Yesterdays vote and proceedings in the Commons show the grim reality that unless the Lib Dems honour their promise of a referendum there is no chance of us gaining one.
Yesterday was the Second Reading. The issue was simply ?? do you want this Bill and this Treaty at all? Conservatives and 19 Labour rebels voted against the Bill and Treaty in its entirely. Lib Dems and the rest of the Labour party voted for it, giving them a huge majority.
The Labour rebels put down a motion to deny the Bill a second reading because there was no referendum offered. This was not an amendment which could have led to a referendum ?? it was another way of saying Lets veto the whole bill. Their proposal was not called. Had Conservatives put our name to it as well, and had it been called, it would have ended up with the same outcome as we achieved by simply voting against Second Reading outright.
The opportunity to force a referendum comes later in Committee, when any MP can table a referendum amendment to the Bill, in the form that this Bill will only come into effect if there has been a referendum and if the public has voted Yes. The Conservatives will table such an amendment and vote for it, or support a Labour one if they table it first. We do not wish to see competing referendum amendments, and may prefer Labour to choose the words they want to maximise their support for it.
Either way we need the Lib Dems to vote en bloc for a referendum. Their slippery Leader finally this morning on the Today programme let slip he would vote against a referendum on the Treaty, tearing up their election promise. All those of us who want a referendum on this Treaty need to maximise pressure on these treacherous Lib Dems, as well as encouraging more Labour rebels, if we are to have any chance of stopping this juggernaut Treaty that the public does not want.
PS: The Conservatives have now tabled a suitable referendum amendment as New Clause 1.
<strong>Click <a href="http://www.johnredwoodsdiary.com/2008/01/22/john-redwood-speaks-in-eu-constitution-debate/">here </a>to read John Redwood’s contributions to the debate on the EU Treaty.</strong>