Coffee House

David Cameron needn’t fear renegotiating Britain’s relationship with the EU

27 December 2012

Nick Clegg has made a not-so-startling intervention in the debate about Britain’s relationship with Europe today, warning that Britain must avoid selling itself short in a renegotiation. His interview with the Guardian is a necessary piece of positioning ahead of David Cameron’s Big Europe Speech in mid-January, and this kind of differentiation is something the Tories are more than happy for the Lib Dem leader to continue doing. So in some ways, Clegg warning Cameron not to overdo it on Europe isn’t at all significant.

But the Deputy Prime Minister makes an important observation in his interview about Britain’s bargaining power. Describing the creation of the single market and the enlargement of the EU in 2004 and 2007 as two of the ‘biggest historical triumphs’ of the past 40 years, he says:

‘Both of those projects were British projects. Both of them would not have happened without Britain. What I take from that is that, you know, even when we’re not at the front of the queue, when we exercise leadership we really can shape things in our own image and in the national interest.’


Though they take different stances, this is an argument that many Tory eurosceptics employ as well when they talk about renegotiation. Their point is that David Cameron needn’t fear approaching the EU with a request for a changed relationship for a number of reasons. The first is that Cameron himself performs extremely well on the world stage, which Clegg acknowledges in today’s interview, praising the Prime Minister for ensuring Britain’s interests were protected in negotiations on banking union. The second is that European leaders may well express exasperation with Britain for throwing its toys out of the pram at summits, but they also know that it is not in their interest to see Britain leave the EU, either. Britain is not unimportant to the EU: its net contribution to the budget being one big reason. Angela Merkel made clear recently that she couldn’t imagine Europe without the UK, which suggested the German Chancellor could well make concessions in a renegotiation to ensure the EU keeps Britain within its fold.

Clegg is worried that Cameron will be pushed by his eurosceptic backbenchers to turn his back on Europe. But the Deputy Prime Minister’s remarks underline why his Conservative colleague should feel that he can be bold when he makes that speech in the new year: he does have the capital to hold a robust position in a renegotiation.

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  • Lucky Luke

    From the Spanish press:

    inexorably increases the number of Europeans who believe that an EU without the UK, known as Brexit or Brixit, would not be a disaster, even maybe, just maybe, desirable. In short: British euroscepticism is responded to with the bitterness of passion slighted, with something that, until someone thinks of a better word, might be called angloscepticism because britscepticism, although more correct, sounds worse.

  • Coffeehousewall

    It’s interesting that Isabel seems only interested in the opinions of backbenchers and has nothing to say about the views of the people of Britain. What does this tell us about the Spectator, the wider MSM, and the political class (I hate using that last word in association with politicians)? None of them have an interest in the electorate save as a means to vaguely legitimate their own commercial and personal ambitions.

  • paulus

    Cameron do you want me to come with you, we all think your abit of a girl.

  • paulus

    Well, getting past all the good will of the other posters, Its quite simple our negotiating position is predicated upon simple facts.

    The world is connected through financial centres: London, New York and Hong Kong, they speak the same language, exchange currencies, procure and distribute commodities and provide liquidity to the World economy.

    Every single day $trillion dollers goes through the City and in one week the GDP of the entire European union is transacted. The capitals of Europe : Berlin, Athens, Paris, and Warsaw are only easy jet destinations as far as the City is concerned, with about as much relevance as Malta or Wales, which is fucking zero.

    We now have a Belgiun popping up saying we are heading for the desert, and I dont think even easy jet fly into Brussels.

    The World is interconnected as never before, and Europe will not be pre-eminent in this new World Order: are the Europeans seriously thinking of cutting themselves off from the only window to the world that they have. In their deluded minds Europe is an idally where all things flow to, but this is an outdated understanding. Their corpratist fascist entity, is destined for the grave, to expect us to help dig it, and jump into it just goes to show how deep that delusion has captured them.

    It is not the contributions that is the ace in our hand, it is the access the Europeans have to the World economy that we hold.

    It is our connections that the world uses, it is our language the world speaks, its is our law that the world abides by, it is our Commonwealth that hold the commodies that Europe needs, it is our right to negotiate as equals, equals to them all collectively, we are not France, nor Spain any of the others.

    Our Queen is the sovereign monarch of the United kingdoms of Great Britain & Northern Ireland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand and another dozen other countries, we are not Bulgaria, Romania, or Poland, these countries sit at the top table of every international forum. Their populations are not lining up at a bus station looking to emigrate.

    We require parity and respect for what we bring and nothing else will be acceptable.

    • Windsor

      Poorly written but probably the most cogent comment on here.

  • Roy

    So it seems the creation of the single market and the enlargement of the EU are in fact due to the foresight of UK ministers working toward a self image! Since when have policy makers of the EU been listening to a British point of view? What is this ‘self image’ that the Deputy Prime Minister prattles on about? Unless of course he means a deplorable lack of foresight and principle toward their own people. A continuing denunciation of the rights of native born Brits to a slice of their own country that is continually being whittled away by the importation of distant throngs with no relationship or similarity of culture to their own. To top it up, the native born genuine tax payers for decades have to share their meagre pension with these newcomers, along with their many relations that are allowed to come and partake of the free allowances. Not to mention the long going welfare operations that politicians have ruined by out competing with one another to bestow too much on the ones who will never work. This is the ‘self image’ that comes easily to mind. Poor decision making, no imagination, lost in their own timid view of what Britain could really do if it it had some leadership.

  • Albert Cooper

    The Emporers Suit of New Clothes !!

  • c777

    Stop messing around, just get out.

  • David Lindsay

    There is no need to “renegotiate” anything. We need only our own primary legislation with six simple clauses.

    First, the restoration of the supremacy of British over EU law, and its use to repatriate agricultural policy and to reclaim our historic fishing rights in accordance with international

    Secondly, the requirement that, in order to have any effect in the United Kingdom, all EU law pass through both Houses of Parliament as if it had originated in one or other of them.

    Thirdly, the requirement that British Ministers adopt the show-stopping Empty Chair Policy until such time as the Council of Ministers meets in public and publishes an Official Report akin to Hansard.

    Fourthly, the disapplication in the United Kingdom of any ruling of the European Court of Justice or of the European Court of Human Rights unless confirmed by a resolution of the House of Commons, the High Court of Parliament.

    Fifthly, the disapplication in the United Kingdom of anything passed by the European Parliament but not by the majority of those MEPs certified as politically acceptable by one or more seat-taking members of the House of Commons.

    And sixthly, the provision for a referendum on the question, “Do you wish the United Kingdom to remain a member of the European Union?” The first five would come into effect at the same time as this provision, and would not be conditional on that referendum’s outcome.

    • Colonel Mustard

      Excellent. A position and proposals so reasonable and closely aligned to our constitutional traditions that the continued behaviour of our politicians is demonstrated to be nothing less than malevolent treachery.

      • David Lindsay

        Very many thanks.

        Peter Shore, Douglas Jay, Michael Foot, Barbara Castle, Judith Hart and Tony Benn were saying this a very long time ago.

        But then, Labour did keep Britain out of the euro, which we would have joined if a member of the present Cabinet had remained Chancellor in 1997. Labour MPs have elected three Eurosceptics out of three to represent them on the party’s National Executive Committee, and one of those has voted against every Treaty since the first one. The only other candidate was no more pro-EU than those three. One third of members of the Parliamentary Labour Party have voted for it to be chaired by John Cryer, an outspoken and dynastic advocate of withdrawal from the EU. Ed Balls is Shadow Chancellor. Jon Cruddas heads the Policy Review.

        One of the places for Labour’s 2010 intake to see and be seen is at the Morning Star Readers’ and Supporters’ Group, reading and supporting Britain’s
        original Eurosceptic newspaper. Labour’s principal Eurofederalist has had to resign for fiddling his expenses. Ed Miliband has already defeated the Government over the EU Budget, without a single Labour rebel. The number of Conservative rebels was fewer than the number of Liberal Democrat MPs.

        Over to him, then. After all, there is no one else.

