Sunday, November 01, 2009

If Lisbon is Ratified What's the Point of a Referendum?

Tim Montgomerie has written an interesting piece on the probability that the Conservatives will not offer a referendum if the Lisbon Treaty has been fully ratified. He outlines the arguments as to why the Conservative Party grassroots should support the leadership on this issue and goes on to explain how the Party should seek to repatriate powers fromt the EU. I agree with Tim's position.

Labour and others will accuse David Cameron of reneging on a referendum promise, but Eurosceptics should not fall for their black propaganda. As Tim says...

DAVID CAMERON PROMISED A REFERENDUM ON AN 'UNRATIFIED' LISBON TREATY, NOTHING ELSE. In doing this, some will say that Cameron will have broken a “cast iron” pledge – made to Sun readers - to hold a referendum. That’s unfair. The sentence from that Sun piece that is always quoted is the penultimate sentence; “Today, I will give this cast-iron guarantee: If I become PM a Conservative government will hold a referendum on any EU treaty that emerges from these negotiations." But the final sentence (my emphasis) is just as important: “No treaty should be ratified without consulting the British people in a referendum.” It is also important to remember when the pledge was made. It was made 26 months ago - crucially weeks before Brown was considering holding a 'honeymoon election' - and clearly referred to the ratification process.

DAVID CAMERON DESERVES THE CONTINUING SUPPORT OF EUROSCEPTICS. Political opponents of the Conservative Party and Eurosceptic diehards will unite, of course, to deny David Cameron the benefit of any doubt in what he does next. I believe Cameron deserves the trust of grassroots Conservatives and voters, more generally. On Europe, in particular, he has delivered. He said that he would take Tory MEPs out of the European Peoples’ Party and he has. He has done so in the teeth of concerted and very nasty (yes, I’m talking about you Mr Miliband) opposition from the pro-EU establishment.

David Cameron must and will spell out exactly "how he won't let matters rest" in the manifesto or before. I suspect we will get some details once the Czechs have ratified the Treaty.

Let no one pretend that a referendum after the treaty has been ratified would be anything other than expensive gesture politics. What would it achieve? Nothing. I am sure the country would vote NO, but it is fanciful to pretend a Conservative government could somehow 'unratify' a treaty. What we want from the next Conservative government, and what we should expect, is a firm commitment to introduce a law which pledges any future government to hold a referendum on any change in our relationship with the EU.

I think there will be growing pressure from Europhiles for Britain to look at joining the euro in the next few years. This pressure must be resisted. If you give up your currency, you effectively give up your right to govern. Government is all about saying what you're going to do and how you're going to pay for it. If your currency is controlled by a foreign central bank, you forfeit that. Look at Ireland as a perfect example. It knows what it has to do to rescue its economy but is prevented from doing so by its membership of the euro.I've e already made clear my position on the euro - that I would never vote for Britain to join it. But that case is going to have to be made all over again in the not too distant future. Tim is right when he says...

A Prime Minister Cameron will also lead a country that is becoming more Eurosceptic with every passing year. What is needed is a much stronger Eurosceptic movement. Business for Sterling and the 'No campaign' changed the terms of European debate in this country. They were hugely successful but were retired in order to allow the Conservatives more breathing space. They need to be restored so that the party does not have to carry all the water in this debate.

Those of us who believe in a Europe of nation states are going to have to argue that case ever more strongly over the next few years. But at least we will hopefully have a government which really does intend to not only say 'this far and no further' but also to repatriate some of the powers we have given away over the last twenty years.

I can see a very strong case for a referendum with the aim of giving the British government a direct mandate to negotiate repatriationof powers, but it is equally possible to argue that this mandate would already have been given by virtue of the policy being included in a party election manifesto.

Some of my more fundamentalist eurosceptic friends and colleagues will no doubt argue that there should be a referendum on Lisbon come what may. I respect that viewpoint, but as I argue above, it would achieve nothing beyond making a gesture.

82 comments:

Anonymous said...

Don't talk around it Iain. There's either a referendum on the treaty with no caveats or there's not.

Anything less than this is treating the voting public dishonestly.

thedarknight said...

It would be very easy for Cameron to put an end to the idea of Britain joining the Euro - he could withdraw from the whole lot.

If we get to the end of a Cameron government and the europhiles still have the chance to take us into a political and economic union Cameron will have failed, and will bear a huge part of the responsibility for the death of our nation.

Anonymous said...

If as PM Cameron does not give us the 'gesture' referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, there is nothing stopping him giving us a referendum on whether we should remain in that corrupt union or leave it. If he does not absolutely commit to either of those, many of us will have no alternative but to vote UKIP or BNP. Is that what the Conservative Party wants ?

Anonymous said...

Whats 'cant?', there is no uch thing as 'cant!'.

'Treaties' are made to be broken, especially ones which have been signed by Scotchmen against the explicit wishes of the majority of English people, and are by direct effect, null, void, illegitimate and treasonous.

Scott1946 said...

