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Sunday, 20 January 2013

Cameron can deliver on Europe - question is, will he?

By Nathaniel Mawson

After delaying his speech because of the Algerian crisis David Cameron is going to take another bite of the apple this week. Foreign Secretary William Hague said on The Andrew Marr Show on BBC1 that "it will happen this week" and "we will make an announcement on when and where tomorrow".

The decision to delay the speech that was due on Friday 18th was met with a lot of support given the situation. However, there was also criticism as Liberal Democrat MEP Graham Watson tweeted "Al Qaeda 1, @David_Cameron 0". The MEP for South West England and Gibraltar deleted the offending tweet amid reports that Nick Clegg was furious about it.

Change is needed, Cameron is expected to say and without a reformed European Union Britain could "drift towards the exit". However, proposals on what to negotiate and what the future face of the EU will look like still have not been confirmed. The Prime Minister has made it clear that whatever deal Britain walks away with will be subject to a referendum after 2015 if Mr Cameron remains at Number 10.

"We believe in a strong EU. We cannot imagine a strong EU without a vibrant partner in the UK, that is what we hope will come about but it is up to the British people to decide what they want." Louis Susman the US ambassador to London echoed what other American commentators and the President Barack Obama have been saying recently. "We want to succeed in the European Union – we want an outward-looking EU to succeed in the world, and for the United Kingdom to succeed in that," Mr Hague the Foreign Secretary said "But we have to recognise that the European Union has changed a lot since the referendum of 1975 and that there have been not only great achievements to the EU's name but some things that have gone badly wrong, such as the euro."

Former Defence Secretary Liam Fox told Sunday Politics that "I think that for most British politicians on the right of the political spectrum, we would prefer to have the ideal solution of being able to have that type of renegotiated relationship from inside. If we were put into a position where the British people didn't like any renegotiated solution and decided to be outside, there are a lot of countries who do exist outside the EU, it would have undoubtedly some difficulties for us, but I don't think they could not be overcome." Critics have stated that Mr Cameron is trying to win back UKIP support and appease the Conservative Eurosceptics. Mr Fox though seems to be in broad agreement with the Prime Minister's plan. Mr Fox continued, "I think ultimately an in/out referendum has to mean that – that if you vote for whatever the government is putting forward that is to remain in on that basis, and a no vote would be to leave."

Whenever Mr Cameron does make his speech it will be a fascinating moment of debate. Especially considering the talking has already begun and David Cameron has started to look a little late to his own party. Either way I doubt questions will be answered- indeed far more likely, we will be left asking more.