Coffee House

The Conservatives may have damaged their chances of reforming Europe

13 June 2014

13 June 2014

Although many MEPs believe that the European Parliament is the centre of the known political universe, in truth the goings on in Brussels and Strasbourg rarely trouble the attention of anyone who is not a dedicated EU geek. That said, the decision by the Conservatives’ ECR group to admit the anti-euro Alternative für Deutschland party could have wider repercussions for Anglo-German relations, and therefore the prospects for Cameron’s EU reform agenda.

For those who are not familiar with AfD here is a potted history: the party was founded by German academics opposed to Merkel’s Eurozone policies, specifically the bailouts. As it has grown, AfD has combined a more socially conservative policy agenda with populist rhetoric. It narrowly failed to win seats in the Bundestag last year before scoring an impressive 7 per cent in May’s European elections. Although AfD just wants to limit membership of the Eurozone and is not anti-EU per se, its desire to reverse European integration and talk up the German national interest is complete anathema to the mainstream German political discourse and even its mere existence is controversial.

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German politicians across the political spectrum are exceptionally hostile towards the AfD and Merkel herself is loath to even acknowledge their existence. However, joining the ECR and sitting alongside the governing Tories will give AfD much needed credibility. Despite only polling at around the 6-7 per cent mark, a recent poll found around a third of Germans want to see AfD in the Bundestag – so it clearly has the potential to expand.

The ECR’s decision to admit AfD is doubly bad for Cameron because he explicitly stated his opposition to it and did his best to scupper the deal. Despite the vast majority of Tory MEPs taking his lead and voting against, the result nonetheless undermines Cameron’s credibility. AfD’s entry to the ECR follows the similarly controversial admission of the Danish People’s Party and the Finns Party, both of which have unpleasant reputations despite recent efforts to clean up their images. The irony is that the undoubted success in broadening the ECR may not be conducive to Cameron’s wider EU reform agenda. The group also looks a harbour for ‘anti-Merkel’ sentiments containing as it does the Independent Greeks who have called on Germany to pay WWII reparations and Poland’s ‘German-wary’ Law and Justice.

The question is how much this will annoy Merkel really, and what the wider fallout will be. There is no doubt this will damage the Merkel-Cameron relationship – already strained over the Juncker saga – which took a while to recover from Cameron’s decision to pull the Tories out of the EPP-ED group when he became leader. This may limit both her willingness and domestic room for manoeuvre in accommodating UK concerns.

However, the German Chancellor is a brutal pragmatist and the UK and Germany will continue to share a great deal of common ground when it comes to EU reform ranging from the competitiveness agenda to the rules governing EU migrants’ access to benefits. Ultimately, time will tell what the full impact of yesterday’s decision will be.

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Show comments
  • global city

    This idea that if the UK leaves she will lose clout is a red herring. Often the UK gets involved in issues around the world as it is the only country willing to do so.

    This will not change whether we are inside or outside the EU.

  • Roger Hudson

    It reminds me of a meeting where i was so fed up with the bickering i just got up and walked out, some times you can’t ‘fix’ things and just have to scrap and replace them.

  • Conway

    [T]he decision by the Conservatives’ ECR group to admit the anti-euro
    Alternative für Deutschland party could have wider repercussions for
    Anglo-German relations, and therefore the prospects for Cameron’s EU
    reform agenda.
    ” Reform (other than towards a federal state) has always been a non-starter.

    Although AfD just wants to limit membership of the Eurozone and is not anti-EU per se, its desire to reverse European integration and talk up the German national interest is complete anathema to the mainstream German political discourse and even its mere existence is controversial.” Says it all, really. The Germans want integration (with them in charge, no doubt) and since they hold the purse strings that’s what we’ll have, like it or not (and I don’t, not one bit). Time to leave.

  • Bonkim

    Prepare to get out.

  • DaveTheRave

    Chances of reforming Europe?
    Wake up and smell the coffee!
    The EU’s pat answer to increasing anti Euro feeling is not only ‘keep taking the medicine’ but also ‘take even more of it’.
    It’s either that, embrace the whole darn monstrosity… or get out.
    Now, which would you choose?

