EU referendum in 6 key quotes - and what they really mean

THE EU deal David Cameron wants will all come down to semantics, as the wording of that final reform document needs to be a copper-bottomed plan he can confidently take to the British public.As words fly around Brussels today, through hundreds of translators, I've chosen six quotes that sum up the negotiations so far.

British Prime Minister David Cameron. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

1) President of the EU Council, Donald Tusk.

“After my consultations in the last hours I have to state frankly: there is still no guarantee that we will reach an agreement. We differ on some political issues and I am fully aware that it will be difficult to overcome them. Therefore I urge you to remain constructive.”

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Real meaning: “Please don’t make this difficult for me Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic...just say everything’s fine and you’ll sign up. I’m actually a bit more worried than I thought.”

2) David Cameron

“I’m in Brussels where I’m negotiating hard for Britain. I’m clear, I’m not prepared to take a deal that does not meet what Britain needs.

“I’m battling for Britain.”

Real meaning: “I need to look as tough as possible. And, a bit like Tusk, I’m actually a bit more worried than I thought. It would pain me immensley to have to walk away at this stage and not strike s deal.”

3) Jeremy Corbyn

“In Brussels and have met with UK Labour MEPs who want Britain to stay in the EU for jobs and workers’ rights.”

Real meaning: “You all know I voted out in the 1975 referendum but I’ve mustered the energy to campaign on a fair deal for workers and protecting their rights as it fits best with my work at home. See, I do care. A bit.”

4) German Chancellor Angela Merkel

”Cameron’s demands are far from being demands that are just for Britain. They are also European demands and many of them are justified and necessary. I think it’s in our national interest that Great Britain should remain an active member in a strong and successful EU.”

Real meaning: “I really want Britain to stay and they’ve proved a useful, if slightly irritating ally. And goodness knows we need their cash.”

5) Martin Shulz, President of the EU Parliament

“Many of my colleagues say behind closed doors: ‘Don’t stop a rolling stone. If the Brits want to leave, let them leave.’

“I do not support this line that just because the UK can be frustrating it would be in our interest to let it go.”

Real meaning: “I keep saying things which are really fuelling the ‘vote leave’ camp in the UK. I also dropped a clanger on whether the reforms would be legally binding, which people have been discussing for days on end. I’ll probably say something else controversial before the council wraps up.”

6) Prime Minister of Greece, Alexis Tsipras

Not said anything publicly.

Real meaning: “I really don’t care about emergency brakes, the Cameron’s four baskets of change and the pound. I’ve come to the European Council because I’ve got the biggest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War on my doorstep...”