Cameron: Heir to Blair (but not in a good way)

Cameron with French President Hollande

Cameron with French President Hollande

Those who follow EU affairs will remember Tony Blair’s extraordinarily naïve decision to give away a big chunk of our EU budget rebate negotiated by Margaret Thatcher at Fontainebleau, in exchange for a promise of a “root and branch reform” of the Common Agricultural Policy.  Our partners in Brussels happily pocketed the money, but somehow the promise of CAP reform never materialised.  Now, rumour has it, Cameron is about to make a similar elementary negotiating blunder — offering a real and immediate benefit to the other side (like Blair’s decision, involving many billions of Pounds) in exchange for promises which are not only vague, but which actually look undeliverable.

I freely admit that I am retailing gossip here, but it is gossip that chimes with what we know.  I think my sources are reliable, but I am not in a position to reveal them.  I should be very happy to be told that I was mistaken.  Maybe somebody at Number Ten, or somebody at DECC, might like to put me right.

The Coalition government is rightly desperate to get on with its nuclear programme, and is having serious difficulty — largely, I believe, because no company wants to commit a multi-billion Pound investment over six decades, in the face of massive regulatory uncertainty.  When politicians like Angela Merkel can close down the German nuclear industry in response to some bad publicity, investors will think twice.

Currently the government and DECC are negotiating with French nuclear company EDF over two new reactors at Hinckley Point.  I’m told that the Brits are prepared to guarantee a price of £80 per MWh over twenty years, while the French want £100 over 35 years.  MPs are claiming that EDF could make £90 billion over the course of the contract. And of course it’s the poor bl**dy consumer — whether household or industry — who will end up paying.

This whole proposal is a huge bet on oil futures.  If fossil fuel energy follows the script, and becomes more and more expensive, there may come a time when even £100 per MWh looks attractive.  But future prices so rarely do follow the script, and with unconventional oil and gas in the picture, the proposed EDF deal could be a disaster.  Equally, of course, renewables are a similar bet on oil futures.  And that’s without even considering cheap coal.

Cameron is said to have had a meeting scheduled with French President Francoise Hollande to seek to break the impasse — though this meeting was cancelled as a result of the Thatcher funeral.  They are expected to meet shortly.  While the British government is under pressure to kick-start its nuclear programme, Hollande is also under pressure to deliver a major project overseas for a leading French industry.

Now the difficult bit.  I’m being told that Cameron is prepared to be flexible on the pricing for EDF in exchange for undertakings from Hollande that he, Hollande, will be helpful in the matter of Cameron’s EU renegotiation.  So our “heir to Blair” will be following his mentor, and giving away real money — rather a lot of it — in exchange for promises of future support in Europe.

It is frankly extraordinary naïveté on the part of Cameron to think he can gain unilateral concessions from Brussels in the first place.  Those of us who’ve followed the EU issue for decades know that British politicians regularly attempt reform in the EU, and regularly retire hurt.  The EU is beyond reform, and deserves to be put out of its misery.  But it’s doubly naïve of our Prime Minister to imagine that a few obliging words from Hollande will seal the deal.  The EU has its own agenda and its own Juggernaut momentum.  The only way in which Cameron might hope to achieve change is to brandish Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.  Set out our intention to quit, and then let them propose terms to keep us in.

Cameron seems to be set on spending a great deal of our money on promoting political objectives which, as anyone could tell him, are simply unachievable.  He is becoming a liability.

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14 Responses to Cameron: Heir to Blair (but not in a good way)

  1. B Hough says:

    Apart from “spending a great deal of our money” let us not forget that we are borrowing money from the IMF at interest, so whatever figure we hear of could be actually more.
    Also remember that the Blair family are still doing quite well out of the EU.
    Do we not have the ability to build our own power satations?
    And the anti nuclear power power station lobby need to realise how close to us are those on the continent, just as `dangerous` as ones on our soil, remember Chernobyl!
    Also we find a way out of some of our energy cost by fracking giving us some independence from Russia, France, Germany etc. What happens ” fracking is dangerous” so carry on paying.
    Soon we will be a bankrupt no nation, thanks to the non patriotism that is rife in certain politics and businesses.

