David Cameron told journalists before Christmas that he had a ‘tantric’ approach to his European policy speech: that it would be all the better when it eventually came. So today he decided to continue tantalising his party and the media by popping up on the Today programme a whole week before he’s due to give the speech, and refusing to give details of what that speech will contain.
It’s an interesting strategy, as speaking so far before the speech won’t help the Conservative party remain calm. The next week was always going to be a little frenzied in the run-up to the speech. But here’s what we did learn from the Today interview:
1. The Prime Minister is in favour of Britain in Europe.
He argued that ‘Britain does have a European future’, but that this future involves reform.
‘I am in favour of Britain’s membership of the European Union. We’re a trading nation, we need access to the single market, but more than that we need a say in the rules of that market. So I believe Britain does have a European future.’
‘But frankly, there is a debate going in Britain about our relationship with Europe – a lot of people are not happy, including me, with some of the nature of that relationship, and I think there’s an opportunity to get that relationship right.’
He did clarify that he didn’t believe that Britain would ‘collapse’ if it did leave the European Union, but it’s clear that he will still campaign for ‘In’ in the event of a vote on Britain remaining in the EU or leaving.
2. He believes that now is a good time to be discussing that changed relationship…
The Prime Minister said the changes in the European Union provided Britain with ‘opportunities to make changes’.