Cameron’s Miserable performance over Europe

14th January, 2013 3:56 pm

It’s here. The moment we’ve all been waiting for. After months of teasers and trailers in the print and broadcast media, we can now see the full show.

But that’s enough about Les Miserables. Next week David Cameron gives his much hyped speech on Europe.

Cameron thinks he is master of the house and can dictate terms to Europe’s 26 other leaders (soon to be 27), but is he dreaming a dream?

It can’t be an easy job being David Cameron. He’s got eurosceptics behind him, europhobes to the right and he’s stuck in the Cabinet with Eric Pickles. No doubt he wishes he could escape to a castle on a cloud.

Despite all the hype and attention, Cameron has said remarkably little. As he head for the confrontation there are five key questions he needs to answer:

Exactly which powers does he wish to repatriate?
Cameron has been suspiciously vague on this, but some of his backbenchers offer a glimpse of what we might expect. We hear vague references to pulling out of the Social Chapter and specific calls for an opt out of the Working Time Directive. Both would be hugely damaging to millions of workers up and down this country. Currently the Tories can claim public support for some repatriation. I suspect that if workers realised exactly what that means to their jobs, pay and conditions, that support will plummet.

What other elements of our relationship does he wish to change?
Cameron also talks about distancing Britain from other parts of the European Union and a number of his backbenchers have mentioned trade and foreign affairs. The European Commission negotiates trade deals on behalf of EU Member States which have made a significant contribution to EU GDP. The proposed EU-US trade deal alone could add 2% to Europe’s GDP. Does Cameron seriously think the US or others would be interested in such deals with the UK alone were we to leave the world’s largest single market? As for foreign affairs, the Obama administration made clear its view last week when it said that the special relationship depends on a United Kingdom at the heart of Europe. Our voice on the world stage is strengthened by our position in the EU.

When does he plan to hold a referendum?
It is pretty clear that Cameron plans to promise a referendum. I doubt this will do much good with either his backbenchers or his voters, after all he’s promised it before. Nonetheless he must be clear when he plans to hold such a referendum. It is widely believed to be in the next Parliament, but this assumes other EU leaders decide to introduce the treaty changes he relies on as his bargaining chip. Europe doesn’t do anything quickly and now the worst of the crisis seems to be over a new mood of complacency has returned to Europe’s capitals. What if treaty change is put off for the foreseeable future? Will Cameron hold a referendum anyway on our current terms? What if the crisis flares up again, will he hold a referendum in the middle of economic chaos across the continent?

What happens if other leaders say no?
This is the million euro question that no one on the Tory benches seems able or willing to answer. I find it extremely unlikely that Hollande, Merkel or even close Cameron allies such as Mark Rutte in the Netherlands will be remotely inclined to agree to British demands to extricate itself from the responsibilities of the single market while continuing to reap the benefits. Will he hold a referendum anyway? Will he pull us out?

How does he plan to reassure businesses worried about investing in the UK?
While all this is going on over the next few years, businesses are expressing private – and increasingly public – concerns about what this might mean for their future in Britain. 3 million British jobs depend on our membership of the European Union. We have a thriving car manufacturing industry based here because of our access to a single market of 500,000 consumers. Will General Motors be so keen to build their new Astra at the Vauxhall plant in Ellesmere Port in my region if we’re no longer a member of the EU? 2,800 jobs at the plant and thousands in the supply chain would be under threat.

Eric Pickles said something that no doubt Hollande and Merkel would agree with – Britain’s continued membership of the EU won’t come at any price. At the end of the day Cameron may find himself on his own surrounded by empty chairs at empty tables.

  • David B

    What is the Labour parties stance, stay in as we are, get full in and join the Euro as is being suggest by a number of the pro Europeans in all three parties, renegotiate terms of membership with no further integration (or deeper integration) or have a big group hug and hope everyone will agree with Ed.

    Europe is a big problem in both Labour and Conservatives, while the Lib Dems try and hide their true feelings (look at the in/out referendum pledge in the last manifesto), but the public have lost confidence in politicians ability to deal with Europe (in all parties) and this will become a creeping issue that will have to be addressed by all the parties
    eventually

  • http://twitter.com/christof_ff christof_ff

    Good piece, but I wonder – how many Britons (other than those actually attending the summits & state banquets) really give a stuff about Britain’s ‘place in the world’?
    Am I a rarity in that I don’t really care?

  • postageincluded

    This performance is going to be as succesful as as magician showing his audience the rabbit up his sleeve before he pretends to pull it out of his hat.

  • uglyfatbloke

    Why should n’t he be crap,on Europe – he’s crap on everything else.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Graeme-Hancocks/1156294498 Graeme Hancocks

    “500,000 consumers”? Think some zeros missing. More like 500,000,000. Otherwise good article…totally agree.

  • Pingback: Cameron's Miserable performance over Europe()

Latest

  • News Balls pledges Business rate cut for 1.5 million small businesses in first budget

    Balls pledges Business rate cut for 1.5 million small businesses in first budget

    Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls will say today that Labour’s first Budget will cut business rates for 1.5 million small business properties – and then freeze them the following year – as part of the party’s “Better Plan for Small Businesses”. Labour claims that will save the average business around £400, and will be funded by scrapping another cut in corporation tax for large firms. Unveiling the pledge tomorrow, Balls will say: “Every large business started off as a small business and […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Europe Steering TTIP in the right direction: Labour’s plan in the European Parliament put into action

    Steering TTIP in the right direction: Labour’s plan in the European Parliament put into action

    While EU Trade Chiefs acknowledged that negotiations for the massive EU-US trade deal would take longer than anticipated, Labour Members of the European Parliament have put their plan into motion to ensure that no deal will be concluded unless public concerns are properly addressed. TTIP, as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is know, would be the largest ever bilateral trade deal. It could affect not only traditional international trade instruments, such as tariffs and quotas, but also domestic rules […]

    Read more →
  • News Weekly Survey: London Mayor, campaigning and debates

    Weekly Survey: London Mayor, campaigning and debates

    After last week’s “Battle For Number 10″ on Channel 4 and Sky (which we covered with a liveblog and post-interview analysis), this coming Thursday sees a proper debate between the leaders of seven political parties. Last week’s was close, with polls showing Cameron coming out.on top but Miliband confounding expectations. Other than the Labour leader, which one of the remaining six on stage do you think will come out best from this week’s debate? It’s often claimed that Labour’s strong […]

    Read more →
  • News Hunt says Labour would get rid of Ofsted’s “avalanche of bureaucracy” in favour of peer review system

    Hunt says Labour would get rid of Ofsted’s “avalanche of bureaucracy” in favour of peer review system

    Tristram Hunt, Shadow Education Secretary, has said that Labour would replace Osted’s“avalanche of bureaucracy” with a peer review system. Hunt made this announcement at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers annual conference where he praised Ofsted but also recognised the limitations of an education system reliant on the kind of inspection system that currently exists: “There can be no doubt in my mind that Ofsted has been an extraordinarily progressive force for improving this country’s educational outcomes and spreading equal […]

    Read more →
  • News Polling Labour take 14 point lead in London

    Labour take 14 point lead in London

    On Friday we reported that in the latest Guardian/ICM poll, Labour had surged to a 10 point lead in London. Now a poll done by ComRes for ITV News has put Labour even further ahead in London, on 46% to the Tories’ 32%. This 14 point lead is the product of a 6 point swing from the Conservatives to Labour since 2010. It could mean that Labour will win some key marginal seats off the Tories, such as Ealing Central […]

    Read more →
Share with your friends










Submit