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The Curse of Tutancameron’s Europe speech

20 January 2013

David Cameron’s Europe speech already had a Tutankhamun-style curse on it before events forced him to postpone it, with the much longer delay from its original date of mid-autumn causing a feeding frenzy in the media, in his own party, his coalition partners, and in the opposition.

By the end of last week, it was difficult to find an opposition MP or columnist who hadn’t written a whimsical piece imagining they were Cameron giving the speech (or indeed twisting readers into an even greater willing suspension of disbelief by imagining they were John Major talking to Cameron about the as-yet undelivered speech as David Miliband managed to do).

James reports in his Mail on Sunday column today that Downing Street is now worried the jinx will continue to doom the speech: if they reschedule it for a European location, the snow could delay it yet again (or at least trap unsuspecting political editors for the second time). They also have to dodge many other important events for fear of offending key European leaders, especially Angela Merkel.

The Curse of the Europe Speech also meant its extracts were briefed to journalists before it was cancelled, apparently making it even harder for Cameron to say anything at all that would surprise anyone. Those briefing the Sunday papers were clearly mindful of this: Toby Helm reports in today’s Observer that the speech will contain ‘one significant announcement’ which will act as ‘red meat’ to all but the most hardcore eurosceptics.

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But the delay has also given Nigel Farage one more opportunity to take a chunk out of the Conservatives, and he did this to great effect this morning on the Andrew Marr Show using those pre-briefings.

Farage was lucky that the government guest was William Hague, who has given some pretty strong indications over the past few months that he’s not the raging eurosceptic some might hope. In his interview, the UKIP leader attacked Cameron’s trustworthiness on the issue of Europe, and also made clear that he has what he believes is a better offer: a referendum sooner rather than later.

It was when the two men were sitting awkwardly together on the sofa at the end of the show that Farage made the most deadly swipe. He said:

‘It’s very clear from what the Foreign Secretary has said that he wants us to stay in the European Union and he wants it to change and I think what’s really happening here is we’ll get the speech and then the Conservative party will launch a five-year campaign to try to keep us in the European Union.’

On his Telegraph blog, James Kirkup predicts that Tory MPs will be studying this exchange for clues on how UKIP candidates in their seats will attack them.

One large group of Tory MPs believes the way to keep Farage down is to legislate for a referendum in the next parliament, and they repeated this request to the Prime Minister this week. But Farage knows that as long as Cameron and Hague continue to make the case for Britain in Europe, however meaty their renegotiation promises may be, he can continue to jinx the Tories on Europe long after the cursed speech has finally been delivered.

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Show comments
  • Grrr8

    Hague, Roland Rudd etc. are right. Those who want Britain to leave the EU have the chance to say and vote their piece at the next general election. UKIP provides a clear alternative to the mainstream parties on this question and those who approve of this view should vote accordingly.

    The referendum is, as Kenneth Clarke wisely pointed out, for those who have been defeated in the general election/ parliament and can’t seem to accept this fact and move on. It’s called subverting democratic process.

  • van_Leeuwen

    Reagan – 1987: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” . . . and the wall came tumbling down.
    Obama – 2013: ‘Mr. Cameron, tear up this speech!” . . . and within hours the trip was canceled.

  • roy may

    Its been snowing here since 9.30am and having enjoyed an exceptional lunch of roast pheasant with all the trimmings washed down with an excellent claret I have spent the last couple of hours reading the posts on Conservative Home to pass the time.
    What I find surprising is the resentment shown by many against those who have switched to UKIP of who I am one. Now it cannot be denied that there is a huge build up of anti EU feeling throughout the nation the reasons for which are too numerous to site in this post. However the Conservatives (who I have supported for 50years) seem oblivious to the nations disenchantment and seem to believe that. A) A Cameron vague promise of a referendum sometime will persuade UKIP defectors to return. B) A change of leader will also boost Conservative support. Well I am afraid that neither will suffice in fact the ONLY chance the Conservatives have is to call an in/out binding referendum BEFORE 2015.
    This of course will not happen and the Conservative nemesis was born in these interviews
    Cameron has lost the nations trust its that simple

    • Mycroft

      I think you mistake the disenchantment of a certain group of Tory voters for ‘nation’s disenchantment’, and the notion that the removal of Cameron would boost Conservative support is a delusion; one only has to look at the poll figures, which place approval of Cameron ahead of approval from the party. If Cameron were ejected in favour of a more Eurosceptic (and presumably more right wing) leader, this would be presented in the BBC and most of the press as a ‘lurch to the right’, and more middle of the road voters would desert the party than would be drawn back from UKIP. The fact is that if Cameron gets a majority after the next election, political necessity will demand that he holds a meaningful referendum; if people vote for UKIP in too large a number, Labour will get in, and there will be no referendum, and not even any attempt at renegotiation. It is the latter reality that causes the resentment that you mention against those whho have switched to UKIP. I am happy to vote UKIP in the European elections, but never at a general election for that reason.

