Coffee House

Cameron at pains to show Britain was not isolated in EU Budget talks

26 November 2012

David Cameron took great pains in his statement to the Commons on the EU budget summit to emphasise the alliances that Britain had formed in trying to keep the budget down. He started by telling MPs that Britain had worked ‘together with like-minded allies from a number of countries’, and repeatedly used words such as ‘together’ and references to ‘we – and others’. This was important as one of the key lines of attack that Labour has tried to make since last year’s veto is that Britain is standing isolated in Europe.

Labour struggled to make an impact, both in Miliband’s response to Cameron’s statement and during the ensuing debate. The Labour leader asked why the Prime Minister had not thanked the House of Commons ‘for sending him into the talks with the strongest possible mandate’, and he referred to splits in the Tory party over the issue of Europe, saying:

‘As we anticipate further negotiations in the months ahead, the wider stance of the Government towards the EU will also have an impact. The Prime Minister has said repeatedly he is in favour of Britain remaining a member of the EU, but why is he allowing his colleagues to take the opposite position?’


Miliband’s frontbench appeared to be trying to emphasise these splits by letting out loud panto-style laughs every time a eurosceptic backbencher pressed the PM on a particular point. Harriet Harman seemed to be checking that the journalists covering the debate were noting this, glancing up at the few remaining hacks in the press gallery with every chortle. But the strategy would have worked better had this been a more bad-tempered debate. As James pointed out on Friday, the summit was, all in all, good for the Prime Minister, although the big test still remains. So Tory backbenchers were not grumbling; in fact, they made special efforts to praise the Prime Minister, with even Peter Bone chipping in with his best wishes. There were still questions from MPs about a referendum, although the majority came from the Labour benches. In response to one from Stephen Doughty, the Prime Minister said this:

‘My view is the problem with an in/out referendum is that both of the options are not really what I would want or, I think, the British people want. I don’t think keeping our membership as it is under the status quo is acceptable, nor do I think walking away from Europe will be a sensible idea. That’s why I think we need a new settlement and new consent for that settlement and that’s what we will be setting out.’

He referred to the speech that he will be giving later in the year, telling Edward Leigh:

‘I think options are opening up to form a different relationship, a better relationship, one that the British people would back and then we’d have to work out exactly how to get the consent for that relationship that I think the British people would deserve.’

Michael Fabricant did pop up to ask a question, but instead of pushing the PM on a referendum, or mentioning his UKIP pact proposal, the party’s vice chair joked that he was ‘rather keen on pacts’, and asked the Prime Minister about the value of countries working together as they did on the European budget. There was a sense that the Tory backbench was holding fire, both for that long-awaited speech unveiling the PM’s stance on Europe, and for the final outcome of the Budget talks, which resume early next year.

More Spectator for less. Subscribe and receive 12 issues delivered for just £12, with full web and app access. Join us now.

  • Centaur

    ‘My view is the problem with an in/out referendum is that both of the options are not really what I would want or, I think, the British people want. ‘

    Go back to 2007:

    “Make no mistake, that’s the reason he [Gordon Brown] refuses to give the British people a referendum on the EU constitutional treaty — he simply doesn’t trust them. It’s the arrogant belief that he — and only he — has the right to decide what’s best for Britain’s future…Believe me, if they really reflected the will of Britons the message would be loud and clear — we want a referendum.”

    Funny old thing.

  • arnoldo87

    As a floating voter I found Cameron’s speech at the end of the negotiations to be a very sage and strategic one. He realised that he cannot actually enforce the cut in the budget that the Commons insisted upon, so he concentrated on the art of the possible by attacking the complacent Eurofatcrat attitude and lifestyle.
    By doing so he really does seem to have made an impact upon other attending nations. Why on earth should ANY country, even those in net receipt of funding, object to cutting out fat and waste at the centre. Hopefully Cameron has set the ball rolling in building up a majority who actually will vote to clean out the EuroAugean stables.

