There are those times while working away of a Sunday morning while trying to listen to whoever is being lightly grilled on The Andy Marr Show (tm) when I stop for a moment and wonder if I actually heard what I thought I’d heard. Today was one of those moments, as Young Dave told Marr that he was looking to curb or in the case of certain countries curtail free movement of labour from other EU countries.
But he did say that. And it’s complete crap: our citizens (or subjects, if you insist) are allowed to travel to, live in, and yes, work in any other EU member state, and as a quid pro quo, citizens of other EU countries are allowed, should they wish, to travel to this country, and live and work here. This is another of those parts of the free market that all member states sign up to.
So why on earth Cameron is even suggesting there can be any reversal of the move is baffling. Even the partisan Telegraph has noted that “Most lawyers and officials believe that there is little chance of Britain being able to make change in the movement rules”. So Cameron thinks it’s right to “consider” the rule. Fine. Consider it, and then realise it’s a non-starter. End of story.
This is only one of the ways that Cameron’s ideas on the EU seem incoherent. He has suggested that a referendum might not give the choice of leaving, but then, what would be the point of a referendum in the first place? He and his party have been going along with the fringe groups, pundits and editors who have been running an incessant barrage of anti-EU propaganda. This is the inevitable result.
He’s also suggesting voting against the EU budget, where there is a proposal to agree the numbers for a six year period – rather than the whole bunfight happening every year – because he is opposed to a figure of 11% (as one figure it looks bad, but remember, it’s well under 2% a year). Why can’t he join with France and Germany, who also oppose it, to negotiate it down instead?
If the Tories want to see off UKIP, they won’t do this by giving Nigel “Thirsty” Farage and his pals enough ammunition to kick them for being all over the place – which they are. Cameron and Co shouldn’t have egged on the antis if they weren’t prepared to offer the electorate an in/out referendum, and they now need to offer something realistic on the EU, not more instances of taking the bat home.
Otherwise, Young Dave will find Mr Thirsty chipping away support on his right flank, and Mil the Younger doing likewise on his left. It the voters don’t understand what on earth you’re about, they’ll pile off elsewhere in short order. Tories, you have once again been warned.