If logistics had allowed, David Cameron would have given his long-awaited speech on Europe tomorrow. Instead, it’s been postponed until January and we had to make do with a statement on the European Council in the Commons today
It’s quite clear that Cameron is thoroughly bored of these meetings: he complained that it was the seventh he’s attended this year and that he ‘wouldn’t describe it as a landmark council’. When Ed Miliband mocked the Eurozone countries for coming up with a timetable for having a timetable, Cameron chuckled and nodded.
But Cameron does think that something big came out of this summit. As he put it, ‘the principle has been established that changes in the Eurozone, requires safeguards for those outside.’ This was a reference to the fact that changes to banking union require majority support among both Eurozone ins and outs. Cameron called this a ‘big breakthrough, a major breakthrough’.
I suspect that it will form a substantial part of his Europe speech when it finally comes. For what he’s so desperate to do is to show his party that he can use greater integration in the Eurozone to bring powers back to Britain while reassuring businesses that this process won’t lead to this country leaving the single market.
P.S. Miliband had one very good joke today. In reference to Cameron’s claim that his approach to European policy-making was tantric, Miliband quipped that the PM was ‘parliament’s answer to Sting. They’ve both fallen out with the police.’ This led to the two leaders bandying song titles across the despatch box.