.

  • The_Missing_Think

    There’s also these factors:

    “The French President, Francois Hollande, declared that Europe is not “a la carte” like a menu from which member states can pick and choose their powers.”

    And the landmark historical EU budget cuts.

    Minus 2%… 0%… plus 2%… plus 3.5%… ?

    Two large stalemate factors combined, that I cannot see the good ship Team Cameron circumnavigating successfully… yeah, same here.

  • 2trueblue

    What will he say? I am agog with anticipation. The man is now so out of touch I do not know how he ever got to lead what used to be the Conservative party.

    • MirthaTidville

      He got there by fooling some of the people some of the time…It was probably he`s only moment of triumph since membership of that club of his…sadly for him most of the people he fooled have now seen through him and are leaving or have left the Tory Party

      • 2trueblue

        Just because the head is rotten does not mean the fish is.

        • MirthaTidville

          No but most are leaving precisely because the head is rotten

  • ScaryBiscuits

    So what’s the problem with the great speech Ol’ Cast-Iron’s going to give? First it was in the summer, then it was at the party conference, then the autumn. Now’s it’s next year. Before he makes his mind up, the question will have changed.
    Cameron is a useless leader who is being dragged along by events rather than shaping them.

  • Vulture

    If Forsyth thinks that’s a good joke, Dave clearly needs a new scriptwriter.
    In fact, Cameron is of course the biggest joke of all : and the joke is on us.
    I note that he’s invented a new phrase to replace ‘cast iron guarantee’ to mean a promise about the EU that’s there to be broken. It’s called ‘copper bottomed’.
    ‘Half-arsed’ would be a more accurate descrition oif thiks terminal liar.

    • HooksLaw

      The guarantee was quite clear and not broken. Labour, the party you would assist back in to power, were the ones who broke their promise.

      The Conservatives voted against Lisbon in parliament. You persist in inventing fantasies to prop up your prejudice.

      • ScaryBiscuits

        If you go back to the original Sun article (curiously no longer available online) Cameron’s cast iron guarantee was simply to call a referrendum on Lisbon. There was nothing conditional this article, no get-outs like ‘if Labour hasn’t already passed it’. It was a plain promise and indeed Cameron would have known that such sophistry wouldn’t have worked on Sun readers anyway. It was also plain at the time he wrote it that the Czech president would didn’t have the constitutional power to stop ratification. So to argue subequently that this promise was only for the very unlikely event that it wasn’t ratified is simply deceit.
        It should be no surprise then that nobody trusts Cameron anymore and why a repeat of the promise of a referrendum at the next election will be about as much use to Tory fortunes as a chocolate fire guard.
        The Conservatives voted against Lisbon in Parliament. They could have insisted that a referrendum on it was part of the coalition agreement to go with Clegg’s on AV. But they didn’t.

        • No, No, ******* No

          2007 letter to Sun readers – “Today, I will give this cast-iron guarantee: If I become PM a Conservative government will hold a referendum on any EU treaty that emerges from these negotiations. No treaty should be ratified without consulting the British people in a referendum.”

          It does sound quite conditional on whether or not the treaty has been ratified.

      • Daniel Maris

        Opt outs do not signify a lack of change, because a future government can always opt in.

  • Rhoda Klapp

    Might I request, in the speech which is to come, the delay of which is meant only to bring more pleasure, might I request that he outline those powers which he will be wanting to repatriate and the mechanism by which he intends to do so? It is a simple enough request. Indeed, a speech omitting these points would not really move the game on at all, I think we would all agree. So, James, next time can you ask him? Say it’s from Rhoda, he’ll understand.

    • Baron

      Rhoda, how long will it take you to figure the boy has no argument to put forward. Not unlike most of the other ‘skeptics’ he cannot decide which way to turn, his leadership ain’t informed by principles, it consists of opportunistic twists and turns engendered by unfolding events. Europe falls neatly into it. The boy couldn’t run a second rate PR agency, and he didn’t.

      • Rhoda Klapp

        Baron, just because I ask a question, it doesn’t mean I don’t know the answer. In this case he just can’t answer. I hope the spect would have the nous to put the question to him. I wonder why they don’t.*

        *Yes, I know the answer to that, too.

  • Archimedes

    “Miliband had one very good joke today.”

    I like the way you state this – like an intellectual mulling over the objective qualities of it. I think that people less interested in this sort of thing would actually consider it pretty rubbish. Nevertheless, the word on the street is that Ed Miliband is a funny guy, a funny guy indeed – never too shy to put on show his extensive palate for humour.

