We are only days away from seeing Donald Tusk’s proposed text for the UK/EU deal. The President of the European Council is expected to circulate a draft early next week following his Sunday night supper with David Cameron.
But, as I write in The Sun this morning, Downing Street is keen to stress that the publication of this draft doesn’t mean that the renegotiation is over. They are adamant that Cameron will have a chance to toughen up the terms at the European Council on February the 18th.
Cameron’s problem is that he would like a deal at the February Council, so that he can have a referendum in June. But the more EU leaders think he wants a quick deal, the less they will be inclined to give him. This is why Cameron is now trying to emphasise that he isn’t dashing for a deal.
Another factor at play is that the migration crisis is threatening to push the UK renegotiation down the agenda for next month’s council.
With the Out campaign in crisis, one can see why a June referendum, and getting this whole business done with, is so appealing to some around Cameron. But rushing for a deal would be extremely risky. Cameron is going to need something better than the benefits emergency brake currently being pushed by the European Commission if he is to be confident of a truly decisive result in this referendum.