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By Peter Hoskin
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I
doubt David Cameron will paraphrase Margaret Thatcher in his meeting with
European leaders today, but the headline I’ve used above more or less sums up
the attitude that he is taking to Brussels. According to a report
in today’s Telegraph
, the PM is set to back plans for closer political and
economic integration in the Eurozone — the “you integrate if you want to”. But,
as James Forsyth suggests in
the Spectator
, he wants to use that to remould Britain’s participation in
the EU, away from that core of eurozone countries — “the PM’s not for
integrating”.

How
this might work in practice was suggested by a very important development last
night. As the FT reports
(£)
, it appears that George Osborne has won safeguards against a European
banking union. Britain won’t be part of any such union, of course, but the
Chancellor was concerned that it could wield undue influence over certain
banks, such as Deutsche Bank, which operate within our shores — and so he’s
been proposing “double majority” voting, whereby decisions relating to the banking
union also have to be approved by a plurality of countries outside of it. Now that
protection seems to have been secured, it sets a one helluva precedent for a
future two-tier Europe.

But
all of this is unlikely to quell the PM’s European troubles back home. He’s
delayed his long-awaited speech on the issue once again, it seems, which will
aggravate some folk. And then there’s the argument that Boris made last
week
, that encouraging closer integration in the Eurozone in “morally wrong”.
He’d prefer Britain to simply withdraw anyway, into a relationship with Europe
based almost exclusively on trade. To which, there’s the question put forward
by Damian Green last
night
: would Europe ever allow that?

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