Even before the speech is actually delivered, Cameron’s expressed intentions to persuade 26 other governments to renegotiate what the EU does has already brought scorn from the eurosceptics in UKIP and his own party.
At the same time there have been a plethora of tough warnings from pro-Europeans like Lord Heseltine, from business leaders such as Sir Richard Branson and Sir Martin Sorrell, and even from President Obama, about the reckless gamble he is taking with the interests of our country.
Even many of Cameron’s supporters think that, in promising so much, yet ultimately being able to deliver so little, he will be painted into a eurosceptic corner from which the only escape is the door marked “EU exit.”
But let’s suppose that Cameron is at least partially successful and manages to “repatriate” some of the powers back to the UK from the “evil clutches” of Brussels.
If, for example, social and employment law was once again entirely the UK’s responsibility, what would the consequences be?
Interestingly, far from hiding their intentions, Tory MEPs have treated this issue as a badge of honour.
Martin Callanan, the Tory MEP who leads the eight nation Conservative & Reform Group in the European Parliament, has actually said that . . . scrapping workers’ rights is “one of the best ways” to create jobs.
EU laws that protect workers’ rights, such as paid holidays and maternity and paternity leave, are really “barriers to actually employing people” according to him.
And why is there not an uproar on this from everyone in Britain who works for a living?
At least partly, because such remarks are rarely reported widely. The British press gets hot under the collar about every euro myth that comes along, but have largely ignored this very real threat to the civil and human rights of millions of workers.
We must be under no illusions: when the Tories speak about ‘repatriating’ these powers, they mean taking rights away from working people.
Whether it’s rights for part time, temporary, or agency workers, rights for parents, rights to specified time off or to employee consultation, if Cameron somehow manages to wriggle out of his present predicament, the loss of these rights, held by millions of employees in this country, will be the price that will be paid.