David Cameron has been privately told by Hollande that France will not go out of its way to help him win key "reforms" of the European Union ahead of a referendum on UK membership.
However, there is an element of wilful stupidity in this piece, as it rests on the idea that EU reform was ever realistic proposition, with or without Hollande's assistance. In fact, reform has never been on the cards, so it remains in the "impossible" bracket, making the Telegraph
report a non-story.
But since there is not going to be an "in-out" referendum by 2017, the story is doubly redundant. It is piling conjecture on conjecture, reading the tea leaves to divine the nature of something that is not going to be.
One wonders why this newspaper – and the legacy media in general - thus continues to devote energy to a future non-event, except that there is a certain logic to it. If you are basically in favour of continued membership of the EU – which the media is – then it makes sense to keep people thinking about the prospect of "reform".
The moment it is conceded that reform is not possible, that refocuses the debate on the stark choice of in or out, and forces people to think of the consequences of leaving.
That, as we have seen, is the last thing the euophiles want. So do we have to be put though the turgid sham of assessing the odds of whether "reform" can succeed, all wrapped up in the trite, lightweight framing of personality politics, so beloved of the political hacks.
These earnest commentators, though, are worse than time wasters. They distract attention from the far more important discussions on an exit plan, leaving us gravely unprepared for the day when we must consider how we are going to leave.
The sad thing is, to judge from the comments on the Telegraph
piece, people are so easily and willingly distracted. You would think that they might want to dictate their own agenda, but it seems that there is a huge constituency out there which is still happy to have the legacy media make the running.