Cameron's battle is less to get a better EU deal, and more to stop it getting worse

It’s Friday, it must be Poland, swiftly followed by Denmark. No-one could fault David Cameron’s energy, nor his stamina as he dutifully treks from capital to capital in search of agreement for his "reformed Europe" strategy.

But is it doing any good? Certainly the British people don’t seem to have been overwhelmed by what he’s brought home, if the latest YouGov poll in today’s Times is any indication.

Polls, of course, carry substantial health warnings as we all learned in the General Election, but having said that this one is not great news for the Remain campaign, showing a 9 point lead (45% to 36%, with 19% undecided) for those who want to leave the EU. And, significantly, it was taken in the immediate aftermath of his ‘deal’ with the EU’s President Tusk on terms for Britain’s continued membership.

It is unlikely David Cameron can improve those terms much, if at all, in the couple of weeks remaining till the big ‘Brexit Summit’ in Brussels. Indeed, he may have to work hard to stop them getting any worse.

Read: Poll suggests rising number of Brits back EU exit

This morning’s visit to Warsaw is about exactly that. The Poles are not yet reconciled to the restrictions on migrant benefits in the UK, however mild those restrictions may now be. Prime Minister Beata Szydlo will tell him as much today, and is going to keep him hanging on for another 10 days before revealing whether she will sign up to this deal.

Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic have formed an informal group called the Visegrad 4, and they will agree a common response to be announced on February 16th. But will they scupper the carefully crafted deal put together by Brussels? It seems unlikely.

Unhappy as the new Polish Government may be, the bigger picture for them is that the UK is pushing the EU in exactly the direction they want to go. Until recently leaders in Warsaw cleaved tightly to German coat-tails. The newly elected Law and Justice Party is very suspicious of where Berlin may be leading them, and new Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski has suggested he is much closer to the UK’s view of the EU as a “union of free nations and equal countries’.

London can also be reassured that the other three of the Visegrad 4 seem fairly relaxed about the deal as proposed by Tusk. It would be a major surprise if they were to throw out the proposed solution on migrant benefits, though they will be working hard to restrict the ‘Emergency Brake’ - hoping to only allow it to be applied for as short a time as possible.