UK Cabinet Showdown Friday
A referendum on Britain’s EU membership is scheduled for June 23.
At least three and as many as five of UK prime minister David Cameron’s Eurosceptic Ministers are Prepared to Disown his Deal the moment it’s announced on Friday.
Eurosceptic ministers are planning to disown David Cameron’s “new settlement” for Britain in the EU within hours of an expected deal being struck, as the prime minister prepares for a cabinet showdown on Friday.
Mr Cameron is confident he can secure a new deal for Britain at a Brussels summit on Thursday night, in spite of a last-minute battle with Poland over child benefit payments to migrant workers.
The Friday cabinet meeting is a concession to a group of five or more Eurosceptic ministers, including Chris Grayling and Iain Duncan Smith, who are eager to join the campaign for Britain’s exit from the EU.
The prime minister hopes that he can secure the backing of two key Tories on Friday: justice secretary Michael Gove, a Eurosceptic but close friend of Mr Cameron, and the populist London mayor Boris Johnson.
Risk of EU Breakup is Real, Tusk Warns
The Guardian reports Risk of EU breakup is Real, Tusk Warns Ahead of Crucial Summit.
This is a critical moment,” Tusk warned. “It is high time we started listening to each other’s arguments more than to our own. It is natural in negotiations that positions harden, as we get closer to crunch time. But the risk of break-up is real because this process is indeed very fragile. Handle with care. What is broken cannot be mended.”
Cameron’s central demands of freezing in-work benefits for four years for EU migrant workers in the UK and cutting child benefits for the same workers who leave their offspring at home have already been watered down in the draft agreement but remain unacceptable for the east Europeans.
They will accept the curbs, but only if they are limited to Britain and are not applied across the EU.
Tensions in the Tory party over Europe burst into the open when Sir Nicholas Soames, the former defence minister, told the Eurosceptic former leadership contender John Redwood to “bugger off”. Soames tweeted his disapproval after Redwood advised Tory MPs who won selection contests after telling local association they were Eurosceptic to be true to their vote and to vote to leave the EU. Soames tweeted: “I must say to be told how to vote in referendum by J Redwood in an email to colleagues marks a new low in my life in the house #buggeroff.”
The prime minister needs to win over the leaders of the main groupings to persuade them not to veto any package of reforms agreed by national leaders. Downing Street has said that the government is seeking to secure an agreement that will be “legally binding” on the EU’s 28 leaders.
But EU leaders have no ability to bind the European parliament, which could block the secondary legislation that will be needed to restrict in-work benefits to EU migrants and to ensure that child benefit is paid at the rate of an EU migrant’s home country.
In a report, Vote Leave concludes: “The only way to obtain ‘legally binding and irreversible’ change to the UK’s relationship with the EU is to Vote Leave.”
Unless an agreement is written and signed off by all the parties in a legally binding treaty, any promises Cameron receives are not worth a penny. Those promises were already watered down to the point of being meaningless anyway.
Nonetheless, expect Cameron to pound his chest in triumphant bravado when at the last minute some sort of meaningless and unenforceable workaround is negotiated.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock