• Facebook
  • Facebook
  • Facebook
  • Facebook

Search This Blog

Visit our new website.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Have the EU Referendum Bill's chances just improved?

Labour won't be there on 5 July
We have heard today that the Labour Party have decided not to turn up and vote on 5 July on the Conservative-sponsored Private Members Bill on an EU referendum. As we have written before, the Referendum Bill faces many hurdles before it has a chance of becoming law but if Labour abstain on 5 July it does help its chances. So what are its chances now - here is a recap.

1st Reading  - 19 June - We will get the name of the Bill but not necessarily the final text. At this stage there is no vote as all that happens is the Bill is lodged before Parliament.

2nd Reading - 5 July  - 100+ Conservative MPs are needed to turn up on the Friday to secure the closure of the debate. This is followed by a vote on the Bill itself - which now, without Labour opposition, will presumably pass.

Committee Stage. A lot might depend on who chairs the Committee and whether anyone tries to bog it down but it is still possible the Bill will survive the Committee and get to report stage.

Report stage. At report stage any MP can table amendments. If the Labour Party wish to derail the Bill this could be their chance. If it passes it would then be voted on at 3rd reading.

3rd Reading. If it has survived to this stage it would be interesting to see what the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats do next. Do they change their mind and vote against the Bill or risk it passing and heading off to the Lords unopposed? But if the plan is to vote against at 3rd reading why not vote against on 5 July on the principle of the issue? And what of Conservative MPs - will some be tempted to table their own amendments on issues such as timing and the meaning of renegotiation?

As always with matters EU it is likely to become a political football. So will the Bill get to the Lords? On balance, it is still difficult, but its chances have just improved.


Denis Cooper said...

I think Labour could safely allow the Bill to get to the Lords and then quietly arrange for it to get blocked there.

That way they could deny having opposed it in the Commons - so don't vote against your Labour MP on that account - but the peers have very independent minds and could not easily be whipped to allow the Bill to pass, blah blah - and of course they need not fear any electoral consequences.

Rik said...

I can follow your thoughts still think it is not without risks.

An unelected body blocking a referendum (asking the people) on a very important, sensitive and emotional issue.
Look to me more like a death wish.
They are independent but not suicidal would be my best guess.

On the other hand letting it go could mean there will be a referendum with a deniability possibility for Labour.
Even Mr Ed will realize that a referendum will be impossible to avoid. Either directly as a referendum or via a general election. The latter with all sorts of unpleasant sideeffects.
Starting from there Cameron's strategy simply looks for labour also the by far most preferred one.
Hardly statesmanship, but fully consistent with the way Labour has been behaving on this issue, which is simply looking mainly for short term political success.

Anonymous said...

The only reason to block a referendum is that they fear what the voters may vote for. in other words they fear democracy.

Rik said...

A few percent off topic.

I am simply not convinced by "Dave's' strategy more in detail.
I can fully agree with the main line. Reneg and subsequently referendum. But more in detail it simply looks crap and unstructured.

Some points:
Inventory should be speeded up, totally ridiculous that has to take 2 years even under normal circumstances. Not even to mention now when there is high pressure from the public.

Managing the own party. I hope this got better as the past was simply complete crap. This proposal could have been choreographed much better so the MPs got their exposure and Dave didnot look like an idiot (like now).

Managing the relation with UKip and its (potential) voters. Communication towards the potential voters is simply crap. From the polls it is clear that large parts of society in the UK simply donot understand that leaving means lengthy negotiations as well. Plus that a freetradezone under all circumstances should be ascertained. It is a complicated matter but you further complicate things be deferring the communications that are necessary to clear things up.

Other parties. Dave and Co leave especially Ed getting away with moving all over the place. Just one remark/interview on things and that is about it. That is simply not a communication strategy that will work. Ed is extremely poor and with a proper attack most likely you create the same sort of problems the Conservatives have at the moment in the other camp. And more structural as it concerns the (weak) person Ed and not policies that can be changed. With most likely substantial poll-results. Which would take pressure of Cameron as well.

The individual parts of the negotiations with the EU are handled very well. However in this kind of negotiation it is essential that you keep stresslevels high at the other side. As they cannot block the sequence of events. Contrary the more they block the sooner and the bigger the undesired situation will happen.
Communication to especially markets on the negative consequences for Europe is btw also crap.
And Cameron is only doing that in major individual parts. Like now the budget. Simply say no to any undesired proposal from the EP. And let them deal with the public opinion fall out. The relatively minor amounts involved that is the downside are fully compensated by the capital gains by saying till here and no further.
You have to get minor players at the other side back in their cage as well. Simply impossible to negotiate technically with 30 or more punstructured parties at the other side.

The red card stuff. It simply doesnot look like a part of a grand strategy of how the future relation UK-EU should be. It is handled as if it was just the thing that happened to end up on the 'competent desk' that day. It is difficult without an inventory but this looks simply dealing with issues on a complete ad hoc basis.

