Cameron all over the place on EU

No one should ever face negative responses – like the tedious political cries of ‘U-turn’ – for changing their minds after mature reflection and/or more and better information.

There is, however, a role for consistency and straight dealing.

We have always been of the view that the Prime Minister has been playing games with the British people on the issue of the UK’s EU membership, teasing us with suggestions that there might be a referendum of the issue [but, if at all, not until the next parliament] – while having no serious interest of Britain moving on.

Allowing the British public to hope that they can at last have a vote on continuing our EU membership or not, has stoked the sort of responses Mr Cameron hopes will strengthen his hand in negotiating with the EU for the repatriation to Britain of some of the powers it had ceded to Brussels.

Those responses to his teasing have, however, roused the EU and America to come out baldly and more or less instruct the UK not to consider moving out. In each case, this stance is born of their own interests, not of the UK.

The UK is America’s ‘trusty’ within the EU and the Obama administration’s mouthpiece who spoke out, Philip Gordon, a senior official in the US State Department, actually said that said it was in America’s interests to see a “strong British voice within the EU”.

On their part the EU needs Britain’s political status as well as its ‘net contributor’ role to help caulk its leaking timbers. The makeweight President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, was also shocked into speaking without disguise, saying that the UK Prime Minister’s  drive to take back powers from Brussels could cause the EU to fall apart quickly and inflict immense damage on the single market,

These signs of alarm actually mean that David Cameron, if he keeps his nerve – not his strongest suit – could win the game he set out to play. Whether or not that is the right game to play, never mind to win, is another matter.

But at home David Cameron has stripped off five or six of his seven veils in his teasing and has raised popular expectations of a referendum on UK membership of the EU to the point that he must now either fulfill  them straightforwardly or pay the electoral price for a no-show.

He is also constantly having to trim his tacking to keep the burgeoning UKIP at bay and to lash together the fighting ferrets in his own sack. These are the Tory Eurosceptics in bis own party and the  pro-EU Liberal Democrats who, having found a policy, hang on to it like the drowning men they are, whatever the circumstances that suggest a need for a rethink.

And today, following the PM ‘s pronouncement that the UK ‘would be mad to leave Europe’, Treasury Secretary, Colonsay’s own Danny Alexander, has attempted to leverage the Lib Dem position by declaring that ‘No responsible leader could contemplate leaving the EU”. This is a pretty witless statement. So no responsible leader could ever contemplate leaving the EU – regardless of its condition, of its actions or of its demands?

This cloth-eared carte blanche is, however, much less likely to relate to Alexander’s judgment than to making his mark in ongoing struggles within the Treasury for Cameron’s ear. It is unlikely to be a coincidence that it is only a few days since Alexander’s boss, chancellor George Osborne, issued the strongest yet British position statement, saying that the EU ‘must change’ if it is to avoid a UK departure.

The converse of Alexander’s sally this afternoon is, of course, the reality. Any responsible leader has to contemplate rationally today what was unthinkable yesterday before coming to a decision.

Times change and we all know the moment when yesterday’s clothes no longer fit.

Note: What will focus Mr Cameron’s concentration, in advance of the major speech he has been trailed to make on Europe, in Europe, by the end of the month, is that a ComRes poll to be published tomorrow on UK voting intentions for the 2014 European parliamentary elections, is showing UKIP in second place to Labour, one point ahead of the Tories.

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11 Responses to Cameron all over the place on EU

  1. To say that Cameron is all over the place is an understatement.

    Indeed, over the last week it seems that UK’s policy positions are becoming bizzare to the extent that the international community are now openly expressing concern about Britain and it’s external policies.

    In this regard what does it say about Britain’s standing when the government of the USA warns that if Britain decides to rip itself out of Europe then the USA will have consider it’s special relationship with Britain in favour of the EU and more influential European players.

    And what does it say when the Chancellor Merkel the leader of Europes most powerful economy says vocally that she is not going to be bullied by the UK.

    Not exactly an edorsement of good international relations, but the nonsense doen’t end there since in the past week the Palace of Westminster has also declared that if an atom bomb landed on an independent Scotland the UK wouldn’t retaliate.

    No wonder the Germans, the Americans and many others are now wondering exactly what London’s policies are, and how they want to intevrate with a nation that neither supports it’s European friends nor folks living within the same islands.

    Indeed, with the welshing of Westminster on the agreement to allow NI to reduce corporation tax, or the rejection to open diplomatc channels with the Scottish government about resource and responsibility issues pre the referendum vote, one wonders who the UK wants to friends with.

