Saturday, June 23, 2007

Why David Cameron Must Campaign FOR a Referendum and not AGAINST Europe

Never one to undersell a story, EU Referendum's Richard North reckons that the result of the EU Summit is a coup d'etat in the making. His evidence is complicated but compelling. He concludes...
In this presidency conclusion, however, the European Union – as represented by the European Council – is seeking to dictate to the member states what it shall (and shall not) include in a treaty (the text of which it has defined), effectively barring it from discussing anything else. If the member states accept this, they are effectively conceding that they are subordinate to the European Union, thereby acknowledging that the Union is the supreme power.This would represent a fundamental change in the relationship between the member states and the European Union, one not brought about by treaty, but by an informal de facto arrangement emanating from the European Council- setting an extremely dangerous precedent.Thus, Gordon Brown's first challenge on becoming prime minister is not only to address the detail of the so-called "mandate", but to re-assert his right, as leader of a sovereign, independent nation, to decide on the terms of a treaty which will cede "competences" to the Union. He and his fellow heads of state and govenment, acting on mandate from their respective peoples, alone have the power to decide this.It is wholly unacceptable, he should tell the Union, that as a treaty organisation subordinate to the member states, it should attempt to usurp the power that belongs exclusively to the member states. In short, Gordon Brown's first task is to tell the European Union
who is boss.

Ben Brogan, who has been at the summit the whole time writes...
Meanwhile it will be up to Mr Brown to persuade us why this new treaty should not be put to a referendum. Yes, it secures us against the Charter (the key amendment says "for the avoidance of doubt, nothing in the Charter creates justiciable rights applicable to the UK"), but it also creates a permanent president of the Council of Ministers, a new EU foreign minister (although we can't call him that) and - crucially - cedes sovereignty in at least 52 other areas. According to the euro-wonks among us, that's more than Nice or Maastricht.
ConservativeHome reckons this outcome presents David Cameron with a unique opportunity and that he - not William Hague - should be at the forefront of a referndum campaign...
David Cameron, who has recently experienced some difficulties in his relationship with large sections of his grassroots, should seize this opportunity to reassert his leadership and regain some much-needed affection. He needs to adopt the attitude of The Sun and The Mail on this agenda. Today's Sun describes the proposed loss of British vetoes on "energy, agriculture and fisheries, transport, culture, tourism and even immigration policy" as a "shabby surrender of British power." The Mail's Ben Brogan notes that British powers are being lost in fifty-two areas. 52! This is not a time for William Hague to be (however ably) leading the Conservative attack on this
"shabby surrender". Forget Michael Portillo's advice that this issue will only encourage the Tory party's "wild-eyed" Eurosceptics. This is a great opportunity for Mr Cameron to champion the vast majority of British people who have had enough of the relentless drive towards a European superstate and the way the EU's politicians
ignore referendum results.

James Forsyth highlights a weakness in Labour's anti-referndum argument on the Spectator blog...
Margaret Beckett has been dismissing calls for a referendum by arguing that Britain is not a country that "governs by referendum" which begs the question as to why she was happy to run in 2005 on a manifesto that explicitly stated, “We will put it to the British people in a referendum”.
James might have also mentioned the Welsh, Scottish and North East referendums. Once the genie is out of the bottle... And if you really need proof as to why this so-called 'treaty' is a constitution by any other name, Open Europe have done the spadework HERE.

My view, for what it is worth, is that this is a massive tranfer of power and sovereignty to Brussels and ought to be resisted at all costs. I am glad the Conservative Party is remaining staunch n the need for a referendum. But this also provides a challenge for David Cameron. I agree with ConservativeHome's analysis that he ought to put himself at the front of a campaign for a referendum, but I want to emphasise the word FOR. Too many times the Conservative Party has been AGAINST things related to Europe without explaining what the alternative would be. It has appeared self interested, ideological and narrow. Even if the country agreed with must of what it was saying, the Party was stuck in a negative rut.

While campaigning FOR a referendum David Cameron must start to articulate what sort of Europe he wants to see and what kind of relationship this country should have with it. If he manages to do that, he'll reap the political rewards.