Thanks for that. I entirely agree about a post-Lisbon ratification referendum being just a gesture. But I DO think the British people will expect a referendum on a fundamentally different policy re. repatriating powers from the EU; and it would give the government far more authority in its efforts in this area than if it is just a part of the election manifesto. Opponents could - and will - say that the Conservatives were really elected for other reasons.

Witterings From Witney said...

Iain,

Let me say at the outset I am not attempting to make a political point in what comments follow.

To take the points you make, in order:

1. Whether the 'cast-iron' guarantee referred to 'ratification' is open to interpretation - the actual point of DC's statement is not clear.

3. Agreed that a referendum on Lisbon is pointless - you can undo what is done!

4. The promise of a referendum on any future treaty is again ridiculous due to Lisbon being a self-amending treaty, there won't be another. So is this not a 'false' promise?

5. A manifesto promise to re-negotiate is again meaningless as the outcome would have to be agreed by the other 26 members - hardly likely, is it? Likewise the idea of 'clawing-back' certain powers.

The Boiling Frog said...

...is a firm commitment to introduce a law which pledges any future government to hold a referendum on any change in our relationship with the EU.

One small problem, the Lisbon Treaty is the last treaty they'll ever be on the EU because it's self-amending, so the above commitment would be absolutely worthless.

trevorsden said...

The public cannot be expected to vote on a referendum without knowing what the consequences of saying 'NO' would be. If there were no consequences to saying 'NO', ie we simply carry on as before - then there is no point to a referendum.

That must surely mean some sort of negotiations with the EU about whatever we do not agree with. The tories say they want to repatriate powers from the EU - that being so and if unsuccessful, well that might be cause for a referendum - if only to add strength to the negotiations of the govt.

petermanfield said...

Its called....
"Locking the stable door after the horse has bolted"
Now Cameron has to shoot the horse.
That will be far more difficult!

Nick said...

A referenda was promised. That was in the manifesto and it was reneged on. It's a constitutional issue, that parties should not be allowed to get away with it.

Hence a referenda with the treaty signed is perfectly acceptable. The consequences are for Cameron and Europe to resolve after the result.

Camerons is being a coward and hoping to avoid a difficult issue.

Stepney said...

There are three things here:

a) having a referendum on a treaty already signed is pissing in the wind - we have been betrayed by Brown not Cameron.
b) There is throughout British governance the biggest democratic deficit since Magna Carta - yes the EU but there's also the Mid-Lothian question and the UK wide Labour-favouring
constituency bias. Something needs to be done to return democratic sovereignty to the British (and particularly English people).
c) Just like the Hunting debate, the main protagonists are barking and are well avoided; from the frothing Colonels of Tunbridge Wells to the Europhilic "we can't survive without the EU", professional civil servants. Time for cool heads but also an examination of our sovereignty from head to toe.

That which we wish to return to our own governance must be set down before the people in a referendum.

Nothing else will do; but to have a vote on something which already exists on our statutes is betting on the race already lost.

Get a life and get a future.

JimmyHSands said...

Perhaps they can agree that Stan can't actually have babies but he can have the right to have babies?

Presumably he'll do whatever it takes to keep Dan and the other flat-earthers quiet.

PSJ said...

David should make a shopping list of the powers which Britain is going to take back, by negotiation if possible, unilaterally if necessary, from the EU. He should then hold a referendum, to give it democratic legitimacy (or not). That would put him in an unassailable position in what still claims to be a federation of democracies. Then he should hold up EU budgets and the Croatia accession until he gets his way.

The powers which he should demand back should leave our situation towards the EU looking very like Switzerland's, which is a member of EFTA but not the EEA, the EU, the euro or Schengen.

Margaret went to Brussels to "get our money back". David must go to Brussels to get our power back. It's not rocket science.

trevorsden said...

Typically the first 3 comments come from the loony tune tendency.

I favour withdrawal from the EU, or a totally different concept of that organisation that would be worth being a part of.

However a simple withdrawal without
a) some sort of negotiated process to facilitate it and
b) alternative trading arrangement with the EU and
c) membership of an alternative trading block ----
would be political and economic insanity.

That is all perfectly feasible but can only come about with negotiation between us and the EU.
Then with the facts before it the public could have a referendum.

PSJ said...

[Oh, sorry, Switzerland is in Schengen, mea culpa]

Dick Puddlecote said...

"What we want from the next Conservative government, and what we should expect, is a firm commitment to introduce a law which pledges any future government to hold a referendum on any change in our relationship with the EU"

That's even more pointless than holding a referendum now. Lisbon is a self-amending document. Any changes in our relationship with the EU will, in future, be decided in Brussels.

What Cameron should argue is that the Lisbon that Brown signed is not the Lisbon that was finally ratified. Ireland and the Czechs both received concessions which weren't on the table when the UK added one man's signature.

That Cameron won't is shameful to the Tory party, and the country.

Paul Halsall said...

Since I am a huge EU supporter, let me be the first to congratulate you Tories on the new Euro baby!

What is funny is all the people who thought Dave *ever* meant for their to be a referendum.

Neil A said...

It seems obvious to me that we need a referendum, but it shouldn't be on the Lisbon Treaty. I'm afraid we'll just have to chalk up that betrayal to experience and live with it.

Instead Cameron should hold a referendum on creating a new Constitutional Law for the UK. This would basically mirror the Irish rules which do not allow for ceding any sovereignty without a referendum.

In future, any proposed EU treaty would have to face the prospect of not just a vote in Europhilic Eire but the hurdle of convincing the sceptical UK. That should put a massive break on future "integration" because any changes that went too far wouldn't have a hope of getting through.

This policy would infuriate the other EU leaders (a big plus) and would be very hard to oppose within the UK. Any party objecting to it would be pretty much admitting that they wanted to slide the UK into a federal EU by stealth.

Anonymous said...

Oh come on, Iain! It's the continual slippage on what the Conservative party is prepared to fight for. From the Treaty of Rome onwards, through Maastricht etc... it's always "well it's just a little step and we can trawl back afterwards and it will all be OK". As a Conservative activist for more decades than I care to remember, I am finally losing patience.

Salmondnet said...

When Cameron promised the referendum it was clearly likely that the treaty would be ratified by the time he had the authority to authorise one, so, if he intended to resile from it when the treaty was ratified, it was at best meaningless and at worst misleading to make the promise in the first place.

The "gesture" is needed because it would immensley strengthen the British position in renegotiating its relationship with the EU as well as to convince the electorate that the Tories are not back to their old habit of talking tough and acting soft on Europe.

It is no more valid to say to the UK that the fact that treaty has been ratified precludes a referendum than it it would be to say to the Scots that the passage of the 1707 Act of Union through the (then) Scottish Parliament precludes a referendum on Scottish independence.

If the Eurorealist Tory rank and file fall for this soft soap yet again they will deserve the (EU) government they will get.

Anonymous said...

Dave(I didn't quite mean that)Cameron.Nuf said! At least everyone now knows where they stand with the waffle king.

Newmania said...

I am sure many will agree with you that there is more to be lost than gained by a referendum after the fact .Many will also be suspicious that it is the fate of the Conservative Party rather than the Nation which prefers vague nothings to action. We are staring at the possibility of David Millband ,fresh from being dismissed by a sovereign Nation’s electorate running of foreign Policy from Brussels .What would be too much to bear ? I am genuinely curious , we might as well decide because Lisbon allows for new attacks on the country that need never see the light of day .

Andrew Allison said...

I agree with both Tim and you, Iain. Of course, I would like Britain to renegotiate its way out of the EU and into the EEA. I want the benefits of free trade, but I also want Europe to be a continent of free, sovereign nations.

iangmckellar said...

It does lend credence to the thoughts that many have that David Cameron is a rather shallow trimmer and cannot be trusted on Europe.

However he can make it clear that we are inimicably hostile to the concept of "even closer union"

He could demand immediate reinstatement of the Rebate won by Margaret Thatcher back-dated to the day that Blair gave it away.

He could state that from Day One of a new Conservative Government, will only pay into EU funds an amount proportionate to the budget that our population merits.

He should announce British withdrawal from the CAP

He could re-instate Michael Howard's policy on withdrawal from the Fishing Policy

What is happening now is the ratchet effect. We saw it in the 1940s, 50s,60s and 70s when no Conervative Government reversed anything introduced by a previous Lavour Government.

Margaret Thatcher reversed both. We older Conservatives knew Margaret Thatcher. You David Cameron are no Margaregt Thatcher

Jimmy said...

To be fair to Dave Lightweight, he was careful to describe his guarantee as cast-iron, a substance which is notoriously brittle and can break if you drop it.

Johnny Norfolk said...

Its just as you would expect as the Tory election win looks more certain Cameron is changing his tune and going back on what he has said. Interfearing more and more in the local branches and setting himself up to be a little dictator. just like Labour in fact.
The time of Blair type politics has gone. We need to tighten up the ship and set far higher standards of personal responsibility.

James Maskell said...

The Lisbon Treaty tidies up the EU. Its a lot more positive than most people believe - few people seem to know what it actually does - they just assume that EU = bad.

I think a lot of the anti-EU commentators on this blog need to wake up and realise that we're coming to the end of 2009, Britain is no longer a superpower with an empire (we haven't been for many decades) and lose the elevated sense of self importance. The way forward is in Europe - not out.

Hawkeye said...

Klaus was always my last hope.... I hate the EU and everything to do with it.

I'm hoping that when Labour finally gets thrown out that some sort of sanity returns and that we can repatriate some powers back.

I'm tied down by family & business. I would very much like to emigrate elsewhere - New Zealand comes to mind, but it is unlikely to happen as neither my wife nor kids were in favour of the idea.

It looks like I'm stuck here in an rapidly expanding bureaucratic, non-democracy.

I hate it. I really do.

d.mccann88 said...

Iain you are wrong about Ireland.

