Are Britain and Germany heading for an almightily clash over the future of the EU? In this week’s Spectator, Christopher Caldwell argues that Angela Merkel has had enough of Britain’s position and is out to give David Cameron a kicking over Britain’s lack of solidarity with her nation. On the latest View from 22 podcast, Fraser Nelson explains the significance of about is about to happen:
‘The [problem is the] extent to which Europeans don’t understand us, they can not get that for Britain, it is an issue of sovereignty. They keep thinking well the Brits don’t want to agree the next budget, let’s give them a few sweeteners — a subsidy here, a commissioner there. They are trying to horse trade with us, where for us now it’s gone beyond that.
‘In days gone by, you could have had a stictch up between the elites. You could have said “right Tony Blair you’ve got this starry eyed fantasy about reforming the EU in your own image so if you give us a concession, we’ll pretend to play along with you”. That doesn’t work now because Cameron no longer controls European policy. He has it handed to him by his backbenchers…we are no longer speaking the language of the rest of Europe when we go to these negotiations.’
James Forsyth’s political column this week discusses the Tories’ brewing plan to win the next election — by targeting a significant number of Liberal Democrats seats. What does this mean for the coalition? James discusses the mathematics of how this strategy might work for the Conservatives:
‘The plan [for 2015] is what they call this 40 + 40 strategy. Defend the 40 most vulnerable seats and they you try and take 40 others. If you were to do that list purely based on the seats the Tories are closest to winning, there would only be 9 Liberal Democrats and the rest would be largely Labour, with the odd nationalist seat in there too. Their actual list of 40, which I have been told about. 20 of those seats are Liberal Democrat seats.
‘Why are they doing this? Because they think there is some tactical voting for the Lib Dems that will unwind. They also think the demographic factor and consumer targeting information — people who should be Tories but don’t know it yet — all favour them in those seats. This puts them in an interesting position. They are trying to govern with a party at the same time as trying to unseat a third of their MPs. We haven’t seen that before in Britain and that is going to test Cabinet collegiality to the limit.’
And what do our guests think of about the fall of General Petraeus? Listen with the embedded player below to hear differing opinions on America’s popular general. You can also have the latest podcast delivered straight to your machine by subscribing through iTunes. As ever, we’d love to hear what you think, good or bad.