David Cameron has been repeating his line about the importance of sticking to principles in opposing Jean-Claude Juncker this morning ahed of the European Council summit where his fate will be sealed. As he walked into the summit this morning, the Prime Minister said:
‘There are times when it’s very important to stick to your principles and stick to your convictions even if the odds are heavily stacked against you, rather than go along with something that you believe is profoundly wrong and today is one of those days. I’ll tell you why it is so important: the European elections showed there is a huge disquiet about the way the European Union works and yet the response, I believe, is going to be wrong on two grounds: wrong on the grounds of principle; it’s not right that the elected heads of government of the European countries will give up their right to nominate the head of the European Commission; the most important role in Europe, that is a bad principle, and it’s the wrong person.’
But once Cameron has had his paler ‘no, no, no’ moment with Juncker, he then needs to work out how he can work with this new president, having opposed him so vehemently, and with the support of the British press who have drawn attention to Juncker’s less appealing habits in a way that Juncker himself is furious about. As a political gesture, opposing Juncker has pleased eurosceptics, but Cameron will be in the worst possible position to sweet talk the man he must do business with. Breakfast cognacs may only be the start of that reconciliation.