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David Cameron continues with his ‘tantric’ European strategy

14 January 2013

David Cameron told journalists before Christmas that he had a ‘tantric’ approach to his European policy speech: that it would be all the better when it eventually came. So today he decided to continue tantalising his party and the media by popping up on the Today programme a whole week before he’s due to give the speech, and refusing to give details of what that speech will contain.

It’s an interesting strategy, as speaking so far before the speech won’t help the Conservative party remain calm. The next week was always going to be a little frenzied in the run-up to the speech. But here’s what we did learn from the Today interview:

1. The Prime Minister is in favour of Britain in Europe.

He argued that ‘Britain does have a European future’, but that this future involves reform.

‘I am in favour of Britain’s membership of the European Union. We’re a trading nation, we need access to the single market, but more than that we need a say in the rules of that market. So I believe Britain does have a European future.’

‘But frankly, there is a debate going in Britain about our relationship with Europe – a lot of people are not happy, including me, with some of the nature of that relationship, and I think there’s an opportunity to get that relationship right.’

He did clarify that he didn’t believe that Britain would ‘collapse’ if it did leave the European Union, but it’s clear that he will still campaign for ‘In’ in the event of a vote on Britain remaining in the EU or leaving.

2. He believes that now is a good time to be discussing that changed relationship…


The Prime Minister said the changes in the European Union provided Britain with ‘opportunities to make changes’. He explicitly rejected the warnings issued over the past week by Ed Miliband and allies of Angela Merkel that seeking a renegotiation was in some way dangerous by pointing out that ‘this debate is happening anyway’ and that it would be wrong to ‘stick your head in the sand and just hope the debate is going to go away’.

‘So Europe is changing and the opportunity for us to lead those changes and make changes and make changes that will make our relationship with Europe more comfortable are absolutely there so I’m confident we can do that.’

He was also keen to make clear that he was ‘confident’ that he could secure changes to Britain’s relationship with the European Union.

3. …and once that relationship has changed, voters will have their say…

Cameron used the same language he has used in the House of Commons to describe the renegotiation process: ‘a fresh settlement and then fresh consent for that settlement’. He insisted that voters would be ‘properly and fully consulted':

‘So we need both to take advantage of the change that’s happening anyway in Europe, and then also make sure the British public are properly and fully consulted.’

4. …but he was clear that there will not be an in/out referendum soon.

‘You’ll have to wait for the speech for the full details, but obviously I want to give people a proper choice. What I don’t favour – and this is important – I think if we had an In/Out referendum tomorrow or very shortly, I don’t think that would be the right answer for the simple reason that I think we’d be giving people a false choice. Because right now, I think there are a lot of people who say, ‘Well, I would like to be in Europe, but I’m not happy with every aspect of the relationship, so I want it changed’ – that is my view. So I think an In/Out referendum today is a false choice.’

Add to this Eric Pickles’ words yesterday on Pienaar’s Politics, and it looks as though the Prime Minister will be offering a referendum after a renegotiation. Pickles said:

‘It’s really important not to jump our fences before we get there and it’s really important to know exactly what the wording of the referendum is. In the interest of Britain: it will be about whether or not it’s in our interests, sorry it’s slightly a tautology, whether it’s in our interests to remain in the European Union. And I’ll tell you I won’t be voting on party lines, I’ll be voting on what’s in the interests of the country.’

But today the Prime Minister refused to say what he’d do if he failed to secure a new settlement.

So from this interview, we should expect an announcement in next week’s speech that the referendum that the Prime Minister is going to offer is new terms or out. But in the intervening few days, there will be plenty of hares running around as a result of this interview.

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  • Russell

    Strange how the usual ‘leaving the EU will be a disaster for the UK as businesses will not invest in the UK’ mob cannot name a single company that has said it would cancel investment plans for the UK if the UK left the EU.
    We get bombarded with Sorrell, Branson, Mandelson, Clarke and Cameron/Miliband/Clegg all telling us we must not leave the UK.
    I wonder whose interests these people are speaking for?

    The politicians who love to hobnob around Europe, wining and dining at our expense, or the business leaders with their money stashed away in Swiss banks or avoiding payment of UK corporation tax.
    The Kinnocks and Mandelson with their fat EU pensions (which we pay for).
    The press with their journalists hobnobbing around europe on lavish expenses following the politicians.
    The BBC with all its foreign journalists and presenters based in Brussels/Berlin/Paris all enjoying fat salaries and lavish expense accounts.

    The whole EU thing is rotten to the core and we should cease paying £20BILLION per year into this corrupt organisation (Rich Kids Club).

