Yesterday, David Cameron was all talk of ensuring peace in our time and preventing world war three by staying in the EU. But today, as the EU debate rumbles on, he’ll have come crashing back to earth after reading the front page of The Sun. The paper quotes Iain Duncan Smith as saying that Germany was secretly in control of David Cameron’s EU renegotiation throughout. The former Work and Pensions secretary, who quit the cabinet in February, is set to add in a speech this morning that:
“There was a spare chair for them – called the German Chair. They have had a de facto veto over everything.”
IDS goes on to make a fairly explosive claim, suggesting that the ‘red line’ demand for an emergency brake was watered down following intervention from Berlin. He claims that this happened just hours before Cameron set out his EU demands in a speech back in November 2014. Downing Street has responded by saying the emergency brake was dropped because ‘it was not the most effective way forward’.
Make of that what you will. What does seem clear is that these claims are damaging for the remain campaign. Whilst it’s not surprising that allies such as Germany and the UK would work together in these sort of negotiations, what makes the suggestion of Germany’s influence toxic is the way in which the renegotiations won by the Prime Minister have been entirely sidelined by the Government. After striking the deal back in February, David Cameron said the UK would be guaranteed ‘special status’. But since then, despite almost relentless campaigning about every part of the EU question, we’ve heard next to nothing about the renegotiation package itself.
Because of that silence, whether Iain Duncan Smith’s claims are exaggerated or not, it seems that there is certainly some embarrassment from the Government over their EU deal. And by ignoring the deal won in Brussels, David Cameron is giving credence to the view that the renegotiation isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, whether or not Merkel did help to water it down.