Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Germans and Irish give Cameron a conference headache

In a week which started with the re-election of a conservative giant, Angela Merkel, and which seems set to finish with a Yes vote in the Irish Lisbon Treaty referendum, David Cameron's Conservatives will go into their party conference with their European policy in tatters.

The re-election of a leading Christian Democrat like Angela Merkel ought to have been a cause for celebration for the Conservatives. Instead, having exiled their own moderates, they are stuck in the European Parliament with a ragbag of Nazi-commemorating Latvians and Polish homophobes, trying to discover the cigarette paper that separates them from the golfclub bores of UKIP.

Meanwhile, assisted by a mad combination of Nigel Farage, Sinn Fein and far-right anti-abortionists, Ireland looks likely to vote Yes to Europe. As Peter Preston pointed out yesterday, Euroscepticism is not the default position in the Republic, and last year's No vote reflected a combination of misinformation by No campaigners and poor presentation by the Yes side.

All of which threatens to expose the loopiness of Cameron's position just as he starts his party conference. He can no longer go on wishing that the Treaty will fall - the likelihood is that the Czechs will sign by Christmas. As David Aaronovitch says this morning, the German courts have already somehow failed to live up to their allotted role in this regard.

So, can we now look forward to a revival of John Major's greatest hits as Cameron and William Hague have to explain how they will de-ratify a Treaty that has been ratified - or, more likely, explain to the wide-eyed Europhobes who have been holding their tongue until now that the game is up? I do hope Kenneth Clarke is around to help explain it all to us next week.

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