Cameron really has stirred up a political hornets nest with his determination to prevent Jean-Claude Juncker from becoming president of the European commission.
His initial reasoning, which was that the EU should not appoint a federalist after the recent election had shown so much ground being gained by parties that want to restructure the EU altogether was understandable. He seemed even to have won the ear of Angela Merkel. It is thought that Italy, Hungary, The Netherlands and Sweden would support him, and France is possibly moving in the same direction.
Angela Merkel, however, apparently under pressure from inside Germany, where 78% of Germans believed the candidate of the biggest bloc in the European parliament should go on to become president of the commission, has exercised her woman’s prerogative, and changed her mind.
This may have been enough to trigger Cameron into action, and his alleged comments about a British exit from Europe, reportedly made in a private conversation on the fringe of a Brussels dinner on Tuesday, were leaked to Der Spiegel.
Many people see Cameron’s statement as blackmail, which is especially damaging, and certainly not statesmanlike. Far better would have been to accept the inevitable if Juncker is elected, say nothing, return home, and quietly advance the date for the referendum.
As it is, I fear Cameron has neatly shot himself in the foot!