  • Grey Wolf

    Conservatives were going to reform Europe? Who told you that in the first place? You need to get your head examined ere you submit another article to Speccie.

    • Kitty MLB

      The EU can never be reformed and the latest situation with
      Merkel trying to place someone in a job who supports a
      United States of Europe just proves the point.Cameron
      and others from within Europe who deplore the EU that
      doesn’t represent them will together defeat the socialist
      succubus. Those cracks have widened.

      • Conway

        While I agree the EU can never be reformed, whoever is appointed to Barosso’s job will be an EU-federalist. Nobody else would get a look-in. I don’t believe that Cameron deplores the EU at all and if you’re looking to him to “defeat the socialist succubus” I’m afraid you will be disappointed.

  • Q46

    Oh stop it would you with this reform of the EU, nonsense.

    The French and Germans and the EC Politburo have made it very clear, that whilst they will consider changing the curtains and lamp shades… maybe, just maybe… they will not under any circumstances have the house demolished and a new one built in its place.

    As ever the general public know this and are way ahead of the political claque who cannot see beyond the confines of their own fairy-tale World.

    I wonder whom you think you are deceiving with the EU reform fiction.

    • Denis_Cooper

      Agreed, but unfortunately opinion polls show that about one seventh of the voters are open to being deceived by Cameron on this, and that is what he is relying on now and would rely on if it came to a referendum.

      This YouGov opinion poll is from January 2013 and so the numbers are not necessarily exactly the same now, but no doubt the effect would be much the same unless we could get the message out that he is a shyster and they should no believe him than we should have believed that other shyster Wilson in 1975.

      On page 7 here:

      “If there was a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union, how would you vote?” – Out 34%, In 40%.

      “Imagine the British government under David Cameron renegotiated our relationship with Europe and said that Britain’s interests were now protected, and David Cameron recommended that Britain remain
      a member of the European Union on the new terms.

      How would you then vote in a referendum on the issue?” – Out 22%, In 55%.

      Anybody still so keen on having that kind of referendum?

  • Denis_Cooper

    In all this it’s constantly forgotten that we’ve already had major “reform” of the EU.

    What did Merkel call her treaty, the one with almost all the legal contents of the rejected EU Constitution repackaged in an amending treaty, the one which she didn’t want to be put to any referendum in any EU country, before it was renamed
    as the Lisbon Treaty?

    She called it her REFORM TREATY:

    Why should anybody suppose that she now wants a different kind of “reform”?

  • Denis_Cooper

    I’ll repeat my comment on the Open Europe blog article on this topic:

    It is ludicrous to suppose that Merkel is a friend of the British people and she
    would want to help us; on the contrary, in case it hasn’t been noticed she has
    poured sewage over us; and how much more sewage will she have to pour over
    us before it becomes clear even to the most deluded that she is actually an
    enemy of the British people?

    And the more the Tory party tries to ally itself with her the more obvious it
    becomes that those leading that party are also enemies of the British people.

  • Tony_E

    There was never any hope of reforming Europe, not if that means in any way reducing the power of the central powers, especially Germany, whose virtual empire the rest of Europe has become.

    I rather suspect the Tory party is lining itself up to fail in the aim of renegotiation, giving it inadvertently no choice but to swing fully behind OUT, despite its current position.

    • Fred Smith

      The EU reform line is something the Tories have used to glue the party together for years.

      I’d say the referendum pledge was made in the belief that the GE was almost certainly lost, if it turned out not to be, then they could do a Wilson aided by the BBC etc.

      I doubt the Conservatives would swing fully behind OUT, the party would probably split. You have to consider the behaviour of the CP over at least the past 50 years which has shown the forces which control it to be completely committed to the EU, but a pretence having to be maintained that they don’t really like it.

      • Denis_Cooper

        I’d say you’re absolutely right in your second paragraph.

      • Tony_E

        If Labour beats it in 2015 all bets are off – but if they somehow scrape home and the renegotiation fails, the PM would face a bloodbath in his own party if he about faces and plays for IN with no significant change.

        A lot of the ‘Big Beasts’ are now very old. Much of the Heathite party that deposed Thatcher is actually dead or in retirement. Hestletine, Hurd, people of their ilk surely cannot hold much sway now?

