Amid scepticism that benefit limits for EU migrants are achievable, can Cameron’s renegotiation be judged a failure?

David Cameron has been grandstanding on the EU for years (Source: Getty)

Brian Monteith, a director of Global Britain, says Yes

With or without changes to benefits for EU migrants, real reform was never on the cards. The things that really matter – EU law trumping national law, open borders, having no power to make trade deals on our own, and so on – were never up for debate.

David Cameron has been grandstanding on the EU for years. But when push came to shove, he caved on the £1.7bn bill we were served last year as punishment for our relative economic success, and looked on in vain as his “black and white guarantee” on British money not being used to bail out the Eurozone was torn up.

More guarantees on regulation, protections from Eurozone caucusing, and following our own path towards “ever closer union” (still ending up at the same destination) amount to nothing more than a dishonest fudge – to be eaten away one bite at a time by the European Court of Justice, given that they will not be written into the EU treaties before the referendum takes place.

Laura Swire, director of Hanover Communications, says No

A major challenge for the Prime Minister’s renegotiation of the UK’s relationship with the EU is the pressure for him to carry out the process in public. For good reasons, immigration has completely dominated the national debate about the EU.

Banning migrants from accessing benefits for their first four years in the UK is clearly the Prime Minister’s preferred policy position, but it seems unlikely that it will come through the tough negotiating process perfectly intact.

This does not mean that Cameron will fail to restrict migrant benefits and whether his backbenchers will accept anything less is a different issue. There are other aspects of our relationship with the EU that the renegotiation team are working on: cutting regulation, safeguards for non-Eurozone countries, and an end to the promise of “ever-closer union”.

The overall aim is for a more flexible EU. Cameron should only be judged when the final offer is on the table and ultimately by the result of the referendum.