Coffee House

Cameron hints EU renegotiation timetable could slip again if necessary

7 January 2016

6:07 PM

7 January 2016

6:07 PM

Could David Cameron have to delay his European renegotiation still further? In his press conference today with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, the Tory leader said that ‘if it takes longer to make an agreement then obviously what matters to me is the substance rather than the timing’.

Cameron and his senior colleagues had been confident of reaching an agreement on Britain’s new relationship with Europe at February’s European Council summit, but it may be that it is not finally signed off before the March meeting of EU leaders. This would push the referendum back to at least July, which is a difficult month because of Scottish school holidays.

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The reason Cameron was talking about the importance of substance over timing today is that though Orban and other leaders have made repeated noises about their desire to help Britain, they have also made clear that they are not particularly keen on the Prime Minister’s proposals to ban migrants from receiving benefits for the first four years of working in the UK. Orban said today that there would be a ‘solution that is going to be suitable for the Hungarian employees’, but that the current proposals were ‘difficult’. His remarks about not regarding Hungarians coming to the UK as ‘parasites’ have received the most attention, but the impact of his comments on the general timetable of the renegotiation is important too.

This benefits fight is only useful to Cameron in that it gives the impression that he’s had to push hard for changes to Britain’s relationship – and that is only useful if he wins the fight.

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  • paul

    Cameron is a lying TURD over Europe just like Osborne over the Economy !!

  • Mynydd

    “COFFEE HOUSE
    “Cameron hints EU renegotiation timetable could slip again if necessary” Do the Spectator/Hardman not understand the timetable is out of his hands.
    If and when the other twenty seven heads of state come to some sort of agreement they then have to go back to their own parliament to ratify the changes. I don’t know the procedure in each country for this, maybe some may have to hold a referendum, some may outright reject the proposals, some may request changes. Who knows what will happen, I am certain Mr Cameron doesn’t.

  • ian wragg

    We are going to be offered Associate Membership rebranded as the English Model as laid out by the 5 Presidents. This means complete economic and political integration only a few months later.
    Lisbon Treaty makes it quite clear that all EU member states will be in the Euro by 2020.

  • Denis_Cooper

    “This would push the referendum back to at least July, which is a difficult month because
    of Scottish school holidays.”

    Oh, so it’s all going to revolve around Scottish school holidays, then. What about Ramadan,
    maybe you should take that into account as well. We don’t want a section of the electorate
    making the wrong decision because their blood glucose levels are too low, do we.

    My view is that the referendum polling date can’t be any time in June without the campaign overlapping with those for the May elections, and once you get beyond June you are beginning
    to get into the summer holiday period and so it would probably have to be October.

    • Mongo

      it would be against the law to hold it before October anyway so it’s a completely moot point

  • Denis_Cooper

    I don’t think there are that many Hungarians in the UK anyway, compared to Poles and assorted other Eastern Europeans.

  • The Bellman

    Transparent cockwaffle, highlighting only how little interest Cameron has in actually changing the terms of our relationship. And seriously: Scottish school holidays make a referendum difficult. Anyone for monkey tennis?

  • aristophanes

    Fraser Nelson in the DT –

    ‘Those who speak to the Prime Minister in private are left in no doubt that he is not waiting for the result of his renegotiation. He has made up his mind to stay, and is letting the secret slip.

    Which is a shame, because it rather weakens his negotiating hand in Brussels. It may well be that he triumphs, and secures a lighter-regulation regime for Britain alongside his manifesto pledge to withhold benefits to immigrants for four years. But given that he has decided to accept whatever the EU gives him, such a prize is unlikely. As they say in Brussels: if you aim at nothing, you usually hit it.’

  • Mynydd

    This is not knew, he said the same in his statement last Tuesday. Maybe the way he waffled on the Spectator/Hardman could well have been asleep by then.

