Long experience of watching British governments “negotiate” in Brussels suggests how the Great Cameron Re-Negotiation will proceed.
Cameron: “Look, I’m in a bit of a fix. I promised ‘re-negotiation’ of our relationship with Brussels, though actually I really really do want to stay in the EU. As you’ll remember, before I became prime minister I gave a ‘cast-iron’ promise to the electorate of a referendum on Lisbon, which I dumped as soon as I got into No 10.
This time round, having promised an In-Out referendum, it’s a bit trickier. What could you give me to pull the wool over the natives’ eyes and get them to vote to stay In ?
Brussels: Frankly, we’re not that bothered whether the UK stays in or gets out. But we were thinking anyway of abolishing the Cauliflower Directive. What if we were to postpone that until 2025 but meanwhile exempt the UK from its provisions? You could then have your referendum claiming it as a huge British negotiating success.
Cameron: Gosh, thanks, that’s very generous – I’m sure we could swing it on that basis.”
Thus it was that, in 2017, Mr Cameron’s PR people, & the BBC, dramatized a last-minute all-night struggle in Brussels. He landed bleary-eyed at Northolt at dawn, and emerged from the plane waving a bit of white paper. The TV cameras were ready. Yes, “Re-Negotiation” had triumphantly succeeded. The British Prime Minister had secured the heroic return of – the Cauliflower Directive !
* The “Cauliflower Directive” is ficticious: but “Commission Regulation_(EC)_No 2257/94” actually exists and contains provisions for regulating cauliflowers; though cauliflowers may now benefit from an derogation.