The ECB actually stopped Ireland from going under, If Ireland had been outside the Euro it would be bankrupt like Iceland.

In fact the current bank bailout scheme NAMA, is being financed by the EU.

Also Ireland problem at the minute is that it is speinding 55 billion Euro and taking in 33 Billion in tax- That has nothing to do with the Euro, its the fact that tax revenues in construction have fallen.

Steve Tierney said...

This is a really, really sad day for Conservatism, in my humble opinion.

I am surprised and disappointed to see you join the chorus of weakness, Iain.

Nick said...

There is an easy solution to lots of UK problems.

1. Any organisation receiving tax payer's money has to audit accounts to an acceptable standard.

2. No audit or qualificatons no cash.

3. FOI applies to all organisations receiving government cash.

4. Not releasing FOI info is a criminal offence.

5. Applies world wide.

Solves lots of problems such as the BBC.

Also solves Europe. FOI on the audits. If its not released, european arrest warrant, and Barozza is in jail here. If it is released, and there is fraud and not signed off, no cash to the EU.

UK law, and it overrides EU law. What can the EU do about it?

Uk government can't write the cheque. EU has a problem removing the EU because its a legal matter. UK is still a member. How can they attack the UK? It's a question of fraud and criminality.

Nick

Keith Elliott said...

LOL. Oh it's going to be John Major all over again.

For the record, this is what Cameron said in 2007,

"Today, I will give this cast-iron guarantee: If I become PM a Conservative government will hold a referendum on any EU treaty that emerges from these negotiations. No treaty should be ratified without consulting the British people in a referendum."

The Tories won't be happy until we're out of the EU and Cameron has enough understanding to know that's a non starter.

Conservative civil war, here we come!

tapestry said...

mccann 88. Iceland is recovering fast as its currency was able to fall. Ireland has rising unemployment and collapsing revenues as you say, because it is locked in the Euro, and is no longer competitive against sterling and the US dollar.

UKIP are pushing the referendum in/out. That's nuts. There is no clear majority in favour of EU withdrawal. As usual wrong strategy, soundbite politics. Political prostitutes on the make, pimped by BBC.

paulstpancras said...

Iain, you're an intelligent man. Read the history. Margaret Thatcher signed up to the Single Market. Based on a neo-liberal market, supported by your party. You got what Margaret wanted.

Margaret wanted to expand the EC into eastern europe. You got what Margaret wanted. You got your way.

Major signed up to Maastricht. It was to enable a single market to function given an expansion into eastern europe. You got what Major wanted. You got your way.

Given UK Conservative policy on a single market and UK Conservative policy on expansion of the EU, a new EU of 27 members needed a new guiding treaty on how to function.

Whence the Lisbon Treaty. A group which goes from 12 to 15 to 27 members over a decade or so needs a new dispensation.

For the first time there is a mechanism to leave the EU. If that is what Conservatives want use it and hold a referendum on leaving the EU.

For the first time, via opt outs, a nation state can inhabit one of the concentric circles distant from the EU core. The UK has that thanks to Lisbon. We are increasingly part of the outer circle. Greenland is our partner.

Members of the Eurozone and Schengen Agreement want to integrate faster and more deeply. Let them!

If we want to trade and travel freely in the EU, if we want to tackle organised crime and cross border controls, we will be subject to EU Regulations anyway.

You castigate the EU for a perceived democratic deficit - as many greens, liberals and leftists - yet a directly elected Chairmanship/Presidency will be a powerful centralising move to a Federal Union.

You want your cake and eat it too. If you don't like being in the outer concentric circle, get involved with the core. If you want more opt outs, leave the Union.

d.mccann88 said...

tapestry- Iceland is recovering? Lets get real.

Iceland has got debt of over 150% of GDP and will have to make cuts 10 times worse than Ireland.

Also The current Icelandic government are trying to get into the EU.

You make a point about costs, which is agree with and that Ireland needs to lower its costs but that can be done within the Euro, granted it would be easier outside but still Ireland needs to be in the Euro

Norton Folgate said...

The words "cast iron" will haunt Cameron from now till the election.

If he doesn't want to see a third or more of his votes go to UKIP he had better grow a spine and start telling the truth.

There will be no more treaties for him to negotiate and to pretend otherwise is dishonest.

The referendum we need is IN or OUT, that is his only honest option left.

dhaubery said...

I don't think Cameron cares about eurosceptics at all. He just doesn't want them voting UKIP and costing marginals. So he will string them along until it's too late to do anything, which, given the self-ammending nature of Lisbon, is probably here and now.

That said, having a referendum on a ratified treaty would be very tricky. If the vote is yes, no problem. But that won't likely happen, and he's already said he will campaign for a no, so it would cause him personal political problems aplenty even if no legal ones.

If no wins, we have rather a tougher choice. Do we do nothing? It seems inconceivable than we would. Do we declare that we no longer consider ourselves bound by the treaty? We can certainly do so, but our position within the EU would no longer be clear. That is to say, it would no longer be clear whether we are still in the EU or not.

