Europe - Why Cameron's speech is proving so hard to write

 

It is a year since the prime minister found himself isolated in Europe at a summit determining the EU's future. It is six months since he signalled that he might be open to a referendum on Britain's relationship with the Europe. Yet David Cameron has still to fix a date let alone finalise the text of a long promised speech spelling out his European policy.

I understand the PM held a meeting with the foreign secretary and the chancellor on Monday to agree the content of a speech which will see him walking a political and diplomatic tightrope.

Another meeting may follow on Tuesday. David Cameron's aim is to satisfy those in his own party, as well as those who have defected to UKIP, that they will get the meaningful vote on Europe they have long craved for while reassuring the leaders of both other countries and multi-national companies that this will not represent the first step on a road taking Britain out of the EU.

Senior Tories have little doubt about what the core message will be - a promise to hold a referendum after negotiations in which Britain would attempt to secure a new looser relationship with the EU. In other words, not an IN/OUT vote on Britain's EU membership on current terms but on new terms when/if they can be agreed.

One reason for the agonising over this speech has been what one source calls "getting the diplomacy right" ie ensuring that potential allies in Europe - the Germans, Dutch and the Swedes who have, so far, backed Britain's call for a freeze in the EU Budget - are clear that Mr Cameron is not capitulating to those who want Britain out of Europe.

He needs them in future negotiations not just on the budget but also on reforms of EU banking rules.

Another problem is what some ministers call "the Honda problem" - the risk that multinational companies put further investment in Britain on hold while they wait to see if the country will stay in or get out of Europe. Many voters see the EU as the cause of our economic problems. It would be politically disastrous for the Conservatives if their approach to the EU seems to make our economic prospects worse.

There is diplomacy to be done at home as well as abroad with Tory Eurosceptics who will question the worth of a referendum promise without a date attached and who will demand to know what the prime minister would do if he cannot get his way in negotiations.

The former Defence Secretary Liam Fox has been clear about this - he would be prepared to see Britain get out.

What's more there is the question of how this speech will affect the coalition. Most expect a referendum to be a Tory manifesto promise enacted some years hence.

However, it is possible that Germany's Chancellor Merkel - if she is re-elected next year - might push for treaty change before the next General Election.

No wonder Mr Cameron told a journalists' lunch on Monday he was trying to balance "what I think is right for the country, what I think is politically deliverable and what is deliverable diplomatically".

To the surprise of his aides he went on to explain that his was "a tantric approach to policy-making - it will be even better when it does eventually come".

He hastily added "that wasn't in the script." Many are getting impatient to discover what exactly is.

 
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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 357.

    An interesting point in the eu debate is the conditioning process.
    The almost biblical nature of the imagined consequences of not being on the eu programme and the assertions that non believers are racist and anti europe are so familiar.
    We simply aren't being convinced by the eu's trained missionaries and lay preachers, despite their numbers, their position, and their influence.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 356.

    Many comments link immigration to the EU. Most migrants from within the EU are young hardworkers who contribute positively to our economy and integrate well having a common European heritage. Most immigration still comes from overseas such as the subcontinent where one immigrant is often joined by mothers, fathers, aunts uncles etc. Many do not speak English and certainly do not assimilate well.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 355.

    the reason the this government and the previous one did not want us to come out of the EU is pure and simple...... THEY want to end up on the gravy train for life as as emp

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 354.

    The people could have their say by voting UKIP at the next European elections. This would send a very clear message to the Government and the EU and focus minds. All the time the EU thinks there will not be a referendum in the UK they will be under no pressure to change things. However, if faced with a vote in UK about leaving the EU will soon start to change or the house of cards will fall.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 353.

    352.David Horton
    It is now extremely likely that we're leaving the EU.
    You and those of your persuasion better get used to it.
    ///////
    Being against a departure doesn't mean not believing it can't happen, I just don't want it to adn I think it would be suicidal. I think the consequences will be a bigger shock to those of your persuasion. I have a plan B.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 352.