    Time for change, and change for the better with a fairer, more outward looking Scotland.

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    • “..USA warns that if Britain decides to rip itself out of Europe then the USA will have consider it’s special relationship with Britain in favour of the EU and more influential European players…”

      Perhaps they might consider taking Wastemonsters nuclear toys away as well?

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  2. Yes, and it seems that our PM has thrown down the military gauntlet to Argentina too.

    Not exactly the wisest move in the current climate, but hey, if you can take on Europe whilst falling out with the USA, what’s a little military spat with Argentina and their Latin American supporters.

    Jeez, you couldn’t make it up. Pride before a fall not half.

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  3. In der Standard the Austrian Chancellor says he fins M Cameron hard going saying one thing to his European colleagues and something else in the UK.

    The contrived fear which Unionists would create about the acceptance of Scotland as an EU member is pathetic when one considers the manipulation of a whole continent by Little Englanders who still can’t accept they lost an Empire and are but a small cog in the global wheel.

    The Austrians lost an Empire but a short visit to Vienna would have you believe otherwise as it’s a melting pot of mid and east European cultures attracted to it by quality of life, fun and a social union rather than a dominant political straight
    jacket.

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    • Graeme, you appear to forget that Scotland did well out of the BRITISH Empire which we were part of. Just look at what we did to countries and people around the world. Where do you think the money came from that built some of the magnificent buildings in Glasgow and further afield.

      You certainly appear to have a problem with those living in England when you continue to refer to “little Englanders”. Time to grow up and get that chip of your shoulder.

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  4. Gentlemen, talking about melting pots, did anyone see the Andrew Marr programme today.

    If you did you would have seen that Labour Leader Milliband melted poor Johan Lamont right in the geggie.

    I say this because Mr Miliband today declared that “universal benefits were the bedrock of society” in flat contradiction to poor Johan Lamont who only weeks ago declared hat she wanted a cuts commision to look at removing universal benefits such tax free prescriptions, personal care, tuition fees and senior citizen travel.

    Given the omnishambles of the Westminster coalition’s policies, it seems that Lanour too are a crucible of flux. Yes a melting pot of sorts right enough.

    You couldn’t make it up.

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  5. David Cameron says he doesn’t want to hold a referendum on UK’s EU membership as the voting public would be given a false choice. He wants to engineer terms that better suits the UK before asking us in or out?
    I have yet to speak to anyone who has not referred to the European Union with complete disdain, several adamant that they will vote ‘No’ in 2014 as they claim Scotland would not be truly independent whilst being a member.
    I am not persuaded that the UK or indeed an independent Scotland should leave the EU but continue to be openminded,however, this is certainly not an issue capable of dissuading me from voting ‘Yes’ for Scottish independence. EU membership, in or out, can be decided in an independent Scotland provided Scottish partys react to both what EU membership offers Scotland in years to come and the voting public’s wishes.

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  6. I have no chip on my shoulders where the good people of England are concerned. I was brought up in a house named “Elgar” and my hobby is English cathedral architecture and English Church music.

    There are few more glorious moments than to be immersed in Choral Evensong in an English cathedral .

    Little Englanders include Scots and others who are insular and imply that their countries are somehow better than others.

    Scotland and England did enjoy success during the Union. However during my life which is one fifth of the 300 of the Union I find it hard to recognise any major international event which has been managed by the UK to it’s benefit; on the contrary I is just one under achievement after another: Suez, the failure to convert the former Empire into the largest free trade union in the World, rejection by the Common Market then it’s joining under very unfavourable conditions; the loss of manufacturing to the Big Bang; the resulting wealth divergence between London and the rest of the UK; the Iraq War; the financial collapse and the break-up of the welfare state.

    Can anyone think of any major global event which suggests otherwise?

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  7. Failing to convert the Empire into the world’s largest free trade area was certainly one heck of a lost opportunity, and one wonders why this didn’t happen.

    Was it because the Empire plundered the wealth of the colonised countries with thereafter the empire only too often relinquishing control of the colony at the point of a gun rather than by mutual conent?

    And look at some of the colonies now as they power ahead of blighty.

    Singapore, being the same size as Scotland is a good example maybe.

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  8. “Little Englanders include Scots and others who are insular and imply that their countries are somehow better than others.”

    I must confess to being completely lost here – this description perfectly sums up the the SNP and Nationalist mentality. I thought you supported the SNP Graeme?

    Or have I missed the point and you are the Little Englander you so often talk about?

    Genuinely not trying to be funny, but you’ve lost me.

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