Before today’s awful events in Paris, the meeting between David Cameron and Angela Merkel was going to be the big news of the day. The German Chancellor does not always observe the usual rules of neutrality when it comes to foreign elections. In 2012, she endorsed Nicolas Sarkozy in a joint TV interview, declaring that it was ‘natural’ to back a fellow Conservative.
Now, there was no indication that Merkel was going to offer Cameron similar backing today. But senior Tories were keen to talk up what they were calling ‘das snub’, the fact that Merkel is not meeting with Miliband. (It is also worth remembering that in 2012, Miliband was busy attacking Cameron, Sarkozy and Merkel with his warnings about Camerkozy economics).
Officially, Cameron and Merkel are meeting to discuss Germany’s priorities for its presidency of the G7. But her words at today’s press conference will be carefully parsed to see if she is giving any hints about which aspects of Cameron’s renegotiation agenda she will back. Indeed, Cameron’s whole renegotiation strategy is heavily dependent on Merkel throwing her diplomatic weight behind it. Her explicit backing for the policies that Cameron announced in his immigration speech at the end of last year would certainly be a fillip for Number 10.