What does David Cameron mean when he says, as he did today, that he’s happy to wait a bit longer for a deal in his renegotiation of Britain’s relationship with the European Union? The Prime Minister told the Davos summit today that ‘if there isn’t the right deal, I’m not in a hurry’ and that ‘it’s much more important to get this right than to rush it’.
The expectation in Westminster has been that Cameron would get a deal at the European Council summit in February, but the Prime Minister has been dropping hints that he is prepared to let the timetable slip at the same time that his colleagues are saying privately that they are confident of a deal. He is in less of a hurry than some of his colleagues in government to get the deal done and dusted, but Cameron still doesn’t want to spend too long banging on about Europe.
What is probably going on here is that the Prime Minister doesn’t want to suggest to European leaders that he’s in such a rush that he’ll take anything, given the deal isn’t yet agreed. And he also doesn’t want to build expectations so high for the summit that anything he does emerge with, even an agreement in principle, looks like a disappointment.