Published on 23 Jan 2013

Cameron speech: Germany’s not clapping

I watched to see the German ambassador’s reaction to the speech. He was sitting in the second row under Mr Cameron’s nose.

It was he that hosted the briefing by the Merkel CDU loyalist and Europe Committee chair Gunther Krichbaum two weeks ago when Mr Krichbaum warned David Cameron against “blackmailing other states” in the EU.

As others applauded at the end of David Cameron’s speech today the German ambassador played with his pen.

 What did we learn that was new, given that the speech was trailed ahead of the Amsterdam presentation that never happened last week?

– he acknowledged that the premise of the whole renegotiation, that there will be a new EU treaty to lock in the Eurozone countries’ integration, might not happen … in that case, he said, plan B was a Britain versus the rest of Europe renegotiation.

– it is a red line non-negotiable for David Cameron in any future coalition negotiation – he said any government he headed would pursue the policy. Lib Dems don’t want to enter into this chat at the moment (and you’ll tend not to hear Nick Clegg use the phrase “red lines” but priorities)  

– the areas where powers would be sought would definitely include the environment, social affairs and crime though “nothing should be off the table.”

A chunk of crime is already being opted out of ahead of an opt back in to a smaller, select number of the pooled areas.

‘A shock to the Lib Dems’

Environment comes as a bit of a shock to the Lib Dems as in the internal review of competences they thought there was an agreement with the Tories that on the environment Europe was a good thing.

Social affairs is the big one here because in many European capitals they see that as part of the single market, the central holy sacred agreed “acquis” of accumulated Euro-law – not up for renegotiation.

David Cameron knows from private chats with Chancellor Merkel, Mark Rutte of the Netherlands and others that there are influential European leaders who tire of some EU social legislation themselves and would love to see the back of some of it.

That doesn’t mean he can be sure they’ll join in his approach to repatriating parts of them.  

Lose ‘ever closer union’

– the prime minister claims there are “many others” in the EU who have completely ruled out for all time embracing “much closer economic and political integration” – it would be interesting to know who they are

 – he wants, as Liam Fox kept lobbying, the phrase “ever closer union” amended out of the next treaty

 –  he talked about “democratic consent for the EU in Britain (being) now wafer thin.” Some will strongly dispute this. UKIP supports withdrawal but it doesn’t have any MPs   

– Laurent Fabius, French foreign minister, with a play on David Cameron’s offer of a red carpet to French tax exiles said he would put out the red carpet for British withdrawal 

 – the speech name-checked Winston Churchill within the first 60 seconds of its start

 – Tony Blair told the European parliament in 2005 that Europe had to change or die to adapt to the global race and international competition … he came with some cache built up with Europe’s leaders but he still, arguably, didn’t get very far. 

David Cameron comes with the resentment of having deployed the veto at the December 2011 EU summit and a few other resentments on top of that.

– Richard Ottoway used his first answer in what I think was his first press response to the Cameron speech on BBC News 24 to name-check and praise Boris Johnson – Mr Ottoway is on No. 10’s radar as the man most likely to stand down in his Commons seat to create a vacancy for Boris Johnson to parachute back into parliament and run for the party leadership.

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10 reader comments

  1. Philip Edwards says:


    Can’t resist this:

    It was the sound of one hand clapping.

  2. paul says:

    camerons friends in the media will try desperately to spin this as bold but its the same propaganda we’ve heard over the veto. you may get this AFTER we win the next election. if they do then we’ll start to hear the excuses why we can’t give it you. the public won’t get fooled twice.

