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Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Lib Dems set to officially endorse in/out referendum and Treaty change to secure single market safeguards

The Lib Dem Autumn Conference Agenda is unlikely to set many pulses racing but motion F35 caught our attention, as it concerns the party's EU policy. Assuming the motion put forward by the party's federal policy committee is approved by party delegates, as seems likely, it will become official party policy and will probably be included in the party's 2015 manifesto. This could prove significant in the event of another hung parliament and subsequent coalition talks with either the Tories or Labour.

The motion contains a number of detailed and specific points covering everything from the single market to the CAP and the EU budget, but two points are particularly significant:
"Guaranteeing full voice in the regulation and application of the four freedoms – of goods, capital, labour and services – of the single market for both euro and non-euro states in the next EU treaty." 
"Requiring that when the EU Act triggers a referendum for the first time, there should be an ‘In or Out’ referendum in which citizens across the UK can have their say on the new Treaty settlement and our relationship with the EU as a whole."
So we have a commitment to push for single market safeguards in any future Treaty negotiations, which is in itself a recognition that the EU is developing in such a way that necessitates different degrees of integration, and that the UK has to assert its interests in order to prevent the eurozone from writing the rules for the whole bloc (the double majority agreement on banking supervision could serve as a model here). For a party that until relatively recently supported the UK joining the euro this is a significant shift.

The referendum commitment is less of a surprise as Clegg and others have been hinting that an in/out referendum would be a matter of when, not if. The big difference between the two coalition parties when it comes to the referendum is therefore one of timing, with the Lib Dems rejecting the Tories' promise of a referendum by 2017 as arbitrary. However, the chance of there being an EU Treaty change transferring more powers from the UK during the lifetime of the next Parliament is very slim. There might be Treaty change but likely for Eurozone-specific measures (which still can have an impact on the UK by changing political dynamics in Europe but which would not trigger the EU Act).

On the face of it though, this would leave Labour as the only major party not explicitly committed to an in/out referendum at some point (although some would argue that the Lib Dems have promised a referendum before and not delivered).

Finally, it is also welcome to see the party explicitly call for "measures to enable national parliaments to contribute more directly to the development of EU policy and legislation", even if the policy document stops short of the 'red card' option outlined by Open Europe and endorsed recently by William Hague.


Anonymous said...

I thought that the referendum commitment was in their 2010 manifesto and given that Nick Clegg has already proven that if a commitment becomes too embarrassing or inconvenient to keep it will be dropped like a hot potato is there any point

Denis Cooper said...

It's quite possible that we will never have a referendum triggered under the European Union Act 2011, the so-called "referendum lock", and therefore we would never have a simultaneous "in-out" referendum under this LibDem proposal.

There have already been four changes to the EU treaties since the Treaty of Lisbon came into force on December 1st 2009, and of the three EU treaty changes which took place after the Act had come into force none satisfied the Act's criteria for triggering a referendum.

That could carry on for many years, with successive UK governments privately urging the governments of the other EU member states to be very careful not to propose any EU treaty change which would trigger a UK referendum.

And should a referendum ever become unavoidable under the Act, it could simply be repealed.

In the unlikely event that a referendum was ever held under the Act it would not be an "in-out" referendum and legally it could not be converted into an "in-out" referendum, because that is not what the Act is about.

It could certainly be agreed by Parliament that a referendum triggered by the Act would be accompanied by a separate "in-out" referendum, but would the LibDems really want to risk the situation where the electorate grudgingly voted to stay in the EU in one referendum but at the same time took their revenge by voting "no" to whatever proposed change was the subject of the other referendum?

Rik said...

1. Like with the Tories a bit of a mess as far as accurate wording of legislation is concerned.
Cameron had little choice to put a deadline in. LibDems however probably have that room.

2. Interesting point is the focus on the Single Market. This looks to be a weak point in Cameron's strategy. Probably the weakest point at least for as far as things can be influenced. 2017 is very late of course but may be still too early as a reneg will likely take a lot of time. He has very little choice here. Cameron however has/had the choice to emphasize keeping the Common Market intact as much as possible under all scenarios even an exit. At least he still has to do that. LibDem might walk away with that now. And more important it makes business very nervous as a lot of people think that an out will mean leaving the Common Market completely.

