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Monday, January 21, 2008

just what are the lib dems up to?

The speccie blog reported last week that the Lib Dems have hit a snag with their plan to push for an "in or out" referendum to cover their tracks as they back out of their manifesto commitment to a referendum. The Clerks say such a referendum has nothing to do with the Lisbon Treaty (ha!) and so it can't go down.

So what are they going to do? Lib Dem intelligence "chatter" suggests that they might abstain in the key vote in the committee stage. It sounds like this evening they are encouraging people simply not to turn up...

One interesting number to watch as the committee stage goes on is whether the Government majority goes below 63 at any point - as that will make it clear that it is the Lib Dems blocking a referendum.

That might be the point at which people start peeling off. A lot of the MPs are not happy with the current position because (a) they know the Lisbon treaty is not "completely different" to the Constitution (b) they don't particularly want to lose their seats and (c) as Lib Dems they didn't go into politics just to spout a disingenuous party line.

But will they stand up and be counted? Watch this space.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As you probably know, the Lib Dems wanted a referendum on "in or out of Europe".

As you probably also recognise, this is a subject outside the scope of the bill to ratify the Lisbon Treaty.

If the Government were to present a European Union (Membership) Bill, which proposed that the UK should withdraw from the EU, and proposed to make this legislative change without a referendum, then the Lib Dems could argue that a referendum should be held.

But as membership of the EU is not the subject of the EU Amendment Bill, an amendment to hold a referendum on membership would be outside the scope of the Bill.