In the wake of David Cameron’s really rather pathetic little deal – as evidenced by European Council President Donald Tusk’s somewhat derisory letter – the European Union referendum is all over the front pages.
I particularly enjoyed the Sun’s front page “who do you think you are kidding Mr. Cameron?”
The snap opinion poll on Sky News confirmed that by a large margin the British public were similarly unimpressed.
But much of the rest of the media coverage I find pretty depressing. There was huge coverage of Cameron’s statement in the House of Commons and subsequent questioning by MPs.
But most of the talk was about Boris’s hair cut and how close he sat to Dr. Liam Fox in the chamber.
Meanwhile the more substantial debate was taking place in the European Parliament in Strasbourg. I have to say I did not see a single representative of a UK newspaper there.
From the comments of the group leaders in the chamber it was not difficult to ascertain that in two weeks time Mr. Cameron can get very little more. In fact a close examination of the debate made me wonder whether even this deal would be ratified.
Why do I say this? Well, a paper issued to me as Co-Chairman of one of the seven parliamentary groups makes it clear that the European Parliament believes that social benefits and free movement will be changed for the British using an ordinary legislative procedure.
In English that means that it will need the approval of a majority of 751 MEPs.
The first to spot this was the eagle-eyes William The Earl of Dartmouth, a long-serving UKIP MEP from the South West.
William asked a question of Rebecca Harms leader of the Greens in the Parliament. He asked whether her group would support the proposed British deal. The answer was pretty clear: no.
So the implications are that Mr. Cameron could win a referendum on the terms of this deal for it then to subsequently be struck down. That I would have thought was a more important story than Boris’s hair do.
The other aspect of press coverage that is quite extraordinary is the total obsession with Tory figures and will he/won’t he or will she/won’t she.
The Daily Mail seem to believe that the only person fit to lead the campaign must necessarily be a Conservative. And yet 63 per cent of those who voted in the general election did not vote Conservative. And there are millions more who did not vote at all that may be unlikely to be attracted by a high Tory figure.
Why this obsession of the EU debate is firmly centred on the right of British politics is rather strange. In reality, it is no such thing. To win this campaign we will need Labour voters, trade union members and people who have never voted in their lives.