  • 2trueblue

    I am no fan of Camerons but am rather fed up and bored that the blog is now just used for Cameron bashing. It serves no purpose at all. After the next election we will have lots of time to watch Liebore in action for the remainder of my life whilst they take us to total penury, and have no democracy. There will be no promises to veto anything, just Millppede, Balls, Byrnes, Burnham. We will probably no longer be allowed to blog. Ah freedom.

    • Wessex Man

      You get what you dream of or have nightmares about, the reason so many knock Cameron here is that they have seen through him and no amount of spin will save him. The referendum in Scotland and the Euro elections next year will see him off anyway. Can you imagine the Tories allowing the man who lost Scotland to stay at their helm?

  • Iain Hill

    You are too unkind! It must be excruciatingly difficult for a PR man to make the choice between a media opportunity from a content free Europe speech and a media opportunity from a content free intervention in Algeria

  • an ex-tory voter

    Maybe, instead of making his speech in a foreign country, David Cameron should consider making his speech in the “supposed” seat of our democracy and make his speech specifically to the people he “supposedly” represents. I have no doubt that modern technology will, within seconds, transmit his every word, oral emphasis and facial expression to the leaders of the various foreign nations who may, or may not be, interested in anything he has to say.

    Maybe, when he makes this speech he might consider making not employing the “fear close” in support of his proposal that we remain part of the EU superstate.
    Maybe his speech should provide an accurate analysis of the means by which we are able to negotiate our exit from this “monumentally expensive country club”, together with his opinion as to why we should not take that course of action.
    Maybe, he should consider putting forward a detailed and considered argument for our continued membership of the EU.
    Maybe, as part of that argument he should provide details and examples of how the people he “supposedly” represents have actually benefited, and will continue to benefit from the membership he supports.
    Maybe, he won’t.

    • Samuel Pepys

      Unfortunately we know that he will never make THAT speech and will never address his own electorate in the way you describe. He is not that man. He can never be that man.

  • David Lindsay

    That Speech by David Cameron will now clash with
    the Inauguration of President Obama’s second term, which is bound to receive
    more attention even in Britain.

    Not as funny as when the wedding of Charles and
    Camilla was going to clash with the second wedding of Ken and Deirdre (but then
    had to be rescheduled around the old Pope’s funeral on that day). Not far off,
    though. Not far off at all. Rescheduled, the Charles and Camilla wedding
    clashed instead with the Grand National.

    If I were a betting man, then I should still bet
    on the Cameron speech’s never being delivered. Whereas Obama really will be
    inaugurated again. Charles and Camilla are still legally and domestically
    married. As are Ken and Deirdre, again. Pope John Paul II remains dead, and has
    indeed been beatified. And the 2005 Grand National was won by Hedgehunter,
    ridden by Ruby Walsh.

    • an ex-tory voter

      Obama’s inauguration will attract more attention in the BBC and Guardian in as much as it offers them the opportunity to drown out anything he might say. However, those UK citizens interested in democracy and sovereignty will be listening to Cameron in the hope of at last hearing something honest emerge from his mouth. Sadly, it is very likely they will be wasting their time.

      • David Lindsay

        Any Presidential Inauguration is just better television. And, in all fairness, bigger news. It wouldn’t have mattered if the protagonists had been anyone else. Watch Sky News tomorrow. Read Tuesday’s Telegraph. You’ll see.

        • Michele Keighley

          That may be your opinion, but it is not the opinion of more civic minded citizens

  • Tom Tom

    How do we square exiting the EU with the St Malo Declaration of wedding our Defence interests with those of France ?

    • the viceroy’s gin

      Can’t be done. Align with France, and the corpses will be stacked up to the moon. History is quite clear on that point. Both sets of politicos know it, and that’s why both are so set on the EU. The politicos know that they themselves cannot be trusted to keep out of general war. And you can see bits and pieces of their self knowledge being acted out today, as they casually step into the next war in the sub-Sahara, absent the consent of the governed.

