Thursday, February 04, 2016

Have Cameron's EU demands got bigger or smaller?

It is not often that people whose views I respect have looked at the same picture and written such radically different interpretations of the same facts as John Rentoul and Paul Goodman have concerning the path to the draft EU deal which is currently to be put to the European Council.

Independent senior political correspondent John Rentoul thinks that the proposed deal will have a greater impact than the modest demands David Cameron's demands has made:

Paul Goodman, by contrast, thinks that David Cameron's demands have shrunk to vanishing point

As soon as it was announced that David Cameron and Donald Tusk had reached an agreement, the rival leave campaigns stopped fighting like ferrets in a sack as described here, here and here, and instead released a barrage of attacks on the deal in the most extreme language, as did every even vaguely Eurosceptic newspaper.

As one commentator at CapX put it

"Predictably, the draft deal was immediately rubbished by the myriad Leave campaigns and their sympathisers in the press. The UKIP-supporting Daily Express dismissed it as a “joke”. The Sun called it a “stitch-up”, a “farce” and a “steaming pile of manure”. The Daily Mail labelled it “The Great Delusion”. But let’s face it: there was nothing that Cameron could realistically have obtained that would have satisfied die-hard Outers."

So far this is only a draft deal. It has not yet gone through the European Council, where every member state will have a veto. Parts of it will need to be submitted to the European parliament.

Therefore the rush of people to judgement on this deal, from both sides, is premature and it also appears to me to be neither as good or as bad as it's most ardent defenders and detractors would have you believe. I had three "red lines" in this referendum and, although I am not taking part in the Gadarene rush to judgement which appears to be affecting nearly everyone, it looks on the face of it as though all three are addressed by this deal.

The Economist argues here that it is a relatively modest - though helpful - deal but nevertheless in their opinion makes a strong case for a "remain" vote.

Phillipe Leguin in the CapX article from which I quoted above argues here that the Prime Minister has got more than a reasonable person might have expected, although as we have yet to see what gets through the European Council this judgement may yet be premature - as David Cameron himself has been at pains to point out, there is more work to be done yet.

Instead of shouting slogans it would be a really good idea if both sides could take a long hard look at the fine print of the proposals and then make any final constructive suggestions they want DC to take to the European Council: and then Britain needs both sides to make a positive case for the sort of Britain they want and how their preferred EU membership solution will help us to build that Britain.

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