        • Fred Smith

          Corporates are very keen on the EU for obvious reasons. The Conservative Party has been consistently in favour of the European Project since at least 1960.

          What we see with people like Hannan is that whatever they say, it’s Tory Party first. I think there can be little doubt that the Conservative Party is, and always has been, fundamentally in favour of the EU, but has had to talk tough on Europe from time to time.

          I don’t see how it’s possible to achieve significant change, altering the nature of the EU by 2017, especially when no one else in the EU wants it, which points to a Wilson style bravura job.

          When it comes to leaving the EU I’d say Cameron is completely expendable and the Conservative Party itself is expendable, if the worst came to the worst.

          There is an idea that the EU will have to undertake treaty change to create the centralised institutions to stabilise the Euro and this will lead to ‘Associate Membership’ for the UK and other non-Euro countries. This would still involve acceptance of the fundamental objectives, and the supremacy of the ECJ etc. The ploy in mind might be to sell that as the renegotiated settlement.

          Miliband has said that there would be a referendum in the case of treaty change, and I assumed he was looking to this.

    • Conway

      My view is that Cameron will come back with a few minor concessions, trumpet them as major repatriations of powers (like Wilson) and then campaign for us to stay in should he be forced to give us a referendum. Any concessions we might gain will, of course, disappear as soon as the door has been locked behind us.

  • Flintshire Ian

    Margaret Thatcher was wrong about quite a few things. But her view that Europe needed to be wary of a reunified Germany as being too big and too powerful was absolutely correct.

  • Hexhamgeezer

    Mr S, If you think chances of serious reform can be derailed because a small party has joined a conservative grouping, does that not demonstrate that there is but a tiny appetite for real reform as opposed to possibly maybe tinkering around the edges at some point in the ill defined future?

  • Kitty MLB

    The gap between that succubus the EU and the countries it
    supposedly represents will grow larger as they, as well as us
    do not want a United States of Europe under Germanic control.
    The divide between Merkell and Cameron will obviously widen,
    and the EU will break up.But with the UK and an alliance of countries who will diplomatically work together and not Little
    England throwing toys out of the pram.
    But yes this is the beginning of the end for the EU.

    • Conway

      It does not matter what the people want – the EU has clearly shown that over the years. No amount of saying “no” has prevented the project from being rolled forward regardless. I admire your optimism but I’m for Big World (not Little European) and I don’t have any toys in my pram.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        “Little European”… very good.

        Very good.

  • In2minds

    Chances of reforming Europe, what chances?

  • misomiso

    If he ever wants to change anything in Europe, Cameron should go after the EU institutions.

    Argue for a smaller Parliament with seats allocated by population, and a ECJ that’s a proper court with 9 or 11 justices.

    He needs to go after the Federalist power bases.

    • Fred Smith

      He doesn’t and anyway, he couldn’t.

    • Denis_Cooper

      Or, just abolish both.

      • Conway

        Simpler and better idea; let’s just abolish the EU.

  • dalai guevara

    Hans-Olaf is a great chap, his time as head of BDI was second to none – but in this instance commentators must remember this: every nation in Europe will have a certain number of chaps and lasses that are losers. Not everyone’s a winner, clearly. Not everyone can be. Let them talk, let them explain how it is that we are all losing out, how there can be no winners, just losers, and when they say that listen and make them feel important even, but after all the talking all that will happen is that those chaps and lasses will return to being what they are best, winners and losers.

    On the other hand, Cameron ought to worry for different reasons – Hans-Olaf, doing what he does best, is also a great salesman of Germanic goods. ‘Stuff the trade balance chaps, care for a few more?’

    • the viceroy’s gin

      …is this Olaf guy one of your new sockpuppets, lad?

      • dalai guevara

        You don’t know Hans-Olaf? Boy oh boy – what did you call me once, uneducated?
        I will make you eat your words, letter by letter. L-a-d.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          …so he’s not one of your army of sockpuppets? That narrows it down a lot, for sure, lad.

