Coffee House

Cameron needn’t worry too much about Juncker fallout – for now

17 June 2014

8:40 AM

17 June 2014

8:40 AM

What happens if, as reports suggest today, David Cameron fails in his bid to block Jean-Claude Juncker as president of the European Commission? It will make the Prime Minister look weak. It will make his renegotiation of Britain’s relationship with Europe and his call for reform of the European Union as a whole much more difficult. These are serious wounds. But the Prime Minister may at least relax that he’s not going to face an uprising in Westminster. Eurosceptic MPs have appreciated his stand on this issue, and are – by and large – committed to fighting for general election victory. They’ll think about other fights after that general election.

One MP tells me that the biggest consequence in Westminster this side of 2015 would be a demand for genuine eurosceptics being appointed to the Prime Minister’s renegotiation team. Another says it will increase pressure on the Prime Minister to appoint as Britain’s next European Commissioner a genuine eurosceptic such as Peter Lilley or Owen Paterson, rather than someone who would be convenient such as Andrew Lansley. That is unlikely, as the European Parliament would see these two men as perfect candidates for a show of muscle over the Commission.

It’s clear that the trouble that Juncker getting the prize he’s fixed his eyes on won’t really emerge until after the 2015 general election. Given David Cameron’s usual approach to schisms in his party, that’s far away enough for him not to worry.

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
  • Conway

    it will increase pressure on the Prime Minister to appoint as Britain’s
    next European Commissioner a genuine eurosceptic such as … Owen Paterson
    ” What on earth makes you think Paterson is a eurosceptic, let alone a genuine one? He has voted against affirming the sovereignty of Parliament and for giving the EU more money!

  • Denis_Cooper

    It’s a fine mess.

    Blair pushed through the amending Nice Treaty which abolished the national veto over the nomination of the President of the EU Commission.

    Then Brown pushed through the amending Lisbon Treaty which said that henceforth the nomination should be made “taking into account the elections to the European Parliament, the treaty change cited by those MEPs who came up with the idea of Spitzenkandidaten and who now claim that Juncker must be nominated.

    Having announced on November 4th 2009 that he would swallow the Lisbon Treaty whole as a fait accompli, it’s a bit late for Cameron to say that he won’t accept this.

  • Denis_Cooper

    What’s all this about renaming Tory pseudosceptics as “genuine eurosceptics”?

  • goatmince

    Let’s face it, Cameron has manoeuvered himself into a diplomatic cul-de-sac.
    He played to the UKIP line of obstructing without making a case for alternatives.
    It failed. He played to those who seek cooperation by talking up a pretty much non-existent Northern Alliance. It failed.
    Now he will reap the rewards for which he has only himself to blame.

  • fathomwest

    I do not share your rose tinted view of the path ahead for Cameron, save in one area the back bench MP’s who have shown they have no fight in them whatsoever.
    When Juncker is appointed Presidento, Cameron should tell Parliament and the people that he will promise an IN/OUT referendum to be held in September 2015. That will ensure that UKIP will direct their resources in Labour and Liberal Democrat held seats and leave Conservative held seats alone.
    Such a move would prove highly successful and popular. But the big question is:- Has David Cameron got the guts to call it?

    • Colonel Mustard

      “Has David Cameron got the guts to call it?”

      No.

  • Marquess of Salisbury

    Juncker became Prime Minister in his native Luxembourg after forming a coalition with the Socialist Workers Party. Not the sort of thing Scameron would do of course!

  • Blindsideflanker

    “won’t really emerge until after the 2015 general election”

    The cynicism of the British establishment , media and political, in a nutshell.

    • Denis_Cooper

      Absolutely.

      One very good reason why we need a proper recall system.

  • Maverick Ways
  • FlippityGibbit

    Of course Juncker’s appointment will not affect Dodgy Dave in the slightest. It could only affect his credibility if he had any but as he lost that years ago yet one more failure, U-turn, call it what you may, will have no effect. This time though he will not be able to blame Claggie or the Limp Dums for his failure. The really spineless ones in this whole scenario are the Tory Hierarchy who must be aware of how ineffective and discredited he is yet still saddle us with a lame duck PM. So much for having the country’s interests at heart. The will pay for this dearly and UKIP WILL benefit and I would remind them they have quite a time before the election and the EU is driving voters to UKIP DAILY!!

    • con

      why would juncker’s appointment be a ‘failure’ for cameron?

      • FlippityGibbit

        It can only be a failure if he had any credibility that could be affected. As he has zero credibility, nobody here or in the EU believes a single word he says thanks to his perpetual U-turns , how can it be a failure. His assertions like his promises are empty which is why his party is shedding support like sheep at shearing time.

