EU Referendum

Would you buy a used car from this man? As the EU renegotiation rumbles on, David Cameron makes Arthur Daley look honest, writes RICHARD LITTLEJOHN

How stupid does he think we are? At this rate, I’ll be running out of invective. On Friday, I called Dave’s ‘renegotiation’ of Britain’s EU membership a dishonest, intelligence-insulting charade.

At the turn of the year, in relation to the latest betrayal of our fishermen, I labelled the Prime Minister ‘the bastard son of Grocer Heath’ — such is his willingness to sell out his own people in order to secure a seat at the lobster supper tables of Brussels.

Even that was too kind. The way he’s approached this ‘renegotiation’ is more Neville Chamberlain at Munich.

David Cameron makes Arthur Daley look honest, writes Richard Littlejohn

 Last night he was claiming peace in our time after stitching up a deal giving Britain a ‘red card’ veto — provided half the other countries in the EU agree.

Which isn’t going to happen. This so-called ‘triumph’ is as worthless as the assurances Chamberlain received from Hitler.

We have been treated to the grotesque pantomime of ‘last-ditch’ talks at Downing Street, designed to fool us into thinking Cameron has driven a hard bargain. What’s ‘last ditch’ about it? We’ve got until the end of 2017 to have a referendum.

Yesterday’s headlines declared that Britain had ‘just 24 hours’ to reach a deal — as risible a claim as Tony Blair’s preposterous ‘24 hours to save the NHS’. And that was 19 years ago.

Shamefully, the broadcast media and the Boys In The Bubble are going along with this disgraceful con-trick, pretending that Dave has been trying to wring real concessions from our EU ‘partners’.

 As a former industrial correspondent, I spent half the Eighties camped outside the arbitration service ACAS, while ministers, management and unions bickered through the night trying to thrash out some kind of shabby compromise to appease whichever group of workers happened to be on strike that particular week.

Let me assure you that what has been going on inside Downing Street and in Brussels over the past 48 hours is a Teddy Bears’ Picnic by comparison.

For a start, at ACAS the best refreshments they could hope for was warm beer and curly cheese sandwiches.

On Sunday night, it was smoked salmon, fillet of beef and apple and pear crumble, washed down with the finest vintages taxpayers’ money can buy.

Cameron, right, has come under fire for his EU renegotiation plans, with talks with European Council President Donald Tusk, left, rumbling on

 No doubt they also laid on a litre of chilled Zubrowka bison grass vodka for Donald Tusk, the former Polish premier now playing at President of Europe.

If they didn’t already have a bottle in the fridge at Number 10, they’ll have had no trouble sending out for one. It’s not as if there’s a shortage of Polish corner shops in London.

The main difference today is that those long days and nights at ACAS were genuinely adversarial and often ended in tears.

The ‘critical’ talks over our EU membership are a cosy carve-up between like-minded, self-serving politicians, who all belong to the same club.

None of the big issues Cameron promised to address has even been discussed. He showed his hand in advance and has already said that he wants to remain in Europe come what may.

If Mrs Thatcher had approached the miners’ strike in the same way Dave is treating the EU negotiations, we’d all be living in a Workers’ Republic with Arthur Scargill as President for Life.

Let me put it another way. Yesterday was the last day of football’s transfer window.

Would you trust Cameron to get the best deal for your team’s in-demand centre forward if Man Utd came calling?

He’d let him go in a cut-price deal in exchange for a couple of season tickets in the prawn sandwich stand at Old Trafford.

Or, as the old adage goes: would you buy a used car from this man? As a negotiator, Dave makes Arthur Daley look honest.

Bring, bring . . .

Hello, Davey Into Europe. Who wants to know? Oh, it’s you, Mr Carruthers. How’s that Citroen I sold you?

Still providing you with sterling service? And so it should. Low mileage, only driven to mass once a week by an elderly Benedictine monk. I imported it myself, from the Monseigneur at Saint Engreavsie.

