After Lisbon?

There is continuing worry about the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, and rightly so.

Doubtless the EU will want to rush the ratification through in Ireland as soon as possible. They have sought to impose a November 2009 deadline for another vote and given various “assurances”. They must be well aware that David Cameron is serious about holding a referendum here if the Treaty has not been ratified and brought into effect by all EU members before the time of the next UK General Election. They must also be aware that there is likely to be a large majority against accepting the Treaty.

The EU realises that it is not going to be easy getting the Treaty agreed by the Irish people in time. There also remains the question of the attitude of the Czech President. The UK Conservative pledge to have a referendum if the Treaty is not ratified is an important one. Some of us have been desperate to have a referendum on any aspect of the EU over the last decade, as we have opposed the large transfers of powers in Nice, Amsterdam and Lisbon and wish to let the people have a say. We have been powerless at Westminster to stop the federalist rush, given the large federalist majority from the combined forces of Labour and the Lib Dems.

The Conservative leadership does not wish to spell out what it would do in the event of full ratification everywhere else. There is a good reason for this. You do not normally in politics set out your position on the assumption that you lose the next war. The Leadership would not wish in any way to undermine the opposition to the Treaty elsewhere in the EU by implying it is bound to be ratified in every other country.

We are left with the phrase, the Conservative leadership “will do whatever it takes” to deal with the problem. That must mean a renegotiation. There is not just Lisbon which Conservative MPs (with perhaps 5 exceptions) oppose strongly, but also Nice and Amsterdam which we voted against. Some of us still have disagreements with parts of Rome and other Treaties as well.

The big issue will be how many powers does the UK want back? How many opt outs and different arrangements do we need to add to the important opt out from the Euro which we already enjoy? Can we get control of our borders back? Can we restore our authority over employment and social legislation? These were areas which previous Conservative governments carefully protected and which Labour has given away.

As far as I am concerned, what will be needed if it comes to this is the promise of a referendum on any deal that the Conservatives do negotiate in Brussels to restore powers. That has two great advantages. It means the rest of the EU will understand if they do not give the UK enough self government back, the public are likely to veto the deal, increasing the chances of a better settlement. It also means the UK public will at last get their chance to express an opinion on the whole project.

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89 Comments

  1. mikestallard
    Posted May 17, 2009 at 6:14 am | Permalink

    Blimey! You get up early!
    Anyway, personally and ideally, I should like us become members of the EU in the same way that Norway or Switzerland are, but with firm ties to America.
    Our problem as voters is this: can we trust the Conservative Leadership? Already we have seen the way that the Conservatives are still in the EPP, although there seems to have been a promise that they would leave.
    Mr Cameron’s efforts on corruption have, however, been impressive.
    I am reading about Polish History at the moment. There are rather a lot of parallels, actually, with the powerless central government, the insistence on little or no central control, and the final take-over by the three growing Eastern powers. Brussels might like to be a centralised state like the EUSSR, but, at the moment, it really isn’t.

  2. Kevin Lohse
    Posted May 17, 2009 at 6:21 am | Permalink

    Dear John. As I remember, in the 2005 election manifesto it was stated that there would be a referendum. No ifs, no buts. Obviously there are a lot of people out there who remember the same, because an awful lot of serial-voting Tories are going to vote UKIP for the Euros and Tory in the Councils In the South-East Region, Dan is a shoe-in. However the faceless Europhiles hanging on to his shirt-tails are not. DC cannot have his cake and eat it. We will not get the same lead in the Euros as we have in the Nationals until DC makes good his 2005 manifesto pledge, however inconvenient it may be.

    • figurewizard
      Posted May 17, 2009 at 10:22 am | Permalink

      The events of the last two weeks with regard to expenses is inexorably leading to a fundamental shift among voters as to the accountability of our political leaders. This means that far from the fear of apathy towards politics that many commentators have expressed recently. the opposite is likely to prove to be the case during next month’s elections.

      That is why your prediction that many people will vote Tory for the local council and UKIP for the EU is wholly correct in my view and in large numbers too. The danger for the Tories however will be that because this comes on the heels of the appalling disclosures of the last two weeks, it might ultimately be dismissed as nothing more than a typical yet understandable protest vote.

