There was a moment in the 2005 Conservative party leadership contest when it looked like Liam Fox might pose a serious threat to David Cameron’s bid. In order to see off his rival, and thrill the Eurosceptic right, Cameron made an unprecedented pledge: he would withdraw his party from the main centre-right (and pro-European) grouping in Brussels, the European People’s Party (EPP).
Four years later, Cameron fulfilled the pledge, controversially siding with fringe parties on the right in Europe. It is ironic, then, that one of the most Eurosceptic Conservative leaders on record since Margaret Thatcher should today find himself facing a significant rebellion among Tory backbenchers, who regard him, and his foreign secretary William Hague, as traitors to the Eurosceptic cause. That irony was demonstrated this weekend by Sarkozy’s calculated attack on Cameron for “telling us what to do” over the eurozone crisis despite “hating” the euro.