Today David Cameron will deliver his long-awaited speech in London on the UK’s continued relationship with the European Union. He intends to set out a “positive vision” for the future of the EU but to warn of a growing “gap” between it and its citizens which represents a lack of democratic accountability and consent that is felt particularly acutely in Britain.
Mr Cameron is seeking to put a renegotiated settlement in a referendum to the British people, repatriating powers over issues such as the Social Chapter and justice and legal affairs.
However, the Prime Minister is either being incredibly naive, which I doubt, or disingenuous, as to quote the Finnish premier: “You cannot pick the raisins out of the EU bun” ie you cannot select what areas of the treaties you like and those you now want to reject.
To be meaningful, radical surgery, rather than just tinkering around the edges, this will also require the agreement of the additional 27 member states, something that is simply not going to happen. The Germans and the French don’t want to re-open treaties that have taken decades of blood, sweat and tears to conclude. If Mr Cameron is to be honest, and I doubt not that he is an honest man, the only choice he can offer the British people is an “in” or “out” referendum as any other option would be to hold out for something he patently cannot deliver.