        • Andy

          Piffle. It was your Labour Party who signed up to the Lisbon Treaty and forgot to give US, the British People our say. It was your big hero Tony Blair who give away a chunk of our rebate, hard won by the gallant Lady Thatcher, with the aid of her trusty handbag, on the promise of CAP reform. Needless to say the Continental Europeans bagged the cash but reneged on the CAP reform bit. Surprise, surprise.

          We should give thanks to the Eurosceptics who, singlehanded, forced John Major to get an opt-out of the single currency. It is the Eurosceptics who have been shown to be right all along.

          • David Lindsay

            It’s not “my” Labour Party. It expelled me long ago.

            Thatcher signed the Single European Act, one of numerous reasons why she is absurdly overrated. The party that remains besotted with her is going to be the only one in 2015 without a manifesto commitment to an In-Out referendum, on which Cameron and Hague are immovable.

            Whereas Gordon Brown really did keep Britain out of the euro, which we would have joined if Ken Clarke had remained Chancellor in 2015. But then, three times as many Labour MPs as Conservatives had voted against Maastricht. And every Labour MP without exception has just voted for a real terms cut in the British contribution to the EU Budget, when the number of Tory rebels in the same cause really was smaller than the number of Lib Dems MPs. Read that last point over again until it sinks in.

            The present Shadow Cabinet and the 2010 Labour intake, in both cases largely made up of people who were biding their time during the Blair years, are both very un-keen on the EU, as the NEC and the PLP Chairman elections both illustrated. In stark contrast to the present Cabinet and to the occupants of the benches behind it. The latter are blowhards and grandstanding frauds where the EU is concerned. But the former are not even that, and make no secret whatever of how much they love the thing. If you refuse to listen, then you have only yourself to blame.

  • Malfleur

    Before anyone starts renegotiating anything or determining how great or small any UK contribution of taxpayers’ money should be, how about a set of EU accounts certified by the European Court of Auditors so that we all know what the hell we are talking about? It would be a first.

    • Rahul Kamath

      First person to be audited needs to be that fine MEP Nigel Farage who has been known to play fast and loose with his EU expense budget. After that the rest of the EU.

      • Colonel Mustard

        Why him first? Because you don’t like his politics?

        • Rahul Kamath

          No, it’s bcoz he’s a hypocrite. He brings to mind that old saying of Jesus, “don’t comment on the speck of dirt in your neighbours eye when you have a board in yours”.

          • Colonel Mustard

            Weak. If hypocrisy in politicians bothers you there are bigger targets with bigger sins in the Labour party. And the EU is one big hypocrisy.

      • Malfleur

        Sir, you are a cad.

  • Russell

    “Britain is not unimportant to the EU: its net contribution to the budget being one big reason”

    What an understatement! The UK is the second largest net contributor and imports £billions of EU goods every year.

    The UK leaving the EU would cripple the EU if they started a trade war or imposing prohibitive tariffs on our export goods.

    The sooner we are completely out and can negotiate a trade agreement (nothing else) the better, lets call it a ‘Common Market’ (sic)..

  • duyfken

    “Britain is not unimportant to the EU: its net contribution to the budget being one big reason.

    And that is one big reason why most of us in the UK wish to withdraw and save ourselves some money.

  • @PhilKean1

    I CAN imagine an EU without Britain

    Let’s hope it happens very soon !

  • Bluesman

    Article 50.

  • Magnolia

    The Guardian tells us that Mr Clegg warns against reversing centuries of British engagement and leadership in Europe.
    Would that be going right back to the longbows and Agincourt then?
    Lovely gag from the BBC!
    Why would any of us take lessons in History from Mr Clegg?

  • HooksLaw

    You are probably right about the Germans willing to make a compromise. As ever it might be based around the money we pay Europe (something that goes back to Napoleonic times). I doubt the usual suspects will agree but, because of the rebate given away by Blair, our contributions start to become significant to Germany – itself the biggest payer in.

    When we throw in the inevitable changes that are going to take place in the form of a new fiscal treaty , then we see that the EU is set for a big change and we can probably change our relationship with it. The bargaining chip will be our contributions, we can be out of the EU but in it with some say in it for the price of our contributions.

    The point about the fiscal treaty of course is that it will inevitably have political affects. It must surely inevitably lead to a closer political union. heaven knows how that will work out, but having some say in that but not being a part of it would strike me as being a good thing. The EU is not going to go away and we would be wise to maintain
    some influence over it.

    As I say the usual suspects will not like this but even if simply in the EEA we would be making significant payments, Norway is not in the EU but is in fact the 10th biggest payer in. So the price we pay for influence is somewhat marginal and is part of a long tradition of influencing Europe with our treasury.

    In any event (unless we have a labour govt whose track record is not very good) the negotiations will be subject to a referendum.

    • Rhoda Klapp

      What makes you think our influence over the EU is even measurable, let alone commensurate with the amount we pay in? By which I mean gross, not netted as some like to say, weighing EU contributions to things we don’t want and never asked for against actual money paid in to benefit subsidised industries and backward farmers in other countries. Now, you propose to put our contributions up for negotiation against the right to do what is in our best interest. I really do not see why the price of getting what any independent country takes for granted is a share of our tax take.

    • William Blakes Ghost

      Oh for goodness sake ‘Pukesnore’ (i.e. propaganda so nauseous in its tedium that it induces a sleep-like coma) will you give up with this incessant drivel about Norway. As the venerable Hannen points out no serious Eurosceptic is pointing to the Norwegian model as inspiration (although its nothing like the purgatory the Europhiliacs would have us believe). What Eurosceptics want is something along the lines of (but not necessarily the same in every particular aspect) as Switzerland. Read and learn for once instead of procrastinating:

      Switzerland is a more attractive model than Norway, but Britain could do better than either

      • HooksLaw

        It is quite possible we could do better than Norway or Switzerland, I would like to think we could, though I suspect it would only be by staying in the EU.

        If Britain now were not in the EU I suspect that the nation would happily sign up to being like Norway (or indeed Switzerland). I would either vote for that, or not be too bothered if that had been the vote.

        However seeing that we are currently in the EU its a moot point if we are better off in the EEA like Norway or still in the revised EU but still at a similar arms length as Norway/Switzerland.

        As your link says – Switzerland has free movement ‘of goods, services, people and capital’ with the EU. Switzerland ‘harmonises its standards with those of the EU’. maybe not all, but to what big deal do we attest the greater or smaller harmonising of standards.

        Any difference to being IN or OUT is marginal. Look at the endless anti EU comments we get on here that thrill to the notion of preventing EU immigration – there is one on this thread – yet even Hannan points out that Switzerland has free movement of Labour with the EU. I think 20% of the Swiss population are immigrant.

        Yet of course founded on the frankly racist hatred of foreigners not least foreigners on these shores the UKIP bigots howl at the moon over the EU and how we would be free of the dreaded foreigner if only we were out of it.

        What interesting is you quote a link which shows we are little different even if OUT of the EU like Switzerland. You have not got the comprehension to realise it.

        • Malfleur

          Ah, “bigot” again; used by HooksLaw’s when trying to blacken UKIP or other political groupings not favoured by the political elite or agreeing with his own views. “Bigot” – yes; he means of course the Mrs. Duffys.

          • Stuart Eels

            Yes he’s like a Liberal Democrat with a broken sandal.

        • Andy

          Hogwash. You Europhiles have been wrong about the EU for the past 30+ years and you are wrong now. If you are so confident of your position why have you never allowed the People to have a say ?

          The reality is the the UK’s relationship with the EU is altering even as I write. The UK is not in the Euro and I cannot imagine it being so within your or my lifetimes. For that ill conceived and ill starred adventure to have any chance of survival radical change will have to come to the Eurozone. That will mean the UK’s relationship will grow increasingly more distant and less engaged.

          If the continental Europeans have any sense, which I doubt, they would understand that it is in all our interests for a better relationship to be devised. They export far more to us than we to them, so if they have any sense they will want to keep that access to our markets. So if they want their grand delusion let them have it and we can have what we have always wanted and always believed we had joined: a free trade area.

