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David Cameron under attack from voters, Ed Miliband, David Davis and Angela Merkel on Europe

18 November 2012

The Sunday Papers and the broadcast shows are packed with accounts of Britain’s fractious relationship with the European Union, and what that means for David Cameron. The Observer gives space to a poll, the headline of which says that 56 per cent of Britons would ‘probably or definitely’ vote to leave the EU against 30 per cent who would probably or definitely vote to remain in the union. The Independent on Sunday carries a ComRes poll on the more immediate question of next week’s EU budget discussions. The findings will give Mr Cameron a headache: 66 per cent of voters want the budget ‘cut rather than frozen’. The voters will be disappointed: a cut is a fantasy. Even a freeze is looking unlikely because recipient countries are likely to oppose it. Indeed, those countries are sufficiently numerous to deliver an EU budget increase, which David Cameron must surely veto if he is to see off his hostile backbenchers.

Yet there is a further complication. If the EU reaches no agreement next week, the existing spending limit will roll over – having, of course, been adjusted for inflation. As John Rentoul points out this morning, the spending limit is higher than actual spending. So, perverse though it might seem, EU spending would increase if Cameron were to use his veto. I can’t imagine that Ed Miliband and Nigel Farage will let him get away with that eventuality.

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One can see why the government has taken a stance against Brussels’ financial excesses: it chimes with the spirit of the age and using the veto last year gave Cameron a bounce in some polls. But, as Christopher Caldwell’s cover piece argues, it has isolated Britain and exasperated Angela Merkel. Relations between Britain and Germany look set to deteriorate further. That should be more of a worry for Cameron than it is for Merkel: as Fraser argued in a magazine piece this week, she realises that the coalition is too conflicted and weak for Cameron to take Britain to the European exit.

Instinct says that Cameron has missed an opportunity: he might have seen what he could extract from Brussels in exchange for his limited support on the budget and forthcoming reforms relating to the Eurozone. David Davis seemed to be driving at this on the Andrew Marr Show earlier. ‘This is a historic opportunity, we should take it,’ he said. Beyond that observation, Davis, a former Europe Minister, wants to put a 2-part referendum to the British people. He wants to offer a ‘menu’ promising a ‘radically different’ relationship with the EU for which the people would vote to provide a mandate for the government to pursue. The second part of the referendum would be a straight in/out question on the basis that the ‘menu’ wasn’t served. He added that this was not a ‘frightening’ prospect.

Labour, of course, cannot ignore this developing question. Ed Miliband has given an interview to the Sunday Telegraph’s Patrick Hennessy and Matthew d’Ancona in which he says that Eurosceptic arguments should not be dismissed because some of them are correct. He calls for a new relationship with Europe to reform budgets, immigration policy, the single market and government intervention in the economy. This is brave from the Labour leader: there are some Labour MPs who are avowedly Europhilic and Miliband runs the risk of alienating them if opportunistic opposition becomes principled policy. Miliband’s interview, though, looks more like an exercise in positioning rather than marking a dramatic change in policy.

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Show comments
  • satrah

    david camron is a bad pm

  • barbie

    Cameron has pledged his support for Europe, but that’s his opinion not the countries; and certainly not his party’s. He now has about 100 MPs who are openly prepared to vote against him, and some on the Labour side too. His government is in danger of collapsing if he’s not to careful. He walks a tightrope. I would vote for UKIP if I was certain it would not let in Labour, the thought of another five years of their management makes me tremble with fear. That would mean more immigration, and for all Milibands talk who would believe them after their deciet. No thanks.
    Cameron needs to seek his party’s approval for his next moves, so he can go into negociations with confidence, and use his veto. Which he will, for they are bent on more spending over the channel with money they don’t have. We have seen enough of that with Labour, and we know what it means, bankruptcy. Steady as we go, but Cameron needs to be honest to regain trust, and most of all steely in his application of our governements needs and wants.

  • echo34

    The main parties have a fag paper between them. Voters are realising this in their droves. Nothing you guys say is going to alter the fact that the great unwashed are now increasingly open to alternative manifestos from minority parties.