Either way, the EU would become the central topic of his first term at least, and it would likely only be resolved with withdrawl or by his resignation and replacement by either Labour or a Europhile Tory leader.

I think the big problem here is: the EU does warrant that kind of attention. It is a project on the scale of the Italian or German national unifications, with comparable or greater historical import, and it has the same end-point. It should not be something we sleepwalk into because we didn't care enough to see if it was what we really wanted.

And this is not a problem David Cameron has created. On the other hand, it is one that is in his power to undo. The question is: does he want to, or does he want have a quiet term, not court controversy, and be remembered as a foot-note who held a shiney bauble for a little while until it was moved upstairs by better and more interested men than himself?

Sadly, I suspect the latter.

cassandra said...

The simple and plain truth is that IF Cameron was serious about offering us a referendum on the EU constitution he would offer it regardless of whether it was ratified,turned into a major motion picture,set to music,written on stone tablets and set on a mountain top!

The truth is that the constitution is not legal until the UK voter says it is, no government can hand over our sovereignty and bind us and successive governments to a foreign ruler unless the people of the UK agree to it and the people of the UK have not yet been asked.

The simple fact is the new social democrats(tories) were never going to honour their promise were they? Cameron strings us along with words while his real intention is to deliver us into the arms of the waiting EUSSR lock stock and barrel.

Its clear now what happening, its clear that newlabour/lidems/tory party are the same thing, regional satrap wannabes for a greater euro Reich.

Mr Cameron thinks he doesnt need the euro skeptic voter anymore, he must think he has moved far enough left that the newlabour vote will support him?
Mr Cameron is wrong, the voter was promised a referendum and if that means on the constitution or on actual membership then thats how it has to be.
The result of a betrayal by the tory party on the EU constitution will be at best a loss of a big majority at worst a loss of power, yes ooh yes, power is not in the bag yet.

canvas said...

The less enthusiastic the Tories are about Europe the weaker they become on the world stage...

embrace and move forward

britologywatch said...

I agree that the Tories will aim to renegotiate Britain's relationship with the EU and hold a referendum, either prior to the negotiations or to obtain the public's assent to the deal that is reached. They'll certainly ask for a mandate to do this in their election manifesto; so a referendum before the talks may well be unnecessary, as you say.

The net result of any new deal on the UK's relationship with the EU, assuming it is approved by the electorate, could be far more radical than merely holding a referendum on Lisbon: it could also undo some of the previous treaties that have altered the extent of the UK's participation in the EU-federalist venture without the consent of the British people.

And you're undoubtedly right that there will be pressure for Britain to join the Euro. Indeed, I believe there are some dark conspiracies afoot (Miliband as 'our man' in Brussels) to bring this about more rapidly than many believe possible.

Thatsnews said...

It's almost as if the Labour apologists have accepted that David Cameron will be the next Prime Minister...

jbw said...

We have soldiers dying in far away countries trying to bring democracy to these places, but back at home we are slowly being eaten up by an unelected, unaccountable, undemocratic body called the EU.

Why?

strapworld said...

I think this approach by Cameron, if correct,is highly dangerous.

He will immediately alienate those who oppose the EU and who want a referendum.

He will also alienate those who believe that the constitution cannot be agreed on behalf of the British people because they have not been asked AND no political party asked for that authority. Indeed all parties promised a referendum.

I think Cameron should promise that he will first ask our Courts if Parliament acted without authority, must the British people bea asked , as they were promised, and thus was the British Labour Government decision, agreed by the Liberal Democrats as well let us not forget,to ratify the Lisbon Treaty lawful?

If it was not lawful that would give Cameron the authority to hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. OR give him the strongest possible hand when dealing with the EU to re-negotiate the terms of our dealings with that body and to regain the monies thrown away by Blair!

Cameron has to show some fight in his belly. A Manifesto commitment is meaningless nonsense...the courts have already decided that manifesto's mean nothing!

tapestry said...

d.mccann88

See Why The Euro Sucks.

Two paragraphs which explain simply why you and others are wrong about Iceland and Ireland.

Houdini said...

Then let's have gesture politics if that is what the people want.

Libertarian said...

More Tory weasel words to soften us up.

Well you've played that hand too many times. No cast iron guarantee of a referendum NO VOTE, no Tory government. Simple

UKIP

Hawkeye said...

Canvas said: "The less enthusiastic the Tories are about Europe the weaker they become on the world stage...

embrace and move forward"


The more we integrate with Europe the weaker Britain becomes on the world stage. Embrace and fizzle out.

Not much of a choice really.

Why should we integrate with a bunch of socialist losers who are flushing their moribund economies down the loo? Once we get rid of Gordon we will soon catch up and pass them economically.

Irene said...

If Lisban has already been ratified you CANNOT have a referendum, you can only have an opinion pole.

Paddy Briggs said...

Iain

A mostly thoughtful and intelligent post. A referendum could cause chaos and make Britain look very silly indeed – although I don’t agree that it is certain that the country would vote “No”. Look at Ireland – similar arguments would apply.