      The fact is that for any future government things are going to be very different from now on. The people of this country have grasped the fact that the power of their vote is a lot more than a cliche and are going to remain far more unforgiving than they have been in the past. If UKIP score spectacular victories in the EU elections next week then the Lisbon treaty, open borders and the rest of it are going to have to be properly addressed by a Conservative administration with this in mind.

      • alan jutson
        Posted May 17, 2009 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

        Agree with your point about UKIP

        Their Party Political Broadcast looked good, relevent, and to the point.

        IE: All about Europe, its costs to us, and its power over us.

        Contrast this with Labours disaster, simply about bashing the Tories.

        Also agree that the major Parties should not just think of this as a protest vote.
        Voters have now seen waste in the UK on a huge scale, they are now begining to see the cost of Europe.

        Time for the big Parties to take notice.

        • figurewizard
          Posted May 18, 2009 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

          I note your point about Labour’s ‘bashing the Tories’ message. In a previous business life I always stressed the importance to our sales staff of only ever stressing the benefits of our products and never rubbishing the opposition.

          It was also pointed out to them that to do so would be seen as a sign of desperation, as it meant that they would in effect be asking the customer to: ‘Buy our rubbish instead.’

  3. oldrightie
    Posted May 17, 2009 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    As always, concise, well presented and easy to follow and AGREE with. The expenses scandal mirrors, for me, the arrogance of an unelected and greedy EU Commission and a UK Parliament more desperate to trough before The EU juggernaut sweeps them away.
    A reform of MPs salary and allowances should reflect the loss or gain of sovereignty over Europe. More UK self-determination, better pay and vice versa. So, if our elected MPs continue to allow the transfer of power to a federally ambitious EU, let their income fall proportionally to the reduction in their own importance. Might concentrate a few minds.

  4. Matt
    Posted May 17, 2009 at 6:52 am | Permalink

    Whilst many may share your concerns about the various treaties we have signed up to with our European neighbours do you really think that a referendum is the best way forward? Surely such an important element of our national governance would be a key point in any general election campaign?

    Referendums cost millions – at a time when we can least afford such fripparies. How likely is it that as complex and dull a subject as the Lisbon treaty would inspire even 50% of the voting age population to participate? And isn’t there a danger that it would be hijacked (as it was in Ireland) into a vote on one of the minor issues? If we have a referendum on this issue why not on nuclear power, immigration policy, going to war, MPs remuneration?

    • Emil
      Posted May 17, 2009 at 9:55 am | Permalink

      You completely miss the point. Once Lisbon gets ratified no mainstream party is going to make this an election issue. Maybe we cannot afford not to spend these millions…….

    • Stuart Fairney
      Posted May 17, 2009 at 10:40 am | Permalink

      Honouring one’s electoral committment is hardly frippary.

      The reason for having a referendum on this issue, setting aside the vast constitutional implications, are obvious, we were promised one.

      To suggest the subject is too complex for the people is patronising (do you include yourself in that, or do you have the intellectual grasp of the situation?), and to say that the referendum will be hijacked, apart from being the complaint of one who expects to be beaten, is an argument against having local elections as one could say the same thing about them.

    • Eddyh
      Posted May 17, 2009 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

      In response to the last sentance, why not!

  5. RPC
    Posted May 17, 2009 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    And what happens if the EU Constitution is forced on us before the next General Election?

    David Cameron needs to be aware that there are many who would vote Conservative at the next general election who will instead vote UKIP if he doesn’t make a firm committment to withdraw from the Lisbon Treaty if the above eventuality occurs.

    I see little point in voting for a candidate of any political colour just to send them to a Westminster talking shop divested of any meaningful power to govern our country.

    UKIP is the only halfway electable political party committed to renegotiating our relationship with Europe and, as such, will have my vote unless David Cameron commits to withdrawing from the Lisbon treaty if it has been forced on us before the next general election.

    • Stuart Fairney
      Posted May 17, 2009 at 10:41 am | Permalink

      You can include me in those sentiments.

      • THE ESSEX BOYS
        Posted May 17, 2009 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

        The position we advocated before the 2005 General Election remains unaltered save for the substitution of Cameron for Howard.

