ON THE face of it, the Prime Minister has secured a good deal from Brussels on the European Union budget.
Now it comes down to a battle of spin, for although there will be a real-terms cut (the first ever), the UK’s yearly contribution will still be going up, albeit more slowly.
The question is whether that will be enough to satisfy Conservative rebels and the Labour Party in parliament. Back in October, Tory, Labour and SNP MPs united to defeat the government’s preferred budget freeze and called for a real-terms cut in spending between 2014-20.
On that level, therefore, David Cameron has delivered and ought to win Commons backing, but politics – particularly the politics of Europe – isn’t that simple.
Ukip are unlikely to be so easily impressed by the deal, but even so the summit amounts to a blow for critics of the Prime Minister’s EU strategy.
They said the UK’s influence would be diminished by his pledge of an in-out referendum. But if that were true, it’s unlikely Germany and several other member states would have been quite so willing to grant Mr Cameron favourable terms.
Indeed, his Bloomberg speech may even have strengthened his hand.
The Prime Minister has already begun spinning the deal as a triumph, proof that he “stands up” for Britain in the EU, much as Alex Salmond stands up for Scotland in the UK.
Mr Cameron said the public could be “proud” of the deal, that he could now “look taxpayers in the eye” and say he had helped to negotiate a good deal.
Of course there remain hurdles in store. Martin Schulz, the president of the European Parliament, has indicated MEPs could seek to block the deal.