    • Tom Tom

      “Investment” is a funny term. Most of this “investment” has been taking over British companies like Plessey, BREL, Cadbury, Rowntree, Dunlop, ICI, etc……it is not NET Investment in capacity but simply transfer of ownership funded by British Bank loans (as with RBS funding Kraft) and Dividend outflows to Swiss holding companies

  • MirthaTidville

    Oh come on should any of us be suprised……..he`s just piss and wind….this proves it

  • old_labour

    It looks like switch and bait from Cameron.

    Giving those who want to leave the EU one impression, and giving another to those who wish to remain.

  • FF42

    David Cameron essentially wants to keep the status quo. If you want to do something different, eg leave entirely or join the EEA, you would just go ahead and do it. You wouldn’t stop to try out different negotiations first.

    Having decided to keep Britain in the half-in relationship that it finds itself, it does actually make sense to regularise our status and define the boundaries and so on.

    In this case the decision to stay comes first and the negotiations second. It’s a bit confusing when he presents his plan as an agenda for change when it’s the exact opposite.

  • Hexhamgeezer

    Cameron doesn’t want a referendum now (or ever truth be told). Milliband agrees (quelles suprise!) and Pickles won’t discuss the impending A2 influx.

    Business as usual then for all the chums in the Westminster bubble with their heads in the trough and their arses pointing out at us.

  • Christopher Mooney

    I’d say a referendum is probably un-winnable for Farage and his outers. Certainly, if the EU recovers.

    It’s OK saying EU withdrawl has public backing, but that’s only because:

    1: EU is currently at an all time low
    2: Withdrawal has had no scrutiny whatsoever.

    You know, if it came to a referendum in say 2018, you’d have

    Business leaders, global political leaders, leaders of all 3 main parties, economists


    The Daily Express, Eric Pickles, Nigel Farage, and a few pressure groups

    • Tom Tom

      Hardly. The EU has not fully evolved into what it will become. That is the problem. People in Europe have been taken hostage by a Central Planning Apparatus which has freed the Executive in every European State from democratic control and accountability and which has tax and spending powers uncontrolled by voters

    • Colonel Mustard

      Membership has had even less scrutiny. What exactly does out £45 million per day pay for. Why has the audit of EU finances not been signed off? Where is the transparency of costs (including EU staff expenses) vs benefits?

      The EU Commission employs over 30,000 people including 1,298 Brits. No doubt some of them post comments in relevant blog threads and turkeys don’t vote for Christmas.

    • Russell

      You conveniently forgot to mention the MILLIONS of voters who want to be rid of our expensive membership of the EU along with the Express, Pickles & Farage.
      Business ‘leaders’ who care only about their profits!
      Global political ‘leaders’ who care only about their ego’s.
      Economists, who have demonstrated their incompetence over the last 5 years +.

  • Christopher Mooney

    His strategy to me seems to be:

    “Offer vague promise of some sort of referendum, in the distant future – as long as
    you vote him back into power”

    Haven’t heard that one before………..!

  • an ex-tory voter

    There is absolutely nothing Cameron can say or do which will induce me to vote for a party which he leads. He has shown himself to be bereft of principle and backbone, a snake oil salesman and nothing more. His continued prevarication over this speech, whilst no doubt behind the scenes begging Merkel, Van Rompuy et al for even the tiniest crumb of comfort, is indicative of the real and present danger which he represents to democracy, freedom, liberty prosperity and sovereignty.

  • MikeBrighton

    We are about to be defauded. “it looks as though the Prime Minister will be offering a referendum after a renegotiation”…we are about to be defrauded,

    So the renegotiation will be “tough”, our European partners will “give a lot of ground”, here will be “red-lines” and “cast-iron guarantees”; the new settlement arrived at after the “tough” negotiation will be a “great deal for Britain”. This “great deal” will be offered up as our new “contract with Europe”, and the liberal BBC, Guardian axis will be in full flight frightening the public about the consequnces of leaving.

    The EU will make all the right noises as will Merkel and Hollande to keep us (and our money in) about how the relationship has changed and how “painful” it is for them but it’s in “both parties interests that the UK continues its membership”

    The new “contract with Europe” will be a outright fraud and business-as-usual with the EU.

    For Dave read Heath mk 2

    • telemachus

      There will be no renegotiation but below is an example of the tripe emanating from europe on this

      “David Cameron‘s whole European plan has been thrown into doubt reduction than dual weeks before his landmark debate on a European Union as Germany backs divided from initiating negotiations that would give Britain a possibility to scratch behind some powers from a EU.

      Amid flourishing German tongue opposite British Eurosceptics – including a warning that they are seeking to “blow up” a EU’s singular marketplace – tactful sources pronounced Angela Merkel was abandoning skeleton to call for a vital rider of EU treaties.