That’s in France, near Mont Blanc, where the pens come from. If you’re interested, I know where I could lay my hands . . .

I see. Tell me, do I detect a hint of dissatisfaction in your voice? So what seems to be the problem?

It keeps stopping, you say? Well, of course it does. That’ll be the emergency brake. It’s the very latest European safety feature, didn’t I mention it?

Yes, the emergency brake, compliant with EU directive 6345/789, introduced after that unfortunate pile-up in Calais. Compulsory, as of January 1 this year. Retro-fitted to all our previously owned cars.

It can be, I admit, somewhat temperamental, but your safety and comfort is our number one priority. Where? At Toddington Services on the M1?

And what jumped out of the boot? Half a dozen Afghans? What, them hairy dogs? ’Er Indoors, my good lady wife, always fancied one of them, but what with living in a mansion flat . . .

Not dogs. Afghans? In shell suits? One of them had a gun? Oh, my good gawd. I’m shocked, really I am. How did they get in there? Didn’t you check before you got on the ferry?

Well, I don’t know what you expect me to do about it. And I wouldn’t go shouting it about, either.

George Cole pictured as Arthur Daley, the quintessential 'dodgy car-dealer' from TV's Minder 

 You wouldn’t want Cheerful Charlie Chisholm or — perish the thought, the dreaded VAT man — finding out and grassing you up to the Border Filth.

A geezer in the Westminster Club was telling me the other day that you can get fined two grand for every illegal immigrant they find in the back of your vehicle.

Anyway, look on the bright side. At least they won’t be able to claim benefits for the next six months.

You’re glad I mentioned ‘grass’? Why’s that? There’s grass growing out of the bodywork? Ah, let me explain.

That’ll be the filler. Under new EU bio-diversity rules, car repairs can only be made with all-natural, organic materials, such as mud. My technician, Arnold, is a pioneer in the field.

Field, geddit? Oh, please yourself. Only trying to introduce a little levity into the situation.

EC President arrives to handshake outside Downing Street

None of the big issues Cameron promised to address have even been discussed, says Littlejohn

 Apparently, it’s something to do with a green directive from Brussels. Grass is a side-effect, a horticultural phenomenon. Have you tried trimming it with nail scissors?

And the Bri-nylon shirt stuffed in the gearbox? Another EU regulation, I’m afraid. Recycling of Bri-nylon and other petro-chemical pollutants. Keeps it out of landfill and helps fuel consumption into the bargain.

Now look, Mr Carruthers. There’s no need to take that tone of voice. I know I promised you leather seats, air-conditioning and surround-sound. But they was only aspirations, see.

Davey Into Europe is all about compromise. We’ve all got to give and take. In your case, mostly give. But, don’t forget, you have got the emergency brake. They’re all the go these days.

And I have to tell you, selling you this motor caused me considerable agg, domestically. ’Er Indoors had her eye on this vehicle.

Always wanted a Citroen, like that detective with the pipe. Margaret de Canard, or whatever his name was.

You know, played by Rupert Davies, or was it Michael Gambaccini — fella with the boat like a squashed bloodhound?

Anyway, she’s come over all Euro-fied, ever since she took part in the Great Brussels Bake Off. Won first prize with her tarte tatin, although I’d have preferred a good old Eton Mess.

Mind you, she weren’t too pleased when I had to tell her she can forget about sea bass for the foreseeable, on account of the EU fishing ban.

But I’ve got a freezer full of flood-damaged halibut in the lock-up, so that should see us through. I don’t suppose you’re interested. No, I didn’t think so . . .

Very well, Mr Carruthers, I’ll have young Arnie take a look at the grass. My word is my bond, as is the Davey Into Europe golden handshake guarantee. As sound as the euro, squire. Stand on me.

But this vehicle was sold to you in good faith, as seen. A deal is a deal and I’m afraid there can be no refund, not with school fees what they are. Come back again in another 40 years.

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