Letter from the Deputy Editor: Damage limitation exercises for Mr. Cameron

  • @jonesrhodri


David Cameron probably woke up with a headache this morning. Luckily for him, it’s probably more of a political than a medical problem as he may have trouble getting an appointment with his GP.

The past few days have hardly been good for him, no matter how much of a positive spin he puts on things. First, on Tuesday, came  the conviction of his former adviser, Andy Coulson, on phone-hacking charges. That was shortly followed by a widely predicted, but no less humiliating, defeat over the nomination of Jean-Claude Juncker as the next President of the European Commission.

With little that the Prime Minister could have done at such late notice to influence either of these events, both have become damage-limitation exercises.

Mr Cameron’s attempt to draw a line under the Coulson saga only served to prolong the agony when he was rebuked by the judge for issuing an apology while the trial was still ongoing. And one suspects that the Europe issue is hardly going to shrink into the night.

The PM’s threats last week that Britain would be closer to an EU exit if the former Prime Minister of Luxembourg were appointed President have only served to make his next mission that more difficult. If he also fails to secure augmented terms for the UK’s membership, it will be a sign of how far our influence in Europe has plummeted, and there will be very few crumbs for him to throw to those demanding the country goes it alone.

By claiming that he is in a stronger position to renegotiate the relationship after losing the key vote, Mr Cameron has not made his task any easier. Especially now that no sooner had the German Chancellor Angela Merkel uttered her consoling words – that she is “ready to address British concerns” – than European allies have said that they will “call his bluff”.

The PM will have to show more teeth than a Suarez attacking move to get himself out of this one.

Twitter: @jonesrhodri