I’m not sure if anyone in Downing Street is fluent in Dutch, but if they are, they may want to watch the edition of Nieuwsuur (their equivalent of Newsnight) broadcast earlier this week.
Cameron is off to the Netherlands tomorrow to make his great make-or-break speech on Europe, where he’s expected to announce a renegotiation of powers followed by a referendum in the next parliament. He has chosen to do it there because he regards prime minister Mark Rutte as one of his great allies in the cause of reforming Brussels.
Number 10 advisers tell us that the UK is not alone in wanting to bring back sovereignty from the EU, as they look to assure us that Britain is not isolated in Europe.
But if the Nieuwsuur quotes from a string of Dutch politicians – including Frans Timmermans, the foreign minister – are to be believed, Britain is very much on its own.
This is what Timmermans had to say:
The Netherlands is not in favour of opt-outs, we have never been. We have seen before, in other areas, that the British were in favour of opt-outs, the Netherlands has never gone for that.
When asked whether the Netherlands would help Britain with its renegotiation, Timmermans replied:
That’s up to [Cameron] and he also has to do it himself.
And Timmermans is not alone in the Dutch parliament. This is what others had to say:
Alexander Pechtold, leader of D66 (sixth largest party and Lib Dem sister party): It’s about time we got a bit clearer that what Cameron wants to achieve is a dead end and that we want to get on with Europe. I say [London is] nice for the Christmas shopping but when it comes to the economy, you should focus on Berlin and Paris.
Sybrand van Haersma Buma, leader of the Christian Democrats (fourth largest party): Cameron is not a useful ally in Europe have… Cameron is so critical now that he is in danger of dropping out and the Netherlands have to go a very different way.
Mark Verheijen, VVD MP and member of the foreign affairs committee: Cameron shouldn’t overplay his hand.
Michiel Servaes, PvdA (Labour) MP, member of the foreign affairs committee: I understand that he [Rutte] won’t be attending anyway, that speech. I think that is a considered move because it… would give the impression or might suggest that Rutte is on the same side in this as Cameron… I think it is also important that the prime minister clearly distances himself… If it indeed says that the UK wants to break away from parts of Europe, we must make it clear that that is not something the Netherlands can support.