At the outset of the Conservative Party’s “renegotiation-then-referendum” policy, David Cameron told us in his Bloomberg speech that he wanted to agree “fundamental, far-reaching change” to Britain’s relationship with the EU. In his Chatham House speech he doubled down on this, asserting that “if and when” he negotiated an “agreement that works for Britain and works for our European partners” he would “campaign for it with all of [his] heart and all of [his] soul to keep Britain inside a reformed EU”.
On that basis, I would suggest that the question people ask of the deal currently on the table is the following: Does Donald Tusk’s “proposal for a new settlement for the United Kingdom within the European Union” presage a “reformed EU”?
I have read the draft document twice now and it is scanty stuff. David Cameron has not secured any of the negotiating aims that some Brexiteers (myself included) had presumed were part of an elaborate exercise in expectation management; a smokescreen for much more substantive—albeit still inadequate—changes to Britain’s relationship with the EU.
It is for this reason that I was doubly surprised to see Mr Cameron offering his wholehearted support to the draft deal, describing the proposals as delivering “substantial reforms”. To fall such a long way short of the extraordinarily low bar he had set himself and to then be greeted with the kinds of newspaper headlines that today confront the Prime Minister is a moment of major egg on face for a man who is ordinarily so unflappable, especially when it comes to matters of presentation.
This may not even be the end of Mr Cameron’s humiliation. The proposals now have to be assessed and picked over by the 27 other EU Member States, which may raise further objections in the upcoming European Council meeting, later this month. Could it be that the EU institutions have decided to teach Mr Cameron a lesson for even feigning to seek “fundamental reform” of Britain’s relationship with the European Union—something that all of us Brexit bloggers could have told the man is not possible, prior to the beginning of this farcical exercise in deception, and, on the basis of this offer, self-deception.
The purpose of the EU is to facilitate an “ever closer union among the peoples of Europe” through the progressive accumulation of power in supranational institutions above the nation-state. The process of engrenage or “salami slicing” is a ratchet designed to subjugate the historic nations of Europe piece by piece and once an area of policy is ceded to the EU there is no mechanism for returning power to the Member States.
Even the term EU Member State makes quite clear that the members are subordinate to not co-operative partners with the EU. EU Member States are not independent self-governing countries. Perhaps Mr Cameron is finally coming to realise that, to his cost, this morning. Perhaps.