Cameron should focus on the 2015 general election before renegotiating our place in the EU

27 Feb 2014

The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has landed in Britain. Whilst here, David Cameron seeks to charm her into helping the UK bring about new treaty changes for the future of the European Union, following his promise that if the Conservatives win a majority in 2015, there will be an in-out referendum on our membership with the EU before 2017. The PM believes it is in the UK's national interest to reform the current EU treaty, despite reluctance from his deputy, Nick Clegg, along with Labour leader Ed Miliband. Indeed, even French President Francois Hollande has made his views clear on the subject, commenting that talks over EU treaty changes were "not a priority" and that the EU should instead focus on Europe's growing economic pressures before anything else. However, although Mrs Merkel has never rejected the idea of helping Mr Cameron achieve the changes he deems necessary, Germany appears reluctant to offer their unconditional support to the PM before 2015. This is why Mr Cameron has started to begin a charm offensive towards Mrs Merkel, which began on Wednesday when he commented that he held "enormous admiration" for Germany's first female leader, who is notably visiting Britain at a politically significant time.


During her visit Mrs Merkel is to address the Houses of Parliament and have tea with the Queen, both of which will steal the headlines and give Mr Cameron the chance to lure the German Chancellor towards his views on the future of the EU. However, before the Conservative's EU referendum can take place, they need to be in power in 2015, a fact that is not guaranteed, by any stretch of the imagination. The PM did himself no favors earlier this week by suggesting that he did not wish to go into another coalition with the Liberal Democrats after the next election, thereby demonstrating that such a partnership, the one we have currently, is not suitable. But whilst he continues to squabble with his Lib Dem colleagues, Labour have been warming to the junior coalition partners of late, realising the possibility of a Lib-Lab coalition post-2015. It is true that Labour and the Lib Dems share greater common ground than they do with the Conservatives - both are reluctant towards EU changes, and both support the idea of introducing a mansion tax along with a 50p tax rate- policies which both parties could potentially base a coalition upon – providing much more fertile ground the current partnership, it being old news that immigration and welfare changes are two key areas which the current coalition significantly disagree on.

With this in mind, rather than dismissing the idea of a future coalition with the Lib Dems, the PM needs to realise that it may be his only option. If the Conservatives fail to win a majority at the next election, forming a minority government would have its own problems, especially if the relationship between Labour and the Lib Dems grows closer in the lead up to 2015. The fact that Mrs Merkel is visiting Britain is of great importance given the political circumstance of Europe, however, before Mr Cameron gets ahead of himself, he should focus on bringing his party back into government in 2015, rather than dealing with EU matters which may not even materialise should he fail in his quest to paint Britain Blue at the next general election

By Emily Stacey

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