In his victory address after the successful EU Budget deal this afternoon, David Cameron sought to paint himself once again as a Galileo-style EU heretic who spoke truth to power. This was all about what Cameron himself had achieved: his press conference statement was full of first person references to what he had ‘slashed’ and ‘achieved’. At one point he even said ‘at last someone has come along’ to sort the EU’s ‘credit card’, again clearly referring to himself.
This echoes the Prime Minister’s Europe speech last month where he talked about Europe’s ‘experience of heretics who turned out to have a point’. Today he was Camileo, the heretic who did have a point and won the argument. He was keen to underline that his negotiating skills meant Britain was not, as Labour likes to say, isolated in Europe, saying:
‘It also shows that working with allies, it is possible to take real steps towards reform in the European Union. As I said in my recent speech, this is the way to get a good deal for Britain and a good deal for Europe too and that should include a good deal for Europe’s taxpayers and that’s exactly what we’ve delivered today.’
Cameron did work well with allies at this summit. While Hollande delivered le snub rather than joining talks with Cameron, Merkel, van Rompuy and Barroso, the British PM had meetings with his key northern allies, and kept Merkel on side. All this, he hopes, bodes well for the biggest test of Camileo the heretic: his renegotiation of Britain’s EU membership.
P.S. Herman van Rompuy had a rather less clear interpretation of the budget deal. ‘Obviously, you can look at the end result through many, many prisms,’ he said, helpfully. Hopefully that doesn’t include Edward Leigh’s quite terrifying ‘merciless prism’…