Much like a six-year old kid on a playground lot, UK prime minister David Cameron promised to take his marbles away, if he did not get the steelie he wanted.
On December 4, the Telegraph reported the bluff this way: David Cameron May Campaign for Brexit, Allies Say.
David Cameron has privately conceded he will have to campaign to leave the European Union if he continues to be “completely ignored” by Brussels, the Daily Telegraph has learned.
The Prime Minister has made clear to his closest allies that he will lead the “Out” campaign if he considers the result of his renegotiation with Brussels to be unsuccessful.
Definition of “Unsuccessful”
Of course, for Cameron to actually recommend Brexit, all depends on the definition of “unsuccessful”. His past actions indicate a high threshold for giving as much as it takes to get a deal done.
On December 3, and as a prelude to what I perceive as a Brexit bluff, the Financial Times reported EU Leaders Balk at New Treaty Demands from Cameron.
One EU diplomat privy to the conversation claims that on Sunday, when Mr Cameron told Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister and close ally, of his revised treaty change strategy, Mr Rutte replied: “You cannot be serious, you cannot be serious, you cannot be serious.”
It turns out Cameron was indeed “not serious” on his demands.
If Cameron has to give more than British citizens will allow or less than EU leaders expect, then Cameron inevitably plays the “delay card”.
And so it was. When EU leaders would have no part of plan to limit British welfare payments to migrant workers, Cameron did the only think he could do: punt.
Cameron Punts on Deal
On the same day, to the relief of the Brussels nannycrats, Cameron Gave Up on 2016 Deal With EU.
At a series of meetings this week the British prime minister told EU leaders he had “changed his mind” and now needed immediate treaty revisions enshrining a four-year benefit ban if he was to campaign to keep Britain in the EU.
But his push for a December deal was abandoned on Thursday during a call with Angela Merkel, the German chancellor. Downing Street said “difficult issues” remained and that it was unrealistic to think they could all be settled before the meeting on December 17-18.
The prime minister is now focused on concluding a deal at a second summit in mid-February, leaving open the possibility of a British referendum in June.
His decision to ease the tempo was greeted with relief in European capitals.
The above set of maneuvering is what led to the above December 4 Telegraph headline “David Cameron May Campaign for Brexit“.
Cameron’s Brexit threat reeked so much of unbelievable grandstanding of a purposely manufactured crisis, I did not even comment on it at the time.
Today, the EU is back in action as Tusk Urges Flexibility on Cameron’s Welfare Demand.
EU leaders must urgently overcome differences on David Cameron’s “difficult” migration demands and set the direction for a compromise deal as quickly as possible, the official brokering Britain’s EU reform deal has said.
Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, is teeing up December’s summit of EU leaders as a pivotal debate on Britain’s “most delicate” request: a four-year ban on benefits for new migrant workers that has divided the union.
In a letter to EU leaders, Mr Tusk described “good progress” made in most areas of the UK package of demands. When it came to British demands on sovereignty, competitiveness and safeguarding the rights of non-eurozone countries in the single market, he said a deal looked within reach in time for a second summit next February.
[Mish Comment: Progress was made because Cameron accepted a bunch of unwritten promises and wishy-washy statements instead of iron-clad treaty changes.]
“I will act as an honest broker but all member states and the [EU] institutions must show readiness for compromise for this process to succeed,” Mr Tusk wrote.
Downing Street welcomed Mr Tusk’s “ambition to table concrete proposals in February” and said his letter marked “another step forward in the negotiation”.
EU diplomats involved in the process say Mr Cameron’s position has hardened in recent weeks, with the prime minister pressing for fast-tracked treaty change on benefits rather than accepting a Brussels-brokered compromise that would require substantial reforms to the British welfare system.
This is setting the stage for a clash with eastern European leaders, who have warned they will oppose anything that is discriminatory against EU citizens doing the same job as a British worker. Countries such as Poland, Lithuania and the Czech Republic have urged Mr Cameron to reform the generous UK tax credits system, rather than change EU treaty rules and thus condone discrimination.
Mr Tusk is more positive — albeit in general terms — about the other areas of the UK reform agenda. He notes the final deal will aim to lay down principles to avoid discrimination against non-euro countries, mentioning work on a brake mechanism that would allow countries “to raise concerns, and have them heard, if they feel that these principles are not being followed, without this turning into a veto right”.
[Mish Comment: That is precisely what I was talking about above. Cameron accepted a mechanism to allow the UK to “raise concerns“. And of course those concerns will be promptly ignored if not laughed at. The UK needs treaty changes not a mechanism to “voice concerns”. ]
Addressing Mr Cameron’s separate demand that Britain be excluded from the EU’s mantra of “ever-closer union”, Mr Tusk diplomatically noted that the treaties already allowed for “various paths of integration”.
This indicates EU leaders are willing to give Mr Cameron support on this issue, but may squabble over the final wording when the precise texts and legal documents are circulated next year.
“Various Paths” of UK Subservience to Full EU Integration
It should be perfectly clear precisely what’s going on here. Cameron purposely started a fistfight by threatening to take away his marbles. But that was all for show. When push comes to shove, he will accept nothing less than full EU integration.
Matthew Elliott, chief executive of Vote Leave, sees things exactly the same way.
“David Cameron is only asking for trivial things, not the ‘fundamental change’ he used to say we need. That is why he is now having a manufactured row with the EU to try and make his renegotiation sound more significant than it really is,” Elliott correctly commented.
Various Paths Defined
There is a roughly zero percent chance Cameron gets what he says he campaigned for. It will be interesting to see what kind of meaningless phraseology he finally settles for.
Here are the two paths to full subservience.
Something will have to blow up really big for Cameron to actually campaign for Brexit. That’s possible, just unlikely.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock