David Cameron had hoped to agree a deal today, return from Brussels this evening, hold a special Cabinet meeting and then start the referendum campaign. So much for that. We have news from the European Council summit, and it’s not about the eating arrangements, apparently (though for those on the edge of their seats about what time ‘breakfast’ will be, it’s currently planned for 8pm). Cameron has cancelled the Cabinet meeting A Number 10 source said:
‘The Council are planning to reconvene at 8pm. Before then, the Prime Minister is likely to have a number of further bilaterals including with the Danish PM, the Czech PM and the Dutch PM.
And the PM himself has tweeted the news.
Negotiations are continuing into this evening. A Cabinet meeting won't be possible tonight. One will be held if and when a deal is done.
— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) February 19, 2016
Officials are staying extremely tight-lipped about what the sticking points are now, and wouldn’t be drawn on whether any of the issues had been resolved. We’ll bring you updates when something happens.
In the meantime, the question is whether Cameron is really genuinely in a pickle right now with his renegotiation, or whether this is a convenient delay to make the eventual thin deal look more impressive.