The campaign against Jean-Claude Juncker becoming President of the European Commission continues, with Martin Callanan (who might hope to benefit from another campaign against someone getting a job, namely Andrew Lansley becoming the UK’s European Commissioner), telling the Today programme that the former Prime Minister of Luxembourg is the ‘business-as-usual candidate’ who is not the ‘reformer who will institute bold and radical change’. Callanan argues that members of the European People’s Party are not bound to support Juncker, because ‘less than 10 per cent of the electorate in any of the countries that the EPP are now saying they have the votes from actually knew they were voting for anybody at all, never mind Jean-Claude Juncker’.
David Cameron is certainly keen to show that he’s serious at least about making his concerns known, even if he fails to block Juncker’s rise. As James said yesterday, his tough stance on this issue is important foreshadowing of the way the Prime Minister could behave in the real renegotiation (which will be much harder if Juncker is at the helm, but Tory MPs fear it will also be less effective if Cameron does appoint Lansley as Commissioner).
His overall case for reform is perhaps helped by a normally pro-EU voice calling today for reform. Tony Blair is speaking now to the CBI about the case for change in Europe, arguing that while Europe is ‘absolutely necessary’ for our future, the European election results mean EU countries must consider their future together very carefully. What Cameron needs is his credibly tough stance to meet a genuine appetite for change in Europe. He suspects that the latter will be rather quelled if Juncker succeeds in taking the top job.
More Spectator for less. Stay informed leading up to the EU referendum and in the aftermath. Subscribe and receive 15 issues delivered for just £15, with full web and app access. Join us.