  3. james bentley pyett says:

    the germans have always been control freaks.Twice they have been defeated in their efforts to control Europe.These days with the aid of their lapdogs the french they think they have gained this control politically.
    This generation of germans seem to have neither the intellect or the ability to understand the majority of British people want to be rid of the burden of Europe.
    Today we heard the German foreigh minister tell his audience”EVERYTHING MUST BE DECIDED IN bRUSSELS BY BRUSSELS”if this is to be the case what need is there in the UK for a government.If we get out this nation will be stronger and the prime minister will find himself with much more power

  4. Moonbeach says:

    I have been surprised and disappointed at the reporting of Mr Cameron’s speech by all major political correspondents. None of them has seen the speech as a victory for democracy in its broadest sense over the oxymoron ‘Parliamentary Democracy’.

    For years now, politicians of all political parties have been ignoring what they know to be the majority view of our electorate; on capital punishment, on membership of the EU, on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, on legal sanctions against rogue politicians and bankers, on membership of the Court of Human Rights and so on.

    It is axiomatic that very few people agree with every item in a political party’s election manifesto. They elect MPs for many reasons; tradition, class, perceived self-interest, frustration, moral indignation etc! I, for example, support many of the things contained in all political manifestoes but elect the party that I feel has the best chance of changing our political landscape for the better. (Continued below)

  5. Moonbeach says:

    I would only vote UKIP as a protest against the main political parties because I know that UKIP has little chance of ever forming a government. But a lack of UK MPs should not imply that our electorate does not support UKIP’s view on the European project!

    Tory, Labour and Lib Dem politicians fear single issue referenda because the British people might just insist that UK politicians, for once, do their bidding.

    Trotting out Europhiles in the political and business communities and essentially vilifying and even ridiculing anyone who challenges the antidemocratic nature of the EU does not enhance the debate.

    The notion that our leaving this moribund political organisation would lead to economic ruin is preposterous. The USA, China, India and most of the world’s nations are not members of the EEC yet manage to trade with it presumably at a profit.

    It is Democracy that is at stake here not the short term, political ambitions of the likes of Cameron, Miliband and Clegg, or the failed aspirations of Blair, Mandelson, Heseltine, Clark and so on to bury UK in a United States of Europe.

    1. Kes says:

      Excellent post, Moonbeach and considerably better than the reporting we’ve seen in the media so far.

      I’d just add that there are many in Europe who have lost all respect for the EU as it moves ever further from democracy. These people want UK in to counter the inherent evil in the EU. They can’t expect their own politicians to rein it in for them.

  6. Robert Taggart says:

    Guessing the ‘Bosch’ were goose stepping instead ?!

  7. Mick says:

    I’m in Glasgow and I’m not clapping Cameron.

    I’ll vote Yes in the independence referendum in 2014 and one reason for that is that it’s the best way to keep Scotland in the EU and keep my rights as a European citizen.

  8. Andrew Dundas says:

    Because we (UK) have not been invaded for 950+ years we may overlook the deeply felt desire for PEACE that so many less fortunate nations on the land-locked continent.

    PEACE is the cause of the EU.

    Both my parents came from military families. I don’t want anymore of my family gassed or blown up. We need to settle our quarrels with our neighbours. The EU is the chosen vehicle. We should drive it not leave it.

    Lord Snooty doesn’t even know about our peoples’ losses in european wars.

    The chosen way of bringing people together – that’s ‘ever closer union’ in euro-speak – is the EU. Just like our bundle of laws and cultures, the EU is not perfect. Mostly because it’s a sort of treaty based agreement rather than a parliamentary one. But it’s what we’ve been able to agree so far.

    The key point is that we settle our disagreements in boring meetings instead of on the battlefield. It’s a lot less noisy. And hardly anyone gets hurt. Which is progress from the other way.

    Our country is no longer a world power. Our colonies are only small ‘dependencies’ such as the Falkland Isles. We need to ‘get real’ and stop living a Lord Snooty fantasy.


  9. Steve Willis says:

    A European Freed Trade Community does not need a European Union.

    A properly run Free Trade Community would cost far less than a European Union, especially if all members made the same level of contribution capped at whichever is the lower figure; £1Billion or 1% of GDP.

    This would give back Billions of pounds to the UK tax-payers and still maintain a free flow of trade.

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