'Incompetent' David Cameron faces clear defeat over Juncker

Leaked tape of two Polish politicians discussing his strategy shows just how isolated Cameron is

The Mole
(Image credit: Luke MacGregor/WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Responding to the leak of a taped conversation in which the Polish foreign minister Radek Sikorski accuses David Cameron of having "f***ed up" his negotiations for reform of the EU, Britain's Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt admitted this morning that Cameron is "isolated" in Europe.

Hunt sought to make a virtue of that, telling Radio 4's Today listeners: "I want a Prime Minister who fights for Britain… Sometimes leadership is lonely but if it is the right thing to do for Britain, I am glad we have got a strong Prime Minister prepared to take those steps – even if it means he is isolated from time to time."

"Isolated" is putting it mildly. BBC political editor Nick Robinson said Cameron could be in a 27-1 minority on Friday in his effort to force a vote at the EU Council of Ministers to stop the federalist Jean-Claude Juncker being appointed president of the European Commission. The best Cameron can hope for is that Hungary might support him.

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"A few weeks ago David Cameron insisted he was winning allies, that many people agreed with him on the need to block Jean- Claude Juncker," said Robinson, "but it is clear now he may now have no allies at all.

"What this tape of a private conversation between the Polish foreign minister and one of his colleagues reveals is just how much contempt there is in Europe for Mr Cameron’s negotiating position."

In the tape, Sikorski – an avowed Thatcherite and well-connected Anglophile, who was in the Bullingdon Club at Oxford at the same time as Boris Johnson and send his sons to Eton - said Cameron had shown “incompetence” in his negotiations with EU partners and accused him of "stupidly" pandering to the eurosceptics on the Tory backbenches.

"He is not interested, he does not get it, he believes in the stupid propaganda, he stupidly tries to play the system... his whole strategy of feeding [his critics] scraps in order to satisfy them is just as I predicted, turning against him.

"He should have said, f*** off, tried to convince people and isolate [the sceptics]. But he ceded the field to those that are now embarrassing him…"

Sikorski was in conversation with another senior Polish politician, former finance minister Jacek Rostowski, who is taped saying: "For the Polish government to agree [to Britain's demands to block Juncker's appointment], someone will have to give us some mountain of gold.

"The Brits won’t give it to us, and the Germans, in order to keep the Brits on board, won’t give it to us either in all likelihood."So the answer will be: f*** off."

Eurosceptic Bernard Jenkin could barely conceal his glee at the prospect of Cameron being forced to accept he has no power to reform the EU from within. Jenkin told the Today programme: "Juncker is the tip of a very large federalist iceberg."

Illustrating just how keen some Tory MPs are for Britain to pull out of Europe, one Eurosceptic tweeted this week: "God let it be Juncker".Cameron is committed to reforming the EU’s freedom of movement rules to stop people from poorer east European countries having the automatic right to come Britain.

The attitude of Rostowski and Sikorski shows just what little chance Cameron of securing an EU agreement for his flagship reform - which leaves his European policy in tatters and the Tories edging ever closer to supporting Britain’s exit from the EU.

There could be one benefit for Cameron in this looming disaster – he could get the support of Ukip at the next election.

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is the pseudonym for a London-based political consultant who writes exclusively for The Week.co.uk.