        “We maintain that the Conservative manifesto for the General Election should contain a promise to use the first Cameron term to revise our EU membership terms as far as possible with a guaranteed referendum on continuing membership or otherwise at the start of the second term. The Conservatives can decide at that time whether to recommend a yes or no vote.”

        All research done by our friends and colleagues at ESSEX VOTERS VOICE shows this to be an immensely attractive proposition to the electorate.

    • Tony E
      Posted May 17, 2009 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

      It is my understanding (please correct me if I am mistaken) that the Lisbon treaty, once ratified, like all the other major treaties passed in the EU amends the original treaty of Rome. This is the founding principle of the EU, the treaty which gives it legal legitimacy.

      Once it is altered, the principles by which the EU exists as a legal entity are permanently altered, and to alter them further, (or to revert to a previous situation) a fresh treaty would be required.

      Therefore, if the Treaty is passed before a Conservative government can withdraw the articles passed in our name already, it is binding upon us: Once passed, the new constitution becomes the only game in town.

      There will only be one possible referendum after this point: In or Out.
      Personally, I can live with that because I think the answer might be out, but I think that there is no realistic prospect of renegotiation whatsoever.

      I will have to leave it to others to speculate as to why the current government is so desperate to see the Lisbon treaty passed, because for the life of me I can’t figure out one good reason why it would be good for Britain whatsoever, and I have a full draft of it on paper on my bookshelf.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted May 18, 2009 at 9:15 am | Permalink

        Incorrect; the Constitutional Treaty would have repealed all of the previous treaties, but the Lisbon Treaty only amends some parts of them.

        • Tony E
          Posted May 19, 2009 at 6:06 am | Permalink

          Yes, I agree that this is correct, but the amendments would become part of the ‘founding’ treaty, the original clauses would then cease to exist and to revert to the previous situation a new treaty would be required.

          While technically the process you describe is indeed different, I rather feel that the effect would be the same. After Lisbon there would still only be one treaty, the newly amended Treaty of Rome.

          What mechanism is there to undo what is proposed in Lisbon without a new treaty, and without withdrawing from the treaty of Rome altogether?

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted May 19, 2009 at 8:20 am | Permalink

          Well, instead of being based on the present treaties, the “consolidated versions” of which are here:

          http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:C:2006:321E:0001:0331:EN:pdf

          the EU would be based on the present treaties as amended by the Treaty of Lisbon, which is here:

          http://eur-lex.europa.eu/JOHtml.do?uri=OJ:C:2007:306:SOM:EN:HTML

          the “consolidated versions” of the present treaties as they would be amended by Lisbon being here:

          http://eur-lex.europa.eu/JOHtml.do?uri=OJ:C:2008:115:SOM:EN:HTML

          ready and waiting for when it comes into force.

          Except, of course, they’re impatient, and they can’t wait for it to come into force; so they’ve embarked upon “provisional application” on the assumption that it will come into force, despite the “no” in Ireland …

          Although this is hellishly complicated for the layman, a trained lawyer would generally have little difficulty establishing whether an EU proposal would have had a legal basis in the present treaties anyway, or it had only become legally possible because of an amendment made through the Treaty of Lisbon.

          Some of the latter could not easily be negatived by the UK Parliament – for example, the installation of a semi-permanent President of the European Council – but others, especially those which would affect UK law, could be “disapplied” by the UK Parliament as far as the UK was concerned.

          It’s worth rememberiing that many member states now have various treaty “opt-outs”, in each case meaning that it has been agreed that the member state shall not be bound to apply EU laws in a certain field, or to participate in a certain aspect of the project – eg, the euro – until the relevant “opt-out” has been surrendered.

          In effect, if the UK refused to recognise the Lisbon Treaty as a valid treaty binding on the UK, then it would be unilaterally claiming a comprehensive “opt-out” from all measures springing from its provisions.

  6. Mark M
    Posted May 17, 2009 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    I, like may others, would like a referendum on membership of the EU.

    The only vote we have ever had is whether to be members of the EEC. That was a good idea (common market etc) so we voted yes. Since then, the EU has evolved into something completely different and I think the people need to be asked whether they want to remain part of it. We may soon be getting towards our last chance.

