Getting Junckered was not an enjoyable experience for Downing Street. Not only has David Cameron lost his battle to stop the former Luxembourg PM becoming Commission President he has also discovered that Angela Merkel’s assurances to him can be trumped by her domestic political concerns.
Considering how Merkel is the hinge on which Cameron’s renegotiation strategy turns, this is worrying for him. As I report in the Mail on Sunday, members of Cameron’s circle are now contemplating that the renegotiation might not deliver enough substantive change for the UK to stay in. As one of those who knows Cameron best puts it, ‘They might plump the cushions for us but the train isn’t slowing down and the points are still set the same way.’
Cameron’s negotiating tactics will now become more aggressive. One Number 10 source says he will be ‘tough and harsh’. It will be made quite clear that without real change, the British public will vote to leave.
Eurosceptic Cabinet ministers regard this shift as necessary but not sufficient. One tells me that Cameron and Number 10 are ‘catching up with reality.’
The question now is, does Merkel try and make things up to Cameron? Will there be a series of measures designed to address Britain’s concerns in the coming months? If there are, then Britain’s EU membership is salvageable. But if there are not, it will be a sign that Europe isn’t prepared to do what’s needed to stop Britain leaving.