  • LadyDingDong

    Listen matey, Great Britain is a sovereign nation and our elected Prime Minister, for once, is standing up for our interests in Europe. The idea of allowing a German Chancellor to dictate to us who should, or should not, lead in Europe, and whether or not we will get the reforms which we, and all of the EU, badly need, is anathema to any British lover of democracy. I know it has been said a million times before but I will say it once again – British blood was spilled in Europe to free you lot from the Germans in two world wars and having a German, or a faceless, mendacious bureaucrat from Luxembourg, dictating terms to us now is just not acceptable. You may think that the Conservatives have damaged the chances of reform in Europe but many of us believe the exact opposite. Either Cameron gets his way and the relentless march towards a United States of Europe is reversed, or he doesn’t and Britain, with all it’s billions and essential economy, leaves. I guarantee you this, if Britain leaves the EU then the EU will collapse within 5 years. When the remaining nations see how prosperous we will be outside the EU, while they are constrained by a much reduced budget and sclerotic economies tied to a doomed Euro, there will be a clamour to join the United Kingdom.

    • allymax bruce

      The EU has no ‘fail’ option; it is a military-minded designed entity.
      The discussion arguments/debates (imho) should not be about whether the EU will fail if ‘Britian’ opts-out, rather, the discussion should be, can we afford/do we want to, stay a member of an end-times apocalyptic armageddon?

      • the viceroy’s gin

        …you mean like the SNP?

        • Wessex Man

          He’s probably thinking about outgoing President Barrsoso’s statement about the EU being a modern day Empire.

        • allymax bruce

          You make me smile; it’s good to have you back.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            I must be doing something wrong then.



    • global city

      You’ve forgotten about the 3rd possibility…… we get a referendum, the EU continues it’s march to ever loser union, but the British have been bamboozled/scared into remaining inside the prison.

      This is the likelihood that fills me with absolute dread.

      The consequences of this must be explained by the europhiles.

    • dalai guevara

      I do not believe for one moment that Cameron has an interest in ‘reversing that relentless march’, not even to slow it down. He has an interest in speeding it up, that is why he now talks about TRANSformation.

      • allymax bruce

        It’s not ‘gibberish’, it’s a perfectly reasonable ‘thesis/anti-thesis’ argument. The EU does it all the time. Take all the EU protocols; force the EP party’s to accept they must decide on all EU Nation-States ”correct behaviours’, and thus, you have an all-encompassing EC Bureaucracy.

        • dalai guevara

          Which EU directives/protocols do you oppose. List five. List why.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            …how many sockpuppets do you have? List five hundred, lad.

          • allymax bruce

            I’ll only give you one, that’s concomitant; because that’s enough to prove my point.
            The EU has decided to allow Nation-States to avow, or disavow the planting and production of GMO crops in each individual Nation-State. We don’t want GMO in Scotland, just like we don’t want fracking, nuclear weapons, mass open-door immigration, and our Scottish waters fished by all and EU sundry to the death of our fish stocks in Scotland; but we get all these horrors against our will when Westminster decides against Scots & Scotland at the EU.

            • dalai guevara

              No allymax, I see what you did there.
              You explained how the GMO crop planting remains a national issue. That is a case made against the EU? I just do not get what on earth you are on about. You just made a case *for* not leaving anything.

              • allymax bruce

                Well, no, dalai guevara, I didn’t. Look at my concomitant examples; ‘fracking’, ‘nuclear weapons’, ‘mass open-door immigration’, ‘Scottish waters fished to extinction’; these are all totally controlled by Westminster, at EU level. Scotland has no say what-so-ever on these issues. The very same as GMO will be allowed by Westminster to plant in Scotland; and we don’t want it !
                Only with Scottish Independence, can Scotland stop these horrors we don’t want in Scotland.
                And, if any body has made a ‘poor case’ of anything, it’s your argument as a reply/reposte; and I quote; “You just made a case *for* not leaving anything,” … Come on dude; what’s that supposed to be???

                • dalai guevara

                  Now that is much more clear – yet my response curiously remains the same.
                  You stated it yourself, again, just there – decisions affecting Scotland are made by Westminster via the EU. The EU does not decide, the EU gives us options, Westminster then decides.

                  Whichever way you turn, you made no case (again) for leaving anything at EU level, however you made a far better case for cancelling of the 1707 contract.