    Think how far the EU has come along over the past few decades – then think where we will be in 20 years time? Wouldn’t you like to have a vote on that?

  7. witteringsfromwitney
    Posted May 17, 2009 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    Dear Mr. Redwood,

    There is only one ‘re-negotiation’ that would be acceptable – a trading agreement, which is what the British people were ‘sold’ over 30 years ago. In other words we want the same agreement that Norway has.

    Anything less would be another ‘sellout’

    • mikestallard
      Posted May 17, 2009 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

      Yes!

  8. APL
    Posted May 17, 2009 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    JR: “We are left with the phrase, the Conservative leadership “will do whatever it takes” to deal with the problem. That must mean a renegotiation.”

    No, renegotiation is a futile waste of time.

    A Bill

    Clause 1.

    Parliament re-asserts the Supreme court, [or whatever it is called these days] of the United Kingdom. Parliament renounces the jurisdiction of the European courts.

    Clause 2.

    Parliament re asserts the supremacy of Parliament and establishes that no European or other foreign directive or instruction may pass into UK Law with out a full and free debate and approval by Parliament.

    Clause 3.

    All treaties, in so far as they infringe on the domestic sovereignty of Her Majesty Elizabeth the second in her realm long established, are abrogated.

    Second Bill.

    Clause 1.

    With immediate effect. The BBC will act as a private company and raise its revenue exclusively from private voluntary subscriptions, or loans at commercial rates of interest.

  9. alan jutson
    Posted May 17, 2009 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    At Last some of our National Press are giving some space to Europe, and the disaster of us giving up our own Parliamentary Laws to Brussels.

    Interesting to see Kate Hoey on the Andrew Marr show this morning, agreeing that it has now all gone too far, and that Labour will reap the voters contempt, at this years elections for not holding a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.

    The truth is that Party Politics and the Whipping of Members to vote (in effect for their own demise) under the guise of being a good European and good Party Member, has tied Parliaments hands.

    We need to completely renegotiate our membership with Europe (a la Maraget Thatcher) once again, under the real threat that we will withdraw if we do not get the right deal, and we need to mean it.

    Its time to claim our Country back.

    Simple as that really.

  10. david
    Posted May 17, 2009 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    So you have a home in Wokingham, easily commutable to Westminster, and you claim £22,729 for a second home, where is it, what is it, and why?

    Reply: It’s a bedsit flat.
    It’s in Pimlico.
    It enables me to do my job, and to keep my travel and staff bills down. I was £40,000 below the average MP for total expenses in 2007-8, and cut my expenses by more than 10% in 2008-9.

  11. David H
    Posted May 17, 2009 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    Perhaps a new Government should tell the EU that its treaties with a country formerly known as the UK, no longer apply to these islands which have been renamed DQ (Disunited Queendom).

    The EU could then be invited to offer the DQ a range of options together with a price tag for each option expressed in terms of GDP. These options could then be offered to the population for a referendum.

  12. Acorn
    Posted May 17, 2009 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    Sorry JR but, (I will understand if you don’t publish this), the problems with the EU run much deeper than those you outline above. Only a pan European party can solve the EU mess. A nationally based party can’t do it purely based on the arithmetic of the voting system.

    There are some honourable MEPs, just like there are some honourable MPs; and, we know expense scammers in the euro parliament make you lot look like saints, so my vote will be going elsewhere. This will be a “stop loss” vote (a financial term really but very appropriate in this context). I want to get back to the old EFTA model.

    • mikestallard
      Posted May 17, 2009 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

      Yes! You are quite right: EFTA model!

  13. Mike Paterson
    Posted May 17, 2009 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    The Conservative stand is better than nothing as far as it goes, but not nearly robust enough. How about a commitment to a referendum whether the treaty is ratified or not with a promise to repeal any of its provisions at Westminster if it has been ratified?

    I can’t help thinking that David Cameron hopes that it does get ratified toot sweet, so the problem will just go away by the time he becomes PM.

  14. Chris
    Posted May 17, 2009 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    What are you John? Stupid, dishonest or a particularly objectionable combination of both? We do not “enjoy” an opt out from the euro. It meant a huge chunk wiped off the value of everything we earn and own when the pound crashed, as it always does, every time there’s a recession, because the markets know that the (fools-ed) who run this country think a devaluation is a briliant idea that no-one will notice. I dare say it doesn’t matter to rich MPs, but I’d like my money back. If we’d been in the Euro I’d still have it.

