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Europe will be the end of Cam.

Byline: Paul Routledge

DAVID Cameron was meant to be in the Netherlands today, drumming up Dutch courage to deliver his big speech on Europe.

He put his plans on hold when it became clear that the Algerian army's deadly assault to free Brit hostages in the Saharan desert was under way.

It was the right decision, of course. But this speech, supposedly the most important of his political career, was jinxed from the start.

He was due to make it last summer, but put it off to the autumn Tory conference. Then it was "before Christmas" and finally January.

Even then, the schedule was decided by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, not by our PM. She made him bring his Amsterdam music hall turn forward to today.

Cameron wants to ape his heroine Maggie Thatcher, who crossed the Channel in 1988 to give her anti-EU harangue in Bruges. Stupid boy. Her Belgian tirade set in train her demise two years later, and he is following her.

The stakes are that high. Europe is the great issue of our time, make no mistake.

More important than William and Kate's baby. Bigger than football or same sex marriages.

What we decide about our tomorrow in the European Union will affect not just us but generations to come, and not just here but from here to Gdansk and Athens.

Yet this critical issue is being decided by a squalid brawl within the Conservative Party, as the barmies fight to the death with the few sane Tories at Westminster.

This War of Dave's Face is an insult to the nation.

We deserve better than the manic squawking of swivel-eyed MPs intent on pulling the UK out of Europe, aided and abetted by little Englanders in the media. I doubt if we'll get it.

The Prime Minister's speech was certainly a long time in the writing. Dickens would be on to his second novel by now.

And the reaction to what he is unable to say already fills several phone books.

President Obama, the chancellories of Europe and even my aunt in Otley (if I still had one) have given their verdict. And it is mostly: "Thawat?" Cameron was slow to speak because he didn't know what to say about the issue that threatens to tear his party apart, as it did under John Major.

Who knows what he really thinks? About this or anything else, for that matter. He was supposed to offer leadership to his party and the country, but he lacks all conviction.

Speech or no speech I suspect it won't matter what he thinks.

This is yet more Dodgy Dave policy-making on the hoof, quite possibly on a police horse borrowed from Mrs Rebekah Brooks.

In any event, a speech is only swiftly-forgotten words. It isn't a policy, much less a strategy.

When he finally gets his words out, he'll bleat: "Give me a Parliamentary majority in 2015, and I will renegotiate a new deal with Europe, and then give you a referendum on, y'know, stuff, in, oh, whenever, maybe 2018."

Meanwhile, the rest of Europe is undergoing physiotherapy for sides split by laughter.

Why should they abandon decades of hard-fought agreement over economic and political co-operation, just to save Dave's face? They won't.

That's why I believe today's harrowing anti-climax to his Operation Europe is the beginning of the end for Campaign Cameron.

our part in europe is being decided by a tory brawl
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Title Annotation:Features; Opinion, Column
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jan 18, 2013
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