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The EU's supporters should thank David Cameron


Thursday 17 January 2013

When the British prime minister makes his speech about the UK's relationship with the rest of the EU tomorrow he will be criticised by British Eurosceptics demanding he make the case for withdrawal.

 

Much of the rest of the EU already condemn him for daring to question the terms of membership in the first place.

 

Many in his party (perhaps many in his country) would leave the EU tomorrow. It takes a brave person in the UK these days to stand up for Britain's continued membership or to suggest that we benefit from the union.

 

But that is exactly what Cameron will be doing.

 

And yes, the speech will be couched in all sorts of language about a “fresh settlement” and “Britain's national interest”. And there won't be a hint of the “solidarity” idea that clouds most speeches in Brussels. (But that's because a British prime minister sounding like Guy Verhofstadt would be forced out of office tomorrow.) And it's evident that Cameron has been forced into taking this step by some baying members of his own party, and by his own mismanagement of Europe since taking office.

 

Yet it is a brave intervention from an instinctively pro-European prime minister, putting him at odds with the way the popular wind is blowing in the country and risking a loss of significant support from many of his natural voters to the anti-EU UK Independence Party.

 

The existing situation in which the UK half-heartedly participates in EU discussions, haphazardly threatens to veto measures in their and other member states' interests and happily muses on withdrawal is not good for anybody.

 

So even the EU's most ardent fans should be grateful that Cameron is sticking up for Europe.

 

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