“Nobody understood what Cameron wanted – nobody,” said one diplomat from a central European country.
“The British seemed to believe that Mr Cameron could win his City concessions by delivering them at short notice at 2am, bouncing other leaders into accepting them”. According to officials, Mr Cameron’s plan barely got a hearing. One said: “Nobody was in the mood to reopen the treaties.”
The truth about what actually went on in Brussels is slowly starting to emerge. So are the motives of the players. Interesting that politicians – and particularly ours – somehow believe that they can hide their true intentions behind virtuous public rhetoric. Unfortunately for David Cameron, large gatherings have an uncanny knack of being driven by ‘events’, events that make transparent that which might otherwise have remained opaque. The early hours of Friday morning revealed David Cameron’s true agenda.
It would be churlish not to believe that David Cameron didn’t intend to support the rescue of the Eurozone, which up until 2am on Friday he appeared to be doing. But then, out of the blue he chucked his little squib into the meeting, no bazooka, a squib, one that eventually turned out to be very damp indeed.
“Accept my demands or I’m not signing the treaty” appears to have been the challenge. By 3am he had received a unanimous two fingers. Mission accomplished.
“Nobody understood what Cameron wanted” – but Cameron did. He wanted to make sure that whatever happened to the Eurozone, he extracted every possible political advantage, not in Europe, but back home. This was a golden opportunity for him cast off his lightweight image, a time to win over the eurosceptics in his party, which he couldn’t let pass.
Despite what he said before leaving for Brussels, his main aim was not to safeguard the City – which he spectacularly failed to do – or to do what was best for the British people, but to do what was in the best interests of the Tory party and David Cameron. Make no mistake, what happened was carefully rehearsed and planned down to the last detail.
And the clueless Clegg? The one man who could have saved the day bottled it, suckered by his ‘friend’ Dave – again. You would have thought that after he and his party were royally stuffed by the Tories ‘grand strategy’ over tuition fees and AV, he would have been wise to, or at least suspicious about what Cameron was up to. But no. He fell for the carefully choreographed and well briefed early morning phone call. And guess what? He’s going to get the blame for this fiasco. He got the blame for the others, and it’s going to be no different this time.
A conspiracy theory too far? Well, never underestimate the ‘nasty party’. They wrote the book on political skulduggery – not that the other parties are not up to similar tricks – it’s just that they’re better at it, more ruthless and utterly determined.
The real tragedy of the whole affair is that it needn’t have happened. Britain could have shown solidarity with the other member states and signed up to the agreement. Concessions could have been won later. We’ve done it before, and it could have been done again. Instead we’ve been cast out into mid Atlantic, to quote Michael Heseltine. We’ve lost our credibility and we’ve lost a lot of friends. Countries who wanted us to be at the heart of Europe to act as a balance against German domination. We’ve let them down, and that’s a great pity.
So what does the future hold? Well, as far as saving the Eurozone is concerned, there has been a great leap sideways, as one commentator put it. There’s a lot more work to be done before the markets are happy and there’s a workable form of ‘fiscal union’. But maybe, just maybe, Cameron may realise that he needs (or is persuaded that he ‘needs’) to get round the table again before we become totally marginalised.
David Cameron is a fool who has made Britain look foolish. Let’s hope that wiser heads prevail before he and his kind condemn this country to the European slow lane and a very uncertain future.
The chorus of the song ‘Honesty’ seems appropriate – directed at David Cameron, of course.
Honesty is such a lonely word
Everyone is so untrue
Honesty is hardly ever heard
And mostly what I need from you