    You give the impression that your either running scared or performing a vicki pollard, yeah but, no but…

    UKIP are sounding more attractive and growing in support simply because they aren’t liblabcon.

  • William Blakes Ghost

    Oh dear what would we all do if some Europhiliac Labour MP’s were marginalised and alienated? (Have a party perhaps?) It will never happen of course. Miliband is as much a Europhiliac as Clegg. Any noises he is making are just as dishonest as his former masters commitments to a referendum over the EU Constitution Lisbon Treaty. Don’t forget Labour’s primary political tactic is to lie.

  • M. Wenzl

    Given how Eurosceptic the media are — and how one-sided the debate about UK membership in the EU is generally — 30% support in favour of staying in is surprisingly high. If there were a balanced debate over the issue, that figure would surely increase (although I’m sure most Speccie readers will disagree). If there is a referendum, it would be the interest of the Tories and the media to make sure the tone doesn’t shift.

    • Hexhamgeezer

      Which country do you mean? it obviously isn’t UK. Try listening to or watching the BBC, or commercial TV and radio. In print you could try the Independent, Guardian, Daily Mirror, Telegraph or the Times for media which accepts the status quo and ground rules and options as defined by Brussels (there are probably more).

  • David B

    This is why the public are synical about politics and politicians. Everyone is aware of Eds position on Europe. He already has stated he would like to see us join the Euro and has consistently voted to ensure no referendum (even when it was promised in the 2005 manifesto)

    Now he is reading the political tea leaves and following what makes him popular in the hope he is elected. This will never become policy, it’s all for show

  • Daniel Tekel Thomas

    I understand Dave is planning a major speech where he will lay out his vision of our place in the European Union.
    Since we already know he is a committed Europhile whats the point?
    The only vision on Europe thats worth any salt is that of the people. Dave and Nick should take note and show the people and their vision some respect.

  • Brian Lovett

    If turnouts are rubbish then so will the government be.. Use your votes or lose them…

    • Coffeehousewall

      If the choice it stitched up already we have no choice. How can I choose my local conservative candidate? She has just closed her constituency office because she is too busy at Westminster? How can I vote for a proper conservative? I can’t. It is all a fix.

  • The_Missing_Think

    – anyfool, and others,

    Do you clearly understand the difference between ‘One Nationism’ and its opposite, ‘Internationalism’?

    Your question hints that you don’t, so here’s some highly relevant reading:

    Internationalism, Douglas Alexander, and the EU question:

    “Labour is, and will remain, an internationalist party” – D.A. Thursday 8 November 2012.

    Whereas, Labour’s leader on his ‘One Nationism’ at the conference.

    “…Disraeli called it one nation. I do believe in one nation…”

    Red Ed then ordered people like D.A. to vote anti-Internationalist with the EU budget cut. That’s why it was the first Britain, not the EU, vote… ever!

    They are two opposing concepts, one political entity (person or party) cannot feasably and credably host both simultaneously. Hence the heated row…

    These are very big developmets, on a core level.

    • anyfool

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

      • The_Missing_Think

        – anyfool,

        If it’s only “rubbish”, then how come the very same subject matter I desceetly make, took the bulk of discussion time up on the BBC’s Westminster Hour last night then?


        Coincidence… or maybe, just maybe, you’re wrong?

        If you had read the ‘fine detal’ links I provided for you, your excuse of an argument wouldn’t be blown into orbit by this question:

        How did the shadow cabinet get in row about benefits and immigration…. if it’s just Ed M on his own? (clue = ‘cabinet’).

        Until your replies affirm that you undestand excatly what the euphematic meaning of the words ‘Internationalist’ and ‘One Nationist’ are, any further ’emotion only’ out pourings, will be happily ignored.

        • anyfool

          Tele your meds are in need of strengthening, you are talking in a language known only to the silly little cabal you have created in your own mind.

          • The_Missing_Think

            “Former justice secretary Ken Clarke this morning…

            “”I wish Ed would come down firmly on one side or the other,” he told the Today programme.”



