In the Jewish joke a matchmaker calls on a poor tailor living in a Tsarist shtetl in the middle of nowhere. He tells the old guy that he wants to arrange the marriage of his middle daughter to the heir to the Rothschild fortune, no less.

The tailor isn’t impressed. He cannot marry off his middle daughter until he has married off her older sister, he says. He does not want his beloved girl to move far from him, and everyone knows the Rothschilds live in Paris and London. In any case, he is not sure about this Rothschild fellow: he has heard he is irreligious and a drunk.

The matchmaker answers all the objections with great patience until, eventually, the tailor relents.

‘Excellent,’ says the matchmaker, ‘now all I have to do is talk to the Rothschilds.’*

David Cameron came to power determined to keep quiet about the European Union. William Hague warned him that it was a bomb that could explode in his face and destroy his government. But the Conservative Party would not listen. It told Cameron he had the power to tear up treaties and renegotiate Britain’s obligations. It answered every objection the prime minister could think of until – at last – Cameron relented and agreed to a policy he once thought impossible.

‘Excellent,’ said the Tories, ‘now all you have to do is talk to the EU.’

*As told in Masha’s Gessen’s chilling portrait of Putin The Man Without a Face.

Tags: Conservatives, David Cameron, Europe, William Hague