Harold Macmillan allegedly replied to a journalist's question of what is most likely to blow governments off course, with the response; "Events, dear boy, events".
Such is Cameron's position now. He was desperate to 'park the EU' issue for the Tory party, but now it has blown up in his face big time. So much so that within less than six months the question of an EU referendum of sorts is increasingly being touted as being inevitable. This was unthinkable before the 2010 election in political circles.
But, as with the issue of immigration, which is being discussed by Labour eight years late simply as a token gesture so it is with our EU membership. Our political class are still stuck in a time warp of 'renegotiation' and 'common market' rhetoric, however events move fast and the EU tectonic plates have shifted very rapidly. The EU is about to go for the leap into full political integration (as was always intended) - more quickly than it will probably get away with but necessary because of the severity of the Eurozone crisis.
As Richard North points out, the key date is June 28th next week when the EU Council (not Summit) takes place, and political integration proposals are likely to be announced. With the severity of the Eurocrisis preventing the original intention of salami tactics (step-by-step) regarding integration as per the Monnet method, they are having to go for it all in one go - a bold move which will inevitably mean that Britain's relationship with the EU will have to change. A significant treaty change is due and thus a referendum here. This leaves three options:
- Accept full integration including the Euro - a non-starter.
- Attempt to veto the forthcoming treaty at an IGC, unless Cameron demands we repatriate powers. Yet not only does Cameron have no influence regarding the EU Council agenda, it will also leave him open to accusations of destroying the EU project for 'selfish national interest'. Again a non-starter.
- So all that's left is option 3, leave via article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to try to renegotiate a new relationship entirely, which essentially means exit, in all but name.