I THINK David Cameron got it exactly right at the European Summit on December 9.
Yes, it can feel a bit uncomfortable being the “odd one out” in Europe; but Mr Churchill, luckily for us, did not stop to worry about that in the 1940s.
In more recent times, the French were quite content, for many years, to retain full membership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) while steadfastly refusing to take any part in its integrated military structure. That same nation, I seem to recall, has used its veto quite liberally over the years to prevent significant reform of the Common Agricultural Policy.
Closer to home, we have the unedifying spectacle of Messrs Miliband and Clegg proclaiming loudly that Mr Cameron should not have vetoed the new treaty proposed for all 27 EU members. Now, perhaps both of those worthies understand what was proposed better than I do; but I doubt it.
As I understand the “meat” of the summit proposals, it was to give the European Commission's unelected officers the power to supervise, approve and control the budget proposals for all 27 nations –a not just the 17 members of the Euro zone.
Had either Mr Miliband or Mr Clegg been our representative at the summit, I assume that they would have gone along with the treaty proposals.
In such a case, UK law as currently enacted would have absolutely required a referendum on the basis that additional powers over this country would have been given to Brussels. I think we can all guess what the outcome of that referendum would have been.
Since the summit, M Sarkozy's attitude to the UK has done for diplomacy what the Boston Strangler did for door-to-door salesmen. He obviously missed the lessons on diplomatic language offered to all new presidents.
Similarly, are we quite sure that Messrs Clegg, Huhne and Cable actually attended the similar lectures on what “collective cabinet responsibility” means?