Cameron’s letter spells out no demands. It sets out “areas where [he is] seeking reforms”. The key point is not that these amount to a damp squib. It is that they seek to concede what has already been decided by the EU: the creation of a two-tier, two-speed Union, with “Associate Membership” conferred on those outside the eurozone. This will be formal recognition of what Cameron describes as “effectively two sorts of members of the European Union”. Or, more presentationally persuasive, ‘The British Model’.
This will not create a new relationship with the EU. It will be the same relationship – subservience – with a new, two-tier EU. The acid test will be this: will Cameron’s renegotiation (or meek acceptance of what the ‘colleagues’ have decided to offer him) result in the repatriation of any powers to Westminster? Any at all? The precise implications of Associate Membership will depend eventually on treaty negotiations. But we can confidently say that the answer will be No.
The outcome of this elaborate charade will leave Britain with the worst of both worlds, still locked in, but with even less influence.