      The politicos don’t trust themselves to stay out of war, and with good reason, so they seek out a mechanism that will stop them before they war again. Enter the EU.

      Now, the truest means to stay out of war would be to seek the consent of the governed, but they trust the plebs least of all, clearly.

    • Ian Walker

      I dunno, but since we’ve both been members of NATO since 1948 (despite De Gaulle’s petulance in the sixties) I reckon we’ll just about manage.

  • Jimbob

    I saw this on the BBC iPlayer and listening to it here I would always advocate Radio broadcasts over video, you don’t see the silly pregnant PC placed woman to Farage’s right banging on about Africa, the uneasy postures between the two men on Vine’s silly haircut, just the meat, just the views, no distractions.

    Farage is of course correct and we will leave, but sooner or later is not something anybody knows, unfortunately, but it can’t come soon enough.

  • Boudicca_Icenii

    It’s blindingly obvious that Cameron is desperately trying to find a way to get the British peoples’ “Consent” for their governance to be outsourced to the EU in perpetuity.

    He – and every other senior politician in the country as well as a large proportion of the electorate – know that NO consent has ever been given. Successive Governments trapped us in the EU without a mandate.

    Heath never held a Referendum and took us into the EEC by deliberately and systematically lying to the electorate, as he later admitted. Successive governments have maintained the subterfuge and have advanced the project by deceipt.

    The pro-EU Establishment know that sooner or later, the lack of a mandate will be publicly challenged. The evidence necessary is in the public domain in FCO file 30/1048 which was released under the 30 yr rule.
    Anyone who goes back to voting Conservative on the strength of Cameron’s proposal and rigged Referendum is voting to surrender the UK’s independence to the EU. This isn’t about trade … we don’t need to be in the EU to trade with it … this is about Sovereignty, Democracy and the right to self-determination. Cameron is determined to stifle all three.
    Vote UKIP.

    • Macky Dee

      I completely agree. We should vote to leave the EU. If, after renegotiation the British people vote YES to remain in the EU under new terms – They will actually be voting in favour of being governed by an unelected Commission, we will never again get the chance to leave! This is our once in a lifetime opportunity to leave the EU.

  • williamblakesghost

    Whats the 2nd rule of politics?

    Never trust the Tories over Europe

    • Noa

      Oh, the same as the first rule then.

    • HooksLaw

      Tories have not broken any manifesto pledges – labour did and you are actively conspiring to put labour back in power.
      You are so thick I would be surprised if you can tie your own shoe laces.

      • Wessex Man

        Oh Hooky why are you getting so personal, you are becoming so bitter and twisted!

  • Steven Efstathiou

    Cameron is so inept that his failure to deliver the so-called ‘Big Speech’ has rallied more people in support of the EU than against. Further analysis at

  • Chrs Quin

    Nobody is trusts or listens to Dave any more – his audience is his own party and his EU cronies. UKIP and the People’s Pledge will ensure we get a referendum – not the Tory Party.

    Vote UKIP at local, general and Euro elections until we are given a referendum on exiting the EU.

  • Nigel Jones

    Cameron’s ‘speech’ has already become a joke : and a bad joke whose time has passed.
    Come to think of it, rather like the man who planned to deliver it.
    It was always a transparent ruse to try to staunch the haemorrhage of votes to UKIP. Now its blown up in his flabby face.

  • Radford_NG

    Cameron is no Harold Wilson. Brother Wilson lowered the voting age to 18 and gave The Beetles an OBE each;then called an election ,promising a referendum on the EEC(based on spurious claims)……Cameron institutes Gay Marriage and will offer a spurious referendum to an electorate that can’t be fooled all the time.

    • Daniel Maris

      The spelling of Beetles gives no assurance that you much value historical accuracy.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        Sorta like your tortured and clueless windmill discussion gives no assurance that you have any knowledge whatsoever about energy and economic issues.

        • LEngland

          Someone desperately trying to keep down with their grandchildren.

  • In2minds

    ” for fear of offending key European leaders” – And they always come first and the UK voter second, yes we have noticed that.

  • chudsmania

    When we leave , the whole rotten edifice will start to crumble……..Bring it on , asap.

    • Bluesman

      Citizen chudsmania, the rotten edifice is already crumbling – we need to leave before the total collapse.

      Article 50.

