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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

High hopes

This is the poster that accompanies the Conservatives' campaign to get Gordon Brown to hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, which looks set to be the key feature of their campaign for the European elections.

Of course for those of us opposed to the Lisbon Treaty this is welcome news. Reminding voters of this hugely important issue for the future of the EU can only be a good thing. Likewise, it's highly appropriate to remind voters that they were promised a referendum on the EU Constitution, a.k.a the Lisbon Treaty. It also has the potential to make the European elections more about the EU than usual.

However, this camapign still leaves voters and the rest of the EU guessing exactly what the Conservatives will do about the Treaty in 2010, if the Treaty has already become law by then (that is, if all countries, including Ireland, have ratified it by the time the Tories take office). David Cameron was today quoted in the Times repeating the line that they would "not let matters rest there".

But for the voters this campaign is supposed to attract, not letting matters "rest" may not be enough, particularly if this campaign gains the momentum we hope it will ahead of June's elections. The issue of the UK's relationship with the EU will not go away after the European elections or if the Lisbon Treaty is ratified. This campaign will create high hopes among voters that finally a potential party of government is serious about EU reform.


Anonymous said...

It's worth pointing out that, strictly speaking, any referendum within the UK is only a consultative referendum.

Even if the government says that it will treat the outcome as binding, and even if Parliament passes a law saying that it shall be binding, there's always the possibility that Parliament may afterwards pass another law to set its result aside.

It all comes down to trust between the people and the politicians.

Under some extraordinary but conceivable circumstances, the people might accept that Parliament had done the right thing by setting aside a referendum result, despite a previous promise that it would be binding; just as they might accept that the government had done the right thing by setting aside one of its manifesto promises.

Therefore, as a start Cameron could at this point make this unambiguous promise: that provided the Lisbon Treaty hadn't already been officially declared dead, then he would put it to a consultative referendum in the UK, irrespective of what may happen in other EU member states.

Then, as events unfolded over the coming months, he could refine his plan of action in the likely event that the treaty was rejected.

Unknown said...

The EU is a dictatorship and an illegal gravey train that represents it's own interests and not the democratically elected MP,s of member states.It needs to be dismantled along with its £130Billion funding and revert to it,s common market status which is what the British people voted for.Democracy will then prevail and europe will be a better place.

Anonymous said...

In a letter from Graham Stuart MP {Con. Beverley & Holderness} he states "My colleagues and I in the Conservative Party have made it clear that if the Treaty is not yet in force at the next general election, and if the British people choose a Conservative Government, we will hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, recommending a 'no' vote. If the British people reject the Treaty we will withdraw Britain's ratification." He adds that if the Irish peole approve the treaty and if it is in force political integration will have gone too far and we "would not let matters rest there"

Anonymous said...

One can only hope that the Conservatives bite the bullet and stand by their promise of a referendum whether the treaty is ratified or not.

I feel that Cameron is too wishy washy and likely to bend in the face of public opinion (just like this Government) and make policy on the hoof - he should stand up now declare his intention for a referendum and stick to that promise

Holden said...

We were promised a Referendum on the EU Treaty, which promise was reneged on. I have written, emailed, marched, spoken and marched again, in the company of millions of the Electorate, all of which this `Government' has ignored. I still want a Referendum. The Conservative Party must promise, irrevocably, to hold that Referendum and honour the result or I shall withdraw my vote from this failed democracy.

Peter Stewart said...


Britain awake! Tory leaders are conning YOU again!

Under the finger proddings of their EU masters, the wriggling nematodes who comprise the Tory elite are planning to con YOU into approving the EU by means of a dead end referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.

Every EU Treaty needs a dead end referendum. Like anything emerging from the bowels of the EU, these referendums stink mighty badly. They NEVER provide an exit from the EU, only 2 dead end options:

1: Reject Lisbon Treaty BUT APPROVE EU STATUS QUO,
2: Accept Lisbon Treaty and drive EU onwards.

But even rejecting the Lisbon Treaty is meaningless as the Irish will discover. This referendum will be restaged until a “yes” vote is obtained, or its provisions are introduced by the back door.

There is no hope in voting Tory. None whatsoever. Tory leaders have not reformed. They have not seen the light. They have not been converted. They are still pro-EU.

Once in a generation there comes an opportunity to force reform of a party. That opportunity to reform the Tory party is approaching. If Britain chickens out and votes Tory, simply to get rid of Labour, then all hope of forcing the Tory party to become anti-EU will vanish for another generation.

Only one thing can force a true Conservative revolt: A 4th General Election defeat.

Peter Stewart said...


Tory leaders want to con YOU into approving the EU status quo through a dead end Lisbon Treaty referendum.

Such a referendum would not provide EU exit, but only 2 dead end options:

Option 2: Accept Treaty and drive EU onwards.

Tory leaders have not reformed. They have not seen the light. They have not been converted. They are still pro-EU.

There is only one referendum which will unite the whole anti-EU movement: The referendum on EU withdrawal.

Anonymous said...

My local MP has sent me a copy of Hansard reply by PM suggesting Kenneth Clark is satisfied with recent changes made and anyone asking for a referendum 'is barmy'?
What changes he did not say. Anybody know?