Published on 11 Jan 2013

Cable and Tory worries about Europe speech

Vince Cable has waded in with his own preview of the Cameron speech on Europe now expected on 22 January.

Not that he’s seen it, but he’s got enough of the drift to feel he should say the following:

” I have to say that this whole issue of raising again in a fundamental way British membership (of the EU) and the terms of membership is a massive disruption and deeply unhelpful in my job.

“I have to spend my time talking to business people, British  and international, trying to have the confidence to invest here and create employment and the recent uncertainly is just deeply uncomfortable for the country. I think the warning shot across the bows yesterday from the United States was actually quite helpful as well as very timely.”

Another cabinet minister who hasn’t seen the speech but I understand is quite keen to is Minister without Portfolio Ken Clarke. His instincts are probably a close match to the business secretary’s words above. Will he feel he can stay on the ship of state when it’s delivered?

Even Eurosceptic cabinet ministers are in something close to open-jawed astonishment at the whole strategy of selling a speech as hugely important before No.10 even knew what it was going to put in it. One Tory cabinet minister told me the attempts by David Cameron to sound pro-membership in the speech to assuage worries he was heading for the EU exit risk making him come out of all this sounding more pro-European than he was before – presumably not the driving motivation.

The same minister said he thought the PM could start months and months of Tory demands for a “shopping list” of powers that must be repatriated, raising expectations way beyond what can be fulfilled.

There is an unease sometimes tipping into panic amongst some loyal Tory MPs and PPSs I spoke to this week that David Cameron could be about to make a speech that opens up Tory divisions, overshadows all other policy announcements and overshadows relations with Europe as well as unsteadying business… without winning a single Ukip vote back or helping the Eurosceptic cause they support. They question the tactics, the “big moment” speech and the timing, so far from a general election.

Cameron aides insist that the PM must stake out a position for being in Europe but Euro-sceptic, that the time is right to signal we want powers back, we do have some allies and the flurry of words from Germany and other quarters is just what you’d expect before the poker game starts.

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3 reader comments

  1. StuartM says:

    So Cameron might be the one who both loses Scotland and the EU. At least he will have made his mark, even if we all have to endure the consequences for his political games.

    It seems a shame that Cameron’s fight for the popularity within his own party to ensure he stays leader (given the rising popularity Boris is achieving) is the driving force behind all this rhetoric. And whilst exactly what Cameron is to propose is supposition, the “lets leave the EU” crowd is continually providing PR examples of the negative aspects of membership, the pro-EU groups cannot start their counter because they have no real idea as to what Cameron will propose. So the pro-EU start arguing how a certain aspect of EU legislation are of great benefit to the UK and Cameron comes out with the same “but …” and the pro-EU’ers have played into Cameron’s hand in the political game so enjoyed by our elite classes these days.

  2. Steve Willis says:

    Europe – A Proposal

    1. Scrap the European Union with immediate effect, returning all powers to the current member states.
    2. Replace the European Union with a Free Trade Community.
    3. The purpose of the Free Trade Community is limited to:
    a. Promoting free trade across the Free Trade Community.
    b. Promoting close co-operation across national boundaries on:
    – Environmental Conservation & Improvement.
    – Support National States in the prevention of illegal activities especially; people trafficking, drug-dealing, fraud & terrorism.
    – Limiting currency exchange rates to ensure they are no more than 3% of the rate operating in the traveller’s home country.
    4. The Defence of the Free Trade Community rests primarily with NATO and with the national governments of member states.
    5. The National Parliament of each member state is the ultimate authority within its own recognised boundaries.
    6. Each Member State is responsible for the enforcement of laws within its national boundaries.
    7. The European Court of Justice will be closed and its jurisdiction removed, immediately.
    8. National Judicial Systems will provide the ultimate court of appeal.
    9. The…

    1. Steve Willis says:

      9. The financial contribution of member states to the Free Trade Community will be limited to no more than 1% of Gross Domestic Product or £1 Billion whichever the lesser figure is.
      10. The European Parliament will be scrapped, immediately.
      11. The Council of Ministers will be scrapped, immediately.
      12. The Free Trade Community will be overseen by nominated representatives who must have been elected as a Member of the National Parliament of their country of origin.
      13. Each member state will nominate 12 members of their National Parliament to oversee and report upon the activities of the Free Trade Community.
      14. To minimise the costs of the oversight body, all meetings and debates will be held using electronic mechanisms such as live meeting. Travel expenses will not be paid and there will be no additional salary or allowances payable to the representatives – their salaries as Members of their National Parliaments will be sufficient reward for their duties.
      15. Membership of the Free Trade Community will be open to all countries of the world, upon receipt of the majority consent of existing member states.
      16. Member states will choose their currency of choice for use…

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