      The chancellor’s pierce will come as a blow to a primary minister, who is approaching to contend in his long-awaited EU speech, due to be delivered in a Netherlands on 22 January, that he would use a vital covenant rider to renegotiate a terms of British membership. “

  • Colonel Mustard

    Let’s see if he can ‘tantric’ out the humongous and growing debt, ‘tantric’ out the compulsive gluttony of an obese and growing public sector, ‘tantric’ out the burden of the bloated EU and ‘tantric’ out the waves of Roma immigration that are going to sink this country for good in 2014.

  • Tom Tom

    The speech Cameron might give will be replete with the same phrases used by Margaret Thatcher in 1975 because it is a canned-speech read out by an actor reprising a role. They really should do laxative ads on ITV.

  • Austin Barry

    Was Cameron asked about the EU sanctioned army of Romanians and Bulgarians massing on our borders for its anticipated advance, ‘Operation Destabilise’, next year?

    I suspect not.

    • telemachus

      Far too much looking over shoulders at the right wing immigration lobby
      He needs to take heed of Hestletine and Clarke and the almost reasonable Tory wing.

      • telemachus

        We dealt with the Bulgarians under slim boy Pickles this morning but for ease of reference

        Bulgarians are hard-working and entrepreneurial. They have a strong work ethic, making them sought-after workers in the EU and other countries. Their attention to service and to the customer is a valuable and recognised asset, and companies large and small benefit from this. Indeed, one suspects Bulgaria benefits from this work ethic and is developing irrespective of government, foreign aid, and “mutri” and others interference and self-interest. My assessment of the Bulgarian people is that with much enthusiasm and flair they will make a future that is not bright but glowing. However, despite their hopes and the opportunities, national and local government may unwittingly stifle them. This appears apparent from casual observation that appears to indicate a lack of both national government stewardship and municipal management of infrastructure: it might be why tourism is falling and repeat business is absent.

        • telemachus

          And a comment for Tom Tom
          This author would have been delighted to recieve an honour from Vladimir Ilyich or more from his illustrious charismatic successor

          • RKing

            You forgot to mention that they come here for our benefits system and lower the wages for our non-skilled workers eventually forcing them out of work. Oh and don’t forget the housing shortage that they cause which means that ministers are now considering building on greenfield sites!!

            • Andy

              Plus we already have 2 million unemployed.

              • telemachus

                So invest for jobs and growth to increase tax revenues and pay down the deficit

                • Andy

                  Your numb skull mate Gordon the moron Brown shouldn’t have f***** up the economy, aided by Ed bollocks Ball and Weee Ed I carry the bags Miliband. When are they – and you for that matter – going to apologise and beg for forgiveness from the British People ??

                • 2trueblue

                  As youth unemployment escalated during the Blair/Brown/Balls/Millipede reign then they obviously did not invest correctly. They also presided over a massive growth in child poverty, and widened the gap between rich and poor. They also had the upper tax rate lower for 13yrs. so what exactly did we gain over those years by your masters? Of course the BILL which our grandchildren will be paying back.

                • barbie

                  The majority hoping to come are Roma Gypsies, who are uneducated, infested with criminal ideas, can’t read or write, and you propose our taxes are used to home and house this lot, you must be mad.

            • telemachus

              The idea that migrants just come over and go on the dole is far from the truth. In fact migrants are 60 percent less likely to claim state benefits than people born in Britain.

              They are also 58 percent less likely to live in social housing. However this is not something to celebrate. Welfare should be for everyone, whatever country they were born in.

              • Tom Tom

                They are much more likely to live on welfare and have large families

              • francbanc

                “Welfare should be for everyone, whatever country they were born in.”

                Not when it results in economic implosion, loony.

                • telemachus

                  No but the economic benefits that these folk bring make them affordable
                  This country must advance
                  As indeed we did in former years by invasion
                  And as the US has done
                  I do not desire an ossified little England watching the Asian tiger

              • foxoles
              • Hexhamgeezer

                101% gibberish

              • Sandy_Jamieson

                They should be 100% less likely to live in social housing and 100% less likely to claim benefits.
                Please get it into your head, WE JUST DO NOT WANT THEM HERE

          • Tom Tom

            Useful Idiot iit is then……

        • MirthaTidville

          Know many Bulgarians do you…..No?..well you bloody well soon will

        • foxoles

          We get it: you prefer Bulgarians to Brits. Quelle surprise.

          • telemachus

            On the contrary I love my country and countrymen but know that as we needed Hengist and Horsa to develop so we need the influx of new dynamism

        • George Anderton

          Having spent three holidays in Bulgaria in recent years I have to say this “hard working, entrepreneurial strong work ethic” was hardly reflected in what was on view. Have to admit though they have been somewhat hampered by living under a socialist regime.

        • barbie

          Well all the other EU members can have them, for free, we don’t want them, can’t afford them, we are full up.

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