  • Mongo

    “This would push the referendum back to at least July, which is a difficult month because of Scottish school holidays.”

    presumably Isabel doesn’t read the comments under her articles, because as some of us keep pointing out, a referendum before at least October 2016 is an impossibility due to the EC’s restrictions

    so why keep pretending that June/July might happen?

  • Conway

    “… the Tory leader said that ‘if it takes longer to make an agreement then obviously what matters to me is the substance rather than the timing that I manage to con the British people into staying in’.”

    • HammyTheHamster

      He is precisely stating that he wants an actual agreement (substance) rather than a “promise” of one so that the in/out referendum can be a proper debate about value rather than whether or not people trust the “promise”.
      That is in no way a con attempt, the con would be if he rushed the referendum without getting the renegotiation signed first only to find that EU leaders won’t sign it after.

      • CharlietheChump

        But he will only ever get a “promise” because he’s given the game away and they know he wants Remain so they’ll give him nowt.

        • HammyTheHamster

          He may well want to stay but he and other EU members know full well that DC doesn’t count as 30 million votes in the referendum. He will need to convince people to side with stay which means he needs 2 things:

          1 – An agreement which is signed and cannot be backed out of.
          2 – An agreement which is substantial enough to convince people who are in EU middle ground between stay and leave to side with stay.

          Those are what he’s after, if the referendum comes before the treaty is signed then it’s a total waste of time as he has nothing to show for his renegotiation efforts.

          As to whether the changes are big enough to convince people to vote stay: Cameron knows he isn’t going to get an agreement to satisfy the UKIP voters, they made their minds up long ago to vote leave no matter what (along with plenty of others who didn’t vote for UKIP). But for on-the-fence voters I suspect that a 4-year benefit block would be pretty significant, even if it is the proof that the EU can be negotiated with rather than the change itself.

          • HammyTheHamster

            My point being – in case it wasn’t clear – that if they do give him “nowt” people WILL vote leave in the referendum, something that neither Cameron nor the EU in general wants.

            • Mynydd

              My point being – why should the other twenty seven nations give Mr Cameron anything.

              • HammyTheHamster

                No reason at all unless they want Britain to vote to remain part of the EU (which they do).
                If the renegotiation produces literally nothing then a leave result would be very likely. Cameron certainly wouldn’t be able to campaign to stay with any conviction.

        • Mynydd

          I was on a promise, then the wife had a headache. Do you think Mr Cameron will come back with a promise from a pig’s head.

          • CharlietheChump

            If you rely on Dave get a good divorce lawyer.

            Leave.

    • CharlietheChump

      Embarrassingly poor, Dave.

  • Terry Field

    Isabel is clearly under-employed – this ‘announcement is hardly worth a note.

    • aristophanes

      She’s the darling of CCHQ probably.

    • Mynydd

      It came through on a action this day ‘position to take’ email from Tory HQ.

  • Andrew Finn

    That’s it Cameron, get the begging bowl out for your pitiful demands.

    This is beyond a national embarrassment.

  • James Chilton

    Cameron’s “renegotiations” are a sham which, despite the assistance of misinformation in the EU friendly media, he’s finding it increasingly difficult to disguise.

    • telemachus

      The boy is doing fine

      • WFC

        Which boy?

        • telemachus

          On this issue alone
          Cameron has just the right pitch

          • aristophanes

            As they say in Brussels: if you aim at nothing, you usually hit it.

          • CharlietheChump

            Ed would have done better though, remember?

      • Mynydd

        Boy being the operative word.

  • fred finger

    This is the next bit of bad news they want covered up. The inescapable truth is; DO NOT expect the media to tell you honestly what is going on.

  • alabenn

    Mass sexual assaults across Europe will have more to do with it, the benefits story is a minor detail.
    Benefits could be solved internally, just extend the parents NI contribution payments to their children, coverage up till the age of 25, backdated, that would stop all claims current and future.

    • WFC

      The issue isn’t about unemployment benefits – they don’t come over here merely to scrounge.

      The issue is about “in work benefits” – ie tax credits.

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