Published on 23 Nov 2012

Britain not isolated shock

As the EU summit broke up without agreement, David Cameron acknowledged that there had been attempts by many of the other EU members to “put Britain in a box and do a deal without (us).”

But by the end he had company and was not alone, boasting of other contributor countries who stood shoulder to shoulder with his bid for tighter EU budget, particularly Sweden and the Netherlands.

David Cameron swung the Thatcher handbag in his press conference and clouted European Commissioner Jose Manuel Barroso squarely on the head with it. He accused the commission president of being on a parallel universe and insulting European taxpayers by failing to come up with a single euro in saving in the proposals brought forward last night. He said “not enough effort has been made” on looking for budget cuts in areas outside cohesion funds and agriculture.

He refused all attempts to be pinned down on exactly what constitutes the EU budget freeze he insists is still his bottom line but it does sound like by the end of the talks the European Council President Herman Van Rompuy was coming within touching distance of the sort of numbers David Cameron has in mind. The danger for David Cameron now is that other countries dig in and re-form their opposition to Britain but that seems unlikely with the all-powerful Angela Merkel as some kind of sympathiser and protector.

Very few budget summits manage to get the numbers lined up successfully at the first attempt. This one is no exception. It’s not a seismic failure and if the relatively subdued blame game can be kept low key there’s a good chance of a deal in the new year.

For David Cameron it’s an awful lot better than some of the other outcomes that have looked plausible at different points in the run-up to this summit. He’s got Brussels-bashing headlines, taken a swipe at the chief bureaucrat and not conceded a deal that his backbenchers can unpick. Most importantly, he’s not completely isolated. Another summit where Europe lined up 26 against 1 and there would’ve been euphoria in the Tory ranks but serious questions elsewhere in the Coalition and beyond about what journey Britain was on.

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6 reader comments

  1. Philip Edwards says:

    Gary,

    You have to larf at Cameron’s clown-charade:

    “He said “not enough effort has been made”…”

    This comes from a multi-millionaire who has never done a stroke of work in his life, a politician who has done virtually nothing to pursue his banker chums who have stolen our national wealth, who is soaked in the blood of innocent Arab people, and above all will do nothing to restore economic decency and fair mindedness in British life.

    His dance of the bees might go down well with crackpot Little Englanders who read the Daily Mail, the Sun and all the other Murdoch rags, but there are still some of us who will treat him with the contempt he and his ilk deserve.

    No wonder Europeans see Britain as nothing more than a floating aircraft carrier for the USA – Airstrip One, indeed. How sad. How PREDICTABLE – you could ask George Orwell if he were alive.

  2. TIM HAZAEL says:

    I am not particularly political but having worked within a very Socialist regime in France for the last 10 years and witnessed at first-hand the antipathy to self motivation and entrepreneurism, I really admire Cameron’s strength and conviction in standing up against the self-interest and naivity of Brussels and many other European countries that think they can solve the economic problems without compromising their own union-led policies and state funded life-style.

  3. Steve Willis says:

    I voted to join a European Community. The idea of a free trade zone in Europe made good sense. We do not need a European Union to enable countries to operate a freed trade zone.

    I did not vote for a European Union, although I do not oppose members of the Eurozone forming one if they wish.

    I do not want the UK to be in the European Union and I think we should leave immediately, reapplying the money we put into the EU to better use in the UK.

    The UK is quite capable of selling our goods and services anywhere in the world, perhaps our politicians do not believe this?

  4. sue_m says:

    Perhaps they could save a few million a year by ensuring they have to come to a decision by the end of one summit. The endless rounds of ‘putting off til tomorrow what we can’t fudge today’ no doubt costs us EU taxpayers very dear.
    I suspect now he has been seen and reported as standing firm for Britain at this summit, Cameron the PR spinning wheel, will roll over at the next and the EU budget will continue to mushroom.

  5. Andrew Dundas says:

    Cameron’s real objective is to create the great headlines of the Thatcher and Major era.
    Something like: “Game, set and Match!”, or “Handbagged!”. Headlines are what he thinks with. And editors with prep school ethos are his mates.
    Anything will do, just as long as it fits with Lord Snooty showing Johnnie Foreigner just where he can get off! Bring back Nelson! Bring back Wellie Boots! Get out the Spitfires! (it’s the same old confrontation story)
    Maybe we should seek consensus for a change? True, it’s less ‘incredible’ (his favourite word). But finding common ground gets better results, and doesn’t cause resentment amongst our neighbours.
    But that sort of approach is too utterly ‘suburban’ and boring for Lord Snooty from the Shires.
    It’s time we changed this salesman.

    1. sue_m says:

      Agree with almost all you say Andrew. Except I thought Cameron’s favourite (two) words were “tough” and “decisions”.

      Two words which he thinks excuse the fact that his govt’s decisions make life pretty darn tough for the plebs but have no impact on him and his chums.

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