The possibility of collapse cannot be ruled out, but it’s more likely that a deal will be reached. The usual course of events in these affairs is that after “eyeball to eyeball exchanges” in which “veto was threatened” other European leaders “blink first” after talks “stretch deep into the night” concluding in “a good deal for Britain” representing “game, set and match” to the Prime Minister who “played a blinder”.
At any rate, here are some points to watch for if there is an agreement.
- Boris Johnson will declare that he will declare but is not ready to declare since “I haven’t read the small print yet”.
- Much of the reporting of any deal will, as is inevitable under the circumstances, be partial, spin-vulnerable and even completely wrong. See above.
- Cabinet big guns will fire in support of Cameron. Watch in particular for Michael Fallon and, presumably, Theresa May.
- Boris will declare later in the day that he will declare but despite having now read the small print is still not ready to declare because “I must see the Prime Minister face-to-face to clarify one or two points in the draft”.
- “Switchers” will be found to declare support for the agreement – that’s to say, Ministers who are previously reported to have been undecided. They will announce that Cameron has “won them over”.
- A statement will emerge from members of the 2015 supportive of the deal. It is crucial for the Prime Minister to show that the future of the Parliamentary Party is on his side.
- Boris will declare during the evening that he will declare but despite having read the small print and seen an exhausted Cameron face-to-face “there are still key issues about Parliamentary sovereignty to be resolved”.
- Party older statesmen will weigh in on the Prime Minister’s behalf. William Hague will be par for the course. It will be a coup for the Prime Minister if he can land Michael Howard.
- Above all, watch for glosses. Mark Wallace gave a telling example on this site yesterday in the form of how Cameron is eliding waiting four years for “full” access to benefits (as in the draft deal) with waiting four years for any access to benefits (as in the Conservative Manifesto).
- The next morning, Boris will declare that despite having read the small print, seen the Prime Minister and resolved key issues about Parliamentary sovereignty, “there is still a lot of detail to be digested” but “you will hear from me imminently with a roar that will reverberate down the ages and resound for time immemorial…”