David Cameron stood accused of delusion and selling the country short last night after he hailed his deal to keep Britain in the EU. The Prime Minister claimed he had secured 'substantial change' to the UK's relationship with Brussels – despite having broken two key Tory manifesto pledges. Incredibly, he claimed the deal was so good that he would recommend Britain joining the Brussels club – were it not already a member. Read more >>
The cartoon by Mac from The Daily Mail shows a smiling David Cameron walking away from the European Parliament in Brussels, briefcase in hand, and stark naked except for a fig leaf covering his 'private parts'. We can assume that the briefcase contains the draft EU renegotiation deal. If you look closely, you can see the other EU members waving him goodbye (forever, The Mail would like to think!).
The caption 'The Emperor's New Clothes' is the title of a fairy tale (=old children's story) by Hans Christian Andersen about an emperor who pays two tailors a lot of money for some new magic clothes which can only be seen by wise people. The clothes do not really exist, but the emperor does not admit he cannot see them, because he does not want to seem stupid. Everyone else pretends to see the clothes too, until a child shouts, "The Emperor has no clothes on!" The title is often used to describe a situation in which people are afraid to criticize something because everyone else seems to think it is good or important. This fits in with the resolutely Eurosceptic Mail's view that Cameron's EU deal is a 'great delusion'. However, despite what the Mail thinks, it looks like Cameron has managed to win over most of his wavering cabinet colleagues, including Boris Johnson and Teresa May with this deal.
We should also mention the fig leaf. Used figuratively, a fig leaf is something that hides something else, especially something that is dishonest or embarrassing: The spokesperson said the information campaign was a fig leaf to hide the most regressive tax in history. So in Mac's view (and that of The Mail), Cameron's EU deal is a fig leaf in that it does nothing to address the real problems of Britain's relationship with Europe, notably the migrant question.
• The Emperor's New Clothes (The Phrase Finder)
• Dave Brown Cartoon (The Independent)
• Peter Brookes Cartoon (The Times)
• What could happen if Britain left the EU? Five key issues (The Telegraph)