The Art of the Deal

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On Tuesday, David Cameron published a draft document of his EU renegotiation settlement. Cameron had been working on this deal for months, touring the capitals of Europe to strengthen relations with foreign premiers in the hope of achieving a more favourable agreement. Having put in all of this hard work, Cameron seemed proud of his project, calling the proposals a “very strong and powerful package”. However, the press was less impressed:


  • “A steaming pile of manure,” was The Sun‘s verdict. This was accompanied by a Dad’s Army themed front page asking “Who do EU think you are kidding Mr Cameron?”, with the PM seemingly playing the roles of both Captain Mainwaring and Adolf Hitler.
  • “Cameron’s EU deal is a joke” stated the Express on its front page. To be fair, though, I doubt there’s anything at all that Cameron could have done that would have satisfied Richard Desmond’s Euroscepticism.
  • “THE GREAT DELUSION!” cried the Daily Mail, commenting that Cameron’s “capacity for self-delusion” was “breathtaking”. This was nothing, however, compared to the next day’s front page. “WHO WILL SPEAK FOR ENGLAND?”, it roared, featuring the glorious line: “Nobody is suggesting that there are any parallels whatever between the Nazis and the EU. […] But…”
  • “EU are joking”, joked the Metro.
  • “The document promises little of substance” was the Times‘s slightly more reasoned analysis, but the paper made it clear that it thought the deal was “inadequate”.
  • The Independent belittled the concessions offered by the EU and described Cameron as “looking fairly foolish” after the “months of tedious negotiation and years of grandstanding”.

Cameron’s own MPs weren’t much kinder. Jacob Rees-Mogg, MP for North East Somerset, remarked that “the thin gruel has been further watered down” (see Politics Review #2 for the original thin gruel) before warning that the Prime Minister had a fortnight “in which to salvage his reputation as a negotiator.”

Outside of the Westminster Bubble, the people of Britain don’t seem all that impressed either. 69% of voters thought David Cameron’s deal was ‘bad’, according to a Sky News poll, whilst the ‘leave’ campaign surged to a nine-point lead (45-36) in the latest poll by YouGov/The Times.

Unfortunately, Cameron might not be as good a negotiator as he’d originally thought.1

If only we had someone on our side who really knew how to strike a deal to make the EU great again.2

  1. Me? I think this is all part of an exercise in expectations management. I imagine the final deal, set to be agreed upon in mid-February, will be a lot more acceptable, especially when compared to this particularly underwhelming set of proposals. There have already been reports of numerous ‘rabbits’ that Cameron is planning to pull out of his hat. Will it work? Let’s wait and see. 
  2. No, this doesn’t mean that Berkeley Squares is endorsing Donald Trump. Not yet, anyway.