  • Boudicca_Icenii

    Who cares. Cameron is still going to agree an increase in the EU’s Budget …. in line with inflation.
    He is quite happy for the UK to borrow £53million a day and hand it over to the EU to p!ss away …. and he will be content to increase it by the rate of inflation. That is almost certainly the ‘deal’ he has already agreed with Merkel.
    However ….. buried in the small print and heavily disguised …. will be an increase in the UK’s contributions.
    He is a Quisling. He works for the EU and the Bilderbergers, Not the UK.

    • Noa

      Yes, thats the essence of it I think. He’s done a deal with Merkel, which will take the heat off her at home and give him a little street cred here with his backbenchers and a misinformed public.

      It won’t last beyond the post Christmas summit sell-out, but hey, the festive season should provide him with some new gee gaws to distract us all with.

  • The_Missing_Think

    Possible outcomes,

    No Deal = That really won’t compute long term… UK exit gets ever closer.

    Deal = Westminster’s “cut” vote (authority), verses, a non “cut” EU decision.

    Who runs Britain?

    Ed ‘One Nation’ Miliband is in the driving seat…

    If he’s in Ironman Disraeli mode, and he’s still proud of his strongest possible mandate… and the 53 Tories aren’t too happy all round… then the deal might not get the nod of approval required.

    Which could in turn lead to some backlash tetronics.

    Miliband’s got the power… if he wants it…. does he?

    “He told the Labour conference he’s Disraeli. He told the press that he’s
    Margaret Thatcher. He told parliament he’s more Eurosceptic than Bill

    Cameron 21 Nov 2012.

    “I wish Ed would come down firmly on one side or the other,”

    Ken Clarke – 19 Nov 2012

    “Rubbish, Miliband is an opportunist nonentity and like the writer of this article you ascribe to him character traits that he is deficient in”

    anyfool 19 Nov 2012 (link below).

    Time will tell soon enough.

    Comments are closed.

  • @PhilKean1

    Do you think Cameron would be embarrassed

    – if someone took him to one side and said – “actually, Dave, apart from Labour’s sickening opportunism and political gamesmanship, this EU Budget negotiation was mainly about exercising democratic accountability and enforcing National Sovereignty” ?

  • MirthaTidville

    Nothing that this left wing stooge says, is believable any more………….

    • perdix

      I assume you are referring to ReEd.

      • MirthaTidville

        If thats your assumption then you would be wrong

  • Hexhamgeezer

    Cameron, our very own Neville Chamberlain.

    • telemachus

      Remember Neville Chamberlain declared war on Hitler
      Mebbe that is why you decry him

      • Colonel Mustard

        You are a bit sad and deluded really. You try on these continuous smears of anyone who doesn’t buy into you and your comrades Gleichschaltung. But the real parallels and the real similarities continue to elude you and are all the more dangerous for it. Britain withstood European fascism and will do so again, whatever it calls itself and however insidious its cheerleaders here.

        • Coffeehousewall

          Well now that Ed Miliband has renamed his party the National Socialists I think he is giving a good steer as to the sort of direction he is looking at going in.

          It would not be beyond the bounds of possibility that a hung Parliament next time could lead to a pseudo-National Government which really did leave us with a One Party State with no incentive to restore even the pretence of democracy.

          • arnoldo87

            CoffeHouseWall – Please look after the fairies while you are all away.

      • Hexhamgeezer

        Stalinist tit

  • Noa

    “My view is the problem with an in/out referendum is that both of the options are not really what I would want or, I think, the British people want…I think we need a new settlement… ’

    When a man states his own views, and then identifies them as the view of the people, he is both delusional and dictatorial.

    • HooksLaw

      Its what you do all the time

      • Noa

        Unlike you I speak for myself, and I do not presume to speak for others.

    • telemachus

      The will of the people is to maintain influential imput into access to the major market outside the US

      • Noa

        How, pray, Comrade Telemachus, do you intuit ‘the will of the people’?

        Do their voices speak to you?

      • Colonel Mustard

        Not according to any polling you care to examine.

        PS the “will of the people” is not really what the Common Purpose politburo thinks. Liberty shall prevail from you and your tiresome comrades.

  • dalai guevara

    He is not ‘at pains’ at all. The net contributors call the shots. When was that any different?

Can't find your Web ID? Click here