3. Opens the possibility very likely if this is approved to start the reneg earlier. Even if there are differences. Hard to see how they could differ on the Common Market so one could start with that. Most important part anyway.
Could also be a model if after next elections a coalition would be necessary again.

4. Still strange that Labour hasnot made their policies clear (well for longer than a few weeks at least). Looks like a weak point not only policy wise itself but also as far as 'democracy' goes (a lot of EU in folks also want a referendum) and make it look like a bunch of jokes that cannot make important decisions.

5. People start to realize more and more that a platform in the respective populations is required for further integration but already for a lot of the present stuff. And if that isnot there further integration will very likely fail. And traditional politics will take a huge hit at the ballot box if ignored.
The EU has moved to every day life. Especially in today's enviroment with a lot of long established democracies the 'old ways' of EU decisonmaking simply not longer work.

6. As said earlier I donot agree with the idea double approvals and alike are the solution. The UK should much more focus on treaty like arrangements. It makes things much more flexible. The former is nearly impossible to get out off. The latter gives that possibility. Should be used prudently but the possibility is there.
For long term stuff flexibility/options are very useful, nobody can oversee how the world will look in one or two decades. Get stuck into something and combined with a lot of other things as a non-treaty like solution means is simply a high risk move politically (with not a broad platform for most EU stuff anyway and it could get worse). Could prevent the UK having to get in a similar circus as now if the populkation gets p%$$ed of another issue (current or new). Probably also better for the EU membership at stake every time a population of a country gets angry about something is hardly stable.

Rik said...

@The above
Unless a referendum is actually called there is always legally the possibility that it will be changed,cancelled etc.

You miss the point that now the situation is that it is basically political suicide to do such a thing. Might be legally possible (as is eg abolishing the monarchy) but it will not happen. Not for legal but for political reasons. If the Conservatives dump it now they are very likely a goner as a party. Simply for that reason they will not do that as they will not abolish the monarchy, as they would be a goner if they did.

Therefor if you want to assure as much as possible that no problems occur on the way to a referendum, you have to focus on politics. Make it a top of the agenda issue; keep it in the spot light; assure there is anti-EU competition; assure that a lot of MPOs know they will lose their job if they do otherwise. Things like that. Much more effective than a law of some kind.

Same if you want the referendum as an in or an out. In: focus on a real reneg; communicate that Common Market is essential for the UK economy. Out: that Cameron will fail and reneg results are marginal and put his lack of credibility on this issue in the spotlight.

If it was a minor issue but for something like this politics is what count, not legal. As you mention laws can be changed. You should make it clear that politically nobody even considers it.

Anonymous said...

You're telling me that some small European country is able to push the UK out of the EU at any time, merely by proposing treaty change, and thereby triggering a UK referendum?

Rik said...

@Anonymus 7.25
Nobody is saying that as far as I can see.
The problem for the EU and especially the EZ is that countries cannot leave the Euro without leaving the EU as a whole.
With (in practice likely)as an exception when all 28 countries would agree otherwise.
Cameron hardly can agree on this without asking for things in return so all agreeing looks extremely unlikely. He would give away the by far best opportunity to get a good reneg result. Hard to see his backbenchers and in effect the whole party accepting this. No better PR for UKip immaginable.

A small or a big country can propose what it want but (all) governments basically should agree on things before a referendum can come up. And as Denis states it will be legally a referendum on the issue not on in/out. That will at that moment have to be attached to it.

Anyway before the in/out/reneg issue is arranged unlikely a referendum on a proposed transfer of powers to the EU will happen. Cameron simply can not sell agreeing to such a transfer, to his voter base. Hard to see how being in the process of getting powers back will fit in with agreeing to a transfer of powers at the same time.

Denis Cooper said...

Rik -

1. You have to realise that Hague carefully and deliberately wrote his "referendum lock" law as a "referendum block" law, so that the government could cite it to avoid unwanted referendums.

Want Turkey to join the EU against overwhelming popular opposition in the UK? Not a problem, the fine print of the Act exempts all accession treaties from being subject to a referendum, see what happened about Croatia.