        • Colonel Mustard

          I don’t see anything irrational about a dislike of the EU. It is a perfectly healthy dislike and suspicion of foreign politics rather than foreigners per se. And it has been proven umpteen times over in our proud history of standing apart and directing our own affairs. But by calling that desire for control of our own destiny racism you slyly attempt to distort the terms of the debate.

          The EU as invader parks himself in our front room and begins gorging from our larder, demanding tribute and telling us what to do and when we object you call that racism? Pff!

          You think that rabble of self-serving foreigners in Brussels with its tapeworm bureaucracy in tow has something to commend itself over our once glorious parliament? More fool you.

  • David Ossitt


    As is usual you have it in one ‘Bullshit’ is exactly right.

  • Colonel Mustard

    Those “historical triumphs” of 2004 and 2007 will lose any significance once the consequences of EU-sponsored economic immigration in 2014 are felt. And those consequences won’t be limited to the economy. The UK is headed for disaster thanks to the naive posturing of these two clowns. They have failed miserably on immigration and failed on benefits liability, the twin prongs of which will skewer them both and the rest of us.

    And I hope the useful idiots who bleat on about the benefits of immigration remember this.

  • the viceroy’s gin

    “The first is that Cameron himself performs extremely well on the world stage…”


    Who says this, outside the Londonistan bubble?

    In his first act re the EU, he conceded a 2.9% INCREASE to the EU funding, and it’s painful to imagine the cynicism required in that decision: “How much of an increase can we ram by these plebs? Let’s make it 2.9%, just down below 3.”

    Then, his second act was re banking, which the Millipedes were 100% in favor of. Heroic, that.

    He’s done nothing else. Nothing.

    On what do you base this “extremely well on the world stage” business?

    • Colonel Mustard

      Which one are you?

      • dalai guevara

        He is sober…

        • the viceroy’s gin

          …and not stupid.

          • dalai guevara

            Perhaps you have noted I have not voted your comment down. Does that make it wrong?

            • the viceroy’s gin

              You may not know how to work the buttons.

              You are stupid, afterall.

  • Rhoda Klapp

    I ask again, what powers are to be repatriated, and by what mechanism? Simple enough, surely. And anyone who blithely talks about renegotiation MUST have the answers, unless they are peddling bullshit. So, spectator, please ask them, whenever you trot out this story for our renewed (oh, how many times) delectation. Otherwise it make us feel as if someone is trying to pull the wool over our eyes.

    • Andy

      And anyway you cannot trust the Continental Europeans to keep their word. They have shown ample bad faith in other areas so why trust them now ??

      • beat_the_bush

        Insert blind, jingoistic, tagline, involving stereotyping and generalisations based on the fact that there are 20km or so of water between “us” and “them”. Check. Get’s lots of thumbs up. Check. Confirms that the spectator is full of nutters who are unable to see why such a generalisation is a parody of themselves. Check

        • Andy

          Hark, another Labour Troll.

          • beat_the_bush

            You can’t call everyone who points out flaws a troll. You are going to have to deal with those flaws sooner or later.

            • Colonel Mustard

              But you can call anyone who expresses their dislike for the EU a “nutter”. Yes, I understand how that works.

              • beat_the_bush

                Expressing your dislike is one thing, using EUSSR, 4th Reich, and “those bloody continentals”, and attempting to call them arguments, makes you a nutter. Yes. If you can’t see that, then I hope you get help.

          • Colonel Mustard

            No, not a troll. A lawyer who graduated in EU constitutional law. As the EU churns out rather a lot of law it is no surprise that lawyers rather like it and b_t_b likes it rather a lot as his comments show, to the point of getting highly charged and resorting to HooksLaw-type abuse of dissidents. Objective? Impartial? Probably not. But so far, despite best endeavours, the law makers have not legislated against dislike, so we are still free to dislike the EU without having to justify it. Even though b_t_b high on his horse might dislike that.

        • Rahul Kamath

          This is basically correct. Beyond the usual bugbear of immigration and our budget contribution (and even on this most seem to take a racial rather than passport view) the nutters here cannot articulate what powers they would like to repatriate from the EU in any sort of systematic way. I find it bewildering that in the middle of a serious economic crisis a small minority of our population seems to think that leaving the EU will save all.

