PM David Cameron of the United Kingdom must be a regular reader of my blog. Last Sunday, I wrote about Cameron and his designated speech on the EU, to be held in The Netherlands:
[...] there is probably not much leeway for Cameron within the European Commission and at the government leaders of the European countries to claim a special position for the British in the Union: a position that does maintain the benefits from the EU, but without its obvious drawbacks for the British.
The UK already enjoyed a number of special agreements since the 80’s and Cameron’s position within the EU did not become stronger, since he decided to boycot a new treaty for the EU and the Euro-zone in December, 2011.
If Cameron’s speech is too much anti-EU, then he passes a point-of-no-return that hardly leaves him any other option then heading for the door of the EU. In this case, not only the EU, but also the US will be angry with the UK, thus further isolating the island.
However, when his speech is not sufficiently aggressive and critical towards the EU, he will not only lose the confidence of a large part of the British population, but also within his own Tory party and grassroots he might become a ‘persona non grata’.
If I was David Cameron, I would start to suffer from a political pneumonia that keeps me in bed until the 23rd of January, hoping that everybody forgets about this doomed speech.
During this week and especially today, it felt like Cameron had indeed read my blog.
Initially, he put his speech forward to today (Thursday, January 17) from January 22, a strong sign of intelligence and good judgment about the German and French sensitivities concerning the Elysée treaty.
On top of that, it seems that David Cameron indeed developed the political pneumonia that was necessary to cancel this doomed speech without loss of face. In this case, it might have been the hostage situation in Algeria. Today, the Financial Times wrote on the consequences of these events for Cameron’s speech.
David Cameron has cancelled a pivotal speech on the EU in order to grapple with the unfolding hostage crisis in Algeria.
A Downing Street aide said the prime minister had taken the decision not to travel to Amsterdam for the speech on Thursday evening after information from Algeria “that means he simply cannot be away”.
Mr Cameron had sought to stay on top of the Algerian situation while travelling to Holland, even setting up a system to chair an emergency Cobra meeting with officials from Amsterdam.
However, he subsequently decided he needed to deal with the crisis in north Africa which has involved several British nationals. “We have to prepare ourselves for the possibility of more bad news ahead,” he said.
The decision to cancel the EU speech will come as a surprise to many given the enormous build-up to the event, in which Mr Cameron was set to indicate a preference for a referendum in the next parliament over Britain’s relationship with Brussels.
The Europe issue has dominated the political agenda all week with Mr Cameron buffeted by the views of eurosceptics and europhiles jostling for position on the airwaves.
Please understand me that I’m not disrespectful towards the poor hostages in Algeria and that I certainly don’t want to make jokes over their heads. I am worried as well about the situation that they are currently in and I truly hope that all hostages will be freed without any harm done. I wish their families and loved ones all the best in these trying times.
However, I do stand with my conclusion that the situation in Algeria might be a blessing in disguise for Cameron, who now can postpone his speech into oblivion without much loss of face. His speech was doomed from the beginning for the reasons that I wrote in the aforementioned quote from my Sunday-night blog.
If a designated speech alienates either one of both parties that you do much business with, it is better not to hold it at all. At least, unless you want to say goodbye to one of these parties…