    And that bit about “our borders,” is a downright lie. It has got progressively harder to get in and out of Britain under this government, while the rest of Europe has enjoyed freedom of movement under Schengen. The government, with its e-borders scheme, is set to make our border even harder to cross, in either direction.

    You John Redwood are a liar. If you have any decency apologise and withdraw.

    Reply: For once I will not edit out unfair and unsubstantiated allegations, as they are about me. All others on this site would be protected.
    My view is the majority view on this subject. If you think ceding control over our borders to an EU system gives us greater control you have a strange opinion. If you think devaluing means we should be in the Euro, you have to recognise that would have meant even more business wiped and and jobs lost.

    • Paul
      Posted May 17, 2009 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

      Chris,

      “If we’d been in the Euro I’d still have my money”

      Oh dear, have you been to Ireland recently? How about Greece ( not a nice place to visit currently because of the ongoing rioting in Athens). Property in Spain maybe oh what’s that the value is now down 60 %.

      Obviously you haven’t seen the German figures announced on Friday. Or the German Polls this weekend demanding a return to the DM.

      Which part of the EU do you work for Chris? Because you certainly don’t own, run or manage a business in the Eurozone.

      Or do I do you a dis-service. Maybe you’re a currency trader with a City firm.

      • Lucy Sharp
        Posted May 17, 2009 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

        I spend about half my time in Germany: my friends there universally detest the EU in its current form, want control of their borders back and bitterly resent having had to give up the Deutschmark in favour of the Teuero. But any public argument against the EU or any aspect of greater integration has always been countered with allegations of Prussian supremacism or similar slurs, so they mostly keep quiet and put up with it.

    • Robbie
      Posted May 18, 2009 at 11:08 am | Permalink

      To state (with hindsight) that we would have been better off adopting the euro based on a mid-recession GBP/EUR fx rate is bizarre.

      Adopting the euro goes much further than simply changing sterling coins/notes for euro coins/notes, and right now I believe that we are definitely better off without the euro.

      The UK QE program, low interest rates and worrying public finances play a big part in the devaluation of sterling, and of course you can Blame Brown for that.

    • adam
      Posted May 18, 2009 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

      Surely you have enjoyed more purchasing power with the pound than the euro. Maybe i am ignorant but i don’t see how joining the euro will help you get your money back.
      There is more at stake than your personal enrichment at any rate.

  15. Lola
    Posted May 17, 2009 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    “…UK public will at last get their chance to express an opinion on the whole project.” I am infuriated that I am part of some bureauquangopolitcofederlisingeurocrats ‘project’. I am NOT a ‘project’. I am a free citizen.

    • Number 6
      Posted May 18, 2009 at 11:17 am | Permalink

      “I am not a number I am a free man, my life is my own..” words from the Prisoner that great 1960s TV show and from where I borrow my website posting name that ring so true now. The EU is imprisoning this once great country and as we have no vote from any of the three main parties on our continued ‘membership’ I say to Mr Redwood and to all on this site I will not vote Conservative any longer but have joined UKIP.

      I feel that many other Conservatives (and as an active member I speak to many in the town where I live) will be doing the same on June 4th.
      I know the arguement about ‘splitting’ the Tory vote, but I cannot sit back any longer and watch my country being dictated to by a Soviet style system.

      In short, I am going to vote with my conscience and put country before party.

  16. Pete Chown
    Posted May 17, 2009 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    I very much support your suggestion of a referendum. Can I suggest that you go a bit further, and offer options which would involve leaving the EU as well? If this was done by alternative vote there would be no need for any kind of tactical voting.

    Voters could, for example, be asked to rank these options in order of preference:

    [ ] Accept Lisbon
    [ ] Renegotiate Lisbon but aim to stay in the EU
    [ ] Leave the EU but aim to remain in the EEA
    [ ] Leave the EU and repeal its laws (the acquis communautaire)

    • Emil
      Posted May 17, 2009 at 10:03 am | Permalink

      Renegotiation is a pipe dream. If we want to get control of our country back (and this current expense debacle at least gives some opportunity if there is real will) then a combination of options 3 and 4 are the only answer.