                • allymax bruce

                  If you say so, dalai guevara. But I protest.
                  As such, I’ll continue, pendantically, to show my point then.
                  I originally said you weren’t ‘talking gibberish’, because, the ‘Thesis / Anti-Thesis’ principle
                  fundamentally empowers EU ‘decision-making’ by Nation-States; “EU
                  protocols; force the EP party’s to accept they must decide on all EU
                  Nation-States ”correct behaviours’, and thus, you have an
                  all-encompassing EC Bureaucracy.” My point was that Cameron did have an interest in ‘reversing that relentless march’ (Lady Ding Dong), because of this, EP Party’s abrogating Nation-State governments. My perspective was in 2009 Cameron moved his MEp’s out of the EPP, to form a new EP, the ECR. Of which, I believe shows that he doesn’t agre with EP’s abrogating powers from Nation-State governments; especially ‘British’ Westminster.
                  Then, you asked me, “Which EU directives/protocols do you oppose. List five. List why.” Of which, I thought went slightly off tangent, but I accommodated the request anyway.
                  And, I did wiith concomitants.
                  You then said my example proves/shows a good reason for leaving the 1707 Treaty of Union, but still hadn’t shown/proved that you weren’t ‘talking gibberish’; that “I do not believe for one moment that Cameron has an interest in ‘reversing that relentless march’, … He has an interest in speeding it up” (dalai guerara). Again, as such, I proved ‘British’ Westminster, makes decisions for Scotland, that we Scots don’t want; used as ‘bargaining chips’ by Westminster at EU level, for the benefits and objectives of ‘britian’, not Scotland. Thus, EU, using Thesis / Anti-Thesis principles to empower themselves in EC by their EP Partys manipulating Nation-State governments; of which, ‘British’ Nation-State government uses Scotland’s resources to manipulate/bargain with, for ‘british’ objectives in EU. Of which, is the ‘British’ nation-State using Thesis / Anti-Thesis principle too.
                  Not ‘gibberish’.

                • dalai guevara

                  Allymax, thank you for your response. Yes, you are right and have added further clarity.
                  The simple question remains whether a region or nation feels or does not feel represented by its central government and whether that central government carries on only acting in a manner that suits its centralist agenda best.
                  Have the Bavarians got an issue with German federal government? Of course they do. Do they wish to leave the union? Of course they do not. Do the Occitan French loathe Paris? Of course they do. Do they wish to leave central government and arrondissemants behind? Of course they do not.

                  If you felt Westminster was not speaking for you in Europe then that has indeed little to do with internal British arrangements that matter here. They are merely an expression of internal lopsidedness.

                  It remains forever a circular argument as to whether you are (wo)men enough to demand the right of doing your own thing or whether that is in fact a fallacy as you actually are perfectly represented.
                  My hunch the Scots will demand more powers but not independence.

      • MrsDBliss
        • Denis_Cooper

          I’ve become totally disgusted with him.

          • colliemum

            Join the club!

          • Fred Smith

            Richard North found Hannan’s range years back when he dubbed hin The Judas Goat.

          • MrsDBliss

            According to his posts on that thread if you’re a UKIP voter he is with you. Apparently were all so abhorrent we’ve out him of the party!!?

        • dalai guevara

          I know, we are in correspondence

          • the viceroy’s gin

            …you and all your sockpuppets?

      • the viceroy’s gin

        …no, you’re not the only one of your army of sockpuppets talking impenetrable gibberish, laddie.

      • Wessex Man

        well you , Hooky babe and tele usually are but on this occasion you are not!

      • Conway

        For once I agree with you. Cameron is for the EU and its project of a USE. Any words he might spout to give the impression he’s EU sceptic are just that; words. They will never be translated into actions. Even if we voted out he wouldn’t want to let us leave.

        • dalai guevara

          The phrase ‘Eurosceptic’ is really really bad language as the convoluted meaning of the word is second only to the meaning of what people thought ‘climate change’ actually meant.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            …what does your sockpuppets caucus think it means, lad?

        • global city

          The whole bloody establishment, personified by the Tory party are fanatically devoted to gaining their permanent seats round the big EU table.

          To do this, of course, only means the theft of the peoples’ democracy and protection of common law, etc, but what do they care about such trifling things?

