11 January: The Guardian reports that David Cameron faces humiliation over the EU as Germany chances its stance on treaty renegotiation that the PM sees as crucial to Britain’s continued membership.
It comes as opposition MPs and even some of his senior coalition partners question the wisdom of Cameron’s stance, and call into question the words of George Osborne who earlier this week said that Europe must change if Britain was to remain a member – which caused an ally of Chancellor Merkel to accuse the UK of “blackmailing” Europe.
The leader of the Conservative MEPs warned that strident Euroscepticism was in danger of giving the impression of Britain “snarling like a pitbull across the Channel”. Richard Ashworth told a seminar organised by the Business for New Europe group and the European parliament: “We’re raising the tempo so that expectations are becoming too great.” He warned that Britain was making itself “pretty unattractive and difficult to work with”.
Vince Cable was equally critical:
Vince Cable, the business secretary, showed Liberal Democrat unease about the prime minister’s plans which he described as a “massive disruption”. He said: “I have to say that this whole issue of raising again in a fundamental way British membership and the terms of membership is a massive disruption and deeply unhelpful in my job. I have to spend my time talking to business people, British and international, trying to have the confidence to invest here and create employment and the recent uncertainly is just deeply uncomfortable for the country. I think the warning shot across the bows yesterday from the United States was actually quite helpful as well as very timely.”