Anonymous said...

I wish to make a public apology to the whole Country.

When young I voted for the Common Market without realising what was really happening and believing Politicians.They lie.


Anonymous said...

I am 42 and i have never voted on this sorry mess.given the chance the EU would get the finger hence no vote.It feels to me like a foreign power has taken over and nobody noticed.CAN WE LEAVE NOW?

Old BE said...

I agree, the case is FOR the referendum not against Europe per se. Once we've got a referendum then it's up to individuals how to vote one way or the other.

We signed up to a free trade agreement (at least that's what the elite told us) so some democratic mandate for "ever closer union" is surely long overdue.

Old BE said...

On the treaty itself - I don't understand why any country would want its domestic law and order policy decided in Brussels?

Anonymous said...


Hurrah. You have my 100% support for your view on this. We must reappraise our relationship with Europe. No politician can hope to reverse the decline in trust between the public and parliament until they start representing public opnion. The recent behaviour of that odious cow Merkel and the other leaders of the EU nations prove beyond doubt that this is not a club to which we should belong. We can continue to engage with this club on our own terms but we CANNOT allow such shameless crooks to dictate to us.

Good on you

The Hitch said...

Cameron will just make the right noises and then do nothing"they" arecall in it together , we are just sheep to the slaughter.

Anonymous said...

Ah-ha! I can be swivel-eyed now and foam at the mouth in my desire for a referendum.

Even the BBC was acknowledging that this treaty is 95% of the original constitution.

I hope that Cameron pushes hard for one, he might restore some credability that way - this is apart from the fact that Blair did make a promise of a referendum.

All these 50 odd losses of Veto, and yet we are told this is "only a tidying up exercise". Please, pull the other one.

The EU is one vast suffocating system. It needs a root-and-branch reform, or failing that, 'bye-bye EU'.

Anonymous said...

Well we can now sack all the MP's and hangers on, they are not needed now ,we dont have a country,we can now knock down the HP and flog off the land to a property developer ,what's next Euro tanks rolling thru London,what a disgusting piece of rubbish Blair is ,we are a defeated country.

Old BE said...

Yes, apparently not since 1707 has a parliament voted itself out of existence in such a way - oh hold on it wasn't even parliament who signed up to this treaty!

Tapestry said...

Promoting a referendum is not anti-European. It is not good for europe to be deceived in a coordinated way into conceding powers to the centre. Europe must be based on a positive democratic basis.

Only the people of Britain can decide who they wish to govern them - elected MPs or the EU. And the other countries of Europe should have the same choice.

The problem for the EU is that by pushing events beyond what they can reasonably withstand, they will now have to climb down.

Cameron will be able to articulate a better Europe for the future than the awful deceptive creepy item we suffer today, and define a role for Britain in the world.

Anonymous said...

But does DC have the nerve to run a "Not In My Name" campaign?

Anonymous said...

Why are the media continuing to report the Council Conclusions as if the intergovernmental conference is a done deal?

There will be significant problems to be addressed in the IGC. For a start, the draft mandate foresees a Treaty article which gives the EU's national parliaments a mission statement: they "shall" contribute to the good functioning of the EU.

For the UK Parliament this is something of a novelty. Indeed, it could be argued that this is the characteristic of a constitution which the British and the Dutch governments were so keen to avoid.

Tapestry said...

There is almost certainly a majority in the House of Commons in favour of a referendum. Dennis McShane admits there are 30 Labour MPs who will revolt. Other sources claim over 50. That would make it almost certain that Gordon Brown would lose a vote to ratify without a referendum.

As turkeys don't vote for Christmas - (this could terminate Brown's leadership before it's begun) - Brown will probably feel compelled to call a referendum, rather than lose a key vote in the House.

He will probably attempt other sneaky ways to impose the terms of the Constiution by stealth. He is after all the world's expert.

Cameron would then be forced into a lesser defence than calling for a referendum. One avenue could be to back the Lord Pearson of Rannoch Bill currently passing the Lords.