As for the Euro it is inevitable (and in my view right) that Britain should enter. The EU is far from perfect but the Euro has been a triumph despite all the sceptics! Your “If you give up your currency, you effectively give up your right to govern” is really daft and ignorant. Have Germany and France and Italy…. given up their right to govern – of course not! You have thought through your deep objection to the Lisbon Treaty and your previous argument for a referendum and come up with a commonsense conclusion. I expect that you will on the Euro as well in due course too!

Faustus said...

Cameron gave a cast-iron guarantee that there would be a referendum.

Now he MUST have a referendum on staying in or getting out.

Otherwise his word is worthless.

Tony

trevorsden said...

"When Cameron promised the referendum it was clearly likely that the treaty would be ratified by the time he had the authority to authorise one" - huh? Brown nearly called an election in 2007, well before ratification.

The loony tunes are out in force. What possible use is a referendum on a treaty that when elected will already be in place?

What is important is our future relationship with the EU and how it operates. Brown and Labour are the culprits for dropping us in it. They are the liars.
This gives the Tories a problem, but a half arsed referendum on a treaty we have already signed and is part of international law is no solution.

Rebel Saint said...

DC will undoubtedly find a way not to hold a referendum. This dulicity is why any of the mainstream parties will not be getting my vote. They leave me know choice but to vote BNP.

The time for airing our discontent in comments on blogs has got to stop and become real protest on the streets and the ballt box.

Ray said...

It may be just a gesture to hold a Lisbon referendum after the event, but it does give him the stick to beat them with, otherwise the response to objections on behalf of the people of the UK can always be responded to by saying "you don't know that". for goodness sake how long has Brown been saying that he thought the British people would actually say yes.

tapestry said...

Useless Khumps In Pink....

Farage wants a referendum.

Brilliant.

On what, we ask?

'The European Union. IN or OUT?', ee says.

What will the answer be?

IN by 60 to 40.

Errrrrrrrrrr......is this another Nick Griffin in the making? How the hell will that assist the Eurosceptic cause, Nigel Farage?

Answer - it won't.

But it will attract a few of the older and dumber Conservative voters into joining up in the Useless cause, by offering them false joy.

It's political prostitution, pimped by the BBC - making money out of gullible old fools for UK's.

Roger Dodger said...

To refuse us a referendum as Labour has is appalling.

I don't understand why so little has been done in response.

We have swampies protesting almost everything in this country. There should be mass demonstrations asking only for a say in our future and some honesty from politicians.

Most of all I want to see pro-EU people that profess to believe in democracy protesting this.

Instead nothing. We are being trampled on and I guess we deserve it for being so stupid.

"Where is our referendum" should the first question every Labour MP is asked. We seem to have just accepted their decision with no comeback. As if lying to us is just simply something New Labour do.

Iain, you have access to lots of Labour MPs. Some you seem to consider friends.

Please ask them each time, I wish to hear from their own mouths how they feel comfortable sitting in Parliament after an election whilst completely ignoring their manifesto commitment.

This is treated like any other issue such as dodgy statistics or a re-relaunch. Small dig, next question.

Please Iain, get some justifications from their mouths.

norman said...

Labourites Jimmys, Halsalls et.al.
The 'heavy weight' Brown is going no where, the UK is not leading the world out of recession, boom and bust is not fixed.

As for people doing differently when in power, Blair was a CND member along with Milburn who hated anything private. Milburn is raking thousands advising private healthcare firms now, as for Blair or Bliar , every one knows!
The EU is not the burning concern for people.
The Labour wants to harp on EU because the other top concerns for people like the immigration ( the BBC reports that bogus students can get in more easily now after the points system is introduced because the checking at the source is inadequate)and economy, the Labour has made stinking mess of both. Cameron should hammer home Immigration and economy and see off the 'weighty'Gordo, the postie and the banana boy. Look at the ignorant postie, he the Labourites think prime minister material!

Liz said...

Quite!
Repatriate powers instead as is now being mooted

Mike Law said...

I'm sure a lot of people would want to see Cameron re claiming a lot of the powers that have been hijacked by the EU and making it clear that under no circumstances will the UK join the Euro.

There is nothing wrong with an economic union with the rest of Europe but the EU has turned into a super-state and the trend should be reversed.


My Grandfather passed away a little while ago, he was a para during WWII. I recall him reading about the EU and stating that "Hitler would have loved this lot, they've managed to do what he couldn't - get Europe under the thumb of a self-selecting elite."

cassandra said...

Trevorsdon,

The constitution/treaty means nothing if the UK government simply passes a law in our parliament rendering it null and void in its entirety, its simple and direct and can be done, there are no hoops to jump through, no years of complex negotiations to endure, We on this island decide our own fate, we alone decide. If we tear up this illegal treaty what are the eurotrash overlords going to do about it eh? send tanks through the tunnel? they need our cash and trade too much for that.
An incoming UK government simply drafts a series of laws abolishing any and all treaties that have stripped our nation of self determination and sovereign powers and proclaim all UK laws supreme.
Parliament gets elected via the people of the UK, they act on our behalf(supposedly)they are lent powers of governance for a fixed term, thats it and thats all!
The government has no right to sell our sovereignty to foreigners and because of this the EU constitution is null and void, they can sign anything they damned well please and its not worth the paper its written on untill WE are given a say.