  • Tony_E

    There is a constant theme elsewhere that Junker is no more than a stalking horse. Most of the reporting of the mainstream media concentrates around Junker, but he’s there just to draw the sting out of the ‘federalist’ moniker, leaving an equally federalist but less strident character to actually take the job at the last minute with Frau Merkel throwing Cameron a bone.

    I’m not sure I buy it now. I wonder if Merkel is trying to destabilise Cameron, knowing that with the Liberals in government he can do nothing before the election, but if he were to return after 2015 he might just have enough support across the house to get the referendum bill through. Labour have pledged not hold the referendum, but they are flagging under the weight of their own stupidity – Merkel needs the British question damped down as it’s causing some problems in her own party who are now less enthusiastic about the project.

  • Ray Veysey

    Support from so called “eurosceptics” in the house will just prove finally to those of us who have been pouring scorn on their duplicity that we have been right about their “party before country” stance all along.

  • Andy

    To be fair to Cameron he was probably right to oppose the idiot Juncker. This is a blatant power grab by the European Parliament because it does not say in the Treaty that this office is in the gift of the Parliament. Quite the contrary in fact.

    • Makroon

      Yes, Juncker is clownish, incompetent and corrupt with it, but will that actually enhance Commission power and credibility ?
      It is actually quite a come-down from the days of the messianic Jacques Delors.
      Merkel wants her puppet in place – that is a big change from the Commission flexing it’s muscles.

  • Lady Magdalene

    It doesn’t really matter whether it’s Juncker the Federalist, or ANOther Federalist. Because they are ALL Federalists.
    The EU is not going to renegotiate with the UK or embark on a significant reform. It’s raison d’etre is to create a United States of Europe and it isn’t going to change that goal now.
    All the appointment of Juncker will demonstrate is that Cameron has no influence in the EU and that Merkel calls the shots.
    Nigel must be grinning from ear to ear.

    • an ex-tory voter

      Once again, correct!

    • Tony_E

      Actually, there is an important distinction. If it’s Junker, that means that the EU parliament has grabbed a new power for itself, which constitutionally creates a bit of a dilemma for the Council of Ministers.

      • Denis_Cooper

        Well, the national governments and parliaments of the time
        agreed through the amending Treaty of Lisbon that henceforth
        the nomination of the President of the EU Commission would be
        made “taking into account the elections to the European Parliament”, which is the treaty change cited by those who came up with the Spitzenkandidaten idea.

    • goatmince

      UKIP are federalists now – they want a federal UK!

      • global city

        and that’s a good thing.

      • http://www.workinprogress.com Nicetime

        wouldn’t be so bad. Break England up into Cantons. It might reduce the influence of London

  • Smithersjones2013

    Given David Cameron’s usual approach to schisms in his party, that’s far away enough for him not to worry.

    Indeed after the 2015 election Cameron will be gone. Nobody’s believes his empty impotent posturing over the EU anyway..

    David Cameron LOSER

    • an ex-tory voter

      I must disagree. Cameron is not a loser, he is achieving exactly what he set out to achieve. Under his leadership(?) the nation has not loosened a single EU knot, nor repatriated a single power, not dismantled a single quango of note, nor reduced the size of the state.
      Yes, he will go, but only because his lying and prevarication have gone on so long that even the disinterested British electorate are beginning to wake up to his real purpose.
      There is no indication that the eurosceptics in the Conservative Party are going to take control, so the chances are Cameron will be replaced by another “tory” with exactly the same goals and we will move on again towards the EUSSR.
      Voting Conservative or Labour will take us to exactly the same destination. The only difference is that Labour’s economic incompetence will allow the EU to “install” their own unelected team rather more quickly.

      • Colonel Mustard

        A pessimistic but undoubtedly probably outcome. The cultural revolution has already taken place and the power of the mob harnessed, the power of the state and especially the “shadow” government is entrenched, the narrative invariably of the authoritarian socialist kind. A privileged elite incrementally removing our freedoms and imposing statutory regulation and constraint over every aspect of our lives whilst professing it is for the good of the “vulnerable”, “disadavantaged”, “victims”, etc. I can discern little difference between Tory, Labour or Lib Dem, except in the blatancy by which they do it. And the Tories have been utterly compromised by red subversives like Cameron.

        Any true conservative or right of centre narrative is now tainted and meets a barrage of hostility and outrage, witness the fuss about UKIP before the Euro elections. Demonised as racist, fascist, far-right, etc., that is what awaits any insurgency against the new order.

