Cameron’s Awkward Dinner Date
Posted by jonathanfryer on Friday, 18th December, 2015
British Prime Minister David Cameron sat down to a dinner of venison with other EU heads of government in Brussels last night, though for him the main item on the menu was his list of four demands for reform of the European Union. He had originally hoped to have had a satisfactory response from them by the time of this European Council gathering but it was clear some time ago that that was not going to happen. Several of his counterparts, as well as senior figures in the European Commission, had made clear that his proposal that EU migrants should have to wait four years before qualifying for benefits just was not realistic. So already earlier this week the Prime Minister was preparing his MPs and the British public for a retreat on that front. However, not all was gloomy for him at dinner, as the Italian PM, Matteo Renzi, came out as a surprise ally on some issues. Certainly, the other EU member states are keen to keep Britain on board, even if successive British governments have often been a pain in the arse.
The UK Parliament went into Christmas recess last night, so Mr Cameron will not have to face his more Eurosceptic Rottweilers until the New Year. His EU partners meanwhile have said that they hope to be able to respond formally to his four demands by February. That is then likely to lead to yet more negotiation before Mr Cameron has a deal he feels he can put before the British electorate — which means that the promised EU referendum in Britain is unlikely before Autumn 2016 at the earliest.