Dave let me down. After my best efforts to find something new and interesting to say, his speech was dull and predictable – he’s against ‘ever closer union’, he wants to repatriate powers and then put this new deal to a referendum. What was the point of the speech then?
The point was of course to heal the rift in the Tory Party and, initially it seems to have worked. Cameron’s internal critics have been lining up to praise him including Liam Fox, Tim Montgomerie and Fresh Start’s Andrea Leadsom. Chillingly, Daniel Hannan MEP on twitter called it ‘Cameron’s finest speech’. Job done then?
Well, not really. The demands of Tory MPs are so unattainable that they look designed to fail. Cameron himself may have the intention to ‘do a Wilson’ but I fail to see what he can achieve beyond token concessions from other EU countries. Cameron’s likely deal will not placate Tory MPs.
What will he do then? Cling onto his deal and campaign to stay in? Or side with his MPs and lead the campaign to leave the EU? Tellingly, Cameron refused to answer direct questions on how he would vote in the event that renegotiation fails. He doesn’t know.
This shows up the speech for what it is: a short term fix to the Tory’s EU nightmare. It should work till the 2015 election, it should stick till his proposed 2017 referendum, it may last longer if they return to opposition but, at some point, the debate will re-ignite and the Tories will be torn asunder yet again.