Tory Eurosceptics from the Cabinet down have long made clear that David Cameron will only be able to get a sufficiently different deal from the EU if he’s prepared to threaten that Britain will leave if it can’t get what it needs. Many have assumed that Cameron, who has been clear that he would prefer Britain to keep in the EU, would not be prepared to do this. But it seems that he is.
The German magazine Spiegel reports that Cameron told his fellow EU leaders that if Jean-Claude Juncker, the Luxembourg federalist, became president of the Euroopean Commission he could not guarantee that Britain would stay in the EU. The threat here is implicit not explicit but it appears to have got the message across. It is precisely the kind of hard ball negotiating that will be required if Cameron is to obtain substantially different terms of EU membership for Britain.
Give something clever this Christmas – a year’s subscription to The Spectator for just £75. And we’ll give you a free bottle of champagne. Click here.