            I made all that up in silly little mind… huh?

            Then why does it exist with a link you can click on, you denialist little creep?

            Miliband’s conference speech has been flushed and nailed as fake, he’s u-turned on his ‘one Nationism’ speech (click the f**king link fool), by denying the… cough… “One Nation’ a referendumn on membership to the EU at this most critical junction in his much beloved, “One Nation’s” history.

            His loyalty is to the EU, not the “One Nation”.

            But when the polls hit 70% +, he’ll regret and pay for it deeply.

            Go away fool, you’re too narrow minded to reach. Hard luck.

  • RKing

    But Cameron is bound to have a trump card up his sleeve like having a vote allowing an early abortion if you go green and let an immigrant live in the garden shed.

    That should really appease the anti-EU lobby.

    Look how things have improved since we had the vote on police commisioners!!

    He’s not stupid you know!!

  • paulus

    This is delusional,we have seen over recent years every treaty obligation ripped up by France and Germany, in an effort to save their doomed project, as we have stood aside.
    Are you seriously saying that only the UK is constrained by treaties ?

    Only Parliament can ratify government expenditure, its called a budget, it is the very essence of our democracy and centuries old liberties.

    The Uk is not supplicants asking for money, the EU is asking us for money. Every ace is held in our hand and only a weakling would squander it.

    We will be leaving Babylon soon, so we must prepare and pack

    • barbie

      sensible comments. we want out.

  • Boudicca_Icenii

    Nigel Farage must be celebrating this weekend. 14% in Corby, a Lab/Con swing seat which UKIP didn’t contest in 2010 – nailing the LooneyDems into the ground in the process.
    Only 5 votes behind the Conservatives in Central Manchester – and a decent showing in the Police Commissioner elections.
    Then to cap it, Miliband starts to move on the EU issue as well, confirming that Labour is also running scared of UKIP’s rise in support.
    Regardless of what Miliband or Cameron say, if you vote LibLabCON you get governance by the EU.

    If you vote UKIP, you won’t. Simples.

    • The_Missing_Think

      A new dawn of political bliss has arrived, has it not?


      And that is it in a nutshell ! vote ukip

      • Robert Castlereagh

        And then what?
        Do you really believe the UKIP party have the personnel and the policies to take us forward?
        The only way forward is to support David Cameron actively to ensure a working majority in 2015.
        All our current woes are due to the need to accomodate the dreaded Liberals.

    • Archimedes

      On the contrary, if you vote UKIP you’ll get Labour. Do tell me if you think that Miliband or any other Labour MP would have used the veto last year? Or if you think Miliband would have taken us out of Eurozone bailouts? Or if you think he has the sort of character that will have him stand up to his European counterparts in a negotiation?

      Why don’t you save yourself the trouble and stay at home on election day – perhaps you could occupy yourself by purchasing a shotgun and, at intervals of say 15 or 20 minutes, shooting yourself in the foot just to see what happens, you know? It would probably be more authentic if you stick your tongue out the side of your mouth during the process, and make repetitive sounds like those of a moron struggling to control their cognitive functions.

      • Coffeehousewall

        If you vote Labour you get socialism. If you vote Conservative you get socialism. If you vote Lib Dem yu get socialism. Have you really be so completely duped into thinking that the Conservative Party is conservative at all? It may take another election but if we will not vote for our principles then we will always have a socialist government.

        • Archimedes

          The Conservatives do what is electorally possible. They are pegging certain tax credits to income levels. In the same way that people are brought into higher tax rates by pegging those rates to a nominal income, it will be possible to remove tax credits by pegging them to nominal incomes. It’s much more difficult to reverse state dependency than it is to introduce it – Labour can introduce new tax credits in a year, that would take the Conservatives an entire term or more to reverse. If you vote Labour you get more socialism.

