Richard North, 21/11/2012  

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It is worth revisiting the essence of the David Davis speech on renegotiating with the EU, in order to put it alongside this piece from the Economist.

Addressing the idea of Britain trying to create an à la carte membership, the magazine notes that several factors are reducing Britain's bargaining power:
First is the accumulated resentment of past battles. Second, Germany may feel less necessity to keep the British in, now that their troops no longer defend its borders. Third, unlike Britain, most of the outs want to stick close to the euro zone. Fourth, a looming Brixit makes even friendly countries less willing to line up with the Brits. Most important, most leaders think resolving the euro crisis must take priority over British demands - and they resent Britain's attempts to exploit the euro crisis for its own ends.
To me, this seems a fair summation and it all points to one thing – Mr Davis's dream of renegotiation simply isn't going to happen. Even if the Conservatives do win the next general election, Mr Cameron would have absolutely no chance of imposing himself on the "colleagues".

We've said this many times, but when the europhile Economist says it as well, the Conservatives really ought to sit up and take notice. Another thing we've said before is that, if the Conservatives genuinely do want to forge a new relationship with the EU, they must first undertake to leave it, and invoke Article 50.

Should they take this course of action, they could actually get all they claim they want. And in that scenario, Labour and the Lib-Dims couldn't follow, UKIP would disappear overnight and they would have created the clearest of clear blue water between themselves and their rivals.

With that, they would almost certainly win the general election. They wouldn't need a on/out referendum. All they would need to do would be to commit to invoking Article 50 if they are returned to office – then offering a referendum on the terms of exit.

Hell! Even I would vote for them if they did that.


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