“Can I just reassure my honourable friends, I know I’ve upset them recently…. I don’t have a handbag and I have absolutely no plans to get one, ” trans David Cameron: I dont carry a handbagtrans David Cameron: I dont carry a handbagDavid Cameron just told the Commons referring to the Same Sex Marriage Act

He was replying to one of a stream of Tory questions on the EU budget (this one saying he’d won a great victory without wielding the Thatcher-style handbag).

All of them praised his achievement, even those who have occasionally been known to plot his downfall on the quiet in recent times.

11 cameron g w David Cameron: I dont carry a handbag

Ed Balls sarcastically cheered the PM after every Tory bit of praise. A very happy David Cameron said “it’s been a pleasure” to hear Ed Balls give his support.

His Number 10 team looked on proudly from the guest seats. It was a rare and slightly light-hearted interval unlikely to be repeated in the very near future.

What was particularly striking  was how many Tory MPs believe David Cameron won a budget close to his hopes because he’d delivered a speech in January threatening an in/out referendum.

But Chancellor Merkel landed the budget deal on exactly the “commitments” number that she was let it be known was her bottom line in briefings in October last year.

She was comfortable that Sweden, Britain and the Dutch joined her end of the argument giving it extra ballast, comfortable too that some of them acted as outliers looking for bigger cuts that put her target total closer to the middle between the outliers and the French. 

This was a unique occasion, the argument goes, when interests coincided and shouldn’t be seen as a reliable indicator of future behaviour.

Future EU Councils will tell us whether the Tory MPs’ hopes turn out to be right.

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