This demands a cost benefit analysis of Britain's EU membership. This has back bench cross party declared minority support, but if the party leaderships (Lib Dem and Conservative) gave backing to this bill in the Commons, the debate could move forwards from 'can we stop the EU state by deception, to what is the EU for, and therefore what kind of organisation should it become?'

It will be amazing if Gordon Brown does not call for a referendum.

Old BE said...

Tapestry - since when did the LibDems want a "cost benefit analysis"? They are staunchly pro-federalist.

Brown will only call a referendum if either he doesn't agree with Blair's compromises or he is forced into it by the tabloids.

The tabloids must be rallied by a call by DC and others.

Anonymous said...

Iain: Have you got any suggestions for non-political pressure groups that people could join to campaign for the Referendum.

Equally, I think it is time that we started to press for the referendum independently. It should not be left to the Conservative Party to fight the battle.

Perhaps it is time we sign up to our social responsibility?

A good performance by William Hague on the BBC just now. Reasoned, sensible and came over well.

I agree though that Cameron must also step forward and get his message across of how he wants Europe to work.

Anonymous said...

Agree, the tories need help on this on. We must encourage non-affiliated groups calling for a referendum.

Any answers on bbc4 todayadmitted that vast majority of emails received by them wanted out of the EU

Tapestry said...

ed. The Lib Dems might be staunchly pro-federalist, but that hasn't stopped them declaring support for a referendum on the Con Treaty.

If a referendum is called, which I think it will be after Brown's played out the charade he clearly agreed to partake in in order to get his coronation, the goalposts will have moved quite a long way.

Who knows who and what will be where by then? Cameron will need to lead on Europe, to ensure that Brown doesn't get back onto the front foot. It will be a good moment for an assessment, and even Liberal Democrats could be interested in taking part in defining Britain's future course.

The love bombing from the right and left sides could detach many from earlier loyalties.

Anonymous said...

Jimmy Goldsmith must be turning in his grave.

Peter Hain ("You can put away your placards, there isn't going to be a referendum") must be chortling.

But Brown is not chortling. Ever the man to play safe, he knows he could now face a back-bench rebellion and a ferocious clash with the Lords, both in the run up to an election and neither on ground of his own choosing.

Anonymous said...

with the ideal of european competition now flunked by the french the EU is now a complete basket case.

we should leave ASAP

Anonymous said...

Don't mention the War!
Don't mention the constitution!
Don't mention the R word!

What next ?

Anonymous said...

I've found this petition on the 10 Downing Street site. They probably won't listen but the more who sign the better!

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to guarantee that the British people will be permitted a binding referendum on any and all attempts to resurrect the EU "constitution" (and any or all of its content) regardless of nomenclature.

Anonymous said...

E-petition's got 400 signatures already so will have to be considered.

Anonymous said...

As usual, the BBC portrays the conservatives as sonme sort of loony fringe for objecting to this new sell out.

It is essentially the old constitution, but with a few new words, and many of the old features retained or even strengthened.

Anonymous said...

Ah yes referendums on Europe, Lets see how many referendums did the Tories give us? Well there was erm none actually.
All a referendum will do is open the door to all the swivel eyed right wing loonies, that lurk beneath the surface of Mr Cameron's cuddly new Tory whooops sorry, Liberal Conservative Party.

Madasafish said...

I takke this issue as a final defining one.

We know AB lies... but he promised us a Referendum.

IF we don't get one, then Gordon is tarred with the same brush.

And if the Conservatives do not make one almighty fuss for one, they are complicit in lying to the elctorate .. i.e. letting it happen and not calling the Gov't to account.

So it for me is final.. No referendum = you definitively CANNOT trust ANY politician Labour or Conservative.

Daily Referendum said...

Our Fathers fought to keep this country free from the control of foreign powers, now without any say in the matter, we their children, are handing over everything the strove for. If we don't get a referendum and Gordon Brown signs away our sovereignty, then the War will truly be over by Christmas.

Vienna Woods said...

