I welcome European Council President Donald Tusk’s proposal this morning, as representing, without any doubt, a ‘substantial change’, as the Prime Minister has already said, to Europe’s position on the concessions it must and will make to keep the UK inside the EU.
This is a day when those who said the Germans and the French would laugh at us, and move not a metric millimetre to accommodate our demands, must swallow their words and sneak back into their isolationist holes, hopefully never to emerge again.
This is indeed a proud victory for Britain in Europe, but I call this a proposal only, because there is much more negotiating to be done now that we have them on the back foot.
The so-called ’emergency brake’ on benefits is a good start, but there is more to be had here, and I don’t think David Cameron has any intention of easing up the pressure until he’s knocked over all the obstacles to getting what he wants, especially on not paying benefits to new migrants.
The red-card system is also a good start, and will not only give the UK a realistic chance of smashing ridiculous EU laws that threaten to undermine the power of our parliament.
But, even more than that, by setting up the red-card mechanism it will create a strong, chilling effect against stupid, selfish and partisan laws ever getting anywhere near the statute books.
Personally I would like to see a lowering of the 55 per cent threshold, just to be sure!
And I believe the last thing Mr Tusk wanted to hear this morning from the PM’s mouth was that there were still ‘details to be worked out!’
Because, despite what the quitters of the various squabbling ‘Leave’ campaigns will have you believe, we haven’t lost our culture since we joined Europe, but they have learned a thing or two about British understatement.
So it’s a case of get ready for some serious bargaining on things like the pound having the same status as the Euro; of us being exempted from any future Euro-zone bailouts, and a decent set of targets on getting rid of Brussels meddling in our affairs with its tiresome and unhelpful kilometres of red tape, which strangles UK businesses.
Quite frankly, in this proposal the dictatorship of Europe and the wider – now practically dead – political project, are over and the EU is well on its way to again becoming the world’s largest trading block, and a club we cannot afford not to be inside.
In the words of my tailor Andrew Ramroop, why, if you have your foot in the door to a market of 500 million potential customers, where 200,000 UK companies do business, employing more than three million people and creating 229 billion quid of income a year, would you let that door close on you, so you can beat on it with your fists so those inside will let you back in?
Complete madness, the kind that the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, described the other day as entrusting your economic future to the ‘kindness of strangers’.