          • Colonel Mustard

            Well, suspicious as I am of polling your description of a “minority” is flawed. All recent polling shows that those who don’t want a referendum, wish to stay in the EU, or have confidence in the EU are in a minority, not the other way around.

            This is not just the Spectator so tagging those representatives of the anti-EU majority posting here as “nutters” is not helpful and says more about your bigotry (yes, we’ve noticed) than anyone else’s.

          • barbie

            I don’t think 50% of the populas is a minority in this country and rising. We do know what we want a ‘in or out’ vote, nothing else will do. Miliband, Clegg, and Cameron are living in a fools paradise if they believe they can dictate what we want, and ignore us all. Eventually we will have to be listened to, but for them by then it will be to late.

        • Silverghost

          20 miles or so of water, actually. Also, we don’t do kilometres in this country. Look at your car dashboard and the road signs next time you need reminding.

          • lucy


            • Silverghost

              OK, but maybe we could have a drink first?

    • ButcombeMan

      Article 50 applies-read it and please get a grip.

  • realpolitikhome

    The whole idea that the other EU members would somehow be willing to allow the UK to opt out of Treaty provisions and the like on any meaningful scale strikes me as incredibly naive. Why should the other EU leaders allow the UK to be treated differently from anyone else? How would they explain this to their own voters who are increasingly eurosceptic? I wouldn’t exactly bet on France, Germany, Italy or the Netherlands bending over backwards to meet Cameron’s demands (whatever they might be). Their position is still that the UK needs the EU more than the other way round.

    The only thing Cameron can realistically hope for is getting the odd opt-out of some obscure EU Directive, which he will no doubt sell as a massive victory but which will neither convince the electorate nor his party.

    The issue with this whole renegotiation idea is that it is nothing less than a cop-out from letting voters decide whether they want to leave the EU or stay in. It’s a short-sighted strategy aimed at easing the eurosceptic pressures in both the Tory party and the country but there is a high probability this will end in failure.

    • LB

      Very simple. The consequences of not doing so, would be that the UK gets to vote. The UK would vote no. That means no more UK cash, and Brussels is plunged into a crisis. How’s it going to pay those exhorbitant salaries. Heaven forbid, no UK cash means no pensions.

      Then how are they going to cope with all the EU migrants on benefits being sent home?

      • HooksLaw

        First the vote will be to say in, or at the most extreme to join the EEA.
        Second even in the EEA we will be part of the single market and the free movement of labour and sign up to EU regulations – just like Norway.

        Any thought you may have that the UK would vote to be outside the EU tariff wall and single market is a kind of lunacy that even Alice did not find down the rabbit hole.

        If you look at the figures the UK contributions are not as significant as you think – though that will change (thanks to Blair) to a degree.

        We are 4th in net payments and bottom in terms of %age of income

        • LB

          We’re outside of US tariff walls. So what?

          The EU (institutions) would have trouble paying its bills.

          Look at the eastern bloc. Ungrateful sods. The UK should pay more. The UK are scum for not paying more.

          I think we get the message.

          Same in the UK. The rich should pay more. The rich are scum. The rich are scum for leaving.

          I take a different view. The rich, lets have more of them. Then I can pay less. I’ll even toddy up and doff my hat and say, thanks mate.

          Now for the EU. If they want to impose tariffs, then can. There is a trade imbalance. We import more of their goods than we export. We would get an increase in taxation if trade remained at the same level. Big if, because taxation destroys.

          However, there is the big stick. Have your citizens back who don’t pay 11K in tax, the amount the UK government spends per head. We start at the bottom, with those on benefits. We then work up the list as needed.

          Can’t be racist, because its a financial test. Are the migrants good for the UK economically? Yes or No? Stay or go.

        • LB

          The real issue is no democracy. We haven’t had a vote on the issue, so I don’t consent.

    • ButcombeMan

      The option of opting out of the EU is provided for in Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.

      Hardman and the other juveniles here, never mention it.