Want to give Merkel some radical EU treaty change to strengthen and federalise the Eurozone? Not a problem, just tell her to make sure that on paper the treaty provision would not "apply" to the UK, see what happened about the EU treaty change made at her behest through European Council Decision 2011/199/EU of March 25th 2011.

Her mistake in December 2011 was to make a proposal for EU treaty change which would have "applied" to the UK and would have made it very difficult for Hague to worm his way out of reluctantly deciding that under the Act it would need to be approved by a referendum in the UK, so Cameron had to veto it as an EU treaty change and force it to become an intergovernmental agreement outside the EU treaties.

2. If it ever came about that a UK government wanted to approve some change but there was nothing in the fine print of the "referendum block" law that it could use to avoid a referendum, then because that law is not entrenched against normal repeal it would simply be a matter of putting words such as:

"notwithstanding any provision of the European Union Act 2011"

into the Bill through which the change was to be approved by Parliament.

It would not be necessary to repeal the whole of that 2011 Act, just the insertion of such words into the Bill would be held by the UK courts to be enough to have cancelled any pre-existing legal requirement for a referendum.

That is why those who believe that we are now guaranteed a referendum before a UK government could take us into the euro are mistaken; it would only need those few words to remove that requirement.

Rik said...

The law has largely become irrelevant because of Cameron's promise of a referendum. Providing of course Cameron gets reelcted which is an if.
Probably Hague tried to dodge the issues when drafting the law. Very likely.

However as mentioned earlier there has been a gamechanger with Cameron's promise. It has gone from a largely legal issue to a pure political one. As said they can abolish the monarchy or the NHS in the same way as get legally around the referendum. However as things are now all 3 would be political suicide for the ones involved. And making Beth Queen of Northern Ireland which has been renamed to UK and the NHS only accessible for people on a household income of 100 GBP or less annually would not do much god as well.

The EU has become top of the public's agenda and top of the media attention stuff.
And not only the issue itself but also the fact that 60-80% of the voters want a referendum also a lot of people that are EU positive.
Furthermore it is highly linked to Cameron's credibility in general. Simply how many traditional voters will let him get away with an u-turn. And as a consequence of that how many MPs (who want to be reelected and Conservatives bosses (you simply would put UKip permanently on the map and relegate the Tories).

Hague might not fully get it. Some stuff fits into a reneg strategy for UKip reasons mainly, other things show he hasnot got a clue.
But Cameron clearly understands his own and the Conservatives position in this. Only makes a lot of mistakes in the execution as imho a clear strategy (a more detailed on than the simple reneg and referendum).

Eg it looks sometimes as if he is 5% ahead in the polls and not behind (unprofessional overconfidence imho). And he might mess up at election time on that.
But making a u-turn and middlefingering at least half his potential voter base I see simply not happening.

A lot of things are happening at the voterfront that the politicians donot like. But they simply have to realize that at the end of the day (as now there is a credible alternative) that a large part of the traditional Conservatives' electorate are the 'fruitcakes' (with some eye problems).
And if all the fruitcakes and closet racists moved to another party they would be out of a job. So with the rise of IP there are now 2 options left:
-be a fruitcake representative; or
-look for another job.

Seems clear to me that they will get wholesale in the fruitcake business. Which starts with taking them serious and well.... represent their views at least a lot of them.

In that respect mudthrowing as I understand is suggested by some there is most likely counterproductive. For a number of reasons:
-part of the mud will end up with voters you want to catch yourself (and it is highly unlikely that a guy you just called a fruitcake and worse will vote for you);
-look around and you will notice that a lot of people are hardly fond of uneducated unintegrated immigrants and are effectively waiting for somebody to bring that in the political arena. They simply think as well of the 3rd world as bonga bonga land. The last thing you want as 3rd world do gooder is 3rd world aid on top of the voter agenda. The population simply hate it, it is more unpopular as the EU is my calculated guess. People in general simply want big cuts there. Put it on the voters agenda and there likely will be cuts.;
-throw mud and it will be thrown back and it looks to me that the Conservatives (and others) also might not want a lot of their own dirt made public;
-It is tried in eg Holland, Sweden and France and with very little success. Unless there is a real big one like Farage cheating on his wife with Barosso and visiting DSK parties together or so. But somehow I donot see that happening. It simply also make other voters more determined because of a lot of them feel that some game is played.

jon livesey said...