It is probably good to act personally not fully anti-EU in negotiations. However an approach more in the line of Boris would imho be much more efficient. 'Like to be in the EU but under conditions that are acceptable to the British homecrowd' (aka an extended freetrade zone).
Towards the voters as it is much closer to what is the closest thing to the consensus opinion. Towards the EU as there simply should be put more stress on them.

So in a nutshell:
-takes too long before action is taken place (even seen the limitations caused by the coalition), simply more man power, not available hire them you got some of the best lawyers in the world;
-communication towards nearly all other players is extremely limited, poor and inefficient;
-no grand strategy.

Rollo said...

The political class will do everything they can to prevent the will of the people from being heard. Any deception to achieve this is acceptable. Clegg, Cameron, Miliband are indistinguishable. A Band is the measure of the integrity level needed to hold public office; a Miliband is 1/1000 of this.

Ray said...

I'm not convinced either Rik, but worse I am suspicious, suspicious of anything Cameron does that appears in any way beneficial or forgiving to the sceptics when we all know exactly where he stands and his potential disregard for whatever the number of people want a referendum or, better still actually out.
I get the feeling I'm missing something here, but more strongly I feel this is more smoke, the 2017 date will still stand, the renegotiations are still required, what have we gained by this political posing?

Jesper said...

-The people of the UK seem to want the choice between staying in a reformed EU or exiting.
-Other EU nations will work hard for a special deal for the UK but appear willing to work for and support reforming the EU for all nations.

If those two statements above are true then the biggest chance for the EU to stay unreformed is to try to steer the UK towards an unrealistic, and in my opinion impossible, multiple choice referendum.

Renegotiation implies special deal for the UK. Offering special deals is a great way to divide and isolate opponents - > First divide, then conquer all.

In/Out are the only realistic options in the referendum. Anything else is a diplomatic, practical and legal impossibility.

Anonymous said...

On such a constitutional issue it is Scandalous that Labour are cowering away. Not turning up means they have something to say - but dont want to say it! What's the point of that? Whats the point of Labour?

Rik said...

@Anonymous 12.46
Basically all let Labour and especially ED M get away with that, without taking a clear position and fully in the open.

Nobody not even Farage puts the stress on Ed. He is moving from left to right and back and all other participants let him in electoral sense get away with it.
Why donot anybody make him state what he wants. They clearly donot like a referendum so let them say that and explain that to their voters (of whom half or so have a different opinion, many likely a pretty strong (vote determining) one).

I donot think Cameron has much choice and so does his party.
They messed up too many things in the last 2-3 years.
It is either:
- take into consideration what a large part of your voters want and try your utmost to deliver on reneg and referendum;


- get lost for Dave (at least not be reelected at best, possibly be replaced before next elections) and live the next decade with a party (UKip) you just put on the map (and makes you a permanent second party in the land).

Hardly a choice. He might not like it but for Cameron and the Conservatives that is all that is on the table. Cameron is simply in no way in the position to put a few of his own personal hobby projects through.

Anonymous said...

This Bill -- and law if it makes it -- means absolutely nothing.

Denis Cooper said...

Rik -

There were those who foolishly believed that the Lords would insist on the Lisbon Treaty being put to a referendum.

Not so, and nothing has happened to the Lords as a consequence.

So if the Labour leadership decided to quietly whip up opposition to Wharton's Bill in the Lords, and get it blocked, there would be no consequences for the Lords while the Labour MPs would be absolved from any blame.

clinihyp said...

Another Cameron smoke and mirrors enterprise!

Rik said...

The Lords are simply an unknown factor. However as I look at it I doubt if an unelected body will go against a referendum on an issue 60-80% of the population want a referendum on and feel strongly about that. But it is clearly no guarantee. One thing we know it would give Farage another 5% in the polls.

Also doubt if they want to do the dirty work for Labour (as that would be it).

Furthermore it is clear that with Lisbon and the aftermath (basically including the situation we are now in) they (all politicians) have learnt a lesson. They are at an all time low in credibility.
If you look at the problems it causes them now, doubtful if they want to repeat that. Will be extremely difficult but for the economy essential to turn this back. With a considerable chance of an accident along the way. For something that should clearly not have happened in the first place.
But again no guarantee.

A country should not sign up to Euros and Lisbons without a substantial and relatively stable platform in the population.
But they still do it or want to do it (look at Eastern Europe eg Poland and the Euro). The advantage being that there as there are no rules to unwind things every country can become a huge problem. Say a small Baltic state having to leave because of an election result. And with popularity of the EU still going South (and likely for a few years to come) the chance of a popular calamity are rising by the day. The UK has learnt however its lesson.

Ken Worthy said...

I am not surprised that the referendum question is "should we be a member" rather than "should we leave". I understand that research shows that undecided people are more inclined to go for what they see as a positive response - ie Yes. It reinforces my doubts as to whether Cameron's heart is really in this. I think he'll come back with a basket of trivial concessions, claim victory and campaign for staying in.

Anonymous said...

Time to get the Tarot cards out.