What did The Prime Minister expect from his visit to Brussels?
Obviously, the PM had to go there, if only to explain to his fellow EU leaders, that his bid to win the EU Referendum had failed and why.
It seems that he also tried to find out whether there was any available option which would preserve the UK’s access to the single market without free movement and he was told that there was not.
The Financial Times has this on the farewell dinner: “Brexit blues at David Cameron’s last supper in Brussels“. A good and balanced take on this rather sad event.
But the Tory press is trying to spin this as Cameron issuing an ultimatum to Brussels when in fact what happened was quite the reverse.
See this particularly misleading piece in The Times: “Cameron issues migration ultimatum”. The Daily Telegraph too: “David Cameron demands EU migrant deal: free movement must be reformed to maintain Britain’s economic ties, PM says at his final meeting in Europe”. The Daily Mail (a newspaper written by schoolboys for schoolboys?) also climbs on the spin doctors’ bandwaggon: “Cameron tells the EU it was YOUR immigration policy that led to Brexit: PM warns Brussels that freedom of movement was key reason for Leave victory and says no trade deal without border crackdown”.
The EU leaders told the Prime Minister what we have always known: Access to the single market requires the “Four Freedoms“: (1) Free Movement of Goods, (2) Freedom of Movement for Workers, (3) Right of Establishment and Freedom to Provide Services, (4) Free Movement of Capital and that free access to the single market was only available on these terms.
These are EU core principles and they were never going to be negotiable.
The Guardian has this: “UK voted for Brexit – but is there a way back?” – it raises some sensible questions but perhaps insufficiently thought through.
The starting point has to be Parliament and Parliament is impaired because both the major parties – Conservative and Labour – have leadership issues which must be resolved. More on this in my next post.