          This idea that if we get rid of Cameron and a few of his cameroons then the Tories would be eurosceptic…. it is a madness!

    • the viceroy’s gin

      The elected PM is standing up for the Londonistan banksters, and that is all. They’ll be more than happy for ever closer union, as long as they get paid. Merkel can cut them off, and they know it. This is their greatest fear, and the reason they send out Call Me Dave to give her whatever she wants.

  • Reconstruct

    There is absolutely no evidence that the EU institutions are capable of reform. Consider – their cupidity has actively reduced much of Southern Europe to poverty, and in two cases (Greece and Italy) directly undermined democracy.

    This is their demonstrated behaviour. You have to be an absolute idiot to believe they are capable of reform, Merkel or no Merkel.

    • telemachus

      Merkel needs fiscal Eurozone discipline and control
      That needs Treaty change
      For that she will have to pay Cameron
      Forget the Commission Presidency

      • allymax bruce

        So, you do accept The Lisbon Treaty must be changed !
        Thanks for your Labour Party cockup!

        • telemachus

          We are where we are
          The power politics dictate the need for Merkel to act
          The UK must be ready

          • allymax bruce

            “We are where we are”
            But that’s a reductionist argument; it’s like saying, ‘Yes, I know the Labour Party Crashed the economy 6 years ago, but you must still trust me with your money, jobs, & futures; because I’m a politician.’
            That’s totally ridiculous. Even for a Labour Party member !
            Do yoos guys at Labour Party HQ not understand how far ‘gone’ you are ?

            • telemachus

              Lehman Allymax
              Remember it was a grat Socialist Scot that rescued the world’s banks after this

              • Wessex Man

                That stupid comment is another reason why you are such a slimy liar.

              • allymax bruce

                Gordon Brown is not a Socialist; by using your example of ‘saving the banks’, it proves Brown is a Capitalist. But, moreover, ‘saving the banks’, at the cost to The People actually makes Gordon Brown a Marxist Communist Capitalist !

                Telemachus, I’m happy to discuss politics, political philosophy, and political theory with you on this forum, because you are not hysterically aggressive towards other commentors on this forum. I kind of admire your will to survive this forum when it coalesces against you. However, your ‘comrades’ do you no favours. Using your exemplar Grodon Brown; he stated a few years ago he would put ‘tanks on the streets’ to stop Scottish people voting for Scottish Independence. Now he’s saying (Scotchman) that ‘the vitriol must stop” ! Your more-moral-than-thee protagonist, is your own hypocrite immoral antagonist !

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  No, you dummy, socialism is bailing out the banks, which are now government-run, a cornerstone of socialism.

                  You dummy.

                  And communism is socialism. You dummy.

                • allymax bruce

                  Yep ! It’s good to have you back !
                  I’m gonna enjoy this.
                  Socialism, per-se, is a transitional dialectical paradigm, that continues in its ability to be defined, only against its fundamental alternatives, era-dependent, of which, is Capitalism, today. For example, 21st century Socialism, is not the same ‘type’ of socialism, we had in 1917; of which, was different in 1949, and different agian today in 2014. The very same as capitalism; they both have the basic fundamental imperatives, that define them, but both are absolutely at the mercy of dialectical transitional movement.
                  You dummy !
                  Communism is a product of Socialism; on a degree of Socialism.
                  G-string, I like it when you get all clever n’ that.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  The only thing you seem to enjoy is ranting about the Jews, lad.

                  Oh, and again, socialism is bailing out the banks, you dummy.

                  Your jocko buddy the Broun is a socialist, then, you dummy .

          • Denis_Cooper

            Yes, the UK must be ready to give Merkel whatever she wants and ask for nothing in return, just as Cameron did last time.

            The Tory MP Mark Reckless, addressing Cameron in the Commons on October 24th 2011:

            “The Prime Minister tells The Daily Telegraph today that we should use any treaty change to shore up the euro to get powers over employment and social policy back, yet on 25 March, he agreed to precisely such a treaty change, but did
            not ask for anything in return.”