The biggest lie the eurotrash traitors keep spewing is that the UK cannot get out of this treasonous constitution without the permission of the new euro overlords, its bulls**t pure lies.
The lies of the political classes, the betrayal of our trust by them is treason pure and simple, they have no right either legal or moral to sell the UK into foreign dominion unless the people say yes.

MikeyP said...

No-one but the most optimistic ZanuLabour supporters can see anything but a large Conservative majority in the next Parliament. However, Dave has just one term to extract VERY major concessions from the EU, otherwise the nutters in the BeanPea and UKIP or their equivalents by then will grab huge swathes of Tory votes!

hatfield girl said...

Referendums are not particularly powerful constitutional instruments in the United Kingdom. Any referendum on anything at all is gesture, advisory politics that then must be turned into action by the Executive. The UK is not a country where referendums can be instituted by the people and binding on the Executive.

That said, there isn't a lot of time left for the Conservatives to say how they intend to set up our own Constitution to subject Lisbon provisions to UK Parliamentary scrutiny and acceptance. Every other member state in the Union has such constitutional explicitness and guarantees. Germany was even required to delay ratification of Lisbon while fresh laws were passed to satisfy the German constitutional court.

Wholly within a UK government's powers, our UK relationship to Lisbon under a Conservative administration needs to be made clear before we all decide how we are going to vote.

insert-coin-here said...

Should the question not be


"If Lisbon is ratified what is the point in Parliment?"

Seeing as how political power has shifted so much to Brussels,and will continue to do so thanks to thr 'ratchet clause' then what possible justification can there be for maintaining such a costly institutions as the HoC and Lords?

They have made themselves obsolete.

Perhaps turkeys DO vote for christmas.

Salmondnet said...

Trevorsden: This "loony tune" does not think insults constitute a valid argument, If Brown had called an election in 2007 most people, including most Conservatives, believe he would have won. That is why he is castigated as lacking in judgement for bottling it.

Treaties are not set in stone, though it suits those who do not really want to change them to pretend that they are. Given sufficient pressure, they can be modified or withdrawn from. An expression of popular will is a necessary element in such pressure.

A referendum is central to Conservative credibility when it puts itself forward as a champion of British interests in relation to the EU. Most of Cameron's defenders know this. That is why they react with such intemperance when it is pointed out.

Paul Halsall said...

@Norman

I support the EU, but would quite willing to support an EU IN or OUT referendum.

Calling for a referendum on the Lisbon treaty was always a shell game, but if the British people want out, then they should be allowed to leave.

Plus such an in/out referendum would require a much clearer campaign. For example, would the 10% of the UK population living abroad be happy to lose their "EU Citizen" rights"? Would the business sector really want to back out?

I would bet that, as in 1973, the majority would vote Yes.

Sinbad the sailor said...

..All I can say is its just as well for the cosy 3 main parties that they still have this first past the post apparently democratic voting system at the next election..otherwise and they know it the political landscape would alter massively as a result of this EU Lisbon thing...

cabalamat said...

"Let no one pretend that a referendum after the treaty has been ratified would be anything other than expensive gesture politics. What would it achieve? Nothing."

I agree. In which case why did Cameron prommise to hold one? Evidently because he only cares about furthering his career, and if expensive meaningless gestures is the way to do that, he's up for it.

Cameron is in one way exactly the same as Blair: he's a lying bastard who'll promise anything if he thinks there's votes in it.

Roland Deschain said...

What's wrong with making a gesture? It would greatly strengthen Cameron's hand in subsequent negotiations with the EU.

cabalamat said...

Sinbad the Sailor: All I can say is its just as well for the cosy 3 main parties that they still have this first past the post apparently democratic voting system at the next election.

To be fair, the Lib Dems neither support the present electoral system nor gain from it.

But the big 2 parties do gain from it: they are massively corrupt and dishonest and know that FPTP means that neither of them are likely to be replaced by people who're less tainted with corruption. Almost everything that's gone wrong with this country in the last half-century is the fault of two bodies: the parliamentary Labour party and the parliamentary Conservative party, and until those organisations are thoroughly reformed or replaced, which isn't going to happen without changing the electoral system, Britain will not bre governed well.

And politicians should be legaslly required to keep their promises, especially their "cast iron guarantees".

Tony Sharp said...

Of course it would be ridiculous to hold a referendum about whether or not to ratify Lisbon if it has already been ratified.

But it is perfectly sensible to hold a referendum to ask the British people if they wish to remain bound by the terms of the Lisbon Treaty.

Voters should be allowed to decide if we should stay signatory to Lisbon (ratified without permission) or withdraw from the Treaty. Anything else puts the EU's interests ahead of our own - again.

the joker said...

