Europe - PM tries to turn defeat into victory

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte (L), Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt (2nd R) and British Prime Minister David Cameron (R) listen as German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks during a joint news conference at Reinfeldt"s summer residence in Harpsund, south of Stockholm June 10, 2014. Image copyright Reuters
Image caption David Cameron had hoped for support from the Dutch, German and Swedish leaders

The prime minister is determined to try to snatch a moral victory from the jaws of a certain negotiating defeat at the EU summit which begins today.

It is now almost certain that Jean-Claude Juncker, a man David Cameron has consistently opposed, will be confirmed as the next president of the European Commission on Friday.

Downing Street wants the story of this summit to be the splendid isolation of one man, one country, fighting for a vital democratic principle rather than the prime minister's total failure to build alliances.

One by one, all the people David Cameron believed were on his side have abandoned him.

First, and crucially, Germany, then Sweden, then the Netherlands, now it's not even certain that the Hungarians will support him.

Britain will either be alone or one of two.

But David Cameron will try to turn his humiliation abroad into a popular stand back at home - the polls show that Thatcherite defiance is popular.

Here's the problem though - Eurosceptics and those who oppose our membership altogether may well say "all that effort and nothing to show for it".

And the real question at the end of it will be this: Will Europe's leaders say "we must help that guy next time", or will they say "he's set on a course that will lead Britain to the exit and there's not that much we can do about it"?

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