            That was the EU treaty change that Telegraph readers were never told about, with comments about it silently vaporised again and again, the one that Merkel demanded in the late
            summer of 2010 and that Cameron supinely agreed to give
            her free gratis and for nothing, the one which could have
            been that expected “golden opportunity” to repatriate powers that the Tories liked to talk about to string people along for a bit longer, the one which of course did not get put to a referendum in this country because the fiercely eurosceptic Hague used fine print in his new “referendum lock” law to block a referendum.

            • telemachus

              Things are different now
              Merkel is desperately worried about deflation
              She will conced social issues for the financial issues

              • Denis_Cooper

                She was desperately worried last time.

              • Fred Smith

                Merkel has influence, particularly when it comes to further integration.

                She certainly doesn’t have the say so to approve the sort of fundamental changes Cameron sort of suggests he wants; abandoning the call to Ever Closer Union and Free Movement of People, which strike at the very heart of what the EU is about.

                What I see happening is Cameron trying to sell a Wilson. No fundamental change, but a few worthless gestures built up as a big deal. Wilson didn’t achieve treaty change.

                Articles like this which deal in the petty skirmishing about inconsequential things are a diversion from the near impossibility of reforming the EU into the thing Cameron suggests he wants, without saying much about it.

                • telemachus

                  Let me make it clear
                  I do not support the reforms that Cameron wants
                  But he will get enough to see off his right wing
                  And perish the thought he is ever in the position to deliver a referendum, win an in vote

                • Fred Smith

                  He doesn’t want them. He can’t say clearly what they are anyway apart from vague hints. Repatriation of powers seems to have submerged from view. He can’t explain how the mechanisms of the EU would be used to achieve them, and the deadline of 2017 for a referendum is ludicrously short. He’s said in advance, without knowing what the results are, that he’d support an in vote.

                  He’s clearly banking on doing a Wilson – selling nothing as a lot – that’s if he wins the GE.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  …which he won’t.

                • Wessex Man

                  you should just shut up you slimy liar, you are not fit to comment.

          • Wessex Man

            We are where we are, Brown snuck in like a spy to to sign it and should be held criminally responsible!

      • Denis_Cooper

        “Merkel needs fiscal Eurozone discipline and control
        That needs Treaty change
        For that she will have to pay Cameron”

        She didn’t have to pay him last time she wanted a treaty change.

        • telemachus

          The stakes are high
          1. Merkel wants fiscal control
          2. Merkel needs the UK in (she needs a stick with which to threaten France
          3. She cannot have the UK and the fiscal control without treaty change
          4. That needs concessions to the Uk

          • Denis_Cooper

            I repeat, it didn’t need concessions to the UK the last time
            she demanded and got an EU treaty change, she made
            her wishes known and the other EU leaders complied, including Cameron.

            From October 2010:


            “European leaders have given way to German demands for a change to the European treaties, but the procedure for the change and its size has been calculated explicitly to avoid the danger that it could provoke referendums in some EU states.

            In a significant victory for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, early on Friday (29 October), EU prime ministers and presidents backed “a limited treaty change” to deliver tighter fiscal discipline and allow for the creation of a permanent bail-out fund for members of the eurozone.

            European Council President Herman Van Rompuy is to explore the details of how this will be achieved and what language should be used in the change. He will report back to EU leaders with his conclusions in December.

            Viritually all EU member states had vehemently opposed any treaty change going into the summit, but in the end they were convinced by Germany’s need for the change in order to avoid a legal clash with its Karlsruhe-based Constitutional Court.”

            • telemachus

              We are not now in desperate times of financial collapse
              Believe me she needs treaty change
              And for that needs the UK

              • Denis_Cooper

                Believe you?

                I’m not completely stupid, you know.

      • Wessex Man

        Shut up you slimy liar.

  • Mike Oddpiece

    The worse the chances for reform the better the chances we have to leave. So I’m happy about this

    • telemachus

      Do not be Cameron is going to give us meaningful changes

      • wycombewanderer

        In which case you’d better vote for him next year because you’ll get no reform from Miliband.

        • telemachus

          Nor will you get a referendum that requires reform

          • Andy

            We wont get a referendum from the Fascist Labour Party of that we can be quite sure.

  • The_Missing_Think

    More ‘wrong vote’ bad news, for the Tories here as well:

    “… voted to have their 17 members in the European Parliament join UKIP in the Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD) group.”

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