    • EJ

      Like we give a c**p about these insider jokes when the country is on its knees. These students really need to grow up.

  • Michael990

    “bored OF”. Where do the Spectator get these people?. Nice photo though, of our supposed leader getting his script checked by the father figure.

    • EJ

      See my previous post about Forsyth living in a parallel universe. Every piece he delivers is drenched in pro-Cameron spin.

      Dave needs to be very careful about this speech. He’s lied to us and pulled the wool over our eyes so many times that he’ll get a very nasty shock if he tries more bluster, delay and obfuscation. We have seen Dave for exactly what he is: a pro-EU, left-leaning chancer just like Blair. He will do and say anything to fob us off and deny us the IN / OUT referendum that we are crying out for.

      He will be judged on this, just as he will be judged on gay marriage and his total inability to grasp the nettle of the real issues: immigration, cultural displacement etc. If this man continues as leader, the Tories will be destroyed in 2015.

      • dalai guevara

        Jeez…’Dave lied to us on Europe’, so did broom cupboard Brown, so did Bliar, so did Maastricht Major, so did and so on and on. I cannot bear any more.

        I am so BORED OF with this ukrap babble.

      • HooksLaw

        You are the one pulling out the lie. And living in a parallel universe. And there is of course with absolute certainty going to be a referendum on the EU. It is changing before our very eyes and our relationship is going to change accordingly. It presents a good opportunity for us.

        The difference between being IN the EU but out of many of its features and being OUT but still part of the single market is minor. Your hysteria is idiotic. I strongly suspect that the number of OUT votes you would get in Sunderland could be counted on the fingers of one hand.

        There are 27 countries currently in the EU, that figure is going to go up eventually not down. Leaving aside Russia and the problematic Turkey there are no major European countries not already in and no major western European country.
        The obvious ‘OUT’ country, Norway, incorporates most EU laws and decisions and allows free movement of labour. The fact of life is that the EU exists and being out of it would not end its influence on us. Given it will grow its influence will increase and you and idiots like you would have us out and with no influence at all.

        It would not bother me to be OUT of the EU with the right terms of access to the single market. But I am under no illusions that there would be any effective difference to now. Any positives would be balanced by the lack of any involvement in its decision making and our inevitable regular cap in hand lobbying.

        • Rhoda Klapp

          Let’s leave in or out for the supposedly inevitable referendum. Instead may we ask what powers he plans to return. It’s a simple question. Something has to be done, because the status quo is changing no matter what we do. We will need to know what we want out of it. The choice otherwise will be whatever the rest will let us have when they conclude their own eurozone deal. They won’t even be thinking of us, there will be plenty on the plate already with their manouevering to do that.

          • HooksLaw

            Indeed lets ask what powers he plans or would like to return.

            ‘Mats Persson, director of Open Europe, said: “While the single market is important for British business, the one-size-fits-all nature of EU social law often results in cumbersome and unnecessarily costly regulation of the public and private sector.’

            ‘social law’ covers a wide remit – but there ought to be some scope. We will have some decent cards to play in any negotiations.
            Of course any labour govt could sign up to any EU rule they liked no matter if we were in or out of the EU. You might wake up one day and realise that the EU exists and is not going to go away.

            • michael

              “While the single market is important for British business”

              The CBI are bleating… Judging how favorable the status-quo is for the creation of voluntary tax arrangements, I’m not surprised.

            • Rhoda Klapp

              Open Europe’s ideas are of no relevance. What we need to know is what powers Cameron is talking about. Whereas promises of repatriartion are cheap, lists of powers are hard to come by, because such a list would immediately be put to various EU players, Rompuy, Merkel, Hollande et al, and torn to bits. That is why there is no list, and that is why the promise is worthless. That is before we even get to the mechanism of such a return of powers. It can’t be done for the UK alone, it has to be part of a general treaty applied to all. Everyone would want their own set of terms and the commission would want to let go of nothing. Recipe for chaos. If I know the rules, why doesn’t Cameron? How can he present this as a possibility? Just to delay things, that’s why. We all know it. Why the pretence?

          • michael

            Repatriating powers?.. its a red herring. We need to repatriate revenue streams both public and private, paying due lip service to the ensuing fines. Play their game.

        • Daniel Maris

          Well the Norwegian solution does mean you have control over your fisheries and you don’t have to subsidise continental hill farmers.

    • Colonel Mustard

      I’m afraid this is becoming common currency even though it jars with an older generation brought up to instinctively use “bored with” and “fed up with” rather than “bored of” and, even worse, “fed up of”.