David Cameron is preparing to forgo the chance of winning back powers from Brussels.
Unlike his heroine, “the lady’s not for turning” Thatcher, David Cameron appears to have caved in at the first available opportunity.
According to the Times, Cameron is ditching his flagship repatriation of powers policy in order to end the uncertainties about the future of the Eurozone as quickly as possible.
Two days after the Office for Budget Responsibility warned that the Eurozone crisis could drag Britain into recession, Mr Cameron has decided to use the health of the British economy as the ultimate excuse for abandoning getting powers back from the EU.
European Union leaders have to agree at a Brussels summit next week whether new rules for the Eurozone designed to prevent another debt crisis require all 27 members to sign a new treaty, or can be agreed simply by the 17 members of the single currency.
British officials have, the Times reports, suggested that Mr Cameron would be happy to allow the 17 Eurozone countries to agree new rules as long as they did not involve changing the powers of the European Court of Justice or the European Commission.
Since there is no need whatsoever to change the rules relating to the European Court of Justice or the European Commission in order to resolve the problems of the Eurozone, this particular statement looks like a load of flannel designed to obscure Cameron’s abject failure.
In any event, I always thought the Tories disliked the European Court of Justice and saw this as one of their targets for repatriation of powers. As if this were not enough, this is the first time to my knowledge the European Commission has been in the frame. Changing the structure and working of the Commission, one of the three institutions, along with the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers, which form the governance of the European Union, is a huge matter. So huge that it hasn’t until now been on Cameron’s repatriation of powers agenda, probably due to the fact that even Eurosceptic Tories are not so blinded by their hatred of all things EU that they believe they can reform the European Commission just like that.
Employment Minister Chris Grayling, who seems to be Cameron’s whipping boy of the moment, is on record as saying , “I would hope that all of this could get resolved quite quickly,” when asked if British demands that EU powers be repatriated to London in return for treaty change would drag out the process of negotiating the changes.
I am tempted to ask whether this is the end of the repatriation of powers saga, an unachievable policy which appears to have bitten the dust. If there is to be a resurgence of Tory backbench Euroscepticism with demands to return powers from Brussels, Cameron will either have to find some other excuse the Eurosceptics may just swallow or come clean and admit he can’t deliver.
My money is on the former, though I have to say I can’t readily think of any plausible excuse. Somehow I can’t see Cameron owning up to the fact that repatriation of powers is a total fantasy; that would involve a degree of honesty we have not yet seen from our Prime Minister.