Cameron’s Speech on Europe: Background

Britain and Europe or Tory and Britain?

The long-awaited speech by British PM David Cameron on the UK’s future in the European Union has finally arrived, and to no critical acclaim.

The build-up to the speech was significant. Both domestically and overseas, politicians and analysts alike have been on their toes for quite a while. Everyone knew that whatever Cameron had in mind for the UK’s future in the Union, it wouldn’t be in the best interest of the European project. That seemed to be the premise all along – Britain’s road-trip in the EU has been rocky from the outset – blocked from ascending by an embittered Charles De Gaulle in 1963, the history of British membership has been marked by opt-outs and disagreements, which have only become sharper with the global financial crisis and the ensuing Eurozone crisis.

First announced in autumn of 2012, Cameron’s speech on Europe was repeatedly postponed in order to avoid clashes with other important events. When Cameron was about to finally deliver in Amsterdam, an international hostage situation involving British citizens broke out in Algeria and forced the Prime Minister into crisis management mode. At long last, Cameron held his speech on 23 January in London, at Bloomberg London’s HQ – a place of growing significance in recent British political history, as pointed out by New Statesman.

One can certainly go to great lengths in discussing all the curious facts surrounding this highly anticipated speech, such as Amsterdam and Bloomberg London as choices of venue, or the intricacies of mid-term timing, the upcoming opening of the labour market to Bulgarians and Romanians in January 2014, or even coalition and in-party disagreements. But what is of more interest to us, is the speech itself.

One indisputable fact that has to be said from the very beginning is that the speech was really good – well-written, well-thought out and with a distinct British flavour for simplicity and straightforwardness. It also has to be said that Cameron’s delivery is sharp and confident, and anyone expecting a King’s Speech moment will be dully disappointed.

Read my analysis of the speech here.

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