Ian Birrell is a contributing editor of the Daily Mail and a former speechwriter to David Cameron. Follow him on Twitter here.
Here, he has annontated David Cameron's speech from this morning. Mr Cameron's original text is in italics. Ian's comments are in ConHome pink...
“This morning I want to talk about the future of Europe.
No, the last thing David Cameron wants to do is talk about Europe. He never has done. Ever since he became leader, he had said - rightly - that the Tory Party needed to stop ‘banging on about Europe’ since it makes voters think they are obsessed with this solitary subject, rather than more fundamental issues such as jobs, schools and hospitals.
But given the volume of noise from the right, aided and abetted by the rise of UKIP, David Cameron had no option but to try and lance the boil. Unfortunately, he allowed this speech to be talked up for months, increasing the hype and making it difficult to meet expectations, especially when it is addressed to so many different audiences in Westminster, Britain, Europe and the rest of the world. Inside Downing Street, many wanted it given before Christmas so it would have been forgotten over the festive break. No such luck.
But first, let us remember the past.
Seventy years ago, Europe was being torn apart by its second catastrophic conflict in a generation. A war which saw the streets of European cities strewn with rubble. The skies of London lit by flames night after night. And millions dead across the world in the battle for peace and liberty.
A slab of Churchillian rhetoric. Normally Mr Cameron avoids the more flamboyant flourishes in his speech, preferring language that reflects his character. But here he wants to underline the importance of this speech. After all, this could be the moment he saves the Conservative Party from splitting over an issue that has tormented it for two decades. Alternatively, it could come to be seen as the second he fired the starting pistol on Britain’s withdrawal from Europe.
As we remember their sacrifice, so we should also remember how the shift in Europe from war to sustained peace came about. It did not happen like a change in the weather. It happened because of determined work over generations. A commitment to friendship and a resolve never to revisit that dark past – a commitment epitomised by the Elysee treaty signed 50 years ago this week.
After the Berlin Wall came down I visited that city and I will never forget it.