          If you think that any political party is going to stand for the absolute and outright abolition of tax credits and all forms of redistribution, then you are dreaming – because they simply will not be elected. The only way that a party like UKIP will work is if we switch to PR, in which case we’ll have coalition governments and UKIP will be able to apply pressure, but we don’t use PR and I don’t believe that Britain wants it. If UKIP ever reached government it would have to acknowledge that a majority of it’s voters do not support some of it’s more radical ideas, and so it would act in the much the same way as a Conservative government, aside from it’s Euro-scepticism – which would presumably be the policy under which it is elected.

          I don’t see any compelling reason why we should asshole around for a couple of decades, only to reach much the same situation but with a much more severe set of circumstances imposed by unbroken Labour rule.

          • Hexhamgeezer

            The Conservatives do NOT do what is electorally possible. they operate quite happily within parameters set by the client state, the BBC, and the EU.

            There is a world of possibilities out there which are labelled ‘mad’ or ‘not allowed’ . Look at this article. Mr Blackburn claims that an EU budget cut is a fantasy – and why? – because other (recipient) countries say so! It’s worth saying that again. A Spec’ journo believes that a cut in a budget is impossible because politicians in some country somewhere say so – we must hand over more of our money because someone else says so.

            At least by letting my subscription lapse I wont be funding this tripe.

            • Archimedes

              And why can’t I have everything I want mummy? – and why can’t everyone do I everything I tell them to all the time? – and – and…sniffle…

              • Hexhamgeezer

                You seemed to have tagged your post to mine in error – it seems to belong somewhere else, perhaps to a different website? Not a problem though – could happen to any of us.

        • dalai guevara

          Socialism? OMG.

          So, the bearded smiley with his islands and spacecraft operations is a product of SOCIALISM?

          And the chap with the Lenor hair who runs the tagging and security failure is a product of SOCIALISM?

          And the lass with the back-to-work agenda only comes to work herself for 8m quid taxpayer benefits. That is SOCIALISM?

          And the chaps and lasses who buy all the stuff at Christie’s and Sotheby’s after the bonus season are all SOCIALISTS?

          And the chaps in favour of immigration -the same chaps who run sweat shops with cheap foreign labour and sheds with beds hostals- are all SOCIALISTS?

          You are a serious Daily Mail nutjob, sorry if that was not insulting enough.

        • telemachus

          You know you have to be careful when you listen to these unconventional opinions

          They may seem reasonable until you see the site of the pseudonym which has interesting views

          “Peter, When you say (18 Nov. 21:17) that you don’t buy “..that Islam is adopted only by genetically deficient peoples because such peoples would never have developed advanced civilizations” I suspect that somewhere along the line we have both become a bit confused and may be mixing apples and oranges. I think that it would be more accurate to say that Islam is adopted more easily by people whose genetics incline them to be morally confused and violent.”

    • EJ

      VOTE UKIP! The ONLY party that will listen to you on:

      law and order
      the return of pride and patriotism

      The Tories are lairs and frauds and they are finished. UKIP is the future for any conservative-minded voter.

      • Dimoto

        (Another) Labour troll speaks, yawn.

        • EJ


    • Dimoto

      Weak analysis from Blackburn (and Davis).
      Blair made exactly such a “bargain” with the EU powers.
      Result ? Half the rebate gone, and zero movement on the CAP.
      These gents (and Merkel) are NOT reliable negotiating partners.

  • itdoesntaddup

    Examine Ed Miliband on OFGEM: he personally legislated in 2010 as DECC Secretary of State to make it the friend of the greenergy lobby at the expense of consumers. Now he is pretending that OFGEM should support consumer interests.

    The man is simply a hypocrite. He is not to be trusted on the EU or anything else.

  • anyfool

    This is brave from the Labour leader.
    Can you explain in fine detail what exactly has he said that is brave, where was the unequivocal statement on or in any part of his vacuous ramblings.

    • Dimoto

      Ha-ha, it’s part of the Spectator bloggers job-description to be “fair” (read patronising and smarmy), to the other side. “Other voices” innit ?
      The proprietors insist on it.

  • EndOfTrolls

    When you say “This is brave from the Labour leader”, what you meant to say is “This is opportunistic from the Labour leader”. This comic is going from bad to worse.

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