I say this from time to time, just to cut through the over-complicated gobbledegook that gets posted here day after day.

If you want to predict what is going to happen with the UK and the EU, you simply have to ask yourself what is in the best interests of most participants.

Leaving the EU and then launching some kind of trade access agreement negotiation will lead to years of uncertainty, and hands a gift to the scare-mongers.

Negotiating a new relation ship between the UK and EU - repatriating powers, guarantees that future integration goes ahead without including the UK, guaranteeing that the UK will not obstruct further integration among the other members - and then voting to stay in the EU as a semi-detached member produces the least uncertainty and is in the UK's economic and political interests.

Letting the UK have a new arm's length relationship with the EU while staying in the single market is in the interest of every single EU company that exports to the UK.

Letting the UK have a new arm's length relationship with the EU isn't against the interests of any of the existing members, and costs them nothing.

A new arm's length relationship with the EU is in the interests of UK exporters, provided they also understand that trade with the EU is going to stagnate, and they have to develop export markets in healthier economies outside the EU.

Find a solution that is in everyone's interests, and you can be pretty sure that is what is eventually going to happen.

Denis Cooper said...

Rik -

"The law has largely become irrelevant because of Cameron's promise of a referendum."

In the particular context of this article about a possible LibDem pledge that is obviously wrong, because the pledge explicitly depends upon a referendum being triggered under the law:

"... when the EU Act triggers a referendum for the first time ..."

Which is quite likely to be never, rendering any such pledge nugatory.

In the wider context it is also wrong, because bitter experience has shown that where the EU is concerned no pledge from Cameron or any other main party politician has any value. Unless it is made legally binding and enforceable by a court then no trust whatsoever can be placed in it.

We saw with Brown and the Lisbon Treaty how a Prime Minister can brazenly renege on a referendum pledge, in the eyes of the great majority of the population, and his party will go along with that, and at the next election it may suffer only minor damage as a consequence. Sadly the old idea that it would be "political suicide" for a government to go back on such a pledge has proved outdated and incorrect.

And Cameron knows that, which is why he has now got a Tory MP making an almost certainly futile attempt to get his pledge of an "in-out" referendum in 2017 written into law, so he can claim to have at least made an effort in that regard.

"Providing of course Cameron gets reelcted"

Not only re-elected but with an overall Tory majority. There have already been heavy hints that if Cameron had to make another coalition agreement with the LibDems after the 2015 election then he would be prepared to bargain away the EU renegotiation and referendum plan in order to remain Prime Minister.

Denis Cooper said...

Jon Livesey -

I would agree with you, if I didn't know that the EEC/EC/EU project is above all political, and economic and other practical considerations are of secondary importance.

While people in the other EU member states keep electing political leaders who are hell-bent on a process of "ever closer union" leading to the establishment of a pan-European federation then it will remain anathema for that process to be reversed in any way for any of the EU member states, let alone for a member state to escape from the process altogether by leaving the EU, and especially if it was a large member state which could potentially act as a magnet for others to leave as well.

And I'm not fully convinced that Cameron himself really wants to extricate us from that process of "ever closer union", despite what he has said under duress.

jon livesey said...

Hi Dennis: It's a fact of life that no-one can rebut an irrefutable. I have put out a prediction, with my reasons for thinking that it is going to be the outcome. That is a refutable because what I predict can turn out to be correct or incorrect.

When someone replies with statements that imply they can read Cameron's mind, that what he really thinks is different to what he says, that is an irrefutable, because I can't claim to read Cameron's mind.

What I can do is point out a common-sense observation. Why would Cameron say something different to what he thinks? To me, it can only be because he is saying what he thinks his supporters want to hear. And that, in turn, suggests that Tory supporters want something like what Cameron claims to be after - a renegotiated relationship with the EU, and continued membership.

So we can add another constituency to the ones I listed above, Tory voters.

And to your other point, about the EU being a political project. OK, I agree, to Europeans it probably is, but so what?

Europeans, or some of them, want political integration. How does that affect us? They can't have further integration without re-opening the Treaties, at which point the UK gets to say "OK, you go ahead and we'll watch".

