Richard North, 24/11/2012  

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The message is out world-wide, repeated by media sources ranging form the BBC to the New York Times that there is no deal on the budget at the European Council. But the negotiations haven't "collapsed", as theTelegraph would aver – they were never going any place this time round.

Interestingly, if the media had read the German press, or this blog, they would have known that was going to be the outcome, and saved themselves a great deal of time and money. Before the Council had even started, "Berlin" was hinting that an agreement wasn't going to reached. And what Berlin "hints" tends to happen.

Still, the "collapse" fantasy gives Mr Cameron the domestic hit that he needs, allowing him to come home with a face-saving formula that his friends in the legacy media are happy to support. All it needs are a few "happy quotes" like Brussels is "living in a parallel universe" and the dead trees have got their story.

Already, the myth-making is in high gear as the label "failed summit" is carefully planted - to replace the fallen trees, one presumes. But the money quote from Mr Cameron is: "tough on budgets, tough on the causes of budgets". At least, that's what he would have said if he had thought of it.

The controversy over the Budget, however, has been enough to bring the NYT out of the woodwork, with a curious editorial which rather proves the point that, as we should avoid pontificating about US politics, Americans should avoid dabbling in ours.

It also suggests that the europhiles have been pressing the alarm button, calling in every favour they can. Thus, as well as Hannan and Oborne, we are seeing an awful lot of panic attacks in the media.

This one in the NYT is a classic. It is telling us that, up to now, British euroscepticsm "did little lasting harm". But since the European debt crisis and recession, it notes, "there has been growing sentiment across the British political spectrum for leaving the European Union".

"Leaving the union", says the worried paper, "would be a grave mistake, sacrificing Britain's best hopes for a brighter economic future to half-baked longing for the simpler days when the British ruled an empire and had less need for European trade". "There's plenty of time for pro-Europe leaders to make that case", it adds, but they must speak up.

Then comes the "message from our sponsors": "Britain, as the Continent's third-largest economy after Germany and France, has had a crucial role in shaping European policy, pushing the bloc toward freer trade and away from political federalism".

Not only that, we are told, "it has helped preserve the rights of others to opt out of unwanted initiatives like the euro. With decisions on fiscal policy, bank supervision and financial regulation likely to be made in the near future, Britain's voice is needed more than ever to protect British interests and larger European ones as well".

With that, eurosceptics become "euro-bashers". British supporters of continued European Union membership "need to counter the seductive simplicities" of those who claim that Britain can ignore Europe and thrive on its own. They need to make the case that British engagement in Europe should be, "the linchpin of our wider global trade ambitions".

That piece concludes with the great New York Times telling us that Britain "needs the European Union as much as it needs Britain", a rather odd way of putting things. But Mr Cameron certainly needs the European Union. How else would he get the material for his quotes?

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