A .. likely outcome is the classic Brussels fudge: a messy compromise. The emergency brake on migrants’ in-work benefits is cut to two or three years, while Cameron has to accept that restrictions on child benefits will not apply to EU citizens already living in the UK. France and Germany refuse to allow Britain a veto on the functioning of the eurozone, and will only sign up to a bunch of warm words about not riding roughshod over non-euro members.
Cameron gets his declaration on ever closer union and the red-card system, as most other EU countries see them as symbolic gestures that do not change the status quo. Everyone declares victory and hopes they don’t have to return to the British question for a while.Cynical? Yes, but then the whole exercise is swamped in cynicism.