David Cameron speech: UK and the EU

The cheers as David Cameron walked into the House of Commons said it all.

Conservative MPs liked what they heard today. Not just the promise of a straightforward in/out referendum, not just the pledge to renegotiate Britain's relationship with Europe but also an apparently esoteric commitment to challenge the EU's founding principle - to "ever closer union".

Their joy was increased when Ed Miliband made clear - or rather seemed to make it clear - that he was opposed to any such referendum. Those Tory smiles increased yet further when Labour spindoctors insisted that "NO" didn't mean "No" to any referendum ever whatever the circumstances - just a promise of this one made now.

Job done then for the prime minister? Oh no. Now he will face eurosceptic calls to spell out exactly which powers he wants to wrestle back from Brussels and demands to be tougher. He'll be pushed again and again to explain in what - if any - circumstances he might declare that any new deal with Europe was not enough and Britain should leave. If, as today, he refuses he'll be told his is a weak negotiating hand. He will be leading a party who feel that they've been given permission to - in words David Cameron used when he became their leader - "obsess about Europe" again.

And after that there's the small matter of finding out if any one of Europe's 26 other leaders will actually give him what he wants when he wants.

Welcome to page one of the latest chapter in the longest running and bloodiest saga in British politics.

Nick Robinson Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

UKIP - power struggle, not soap opera

All the bizarre news stories that have emerged from UKIP in recent days reflect a power struggle within a party that aspires to hold the balance of power after the next election.

Read full article

More on This Story

More from Nick

Features & Analysis

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • HobbitHobbit review

    Nicholas Barber asks whether The Battle of the Five Armies is worthwhile or unnecessary

Programmes

  • Digital candlesClick Watch

    Inside the 'Harry Potter' church, using technology to explore "digital empathy".

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.