All ears in the UK were tuned into an event that did not happen. Cameron prepared another wishy-washy speech, postponed yet again today, this time because of a hostage crisis in Algeria.
Please consider the sad saga of Cameron’s cursed speech on Europe.
The great Europe speech was initially meant to be given before Xmas. It was put off, amidst reports that there were still deep arguments about its contents.
Monday January 21st was pencilled in, until somebody pointed out that this was the day of Obama’s inaugural address. How about January 22nd? No such luck: this would coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Elysée Treaty between France and Germany. How could Cameron be so tactless? OK then – January 23rd. No again, that’s the day that the World Economic Forum kicks off in Davos.
Eventually the Cameron team settled on a day and a location: January 18th in Amsterdam. A Friday is not ideal, in terms of the news cycle – but it would have to do.
The prime minister might now be wishing that the whole ill-starred project could be quietly called off – particularly since some of the speech’s contents have already been trailed. More than ever, the prime minister is in a no-win situation. Expectations have been ramped up beyond Tantric levels. Reality can only be an anti-climax.
Unfortunately, it is probably too late for Cameron to abandon the whole speech. It will have to be given. Now, they just have to find a date …
Specter of EU Exit
Bloomberg reports Cameron Speech Excerpts Raise Specter of EU Exit
While Cameron postponed the speech in Amsterdam due to the hostage crisis in Algeria, his office earlier released excerpts for publication before the scheduled address today.
“More of the same” won’t be enough to guarantee the EU’s future due to Britons’ dismay at a lack of consent in their relationship with the 27-nation bloc, Cameron planned to say, according to the text.
“There is a gap between the EU and its citizens which has grown dramatically in recent years and which represents a lack of democratic accountability and consent that is, yes, felt particularly acutely in Britain,” he was due to say. “The danger is that Europe will fail and the British people will drift towards the exit.”
Both Cameron’s Liberal Democrat coalition partners and the opposition Labour Party oppose his push to loosen ties with Europe, saying he risks investor confidence and London’s role as a financial center.
“For many foreign investors one of Britain’s attractions is as a gateway to a market of 500 million people,” Ed Balls, economy spokesman for Labour, wrote in an article on the Guardian newspaper’s website. “At a time when securing jobs and growth must be the priority in Europe and when the future shape of the euro zone remains so uncertain, announcing now a referendum that will raise fears that Britain could leave the EU cannot be in our national interest.”
Forty-two percent of the electorate say they would vote to leave the EU in a referendum compared with 36 percent who said they would back staying in, according to a YouGov Plc (YOU) poll conducted online on Jan. 10 and 11. A YouGov poll in November found 51 percent favoring an exit.
The speech has yet to be rescheduled.
Biggest Political Wimp of Major Political Leaders
Supposedly Cameron wants a vote on the EU, but not for five years.
Supporting a referendum that far into the future is not supporting a referendum all. It’s nothing but pretense.
His own party does not support staying in, UK citizens do not want to stay in, but the opposition does.
By failing to back a vote, and failing to take a strong position on much of anything besides the financial transaction tax, Cameron has proven once again that he is biggest political wimp of all the major world leaders.
Looking for more evidence? If so, please consider We Want to Have Our Cake And Eat It Too; Another Hotel California Setup; One Million Tiny Miseries.
The inherent risk of Cameron’s strategy is he is ousted, there never is a vote, and the opposition signs on the dotted line to some absurd agreement.
Instead of making an impassioned plea one way or another, Cameron bowed down to the opposition, in the wimpiest fashion possible, by throwing his own party as well as UK citizens a dried bone five years into the future.
Passionate Plea to Exit
Looking for a speech Cameron could have and should have delivered? Then please consider a Passionate European’s case for leaving by Simon May.
For a passionate European there is now a strong case for Britain to leave the EU. By passionate European, I mean someone who sees the EU, for all its absurdities, as the noblest of postwar political projects – one that must and will lead to a federation, probably of a loose, Swiss kind, with a directly or indirectly elected president and a European Parliament with teeth. Someone who would love Britain to support this, but who realises it never will.
No postwar British prime minister has accepted this moral case for federalism. Even Edward Heath, the most pro-European, had no vision for Britain in Europe beyond entry.
It is irresponsible to ask, yet again, a country with virtually no interest in such a development to renew its vows to a marriage whose very purpose it cannot abide. And it is irresponsible to the rest of the EU – especially the core countries of Germany, Benelux [Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg], Italy and even France – which have a profound need to develop into a confederation.
Britain will continue to have access to the EU market if it leaves – just as Switzerland does, a country that also sends about half its exports to the EU. Competitiveness, not market access, is Britain’s problem. It has the same access as Germany to the vast Chinese and US markets but is far less successful in both. Switzerland, with a population smaller than the English Midlands, exports almost as much to Germany from outside the EU as Britain does from within it.
There must be a referendum on UK membership, and the only honest choice is in or out. Since Britain will never feel comfortable in a federal project – any more than it would as the 51st US state – it should leave this unnatural marriage, which regularly tears apart its main political parties, and find a role fit for its lonesome, imaginative and tactically adroit self.
Both the US and EU need Britain as an ally, and it will have a bright future as a semi-independent broker in world affairs. The greatest advance in Middle East peace for decades – the 1993 Oslo accords – was brokered by Norway, precisely because of its independence. If Norway can do it, Britain can do it in spades.
Now that was a passionate, well-written, commonsense plea. The most amazing thing about the plea is it comes from an ardent nannyzone advocate.
Cameron could have delivered a similar passionate message, for or against an exit, and let the chips fall where they may.
Nothing Better Than Something
Not only did Cameron fail to deliver a passionate speech, he didn’t deliver a speech at all. Judging from leaked excerpts, nothing was just as good, if not better than something.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock