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Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Juncker row: Will Cameron now be forced to say he's willing to recommend 'Out' in a referendum?

Could he merrily wave the EU goodbye?
There has been much said about David Cameron's supposed "threat" to leave the EU, reportedly delivered to Angela Merkel in a discussion over whether Juncker should become President of the EU Commission.

There are good reasons to doubt the specifics of the report, because the source probably had ulterior motives: to damage David Cameron's campaign to dislodge Juncker. The theory being, the prospect of a Prime Minister "making" a threat would so upset EU sensibilities nobody would dare stand with Cameron's campaign.

Having said that the story does have two elements of truth to it.

Firstly, all polling shows that EU reform is the decisive factor in determining whether Britons would vote to stay in the EU. David Cameron could easily have pointed out that Juncker's appointment - an obvious example of non-reform - would damage the chances of an 'In' vote. But is that a threat - or a fact? Possibly, if David Cameron was the only person planning to vote in his planned  referendum, but he is not. So, if it is a threat, it is a collective one from the British people.

Secondly, David Cameron has studiously avoided saying he could ever campaign for an 'out' vote - and been criticised for it in the UK. However, with Juncker's appointment, this is becoming a much more difficult position to sustain. If this continues, i.e. if the EU actively goes the wrong way, there would be a lot people in the UK saying it's not credible for him to say he would still recommend 'In'.  (Open Europe's Christopher Howarth set out some reason's earlier here.)

The outcome of the Juncker saga may be that Cameron has no choice but to say he's willing to recommend "Out". But hey, the nature of the referendum is that it won't be his choice anyway.


Anonymous said...

I think the Conservative Party will pin him down on this one before the next elections in the UK. They may well choose a different leader, especially if UKIP remain strong in the polls.

Cameron is rendering himself obsolete.

Denis Cooper said...

He may say now that he would be willing to recommend "out", but if it ever came to a referendum he would recommend "in".

How can anybody doubt that?

Peter van Leeuwen said...

Any hint of using a possible in/out referendum as a bargaining chip will most likely backfire in a bad way, as it will be unmasked as blackmail.

It will be interesting to see what the City will do in 2015, which bankrolled the last Tory election campaign. If Cameron were to hint campaigning for an out vote, it would be even more interesting!

It would also be interesting to see what Scotland will do if the UK decides to leave the EU. Another Scottish referendum shortly after 2017?

Rollo said...

I don't understand. Are you saying that Cameron should base hi advice on principles? Are you kidding?

Anonymous said...

Peter, Why would Scotland hold another referendum, if they vote to stay IN the UK, they will be part of an in/out vote on the EU.

If they vote OUT of the UK, they will have to make their own minds up on the EU.

A second referendum on UK membership is not an option, that would be for the rest of UK to decide.

Average Englishman said...

Our Dear Leader Dave will do whatever he believes it takes to stay in power for as long as possible and if he's thinking straight, he'll see that to do this he needs the UK to leave the EU. Principles will have nothing to do with it, just realpolitik.

I am hopeful that when he adds it all up, European enthusiast or not, he will see what has to be done and do it. Better off out - especially for Dave and the boys. Also, the continuing attacks on The City of London by the EU are helping a treat. The UK only really joined the EU for economic reasons and these are fast fading away. It is more apparent every day that the UK would be financially stronger outside the EU.

Wilfred Aspinall said...

Nothing should be written off, renegotiation, immediate or later referendum on membership of the EU. However a clear strategy is needed rather than last minute decisions.

The strategy should be transparent and red lines established on subjects that need to be under the absolute control of sovereign member states. No distraction.

This position taken by David Cameron is but just the first in a long series of protocols that will ensure that we stop the drift towards ever closer union and a federalist policy that means more and more decisions will be taken in Brussels.

It might indeed mean leaving the EU quite soon

Wilfred Aspinall
Former Member
European Economic and Social Committee

Anonymous said...

Cameron has said that:

1. The fictional referendum will not be on an In/Out question.

2. The fictional referendum will not be binding on him.

3. If there is a referendum, and the vote is to leave, he will ignore it.

He has not taken back any of these statements, nor will he.

Open Europe -- a Eurofascist operation -- is simply misleading people into believing that there is any chance at all that Cameron will do anything that threatens the UK's imprisonment in the EUSSR Volker-kerker.