Parking the British bus on the European Union road
So, it really was the Lionel Richie shift. All night long. I am a bleary eyed zombie, in a room full of bleary eyed zombies.
Everyone’s conversation starter is how little sleep they’ve had in the last 24 hours. I managed one hour five minutes. And I am grateful for that five minutes.
Tom sitting opposite, a producer for Sky, managed a glorious 90 minutes. Geoff, a veteran British reporter based here in Brussels, has Tom and me both in the lily livered category. He never stopped. And he is still going strong.
So having gone to bed at 0215 UK time, the 5 live night team woke me up at 0320.
And what a story to get up to. David Cameron blows a raspberry at pretty much everyone else around the table, by rejecting a European Union wide treaty change to try to deal with the Eurozone crisis. Almost all the other members of the EU say they’re up for it, and in so doing are likely to be throwing quite a bit of their sovereignty lot into the Brussels pot.
So the news conferences began. And along came one of those moments that could only ever happen in Brussels. It’s half four in the morning, and one of this city’s many presidents, Herman Van Rompuy, who chairs the Summits as the President of what’s known as the European Council, is taking questions from reporters. From the floor came a question that included the ludicrous phrase “a staged approach to common debt issuance.”
In terms the rest of us can get our heads around, this is what we got overnight. David Cameron concluded that what was on offer was a “new round of integration” as he put it, and would involve “surrenders of sovereignty.” He didn’t fancy either, worried what it could mean for the City of London, and so said “no.” It’s not that the Prime Minister has secured bringing powers back to Westminster. He’s parked the British bus on the European Union road, but he’s not reversing. The German and French jalopies, and plenty more too, trundle on, destination further integration.
This is, potentially, a seismic shift in the UK’s relationship with the European Union. The former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt has just told me David Cameron’s decision was “not very intelligent” and “inconsistent.” For others, including many Conservative backbenchers, and, according to opinion polls, a sizeable proportion of the British electorate, it’s been a long time coming.
What do you think?
Chris Mason is 5live's Political Reporter. You can follow Chris on Twitter - @ChrisMasonBBC.