It's so much fun seeing Tories lying to one another.
How is it possible for a pro European like Cameron to send his party to a referendum on something he can't agree to.
Cameron is doing what is expected of him on the bigger scale of things, so all Conservative members should do the decent thing and collapse into a pile of pig manure while we laugh our f***** socks off.

neil craig said...

David Cameron made a "cast iron promise" in the Sun that we would get a referendum - no if or buts.

We have ben lied to enough byu Labour & the LibDems making that promise.

What would a referendum achieve if the treaty has already ben ratified? - If the EU wasn't willing to accept our deratification as effective we would have to choose an associate state position like Norway (or to leave). Looking at Norway & Switzerland & the fact that even the EU recognise their regulations cost 5.5% of member's GNP & that, presumably as a consequence, the EU is the slowest growing part of the world economy those are hardly bad options.

The LibDems have promised, yet again, that they support a referendum on membership - Cameron could call them on that with a 3 option (full membership/associate/leaving) referendum.

If he breaks his word on this how is he more trustworthy than the Lib/Lab proven liars? How could any Conservative who doesn't like the EU support voting for Cameron rather than UKIP?

Rich T said...

What is the point? I should imagine that similar arguments were made in 1975, but this did not stop a referenda being held did it? If the Treaty has entered force then Cameron could offer a range of alternatives to the people:

1. Leave the EU and EEA.
2. Leave the EU but join the EEA.
3. Stay in the EU but seek to re-negoitate at the next revision.
4. Approve the new status quo.
5. Approve the new status quo and join the Euro.

This would be democratic and would allow a full nation debate. And it would settle the question of Europe politically.

James said...

Tony Blair learns that he wont be EU President:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yidLzSf83mo

DespairingLiberal said...

The Euro has been far better managed than the £ during the last few years and this is now showing results, with the Eurozone coming out of recession much more rapidly. A combination of shrewd ECB policies and widening international respect for them.

So if we put nationalism to one side, it would make clear pragmatic sense to join the Euro, as we would then be out of the hands of the pathetically unprofessional, stumbling, amateurish and incompetent civil servants at the Treasury and the Bank.

Some of the people who run our economy and defend isolation are themselves traitors to Britain, serving corrupt foreign interests in Russia, China and elsewhere. Notable examples can be found in the newspaper groups, both major parties, in the civil service and amongst business leaders.

The primary cheerleader for keeping out of Europe, R Murdoch, is a stateless tax exile who loathes the British monarchy and has always sought to destroy it. He is contemptuous of the British people and culture and would like nothing better than to see us dragged down.

neil craig said...

I'm not sure that the £ falling against the Euro means the former is worse managed. A falling £ makes us more competitive 7 may be the only thing the government has done right, albeit inadvertenly. Compare Ireland where being in the Euro zone is preventing their retrenchment.

While I agree that our government is crap & am not all that happy with the opposition I think it shows a lack of imagination, one clearly again shown by the Irish, to believe that Brussels cannot be worse. After all the EU has long been the region of the world with slowest growth (though individual countries like Zimbabwe have done worse) so they must be doing something wrong.

Keith Elliott said...

And let Tory Civil War commence!

quietzapple said...

I didn't believe Chameleon's promise to hold a Referendum on Europe.

I am worried that to accuse him of breaking a promise which he and I both knew wasn't one puts me in an unduly ambivalent position.

The Foxhunters and Death Duties (IHT) groups must be counting their spoons . . .

quietzapple said...

If there is ever again a Conservative Government there will have to be a referendum to confirm, as seems most likely, that the British people wish to remain in the EU.

The alternative is that Carswell, Hannan, and others who will be as determined as Major's bastards, will not let up. Chameleon (or Osborne's) only shot to stop them will be a direct appeal to the people.

The issue would have to be put to the people.

Chameleon will not get some imaginary concessions from the rest of the EU. Less chance than there is of a Blair Presidency.

When he loses the GE, if the Tory Party survives in something like its present form, the sixth tory leader in 13 years will have to bring in some sort of oath, for members, inc MPs & MEPs to agree the new leader's position - In or Out?

We shall see.

Crap said...

I'm so spiteful I'll even vote for Labour if Cameron doesn't offer a referendum!

Mr. Musicology said...

Ian

I read a Labour blog 2 weeks ago, stating that Cameron had no plans for referendum, and that tory bloggers were already rallying around the man, and planned to:

A: Try and claim, through the wording, that he has broken no promise.

B: Claim that criticism is some Labour plot.

Thank you for making them look rather nostradamus like

Mr. Musicology said...

Cameron promised a referendum on "any outcome of the Lisbon Treaty".

It was quite obviously a lie that he was unable to keep.

In claiming he only promised a referendum on a "treaty" and not a "law".

Well he's learned a few things from his mentor Blair.

Tony and Gordon only promised a referendum on a "constitution" and not a "treaty" after all

Crap said...

I'll be voting BNP from now on.

So they'll gas a few poofs, I don't bloody care. You guys forced us into fascism.