And does Cameron secretly want to push the UK into political integration? It doesn't really matter, because re-opening the Treaties will trigger a referendum, and then it doesn't matter what Cameron secretly wants, since then the decision will be made by the voters.

There is nothing really new about any of this. It's certainly not my idea. William Rees-Mogg was writing about a solution like this in the Times twenty years ago.

All that is new is that we finally have a PM who is willing to veto changes that negatively affect the UK and who, whatever he secretly wants, has laid out a two-step program where he makes his best effort to get a new UK-EU relationship, after which we have an in/out referendum.

With the best will in the World, I can't see what's wrong with that, or what a better outcome would look like.

Rik said...

Unlikely that there will not be a treaty change required the coming years. Basically you change the EZ system so that it works or it will fall apart (mainly countries going for an exit in some form).
Next to that the EU needs a major overhaul anyway public support all over the place is eroding. And it simply looks like a trend that will continue for years to come. Less pressing but not less necessary.

Anyway if there would not be a treatychange for other reasons the UK unlikely will get any meaningful reneg result. Looks nearly impossible that a treatychange for UK membership purposes with all 28 agreeing can be achieved before 2017. Too many issues in too many countries. To meet that deadline you need pressure, as I see it UK exit might not be enough.

As polls indicate you need a proper reneg result otherwise it is exit. Polls are pretty stable on that btw.

The problem is that you think way to much in legal detail. This has become a political issue and a very big one. You donot get out of those with saying you have the right because of a small legal detail.
Imagine this is accepted and will get a lot of media coverage and subsequently LibDems back off again. It simply would hurt their credibility. On the issue itself on democracy and on being reliable in general. As long as it is in the spotlights it is nearly impossible to make a u-turn (for electoral reasons).
That only will become different if they can get away with it or an even bigger other issue comes up that conflicts the referendum.
In those circumstances things can be reversed.

Let your congress vote for another motion/proposal and it is done. Or change the law (for which you only need a majority of MPs top vote for it). But this always can happen whatever the law is.

The idea that there can be an absolute guarantee is simply wrong. The best guarantee possible is that politicians think they will be history when they do a certain thing, here get back on the referendum issue. Combined preferably being themselves of the opinion that the policies are the best alternative.And Cameron knows that a legal technicality will not work. Like on the Lisbon thing, and he still has the fall out of that to deal with and likely for years to come as well.

Rik said...


It is a process and not a sort of contract that is signed at a particular moment.
To me it looks this way much more stable than what you probably interpret as a contractlike situation. The one you are focussing on.
As government laws and promisses are not contractlike, in the way that government always can change them and basically because of the parliamentary democracy system onesided. They donot need the approval of the otherside (the population) they only have to be elected in the last election (and probably want to be reelected in the next).

The latter is the the cause of the problem. UK Governments for decades have signed up to things which were not in majority (and definitely not in a stable platform like majority way) supported by the UKs population.
They simply drove into the wall with that. In the way that now the lack of platform looks to determine the outcome of elections.

And it has all becomes Cameron's problem as it is on his watch. Complicated by the fact that the population thinks or at least a lot of them that this can be solved by buying a return trip to Brussels and middlefinger Barosso.

Anyway there is a lot of explaining to do. Mainly that the UK population will have to leave with several inconvenient truths. Like the world has globalised and the UK needs the common market as a freetradezone at least. And claw back rights is not similar than not signing up to them in the first place.
But all gives Cameron also a great change to put his mark and win the next election. Especially as the rest is basically messing it up. LibDems seem in the process to make their u-turn (see here). Labour still looks 'very confused' on the issue. In other words they look as if they havenot got a clue what to do and in that process look like a bunch of idiots unable to govern a country.

In other words it is political and it is the best you can get.

Denis Cooper said...

Jon -

Obviously I can't read Cameron's mind. If I could, and if I could download his true thoughts about the EU, then I could publish them on the internet. Instead I can only publish my strong suspicion that he doesn't really mean what he says.

Why? Not only because of his own deceitful conduct since he became Tory leader, but because it fits in with a longstanding pattern of deceit by previous Tory leaders.

"Europeans, or some of them, want political integration. How does that affect us? They can't have further integration without re-opening the Treaties, at which point the UK gets to say "OK, you go ahead and we'll watch"."