If Gordon is as astute as reported (which I sincerely doubt) then he will opt for a referendum immediately, for the simple reason of a clear mandate. Anything else would be far too risky at this time. He needs to attract people to him rather than to reach out and pull them in. Far be it for me to judge, but there is an overwhelming sense of outrage regarding Blair's conduct that could seriously backfire on new labour, unless Brown disassociates himself immediately from the whole EU fiasco.

Roger Thornhill said...

After reading the OpenYerp document (many thanks for the link, btw), I believe the EU needs a new flag, so I have designed one for them.

Anonymous said...

why any country would want its domestic law and order policy decided in Brussels?

Hasn't done Belgium much good....even if Marc Dutroux has lots of friends in the child-loving politial and police elites

Anonymous said...

Richard North's basic premise is of course nonsense: that the European Council can tell the member states what to do. The European Council is made up of the member states. They themselves want the IGC mandate that has been agreed. By all means criticise it if you wish, but don't pretend that it has been imposed upon unwilling member states by "Europe".

And there is a further challenge for David Cameron: articulate what kind of Europe he wants to see, yes, and also tell us who else will join him in arguing for it. After all, Mirek Topolanek, the Czech prime minister whose ODS party is supposedly to help set up a new group in the European Parliament after the elections in 2009, is one of the people who agreed the deal in Brussels this weekend. The Tory European dream is fading already ...

Tapestry said...

Re Topolanek. How can any individual politician stand up against the power of the EU? What matters is the views of the people those politicians represent.

We know that the EU exerts so much pressure than news organisations such as the BBC and Murdoch buckle before it, and many politicians are offered the riches of Croesus to comply, but what do the people of Europe want? That is the question that matters, and the one they are failing to ask.

There is a mofority in the House of Commons for a referendum. If Brown doesn't call one soon,m he will begin to lose position.

Tapestry said...

majority...I meant. Where are my glasses?

goodfornowt said...

"My view, for what it is worth, is that this is a massive tranfer of power and sovereignty to Brussels and ought to be resisted at all costs. I am glad the Conservative Party is remaining staunch n the need for a referendum."
I've just watched Ken Clarke scornfully dismissing this view on Sunday AM. The Tory split on Europe in full public view.

antifrank said...

I agree. We should have a referendum. I would vote for the new treaty - which way would you vote, Iain?

By the way, Sunday AM has managed to have Polly Toynbee, Neil Kinnock, Ken Clarke and John Prescott, with only Matthew Parris briefly able to speak in favour of a referendum. The lack of political balance is a disgrace.

Anonymous said...

Blair fanfared his Presidency with "Things can only get better" Huh!
Can someone please find a refrain for his farewell, maybe it's a good idea to re-record Europe's "Final Climbdown"

Jeremy Jacobs said...

All very well Iain but who got us in to this mess?

Ted Heath

John Major

Anonymous said...

Cameron was on the Today Programme this morning and did not make any mention of the EU referendum. The Boy-Toff was still banging on with his discredited education policy.

Why won't he listern to your wise counsel Ian?

bgprior said...

Iain, You've got the tone exactly right. This needs to be a campaign about a referendum, not about Europe, let alone about withdrawal. And it should be a media-led campaign, not a political campaign by the Tories, encompassing as many political perspectives as possible. Cameron should associate himself with that campaign, but not lead it.

With regard to the e-petition, the wording isn't quite right - the Government will simply quibble about whether the Reform Treaty is an attempt to resurrect the constitution, and argue that a constraint to hold a referendum on any treaty that contained any content from the draft constitutional treaty is an absurdly restrictive requirement that a democratically-elected government could not possibly accept. It needs a new, carefully-worded petition, and then a concerted campaign from The Telegraph, Times, Mail, Express and Sun (who all seem to support a referendum), the blogosphere and perhaps some commercial (I assume we can count the BBC out) radio and TV (e.g. TalkSport) to point people at the petition.

If you agree it needs a better-worded petition, I have asked for suggestions/comments at pickinglosers (linked from my blogger profile).