        The model is China. A rather nasty authoritarian state wedded to the worst exploitations of corporate capitalism where the elected and unelected elite become “leaders” rather than representatives and rent-seeking bureaucratic officials are everywhere interfering and controlling.

        The struggle is not really between right and left anymore but against what the left has transmogrified into post Cold War, the struggle between the liberty we once enjoyed and those who seek to take it away “for our own good”.

        • goldbob

          fantastic summary,nu labour = 2 snotty nosed brief’s leading left leaning university grads/millionaires carving up the uk.

  • Bert3000

    The farcical behaviour of the British government and the Conservative party over this is a great advert for EU membership. Give Brussels more power and take it away, for pete’s sake, from that incompetent clique in London.

  • Hello

    It makes him look weak in the UK, but I’m not so sure it weakens his hand in Europe. If Juncker is appointed, then Cameron is taking one for the team, and Merkel will know that. When it comes to a renegotiation, at least Cameron will be able to say “Remember that time Juncker was appointed”.

    If the European press are going to be creating domestic pressure in a renegotiation, then it’s not necessarily a bad thing to lose a few battles going into it, so that that pressure is unjustified.

    • Smithersjones2013

      What team? The UK is the inveterate recalcitrant of the EU. Don’t you get it? 27 countries or rather 27 political ruling classes want ever closer union. One country (the UK) doesn’t. Bufton Tuftons can fantasise about as many different scenarios of renegotiation as they like but the eventual outcome will always be the same. The UK will leave the EU. The only questions left are how many referendums it will take, when it will happen and how much damage the establishment political classes (particularly the Tories) in this country will do to themselves in resisting the will of the people

    • Ray Veysey

      “Remember that time Juncker was appointed”

      And then what? the response will be “we beat you then we’ll beat every time”, if you’re thinking they might think they owe him one, then you don’t know the EU at all.

      • Hello

        And you think Cameron can get the UK to vote to remain in a “we beat you then, we’ll beat you every time” union? If they want to keep the UK in, then they’ll owe him one.

        • Ray Veysey

          The only country in the EU that has a valid reason to keep us in IS Germany, without us who is going to supply the bulk of the money? The rest of the EU (that is the “takers”) will not give a toss because they can’t see past their outstretched hand. Germany “might” owe us a small one because they went with their political ideals against us, but the ends justify the means. The country to watch IMO is France, because when the EU (or as they see it their bank of first recourse) runs short they might have to stand on their own 2 feet which I think they have forgotten how to.

          • Makroon

            It would also suit German interests to have the UK in a semi-detached relationship with the EU.

  • Kitty MLB

    John Prescott the other day said David Cameron is encouraging
    us to have reasons to leave the EU and that he said was wrong,
    treacherous little fake Labour anti-English parasite, those who
    sold us down the river to Brussels.
    This shows what the United States or Europe under Germany’s
    control will look like. The people of Europe who the EU doesn’t
    represent need to join forces and deal and send the inflated
    elephant that is the EU to total oblivion..t

    • Lady Magdalene

      You’re conveniently ignoring the fact that the Tories took us into the EEC. The Tories morphed the EEC into the EU with the Maastrict Treaty and the Tories have a policy of remaining in the EU.

      • an ex-tory voter

        Correct!

      • Kitty MLB

        But over 20 years ago how large the EU beast was
        going to grow, no one knew.Labour, alone have had
        13 years to feed the beast every remaining part
        of our sovereignity and the beast gave birth to
        excessive immigration. We are living with those
        consequencies.
        I would like to point out that its not just about us
        the EU as UKIP only rattle on about, its about
        Great Britain and the other countries of Europe,
        putting an end to The Beast of Brussels and this
        will make them more determined.
        Stop making everything about Cameron, he’s not
        the enemy, but some want to make it about him
        instead of the actual issues.

        • FlippityGibbit

          Here’s an issue for you then. Dodgy Dave supports the EU and so IS the Enemy. I’d say that was an issue. One that he could clear up in an instant by giving us a referendum!

          • global city

            He knows that should we vote to remain in the EU, which is what he has clearly stated he wants this would mean voting to remain in a project that is on a continued path to ever closer integration, politically, socially as well as economically (even if they remove these words from treaties), without any change to the anti democratic law making structures or the centralised nature of what is controlled by the EU.

            If we voted to remain inside then we would not be voting for the status quo but to continue on the journey to full political union. This vital point is never ever raised or explained honestly.

            • goldbob

              correct.

