By Tim Montgomerie
Follow Tim on Twitter
Before David Rennie started writing Bagehot for The Economist, he wrote the Charlemagne column. He knows his EU politics (although is much too pro-EU for my liking). So his latest column should not be ignored. He comes to this very important conclusion after consulting extensively with his German contacts:
"Mr Cameron cannot deliver the sweeping EU concessions that he has promised, because if Britain tried to take a new treaty hostage, a treaty will be drawn up outside EU structures that does not require British consent."
He explains that Angela Merkel would prefer fiscal integration of the Eurozone to be an integral part of the EU and that that would require the consent of all 27 member states. But, he notes, if countries like Britain ask for too much in return the German Chancellor is prepared to endorse Sarkozy's preferred model and form some kind of fiscal union of the 17 Euro member countries outside EU structures.
The situation in the EU is so fast moving it's unclear whether the Euro will even survive but let's suppose for a moment that it does and Bagehot is correct. Britain will face a difficult choice. We can stay in the EU with a modestly reformed relationship or it will be time to leave.