Many Spectator subscribers, picking up today’s newspapers, will be a bit puzzled. Is it news that David Cameron has come round to the idea of an EU referendum? Haven’t they read that somewhere before? This sensation is called Déjà Lu, and it I’m afraid afflicts all Spectator subscribers. Cameron’s decision to change his position on the EU was revealed by James Forsyth back in May. As so often, his weekly political column gave real-time updates of the No10’s decision-making process as it happened. He wrote then: 

‘A referendum on Europe is the obvious answer. It is one the leadership seems set to embrace. The popularity of Cameron’s EU veto made his circle realise how much of a political asset Euroscepticism could be, if used in the right way. There is also concern in No. 10 that if the Tories don’t offer the public a vote, Labour will.


One source intimately involved in Tory electoral strategy told me recently that a referendum in the next manifesto was ‘basically a certainty’. The only debate now was about what ‘sequencing’ the manifesto should propose: renegotiate Britain’s membership of the European Union and then hold a referendum on the result, or hold a referendum asking for permission to go to Brussels and renegotiate.


My understanding is that, at the moment, the favoured option is to propose renegotiation, followed by a referendum on the new arrangements within 18 months. During the campaign, the Tories would argue for staying in if new terms could be agreed but leaving if the rest of Europe refused to play ball.’ 

Cameron has now confirmed all of this in all a powerful piece in the Sunday Telegraph, next to an even stronger one by Liam Fox. But still, James’s now-six-week-old column offers a deeper insight into what’s happening that even the Prime Minister was able to disclose. In this digital age, you can get a lot for free. But the type on insight that James brings in his column gives Spectator subscribers advance notice of political news. It brings them in the loop. His inside dope is just one reason to sign up and take The Spectator every week. The best books and arts coverage comes as standard. As do columnists of the outstanding caliber of Charles Moore, Rod Liddle and Matthew Parris to name but three. For those CoffeeHousers who aren’t full subscribers, do give us a try. At our introductory offer of just £1 per week, it’s the best value in Britain. Click here for more information.

Tags: David Cameron, Downing Street, EU referendum, Europe, Spectator