An insane policy, Pitt would be turning in his grave.

"... re-opening the Treaties will trigger a referendum ..."

As I wrote above, since the Treaty of Lisbon came into force on December 1st 2009 the treaties have already been "re-opened" four times, to my knowledge, and did you notice any referendum?

In particular, with the EU treaty change which Merkel demanded in 2010 to ensure that the eurozone states would have the legal right to set up the ESM, and which was agreed on March 25th 2011 and which has recently come into force, the precedent was set that the eurozone states can have any EU treaty changes that they want without any of them ever triggering a referendum in the UK, provided that care is taken to write them so that on paper their provisions do not "apply" to the UK.

So likewise any future EU treaty change which takes the general form:

"The eurozone states may do X ..."

will still need to be approved by the UK Parliament, but it will NOT trigger a UK referendum because it will also slip through the Section 4(4)(c) loophole that Hague conveniently provided in his European Union Act 2011.

Anonymous said...

Why would Cameron say something different to what he thinks?

Because he is a politician and they do it all the time, back benchers for example have to tow the line if they want to get promoted to the front bench positions so will back something they disagree with.

The constitution aka the lisbon treaty was imposed against the will of the people, it had been democratically rejected and the promised referendum in The UK was not provided, there is no reason to trust any politician to do the right thing.

Denis Cooper said...

Rik -

I'll try to explain it again.

1. Yes, it is probable that the eurozone state governments will exhaust whatever options even they would think remotely permissible under the present EU treaties and will seek EU treaty changes.

2. But it is very unlikely that any of those EU treaty changes needed to allow those eurozone state governments to further federalise, and so stabilise, the eurozone will trigger a referendum in the UK.

3. Therefore Cameron could repeat what he did last time, despite everything he and other Tory leaders had said before, which was to freely assent to an EU treaty change to help stabilise the eurozone but without asking for any "quid pro quo" in the shape of other EU treaty changes which would be in UK national interests.

4. If you're not even aware of that radical EU treaty change agreed on March 25th 2011, and readily approved by the UK Parliament through this Act:


WITHOUT A REFERENDUM, then really you're not sufficiently up to speed to make useful comments on the matter.

Did he enrage his party by doing that? No, they went along with it.

Was there a public outcry that Hague had loudly boasted about having passed his "referendum lock" law, but then just weeks later he was coolly laying a statement before Parliament to use very law to rule out having a referendum on the EU treaty change agreed by Cameron on March 25th 2011? No, Cameron and his party suffered no significant political damage from that.

Indeed much less than the barely significant political damage that Brown and the Labour party suffered from their much more high profile breach of faith, their reneging on the promise of a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.

clinihyp said...

"Requiring that when the EU Act triggers a referendum for the first time, there should be an ‘In or Out’ referendum in which citizens across the UK can have their say on the new Treaty settlement and our relationship with the EU as a whole."

What a typically deceptive piece of spin that one is since most MPs have already voted against, yes against the right to a referendum if the majority of those voting on a treaty oppose its application. Doesn't matter if constituents want that right, if there is any danger that the majority of them achieving it they can't have a referendum! So much for democracy and spin!

jon livesey said...

I am not going to take part in a pointless debate that seems to be more about demonising Cameron than it is really about the EU.

I am a practical and somewhat cynical person, and it is my observation that it is Cameron's best interests to get a good enough renegotiation to win an "in" vote at a referendum, it is against his interests to be accused to promising a referendum and not delivering, it is in the Tory Party's best interests to be seen to be reacting to what the public want - and they can even calibrate their success by watching the UKIP's share of the vote, it is in the EU's best interests to make enough "concessions" - concessions that actually cost them nothing but a certain amount of hurt pride - in order to keep a large not contributor within the EU, and not have the EU begin to break up.

And, although I forgot to mention this first time around, it is in the interests of third parties like the US and Commonwealth countries to have the UK as a gateway into the EU and a helpful "honest broker" in their relationships with the EU.

If someone can tell me what's wrong with the UK staying with the EU after suitable renegotiation, I'll listen, but all this stuff about what a bad guy Cameron is doesn't seem all that relevant to me.

Rik said...

You still miss my point.
If as a politician you give your electorate the impression you will go for a referendum you cannot easily 'legalise' yourself out of it again.