    345.ToryBoy
    They can barely place Europe on a map
    In view of the recent report on the IQ of UKIP/BNP membership did you have them in mind?
    --
    Keep on mate!
    Every time you put fingers to keyboard, you accentuate the desperation of the EUphile argument.

    It is now extremely likely that we're leaving the EU.
    You and those of your persuasion better get used to it.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 351.

    349. Little_Old_Me

    "You have provided a statement from the COUNCIL saying the birth parents might have known the kids' whereabouts"

    The statement was from the GUARDIAN with no source which hardly makes it true.


    "You have provided nothing from the COUNCIL saying it was the UKIP membership....."

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20474120

    Watch the clip of Joyce Thacker who works for the COUNCIL

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 350.

    This is the world we live in, deal with it.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 349.

    340.Adam


    You have provided a statement from the council saying the birth parents might have known the kids' whereabouts - I've admitted even the doubt was justified in removing the kids.

    You have provided nothing from the Council saying it was the UKIP membership.....

    ....my evidence is out, where is yours? A statement from any politician is not evidence, it's politicking.....

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 348.

    @ 347. goenzoy

    The public should never have financed the banks. If they took too many risks they are the ones that should have paid the price.

    But that's a different subject

    Our trade still costs a lot and seeing as we buy more than we sell maybe we should charge a fee for them having access to our market.

    This years eu budget went over and we have to top up.

    2012 will be 9% up on 2011

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 347.

    342.Adam
    Agree that it s not free but fees are LOW compared to banks liabilies for the past 3 years for the taxpayer
    Northern Rock / RBS alsone roughly 22 years of EU membership fees

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 346.

    345.ToryBoy
    Just now
    No344 The Ship,
    'They can barely place Europe on a map'
    In view of the recent report on the IQ of UKIP/BNP membership did you have them in mind?
    //////////
    I don't think they're stupid, just a tad ignorant, very parochial, obtuse and shortsighted.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 345.

    No344 The Ship,
    'They can barely place Europe on a map'
    In view of the recent report on the IQ of UKIP/BNP membership did you have them in mind?

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 344.

    People here still think in terms of the safe world of small town butchers, ironmongers and farmers. The power now lies with the global multinationals on the rise in Asia, the Far East and Latin America. They can barely place Europe on a map, let alone Britain.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 343.

    300.David Horton

    "Europe itself is great.
    We just don't want to be governed by it.

    There.
    Simple enough for you"

    Yes, nice and simple, but unfortnuately inaccurate in its key parts, what you need to say is 'I do not want to be governed by it' unless you are claiming a mandate to speak for all.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 342.

    @ 337. goenzoy

    You made some good points but I'd like to add that our trade with them isn't free at the moment because of the fee.

    Our trade makes up about 10% of GDP but we have to accept laws that are made that cover the other 90% aswell. Why?

    Not sure if you travel to Netherlands, buy a house Spain and export all in the same week but most people don't and more visa's might be a good thing.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 341.

    195.Helena Pigott
    "Say what you may about Europe..you cant support ailing nation indefinitely",

    True, but Europe is not in terminal decline whatever you may wish to think. Also it's probably in a better state than the UK.

    "There is no money in the pot."

    False - there's load's of money in the pot and likely to be for a very long time to come

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 340.

    @ 339. Little_Old_Me

    I didn't quote the article I provided a link to the whole thing.

    You said it was a fact the children were removed because the parents found out where they were.

    I said if that were true the council should have said so at the time and it would of ended the story.

    You said they did say that and I provided a link to show you they didn't.

    Where's your evidence they did?

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 339.

    333.Adam


    That's right Adam, selectively quote from out of date articles & ignore what I said about going to horse's mouth.....

    ....you are sounding increasingly desperate to prove true what you think is true rather than simply providing the evidence for it.....

  • rate this
    -4

    Comment number 338.

    336.Adam
    You are thinking on too parochial a scale. The West is losing economic power at the speed of light. You indulge in emotional sentiment in the middle of an economic war. Unless twe form a solid EU alliance we will be stamped into the ground. We're on the backfoot, and the dithering is making us weaker. We risk being thrown back into the dark ages, we need to develop fighting power

 

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