            • Holly

              I’ve been saying that for years.
              If we vote to stay in, we will be dragged ever further in.
              Cameron could get every reform he is asking for, but in a few decades we will be even further down the road we are on today and we would not have noticed.
              Sneaky little sods.

              • global city

                That point should be raised every time a europhile insists that we must stay in the EU. They should also be pressed to justify their assertion from that understanding… ever closer union.

          • goldbob

            hear,hear.

        • Makroon

          This is the major flaw in Tory thinking, and has been since time immemorial.
          There is no prospect of a campaigning “northern alliance” and our place is not “at the centre of Europe”.
          We need to carve out our own position, driven by the British interest, not rely on (the ever unreliable) Germans, Dutch and Scandinavians – they are the current “winners” and they have no intention of rocking the boat.
          We need to stay in, to protect our interests, but to become distinctively semi-detached.
          The German racket will eventually provoke a backlash, but it might take a decade.
          Actually, it might be a newly centre-right France that first objects to German/Commission hegemony.
          People in this country always imagine that because they rather like and admire the “northern tier”, those countries must think like we do – they don’t.

          • Conway

            We need to stay in, to protect our interests, but to become distinctively semi-detached.” We cannot be in and semi-detached any more than a woman can be a little bit pregnant. As the Juncker saga has shown, we cannot protect our interests either. Out is the only way.

        • an ex-tory voter

          David Cameron does not share my principles, my goals, or my aspirations. I do not believe he shares my love of this country, it’s history and all it stands for. He talks of the Magna Carta and at the same time allows the principles contained within it to be repealed, or diluted into obsolescence.
          He wishes to destroy this nation state and to see the British people become subjects of the EU.
          He does not see what I see, he does not fear what I fear, he and I are walking in opposite directions. I move forward and he moves backwards towards Napoleon and Hitler.
          He is my enemy.

        • global city

          Ever closer union is a pretty solid and honest declaration of intent. The EU has not morphed into anything, as this implies that it was meant to be something else and has ended up as a nation building thingy.

          What we are in now was always the plan, as is it’s continual trajectory as we move forward. Everybody knew what it was going to be, especially the political elites, including the UK.

        • Wessex Man

          You just don’t get it do you, we have all had enough of the Lib/dum/Lab/Troy lies about Europe, no attempt was ever made by the Tories in all their years in Government to curb this crazy Empire from stealing all powers from Westminster!

          • Kitty MLB

            And who are “WE” Don’t answer, not the slightest
            part interested. There are other articles to respond to…..this is so predictable…Yawn !

        • Conway

          Ted Heath (remember him? He was a Tory PM) knew (he later admitted as much). He did, however, lie to the electorate (something else which he later admitted).

      • Colonel Mustard

        Several factors then vs now.

        Firstly the full effect of the collapse of the Soviet Union on Eastern Europe was not apparent then. The view prevailing at the time was that the EU consisted of “civilised” and comparatively wealthy Western countries.

        Secondly the motion for the treaty in our HoC was almost defeated and Labour and the Lib Dems voted against the exclusion of the social provisions. The story of its passage through Parliament is a can of worms.

        Thirdly the Tories who scraped it through were the same grandee wets who had brought Thatcher down and who we have watched toeing the socialist line and appeasing all and sundry ever since. Thatcher said that she could never have signed the treaty and it was a recipe for national suicide. Pretty much spot on with hindsight as to what has happened since.

  • monty61

    The inevitable consequence of tilting at windmills. Cameron looks like what he is … a weak PM carping from the sidelines.

    And Andrew Lansley .. more chummocracy. We know where that’s got us.

    • an ex-tory voter

      Everything Cameron does is aimed at deceiving the populace and delaying any democratic vote on our membership of the EU. He is working towards exactly the same goal as Angela Merkel and anybody who believes otherwise is blind, stupid, or both.
      Ignore his words, ignore the spin and observe what he does and what he achieves. His political movement and that of the nation he controls is always in one direction, that is towards the creation of a European superstate and the destruction of this nation state.

      • goldbob

        do your words/comment ? really mean he’s a TRAITOR, fifth column old chap.

        • an ex-tory voter

          I couldn’t possibly comment.

    • fathomwest

      At least Lansley has never hidden the fact that he was a Liberal. Was this the Minister that cried during the last re-shuffle?

  • beenzrgud

    It doesn’t matter if Juncker gets the job or not, it won’t change the direction the EU is headed. We need to decide if that’s where we want to go too. If not then out would obviously be the better option.

    • Smithersjones2013

      Out we go then……

      • Andy

        One can but hope.

Close