Cameron and Europe

It’s pretty obvious what’s going to come out of the negotiations Cameron is pursuing with our European partners just now (Friday afternoon), in the next few hours or days. Much of it is pure theatre. The negotiations are drawn out so that all sides can persuade their electorates of the difficulties of the task, and the lengths they are prepared to go in order to assure their nations’ interests. Then at a minute to midnight – or later – they’ll announce a settlement, which all sides will parade as a hard-won victory. So far as Cameron is concerned, the gains he’ll have made will be very minor ones, but he’ll make the most of them, and enter the referendum debate on the ‘In’ side. Many of his own MPs – perhaps a third or more – will nonetheless vote for ‘Brexit’; but it won’t matter, because a large majority of the Labour Party and all the Scots Nats, certainly in Parliament, will vote ‘In’. That’s despite the nature of the concessions Cameron has won – neoliberal ones – which would not have been the ones Labour would have sought, but the very opposite. So far as they’re concerned, the EU will be a less comfortable fit now than if Cameron had never messed with it. Come the referendum, and partly because of the ‘fear’ factor – the unknown repercussions of Brexit – the ‘Yes’ side will win, by a small majority. Cameron will retire before the next general election, as he has already promised to do, his historical reputation, or ‘legacy’, having been established, as the man who saved both the Union (with Scotland) and Britain’s place in Europe. He may turn out to be the only British politician whose career – to quote Enoch Powell – has not ‘ended in failure’. He won’t deserve it.

That of course is to take no account of ‘events, dear chap’ (Macmillan); i.e. unexpected ones, which could change everything. If so, forget all this. If not, remember where you first read this prediction.

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