  2. catalanbrian says:

    It seems that you may not be in agreement with the democratic process by stating that “British politicians regularly attempt reform in the EU, and regularly retire hurt. The EU is beyond reform and deserves to be put out of its misery” The fact that no individual has his way when the majority decide otherwise is not a question of being “beyond reform” That is democracy for you. To imply that British politicians alone should be able to reform the institution is plain ridiculous. As an elected MEP, albeit not for the party that you now represent, you should fully understand this fundamental principle of democracy, but I would question whether a politician that changes sides without reference to his electorate is really very interested in the democratic process at all. Are you?.

    • DougS says:

      What a joke to suggest that democracy exists within the EU. It’s not just undemocratic but anti democratic.

      Are you someone that thinks that it’s a good idea to have UK laws and regulations made by bureaucrats that we didn’t elect and can’t remove? Perhaps you are because maybe you’re not a British citizen!

      • catalanbrian says:

        UK laws are not made by unelected bureaucrats. UK laws are made by UK parliaments, bodies that are elected by the first past the post system, a system that gives advantage to major parties . EU laws, that eventually must be put into effect by member states, are made by the European Parliament, a body that is democratically elected by a method of proportional representation, a system that allows smaller parties greater representation and which surely is more “democratic” Like UK MPs/MSPs and Welsh Assembly members MEPs can be removed very simply by not voting them next time!

        And I am a British citizen, although I am not a UK resident.

    • Mike Stallard says:

      Our host has no electorate.
      He was actually chosen from a party list provided by the Conservatives,
      We really must not fall into the trap of assuming that the EU parliament is anything like Westminster.

    • Adrian Hey says:

      “but I would question whether a politician that changes sides without reference to his electorate is really very interested in the democratic process at all.”

      Good for you! I’m sure you already know (but evidently chose to ignore) the story behind this, I mention it only for any other interested readers who may be passing through. The reason Roger switched to UKIP instead of doing the honorable thing and standing down has been well publicised. Here for example..

      It was the only way he had to thwart an entirely dishonorable attempted stitch up by Warsi. All she had to do was to do was to respect normal process and the Roger would have given up his seat for the next in line Tory.

  3. Malcolm Edward says:

    We were the first country to build nuclear power stations. Why do we need to get a foreign company to build our next generation of nuclear power stations ? For reasons of employment, understanding of the design, operational control, minimising the price of electricity, recycling of constructional and operational costs and profits within the UK, we need it to be entirely British. Owing to the run-down of our design teams it may take longer for a British solution to get started, but many years have already been wasted and in the meantime we can keep the lights on by not closing existing power stations before the end of their working lives.
    Its so upsetting that we have too many people in government (and opposition) from the PM down who are so ready to undersell our country and give control of our essential utilities to foreign bodies at great cost to ourselves (I suspect owing to their Europhilia). It is clearly very difficult to find a pricing formula partly owing to unknown future regulations , so I feel this is one area where ownership by the government would be preferable – and of course in a sensible regulatory environment outside the EU.
    This would be another good issue for UKIP to campaign on.

  4. Linda Hudson says:

    Our Country needs brave leaders to do what has to be done, and that is to put the U.K.and it’s people top priority, nothing more, nothing less!

  5. Cameron has always been a liability, Roger……. a NWO/Common Purpose/Bilderberg liability to be precise.

  6. Mike Stallard says:

    If only!

  7. Richard111 says:

    EU laws are rubber stamped into UK law without debate in parliament. I do not call that democracy.

  8. Linda Hudson says:

    We the people voted for a European Economical common market, nothing more, nothing less, and it has taken the last 40 years of Labour and Tory governments which have signed treaties on further integration into the E.U. superstate, which has taken away the status of a common market. We the people were not asked to vote for such a thing, and that is why the people of Britain are angry at the lies and deception, this is what happens when the people feel that their freedom, heritage ,traditions and very soul have been taken away by an undemocratic, dictatorial government which has taken root. The British people want their sovereignty returned intact, never did we expect to be governed by a second government in another country, and an E.U. that has not had it’s accounts signed off for 18 years because of corruption and incompetence. SAYS IT ALL DOESN’T IT!

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