      Article 50 allows 2 years for re-negotation of the relationship ONCE A NATION HAS DECIDED TO LEAVE.

      For that reason we MUST have a simple in/out Referendum, We MUST as a nation vote to leave. .

      THEN we renegotiate, from a clear and empowered position.

      We need a political leader who will explain this.

      Anything else is fudge and much of the population will reject any fudge and will see through any politician who tries to fudge it.

      Cameron probably lacks the leadership and the sheer guts to do it, but his fortunes and that of the Tory party would be transformed overnight, if he announced that the Tories were to follow the track I have described. It would be momentous and would mark him in history.

      He would need to do it before the next election. It is now probably the only thing that could rescue the Tories from oblivion.

      It would be better tackled before the 2014 EU elections. A volunteer being better than a pressed man.

      2014 is UKIPs year otherwise.

      • ButcombeMan

        Maybe we have more influence here than we think? This from todays Glasgow Herald editorial is almost my words coming back-with “fudge” in quotations. (This is just the opening few lines):

        DAVID Cameron must promise an “in-out” referendum on Britain’s
        European Union membership or face defections to the anti-EU UKIP and a
        challenge to his Conservative leadership, senior party sources have

        Mr Cameron, who is against such a poll, is currently polishing a
        landmark speech on the EU which he is due to make in mid-January, as
        eurosceptic Tories are preparing for the potentially seismic moment.

        Senior sources close to the Prime Minister claim few outwith the
        Tories at Westminster realise the jeopardy Mr Cameron’s premiership is
        in if he “fudges” the issue.

        “Most Conservative MPs and, indeed, most of the country now believe
        we need an ‘in-out’ referendum and that if our membership is to survive
        it has to be on new terms. We have to get back to something like the
        Common Market; the status quo is not an option. The Prime Minister will
        have to accede to our demands,” said one senior Tory source.

    • jonny

      Problem is, Realpolitik, that the British public or most of the subscribers to this blog are never invited to look at this from the perspective of the foreigners they have to negotiate with. As the UK seeks to undermine the political project underpinning Europe for the past 60 years, which is how they will see it, France, Germany et al would be failing in their duty to do any deal favorable to the UK.
      The “we could just sell to China” brigade, all pensioners who don’t actually have to work I guess, need a serious wake up too. I work exporting from UK to rest of world, mostly outside EU, and am very concerned how the damage is brushed aside.
      Vote to leave if you wish but don’t kid yourself that the rest of the world, including EU and US, and possibly Scotland and later Wales will react with anything but exasperation and deprioritize the UK.

      • ButcombeMan

        There is another, more mature view.

        That the EU machine NEEDS the shock of a British renunciation of the existing shambolic arrangements AND a renegotiation. We should be absolutely robust in saying that to other members.

        Britain has stood alone in Europe before, we should not be frightened of doing it again.

        Cameron may not have the leadership qualities to see that and carry it through.

        Seize this opportunity and he will mark history.

        Do nothing, or (more likely) fudge, and he will be the person who destroyed the Tory party, and, inevitably, the UK.

  • David Ossitt

    Is it not a clear indication of how the Spectator Coffee
    House has deteriorated this past year or so, in that the ‘troll’ telemachus has
    posted the most comments 1,873.

    In times past he/she/it would not have been tolerated.

    Click on community.

    • MirthaTidville

      closely followed by Hookie I see

      • HooksLaw

        If you and the usual suspects showed more sense there would be no need.

        • Colonel Mustard

          I like the way you see it as a form of duty to correct the heresy. You share that with telemachus. It must be part of the political elite’s “nudge” culture that believes society is there to be engineered, influenced and ultimately controlled rather than people being left alone to make up their own minds and express them.

          “Nudging” is just a soft-form of fascism. A 21st Century refinement of the jackboot and torchlight parades kind.

          • Malfleur

            And Mr. HooksLaw (an alias, one assumes) will not come out in support of Tommy Robinson of the English Defence League who has been locked up without bail since 24th October awaiting a hearing on 7th January for visiting the USA to attend a conference on a false identity document “with improper intent”. Meanwhile, we read to day in the Daily Mail online that ” A mother and son have had their electronic tags removed so they can celebrate Christmas and New Year’s Eve despite being convicted of a festive burglary”.

