Coffee House

The wrong choice for Britain’s EU ambassador

5 August 2013

David Cameron is committed to an EU referendum if he’s still Prime Minister after the next election. We also know that he’d like to lead the ‘In’ side if he can get a good enough deal.

Given this, the fact that the FT is reporting that Ivan Rogers, the PM’s Europe adviser, is the frontrunner to be Britain’s ambassador to the EU is particularly disappointing. Rogers is a cerebral chap who knows the EU and its institutions back to front. But what he is not is someone who is a natural at driving a hard bargain. As one insider says, ‘he’s not a tough negotiator like Cunliffe’, a reference to the current ambassador Jon Cunliffe who is leaving to join the Bank of England as a deputy governor.

This makes you wonder how Cameron thinks that this renegotiation is going to happen. If he’s going to get anywhere near a good enough deal to persuade the majority of his own party to back In, then it’s going to have to be an all hands to the pump effort. He is going to require an EU Ambassador who is capable of playing diplomatic hard-ball. Ivan Rogers is not that man.

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  • AnotherDaveB

    Norman Tebbit:

    “…Not only has Mr Rogers been advising already on our European policy (surely a disqualification) but he was chief of staff to Leon Brittan while he was vice-president of the Commission. In short he is a fully paid-up member of the Eurocracy, committed to our membership of the ever-closer union”

  • global city

    He doesn’t want a renegotiation. All Cameron wants is the impression that there are negotiations.

    The Commission will drop the chores they want to and it will be presented back in a sycophantic British press as the great fight back.

    Then we’ll be hooked in forever!

  • Smithersjones2013

    I hear Dave is thinking of using a white flag as his emblem for renegotiating our relationship with the EU and in wearing a white feather to the negotiations.

  • fathomwest

    Cameron is a Europhile. He will NEVER give an IN/OUT referendum if there was any chance he would lose. We will be treated, as Wilson treated the people, will lies and false promises to achieve a IN vote.
    Never forget that Cameron came back after allegedly getting a reduction in the amount of money the UK paid to the EU. Yet we find this last week that we are paying billions more than ever.
    Some negotiator. Some politician. A true man of straw.

    • Wessex Man

      and our Farmers are now getting the lowest subsidy from the EU CAP system than any other EU country and the French are having no cuts, magic Dave!

      • HookesLaw

        CAP reforms give more flexibility to individual countries as to how they implement payments. So you need to be a bit more detailed in your examination.

        CAP payments are falling and regional funds are rising. France is becoming a net contributor to CAP

  • Lady Magdalene

    Cameron knows he can’t get a substantial-enough renegotiation from the EU, so it’s just a game of smoke and mirrors.
    Merkel has probably already agreed to a fig-leaf repatriation of the ability to decide on a few p!ddling little issues (the real power will remain in the EU). So Cameron doesn’t want or need a tough negotiator. He needs a tame nodding dog who won’t frighten the rest of the EU with “outrageous” demands which Merkel would have to reject.
    This is just a diplomatic game and Cameron’s only intention is getting a Mandate to keep us IN the EU.
    Whatever p!ddling powers are returned (if any) will be dressed up and “marketed” as the most amazing victory since the Battle of Trafalgar. And the propaganda campaign will go into full swing to get the Mandate The Establishment needs.
    Anyone taken in by this charade is a fool.

    • Denis_Cooper

      Actually I think a British Prime Minister could extract substantial concessions from the other EU member state governments if he was determined to do so and he made it clear from the outset that if he didn’t get what he wanted then the UK would have to leave the EU altogether. But if instead he went into the negotiations having already made it clear that his paramount concern was to keep the UK in the EU then obviously he would be in a weak position and could only hope to get a few sops, maybe as in 1975 concessions which were so minor that they didn’t even need any treaty change, and of course that is exactly what Cameron has done.

  • HookesLaw

    An ephemeral article based on endless suppositions
    Rodgers is going to get the job
    Rodgers would be involved in meaningful negotiations and
    Rodgers would not be up to the negotiations.
    All geared to allow the usual nutjobs a chance to press their ignorance upon us.

    Of course one of the main reasons for the renegotiation of the UK’s relationship with the EU is the EU’s drift towards closer fiscal and hence political union and the need to secure the continued strength of our financial sector.
    As such Rodgers makes a plausible appointment. I very much doubt that this consideration crossed Mr Forsyth’s mind as he penned his hasty article.

  • Curnonsky

    Which means the promised referendum will not be a simple “in or out” question, but a choice between a nebulous “more-or-less-in” option and an equally murky “out-only-not-entirely” option. The whole thing to be as muddied and confusing as possible, with result that whatever the outcome of the vote Cameron will hail it as a mandate to carry on as before.

  • paulus

    It just gets worse and worse, he had no right to sign the british taxpayers up to a bail out for a foreign currency. This is an impeacheable offence. No official or minister can sign off an open ended financial undertaking of this magnitude without the express authority of the House of commons. It is unconstitutional and must be tested in Law.

