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London: David Cameron will deliver a “red-meat announcement” on Britain’s future in the EU, which he believes will satisfy all but a hard core of Conservative (Tory) MPs, when he makes his much-delayed keynote speech on Europe in the next few days.
Amid uncertainty over the exact timing of the jinxed address, senior government sources have said that the prime minister intends to make the speech this week — possibly tomorrow — if a resolution has been found to the Algerian hostage crisis.
“He wants to go ahead as soon as possible. There will be something in it which will pacify all but the hard core,” said the source. “But he could deliver the same kind of speech that Margaret Thatcher gave in Bruges in 1988 and around 25 MPs would not be happy. It is not possible to please everyone.”
Advanced briefing of his speech, which he had been scheduled to give in Amsterdam on Friday but had to postpone because of events in Algeria, made clear that he would demand repatriation of some powers from Brussels to the UK’s parliament if he wins a majority at the next election. The new deal would then be put to the British people in a referendum.
Journalists were told that he would speak of “growing frustration” with the EU among UK voters which needs to be addressed if this country is not to slide towards the EU exit door.
But insiders say he will spell out in greater detail his approach — including one significant announcement — while refusing to give a “shopping list” of powers he wants to repatriate. The shopping list idea was rejected after warnings from other EU leaders, government officials and the Foreign Office (the UK’s ministry for foreign affairs) that he would have no guarantee of bringing home the goods.
It is understood that he foresees a two-stage approach to renegotiation. In the short term he is expected to hold out the prospect of limited progress on issues that do not require reopening EU treaties. These would include opting out of elements of police and justice co-operation, while remaining involved in others.