            Why HooksLaw’s busy postings along with telemachuis – and apparently more that 6,000 comments at the politicalbetting site! – when his political principles do not even allow him to support a call for a working class chap to be bailed out at Christmas so he can spend the holiday with his wife and children? This is a conservative? I think not. Is he a shill for a magazine? Who can say? Perhaps, as Colonel Mustard intuits, it is simply that HooksLaw/telemachus “believes society is there to be engineered, influenced and ultimately
            controlled rather than people being left alone to make up their own
            minds and express them”.

            • HooksLaw

              Support that utter bigot and thug? ‘working class chap’?? ha! Get lost. We see with the repetitive references to the EDL just how and which way the UKIP tendency lean. After the Rotherham episode one might think you would try to hide it but I guess you can;t help yourself.

              ho ho ho… you have slipped out of character I am afraid. And the way you have jumped to a total facile conclusion about me just shows what a hysteric thicko you are.

              • Malfleur

                Your post is a little incoherent and tangential; but I think I understand from your avoidance of the point that you see no inconsistency, let alone a cause for concern, between the magistrates court (1) refusing bail to Tommy Robinson during the period of two and a half months prior to the hearing of the charge against him, including Christmas and New Year holidays, and (2) granting two convicted burglars tagged freedom and then generously untagging them for that holiday?

          • HooksLaw

            Me part of an elite? My dad was a coal miner and his brother and brother in law and father and grand father.

            What he bequeathed me was a brain. Typical that you resort totally out of the blue and with utterly no justification to ‘fascism’. What a pathetic ignorant numpty you are.

            • Colonel Mustard

              The fascism comment wasn’t directed at you personally but at the current trend in politics from both main parties, one of which you vociferously support here. And whenever it is criticised you invariably resort to personal abuse.

              • Stuart Eels

                Keeps him from doing damage elsewhere though, let him have his Stardom, it does no real harm.

            • Malfleur

              I think Colonel Mustard was suggesting that you are the cat’s paw of the political elite, rather than a member of it.

            • Daniel Maris

              “Me part of an elite? My dad was a coal miner and his brother and brother in law and father and grand father.”

              That must explain why your posts are the pits. :)

            • Baron

              Yup, HooksLaw, you indeed are a part of an elite, the elite of the deluded, emotion driven phylum who knows best how we should live, spits on the past, tolerates the intolerant because of fear of the latter.

              And as for brains, well, a brain your dad may have bequeathed you, use it you don’t, your postings are fueled by anything but rationality, you may not be aware of it, your views resemble mostly those of the totalitarians of the recent past. Views, which when transformed into real life, have been found inimical to human nature, the constructs built upon them failed.

    • Malfleur


    • Colonel Mustard

      I see that “the viceroy’s gin” is recorded twice in the ranking, each with a different total number of comments. Very interesting given the inconsistency of “his” comments from thread to thread.

      • dalai guevara

        Yes, perhaps one is on the gin and the other is off it? That would explain a lot…

        • the viceroy’s gin

          Would it explain the reason you’re stupid?

          • dalai guevara

            qed everybody!

            • the viceroy’s gin

              Probably not… that brand of stupid would take a lot of explanation.

              • dalai guevara

                Is it not a bit early to be on the gin, vice? Maybe someone should inform your mum for her to rerun her manners routine?

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  You really do need to bring along a translator when you post. The full magnitude of stupid can’t quite break through without it.

                • dalai guevara

                  Oh hang on, your mother dumped you at boarding school to retain her sanity. She did not teach you anything. Now, I understand…

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  You understand something?

                  This I gotta see.

            • Colonel Mustard


              • the viceroy’s gin

                Maybe Napoleon will be along soon, to join you and Che and the Lama.

                • Colonel Mustard

                  Don’t hold your breath.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        And what is this “inconsistency” you speak of, field marshal?

  • In2minds

    “Clegg is worried that Cameron will be pushed by his eurosceptic backbenchers” – Democracy in action, how awful!

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