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Why a summit in the pub with Hollande is the last thing Cameron needs today

31 January 2014

9:01 AM

31 January 2014

9:01 AM

After the week he’s had in the Commons, no-one would blame David Cameron for heading for the pub today. Unfortunately, he’s got François Hollande in tow as he pitches up at a pub in his constituency, and the pair are supposed to be discussing European reform over the pork scratchings.

This isn’t great timing, frankly. The rebellious mood of the Tory party is in part down to a desire from backbenchers for more details of Cameron’s European renegotiation plan – and signs that he’s going to get what he wants too.

A summit with another norther European country might yield more positive noises on this, as Cameron does have allies on the notion of European reform (although not the sort of reform to Britain’s relationship with the EU that his backbenchers want). But France isn’t one of them, and though the Prime Minister will tell the President that the EU needs to be ‘more flexible’, sources close to Hollande have already said this isn’t going to go anywhere.

Incidentally, as part of the fallout from yesterday’s vote, some eurosceptic backbenchers are even more aerated to learn that Dominic Grieve may have been forced to resign had the Raab clause passed (this is an old warning from the whips that was initially applied to the Mills amendment and may simply demonstrate how hopelessly desperate they were). One mutters: ‘This would have been all the more reason to support it.’

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