EU priorities vs Dave’s priorities
This is becoming a car crash that will have interesting implication for how we vote in the 2015 general Election.
French President Francois Hollande described … Mr Cameron’s demands for EU treaty changes by 2017, as a prelude to a referendum on the UK’s membership, as “not a priority for the time being”.
BBC News Website: 31 January 2014 Cameron and Hollande differ over reforms to EU
So how will this play out?
Cameron (if re-elected as leader of a majority government) is promising an in/out referendum in 2017 irrespective of anything else.
Hollande has little interest in negotiating anything – perhaps he has his own elections around 2017 concentrating his mind?
Merkel is also trying to manage a grand coalition and is unlikely to want to open up European Treaties for renegotiation – other than possibly for “ever-closer union” to get control over the Euro-zone.
“An in/out referendum will happen if I win the next election” (Cameron on BBC News Channel 31 January 2014).
So my guess is that if Cameron is elected he will try to negotiate something and achieve nothing. However he has painted himself into a corner promising this referendum come hell or high water.
- he is thoroughly distracted for the first two years of the next government on a fruitless attempt to get a change, any change that he can claim is substantial. Or:
- he gives up with possibly only minor cosmetic changes.
Neither option is particularly attractive.
We are being told by Osborne that the next government must continue to concentrate on fixing the economy, so we do not want a distracted Prime Minister and noises off as he attempts to negotiate the un-negotiatable with people not interested in negotiating. Throughout this he is going to be egged on by a near-rabid press and “supported” by about 100 Conservatives who are basically anti-European.
If Cameron gets only cosmetic changes he will be flayed alive by those 100 “supporters” and attacked by the rabid press. In short it will be curtains for him – and I think he knows it.
I have written before how this debate has been cast such that the referendum will not be:
- Looking at Costs and Benefits (as renegotiated) should we stay in the EU?
But will be:
- Has Cameron got enough out of the Europeans to justify his continued Prime Ministership (and our continuing membership of the EU)?
The debate will be on the quality of Cameron’s renegotiation and it does not look as if he can get a personally successful result.
Now there are sections of the press and of the Conservative Party that would be very happy to see Cameron fail – it would be a “two for one” result:
- Get rid of that revolting pinko Cameron and get a proper Conservative Leader
- Get a referendum that will inevitably lead to exit from the EU.
The nonsense of the Referendum Bill (that “failed” today in the House of Lords) shows the true agenda of the Euro-phobes. Watching the debate in the Lords I was struck by how opposers of the Bill were constant highlighting how the bill was painting the Prime Minister into a corner which made meaningful negotiation almost impossible.
So come the next general election:
- If you want a (messy) EU exit – vote Conservative
- If you want a (relatively clean) EU Exit – vote UKIP (they won’t waste time on fruitless renegotiating)
- If you do not want a Government distracted from the real business of government – don’t vote Conservative.