You know it's Christmas because things get silly. On Monday, David Cameron came back from the seventh EU summit of the year, and declared victory, as usual. I get the impression that the countries in the eurozone are so obsessed by their failure to sort out the crisis that they barely notice our prime minister piping away in the corner. They are like parents whose car has broken down on Christmas Eve, there's no way they can get a new camshaft and it looks as if they're to be spending most of the next day on the hard shoulder. Meanwhile someone in the back is wailing, "I'm hungry! I'm thirsty! When do we get our presents?" The temptation to give them a bag of crisps, a can of Coke and something fuzzy to play with, just to shut them up, is very strong.
In the same way, Cameron is able to come back and say: "Look, I got us a free trade agreement with Singapore!" And: "Gosh everyone, I changed the rules on patent registration!" Nobody in Brussels notices, but it pleases him.
The prime minister was pressed by all sides to say why the long-awaited speech in which he intends to reveal his policy on Europe has taken so long. Last week he said he had adopted a "tantric approach to policy-making – it will be even better when it comes".
Ed Miliband reminded him of this on Monday, and referred to the fact that the best-known practitioner of tantric sex is a rock singer. "There he is, parliament's answer to Sting!" cried the Labour leader. "It is true that both of them have fallen out with the police!" (Or in Sting's case, the Police.) As everyone groaned, Miliband added, "It is Christmas, after all …"
He made a few serious points, but I don't imagine Cameron was listening. He was trying to work out a few gags of his own, based on Police hits. He came up with "So Lonely", "I Can't Stand Losing – well, he'd better get used to that!" Then he got carried away. "Don't Stand So Close to Me!" and "The Bed's Too Big Without You," a baffling choice, which elicited camp "whoo's" from all sides. The list seemed endless.
MPs tried to drag him back to serious matters. Richard Ottaway told him to make up his mind, before other people filled the vacuum. Jacob Rees-Mogg said they had had "a toast to him in Somerset, with a but". So it was a buttered toast. He followed up with some complicated matter of Euro-procedure, but as always I had in my head an image of the infant Rees-Mogg in a sweet little towelling morning coat, with bunny rabbits on the cravat.
Kevin Brennan asked whether, when we finally got the European speech, it would reflect the views of the government, part of the government excluding the Lib Dems, part of the Tory party, or just his own opinion. He didn't get an answer.
And on Tuesday the Queen comes to cabinet. Queen! Oh the merriment. To Nick Clegg: You're My Best Friend. To George Osborne, Under Pressure or Let Us Cling Together, and for the ex-chief whip, Another One Bites the Dust. Her Maj will not stop laughing.
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