Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Riding a tiger

Cameron has no-one to blame for his European problem but himself. To ensure his victory in the leadership election, he promised withdrawal from the centre-right European Peoples Party grouping in the European Parliament, forcing his MEPs into an uneasy alliance with some rather wacky right wing parties. From that point onwards, he was simply writing cheques his government couldn't cash. His much vaunted rejection of any part of the negotiations over a post-bailout Europe played well with his increasingly Eurosceptic grass roots and parliamentary party, but also separated the UK from involvement with setting the future course of the EU.

Now, to judge from the weekend headlines, somebody has been overcooking what's on offer. The truth is that he is no nearer a referendum than he was a month ago. If the EU has to renegotiate treaties centrally, then that may well trigger Cameron's promised referendum, if the UK also has to consider ceding further power to Brussels, but Cameron knows that a referendum would be a distraction, a waste of money and ultimately destructive to his party.

He's riding a tiger here, hoping that by throwing a few bits of red meat to the Eurosceptics now and again, they will be kept docile, ignoring the reality that it merely makes them hungry for more.

The white coats may be flapping again.

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