    • HookesLaw

      As ever you engage in fantasies.
      For instance, we have been members of the IMF since its inception and special drawing rights are not an expense for the taxpayer. They are in fact classed as assets.

      • paulus

        As per usual you didn’t bother reading properly what people write.. an IMF loan is a targetted specific loan, whereas the the EU bail out fund is an openended commitment for how many years, or how many billions wil be involved, or how may Countries will need it.

        I cant remember the figures off the top of my head but I think our commitment to the IMF is only 4% of the total whereas our commitment to this bail out could rise exponentially.

      • Lady Magdalene

        The IMF’s rules apply to bailing out countries which are in economic difficulties and any loans are made with very serious strings attached.
        It is not there to rescue a currency.

        • Andy

          Yes and in bailing out the Euro the IMF drove a coach and four through their own rules.

          • Denis_Cooper

            And today in the FT there’s a letter from some American asking whether the IMF can resist the pressure to bend its own rules in the future:


          • HookesLaw

            They bailed out Greece for instance not the Eurozone

            • Denis_Cooper

              They agreed an illegal bailout of Greece not for the benefit of Greece but to preserve the eurozone intact.

              • HookesLaw

                So Greece did not benefit from the bail out??
                A bail out which of course was not illegal no matter how many times you pretend otherwise.
                Living in a fantasy world is no way to get taken seriously and believe me I do not take you or any of the other loony toon dipstick nutjobs remotely seriously.

                You live in a seriously deluded fantasy world.

                • Denis_Cooper

                  Greece is in a deeper hole now than it was three years ago, and it continues to get deeper, and that is the price of being kept in the eurozone rather being encouraged and helped to get out of it.

                  Merkel herself said that any bailout would be illegal under the EU treaties, more than once, before she decided that to preserve the eurozone intact there had to be a bailout and so she would then have to pretend that it wasn’t illegal – a pretence which your man Cameron has agreed to maintain.

        • HookesLaw

          The IMF loans (as per my example) were not to rescue a currency. the strength of the Euro was one of the problems for Greece and Spain. IMF Loans (from its call on special drawing rights) were indeed to individual countries and not the currency.
          Do you(have a clue what your talking about?

          • paulus

            As per usual sematics, Greece wouldn’t need a bailout if it wasn’t using the Euro, it could just devalue and adjust. It is an explicit bailout for the Countries locked in the Eurozone.

            As for your comparison with the Ascention to the IMF by the United Kingdom, im almost certain that this would have been brought before Parlaiment to ratify.

            The bailout was negotiated and agreed to by unelected civil servants in connivance with the executive, dispite treaty agreements and popular consent of the people and Parliament. All financial undertakings or commitments must have the consent of Parliament. It is part of the written and unwritten constitution. Therefore, it is illegal and an impeachable offence. Those involved must bear the financial burden not the State.

            Or next you will be telling us that once in power we have to meet the gambling debts and bar bill of ministers of the Crown.

            • Wessex Man

              Good straight forward answer, I look forward to Hooky’s prattling reply for a bit of amusement!

              • HookesLaw


            • HookesLaw

              Its not semantics. Greece was bailed out not the Euro the Euro’s strength was the problem.

              We make special drawing rights available to the IMF as do very many countries (it has 187 members). The quotas we make available are passed by parliament.
              (the International Monetary Fund (Increase in Subscription) Order 2011, which was made on 18 July 2011, having been debated in the Delegated Legislation Committee on 5 July 2011, and approved by the House on division (274 votes to 246) on 11 July 2011.)

              As part of the recent increase in quotas our share was in fact disproportionately small compared to some countries The Eurozone (not us) also have a separate fund.

              Your talk about unelected this that and the other is plain rubbish. No in fact of course its hysterical rubbish.)

              • paulus

                I see after waffling incessantly about the IMF, you concede that the EU has a seperate fund. An unfunded seperate fund. A civil servant an unelected civil servant signed us up to this fund.

                What is hysterical about he is unelected? what is hysterical that he signed us up to a funding mechanism bailing out Eurozone countries? seperate from the IMF.

                You are trying to mislead people: seperate funds, seperate bodies, seperate governance, seperate liabilities. Oh and I like the way you change liabilties into assests. some one who owes you money with no realistic prospect of paying and are going to default is not an asset its a liabilitiy. To view it as such is false accounting, the same trick Enron used in submitting the ether as an an asset

  • Denis_Cooper

    “David Cameron is committed to an EU referendum if he’s still Prime Minister after the next election.”

    Only if he’s Prime Minister of a Tory government with an overall Tory majority.

    It has already been strongly hinted that if he needed to cut another deal with the LibDems for a coalition government then he would not insist on EU renegotiation followed by a referendum being part of the coalition agreement.

    • Noa
      • Greenslime

        Neither of the above posts are credible. He has categorically stated that there will be a renegotiation followed by a referendum. The public, at least the noisy part of it, are for a referendum and I think that there are enough Tories who would join the Kamikaze Brigade if Cameron either declined to hold a referendum or subsequently chose to ignore the result. He wouldn’t last two minutes.

        • Noa

          You don’t deny that David Cameron said that he would not leave the EU, yet defend his credibility, on the ground that such a statement is not credible?

          • Greenslime

            I do deny that he said he would not leave the EU.

            He said that his personal preference was to stay in, not that he would not leave.

    • HookesLaw

      A well argued statement of the bleedin’ obvious.

      • Denis_Cooper

        What’s “bleedin’ obvious” to you?

        That in reality Cameron is not that much bothered about repatriation of powers from the EU, and he doesn’t want any referendum, and so he’d be prepared to bargain that commitment away during negotiations with the LibDems?

        “Although Mr Cameron’s comments in Eastleigh were seen as a useful piece of electioneering as the tense by-election campaign enters its final week, allies confirmed the prime minister was not willing to scupper a future coalition on the referendum issue.”

        I don’t think it could have been so “bleedin’ obvious” to the Tory MPs who accused him of reneging on his promise.

        • HookesLaw

          Whats obvious is that the libems do not want a referendum. Without a tory majority its unlikely we will get one. certainly not with a labour majority.

          Or as the ally said
          ‘“You never know what might happen in coalition talks,” said one. “The only way we can be 100 per cent sure of getting a referendum is with a Tory majority.”

          Selectively quote from a piece of speculative journalism all you want.

          Set against that the tories have given us legislation requiring a referendum if there is a new treaty. And of couirse the tories have already voted for the bill legally requiring a referendum by 2017.

          • Denis_Cooper

            So are you saying that if it was another hung Parliament then Cameron would insist that any coalition agreement with the LibDems must include a government policy of repatriation of powers from the EU followed by a referendum?

            It will be enough for you to answer “Yes” or “No” to that simple question.

            If your answer is “No” then clearly you agree with me that:

            “David Cameron is committed to an EU referendum if he’s still Prime Minister after the next election.”

            is not true, as I originally pointed out.

            • HookesLaw

              Who knows. You don’t. My guess is they would insist.

              If there is no overall majority then what could be got through parliament?
              If the Tories have a majority there will be negotiations and a referendum.

              • Denis_Cooper

                I have a report in the FT saying that “allies confirmed the prime minister was not willing to scupper a future coalition on the referendum issue” to back my guess that he would not insist, so what do you have to back your guess that he would?

                Apart that is from your mindless loyalty to the Tory party, which you put above loyalty to your country.

                • HookesLaw

                  The only specific quote was — “You never know what might happen in coalition talks,” said one. “The only way we can be 100 per cent sure of getting a referendum is with a Tory majority.”

                  This seems a plain statement of the bleedin’ obvious to me.

                • Denis_Cooper

                  So you have nothing to back up your guess.

          • jatrius

            “Set against that the tories have given us legislation requiring a referendum if there is a new treaty” NO They haven’t. Only if there is a ‘substantial’ treaty change. Who decides upon this? The UK executive which is signing further powers away under the royal prerogative and delegated legislation.

            • HookesLaw

              pathetic whinging.

              • jatrius

                I find it more pathetic that you should attempt to insult people’s intelligence with petty insults when faced with an empirical fact. The salami-slicing proceeds apace, unhindered by any action of DC. He is hardly the epitome of good faith on this subject and you are surprised that he should be carefully scrutinised?

                • HookesLaw

                  The fact is there is a referendum coming. The only possibility of there not being one is if the tories do not get a majority in 2015.
                  But still the loonies complain.

                  Stop whingeing – the usual suspects are endless in their insults and crass generalisations.

  • AnotherDaveB
    • Noa

      Thanks DaveB2! Excellent links.

  • Noa

    As usual Richard North cuts through the sonorous declamations and ersatz ‘analysis’ to the truth of the matter.
    ” if it is not this piece of news you are feasting your eyes upon, then an
    alternative on offer is the appointment of a new Dr Who. Of the two
    bits of news, there need be no guesses as to which is deemed as more
    important by the majority of the media claque.”

  • WatTylersGhost

    Mr Forsyth, you have been watching Tory politics for years.
    Why are you surprised?
    What did you expect?
    Please grow up and smell the coffee.

  • Barakzai

    Cronyism and setting the bar low is certainly in keeping with past Labour Governments’ postings to Brussels . . . .

  • Austin Barry

    Cameron and his chums will go into EU negotiations with winks and nods and waving a metaphorical white flag.

    How exactly can someone who believes we should be in the EU negotiate effectively?

    It would be like sending in Oliver Reed to negotiate a ban on alcohol.

    • Drabble

      I would have thought that a drunken Oliver Reed would stimulate an immediate ban on alcohol.

      • Major Plonquer

        If Oliver Reed was alive today he’d be turning in his grave.

  • anyfool

    It is another indication he does not want a renegotiation, he wants a fig leaf.

    • itdoesntaddup

      Why put up someone competent when you have agreed to forego competences already?

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