      • mcclane

        Nope. Parliament is sovereign. Simply a repeal of the European Communities Act 1972

    • ematter

      Europe is one of the largest economic bodies on the planet. The notion that Europe would crumble and send the UK into decades of terrible recession and debt is hardly a positive outcome for Britain. The notion that we would leave Europe, pushing business and our banking sector into the decline of isolationism is hubris.

      Europe is forging new trade agreements with China and the US. Europe provides less barriers to trade and travel at the global level. Europe offers more growth and greater scientific projects to tackle the issues our children must overcome.

      It is therefore difficult to see how your comment is nothing but puerile.

      • chudsmania

        Yup , its going really well isnt it.Eurozone unemployment soaring , esp in club med (over 24% in Spain , and over 50% for under 25’s) The whole thing is a giant ponzi scheme. Tell me something , is the EU is so good , why arent The likes of Japan , China , the US , Brazil queueing to join ? The EU is just an undemocratic waste of space , and only a complete and utter fool would say otherwise. We can make our own trade agreements in the big wide world , without all the EU red tape that is strangling business and holding the eurozone in permanent recession.

      • John Lea

        Yes, I’ve noticed how those poor Norwegians are really struggling: financially, socially, politically bereft as a result of being out of Europe. Funny how they always top (or appear very near the top) in the various league tables which measure quality of life. Bet they wish they could be more pro-European, like the Italians and Greeks.

        • HooksLaw

          Norway is the 10th biggest contributor to the EU. It is in the single market and implements EU regulations including free movement of labour.
          It is of course rich in oil gas and hydro-power.

          • Rhoda Klapp


      • Noa

        Those losing the argument are often the less well informed and so, like Cameron, they resort to personal abuse rather than fact.
        In your case you could start here.

        We await your reasoned counter-arguments.

        • ematter

          Seriously Noa, you linked me to a UKIP Document on how much the EU costs Britain. If you cannot be bothered to read your own link and put and argument, then why do I need to wade through this trash.
          The UKIP document makes some valid points, and be under no misconception that the EU can do with a lot of improvement. Other than that, your link is trash.
          Economically we are vastly better off in the EU. The basic premise of Economics is trade and growth. Britain is at the point that it will struggle to grow. Britain must ensure that it uses the EU to improve its trade with both Europe, America and China.
          To break it down for you Noa, the amount of lost trade due to leaving the EU, the cost of lost business and banking, the cost of British jobs in the EU, the cost of lost competitiveness and the cost of trade and growth – makes your link nothing short of incredibly short sighted with no concept of economics or intelligence. It is frankly offensively stupid.
          Now given I have tolerated your link, why not try and google economics, trade and growth. As for the other posts, they are also a bunch of uneducated drama queens, unable to think for themselves.
          I am happy to break down other questions you are unable to do yourself, but dropping a dumb link clearly shows no attempt at even attempting to understand the issue.

        • ematter

          Your link is like a little kid complaining why he should share his toys. The little kid has no concept of mutual gains only a tantrum. Your link is propaganda aimed at those with no capacity to see beyond themselves

      • an ex-tory voter

        The EU is actually the opposite of everything described in this post. Further more, the EU is not “Europe”, it is merely “a part of Europe”.

      • Hexhamgeezer

        ‘Europe provides less barriers to trade and travel at the global level’

        You either have zero knowledge of international trade, or, as is more likely, a willing disciple of the EU’s version of taqqiya.

      • HooksLaw

        Waste of breath on the nutjobs.

        The headline and thought behind the article is of course another load of puerile rubbish from Ms Hardman.

        • Wessex Man

          Now I am convinced the biggest nutjob posting on this site is telling everybody else they are nutjobs, the world has gone mad I tell you!

      • Ian Walker

        Europe has the potential to be a powerful trading block. Just not under the EU in its current guise.

        I’m all for a united Europe – it’s naive to think that Britain can really stand alone in the world for very long. But let’s start fresh, with a lightweight trade federation that knows its place and is happy with it, not an ever-expanding political bureaucracy intent on homogenising several dozen distinct and ancient cultures into a bland uniform grey mass devoid of spark, wit or inspiration.

        • Macky Dee

          That’s an old saying – Britain would be alone outside the EU… Can you elaborate on that?

      • Macky Dee

        You will give away your childrens childrens right to democracy. I hope your families future generations agree with your heroically stupid act of surrendering democratic sovreignty because little old England aint good enough on it’s own!

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