Not on an issue that is constant headline news and on top of the political/electoral agenda. With credible competion for the voter (by UKip).
Cameron has had very bad experience with that and will be very unlikley to try it again. His Lisbon strategy was one of the reasons that now they have to deal with a party that takes 3 times as much voters from the Conservatives as fron the main opposition.

As long as the cards are as they are now it is very unlikely to happen. That any Conservatives will back out of that.

LibDems have another position politically. Their voterbase is likley more pro-EU. As I see it their best short is something like this. Not being seen anti democratic anti referendum. At the same time having some room in negotiations with other parties especially the Conservatives in a next cabinet (if there is no one with a majority; a clear possibility).
This is all that you will get from is my idea at this stage. Unlikley that they can be put under so much pressure like Cameron before to go for new legislation.

Anyway backbenchers had imho better closed the gaps that are there in the present legislation than what they have been doing now.
Having a proper law in place not the Hague-exception edition gives more guarantees than something that is unlikely passed by parliament and depending on a Conservative majority.

Anyway to survive in the coming election all parties will very likely have to make concessions in this respect. You can see how Labour struggles at the moment. Not wanting to approve this one but not able to formulate an alternative. And in that process looking like a buch of incompetent idiots.

Farage caused Cameron to move. Cameron caused LibDems to move what we see here. And the whole thing in future will make Labour move.
The rise of IP is the gamechanger. As is the fact that the population has clearly a problem with the democratic legitimacy of things and effectively wants a referendum and be taken seriously. You got populist parties all over Europe for this reason and the UK has woken its own Farage-ghost by missing this.

Hague is messing things up in this process. he clearly is pro-EU in his personal views and so are a lot of otherones. However for an issue like this Cameron will call the shots and not Hague. Hague is simply at the moment a huge risk for the Conservatives imho. If this is whole thing is not managed well. What Hague is doing occasionally at this stage you likely permanently tank the Conservatives. Technically he does great if he wants but he simply let his own preference go first while his party requires something totally different.

So yes it would be better if the legislation was better drafted and yes it gives politics some room. But first of all hard to see that being changed at this moment.
And as long it is an UKip issue and they are doing 10-20% or more in the polls it will be a political issue with very little room to manoeuvre in another direction than a referendum.

Earlier people had like now in Germany no alternative. No real one at least that could hurt the traditional parties. Don't like Merkel, alternative is SPD which is even more bail out friendly. A situation similar with Brown/Labour. But now things have changed UKip is seen as an alternative by potential voters. And these are even prepared to give the traditional parties a final warning/yellow card in say a minor election or in polls. Which if Europe is an indication means the red card will be the next one if nothing changes.

Anonymous said...

It is so simple.

Free trade =Yes
Sovereignty = NO

The EU's track record is nothing short of a disaster. NO MORE.


Rik said...

I do think that it is extremely relevant for the discussion that a lot of the participants are highly sceptical over Cameron and Co.
And for the following reasons:

1. It is confirmation number n that traditional political parties have a huge credibility problem with large groups of voters.
Which is probably the main reason that populists like the IP are rising rapidly in the polls.
Which leads somewhat delayed to a lot of things like: main stream parties stating to take their voterbase more serious.
And they are still very poor at that. Communication style and strategy simply still sucks not as much as before but it is still substandard.

2. Cameron has a huge credibility problem on the EU within his own (potential) electorate. If rational people like Denis show that it will be much worse with that electorate as a whole.
This means he has very little room for mistakes. However look at the report and how that got to the ms media simply rubbish. Sloppy at best. Do several of these things and nearly certain the media will pick up one and butcher you on that.
It will likely has its influence on the next election as well. Simply hard to see how he can get this right again. At best gamble on strategic voting (keep Labour and Mr Ed out). But that will leave things open basically until election day as strategic choices are usually made very late.

I am fully with you re that he will go for a reneg and that kind of stuff (and that this discussion becomes rather irritating) however politically it is very relevant. Probably best made clear by the fact that OE, you and myself are simply not able to convince a basically rational guy like Denis of this. Because he thinks Cameron and Co are simply not to be trusted. And he is clearly not alone in this.
In other words Cameron has a huge problem here.