The great Europe speech was initially meant to be given before Xmas. It was put off, amidst reports that there were still deep arguments about its contents.
Monday January 21st was pencilled in, until somebody pointed out that this was the day of Obama’s inaugural address. How about January 22nd? No such luck: this would coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Elysée Treaty between France and Germany. How could Cameron be so tactless? OK then – January 23rd. No again, that’s the day that the World Economic Forum kicks off in Davos.
Eventually the Cameron team settled on a day and a location: January 18th in Amsterdam. A Friday is not ideal, in terms of the news cycle – but it would have to do.
The prime minister might now be wishing that the whole ill-starred project could be quietly called off – particularly since some of the speech’s contents have already been trailed. More than ever, the prime minister is in a no-win situation. Expectations have been ramped up beyond Tantric levels. Reality can only be an anti-climax.
Unfortunately, it is probably too late for Cameron to abandon the whole speech. It will have to be given. Now, they just have to find a date …