      Sadly the outcome will most certainly be option 1, especially if our political masters see the European parliament as the only way to continue to fragantly, and openly, screw as much money out of taxpayers and be openly encouraged so to do.

  17. Colin D.
    Posted May 17, 2009 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    I have observed that Opposition leaders of both parties are critical of the EU whilst in opposition but, once elected, suddenly bend to the will of the European Commission. I applaud your blog, but history does not give me reason to have faith in what Cameron will do when he assumes power.
    A few years ago, the big EU thing was ‘subsidiarity’ – ie returning powers back to the member countries. Since then, not a single scrap of sovereign power has been returned. Rather, we have give up a whole lot more. Based on the evidence, how can you imagine that border control, social legislation or indeed ANYTHING will be returned? Furthermore, even if something were agreed with the EU, I doubt if it could be trusted to ever really deliver.
    Sorry!

  18. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted May 17, 2009 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    JR: “The Conservative leadership does not wish to spell out what it would do in the event of full ratification everywhere else.”

    The electorate must be told before the next election or are we regarded as an irrelevance to the continuing transfer of our democratic right to set our own laws from Westminster to Brussels? Perhaps when you see the size of the UKIP vote in June it will clarify your thinking.

    • Stuart Fairney
      Posted May 17, 2009 at 10:46 am | Permalink

      This could indeed by the UKIP breakthrough moment. I think it was an election in the late 1980’s when the greens polled very well. The major parties took notice and more or less adopted or pretended to adopt green policy. There won’t be a UKIP government of course, but I think that the euro-sceptic tories will be emboldened by wide electoral support for their view.

      In truth, whilst they won’t join UKIP, some of the tory MP’s would have no difficulty in supporting many of their policies.

  19. Robert Eve
    Posted May 17, 2009 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    John – Deep down I am a Tory but I feel I must vote UKIP again on 4 June.

    You ask ‘How many powers does the UK want back?’

    We want all of them back.

    • Number 6
      Posted May 19, 2009 at 8:11 am | Permalink

      Agreed, while we cede any power to the corrupt EU we are no longer an independent nation.

  20. FatBigot
    Posted May 17, 2009 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    The current furore about MPs’ expenses is a fine example of democracy in action. The little people were finally allowed to know the facts, despite the expensive and extensive efforts of the Speaker to keep it all under wraps.

    Democracy is not just about elections, it is an intricate web of forces that allow the little people (of which I am a plump example) to influence the way we are governed.

    MPs who have gone too far are getting a right good slapping and it has a direct effect on our national Parliament.

    Snouts in the EU trough might get an article in a Sunday paper, but no amount of noise in this country can change a thing. The little people of any of the 27 EU members can do absolutely the square root of minus infinity because there is no mechanism for the views of the serfs to be heard.

    If ever there is has been an issue showing the way bottom-up democracy works it is MPs’ expenses. It might take time and it might be fought against with every penny of taxpayers’ money Mr Martin has at his disposal, but eventually the little people cannot be ignored. Not so with the EU.

    Corruption can only be prevented by those who take decisions being directly accountable to the little people not just through the ballot box but also through plain old fashioned public opinion. Whether we approve of disapprove of any specific measure promoted by the EU, the fact that we can do nothing about it is all the proof we need that the system of centralised and unaccountable decision-making is wrong in principle.

  21. Nick Leaton
    Posted May 17, 2009 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    Very simple. Make it a Manifesto promise to hold a referenda and rule the ratification illegal on the grounds that a referenda was not held by Labour as promised.

    Nick

  22. Simon
    Posted May 17, 2009 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    I think the “we won’t let it rest” proposal is a bit of a weak minded cop out. He’s saying that he’ll allow the Irish to decide upon the future actions of a British Government. Not really stong and decisive leadership by any stretch of the imagination.

  23. Iain
    Posted May 17, 2009 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    The problem is the ‘we will not leave it there’ is only a worthwile undertaking if there is the vehicle to repatriate powers back the UK. Currently there isn’t, so if we are going to put any value on Cameron’s undertaking he should have fleshed out how he is going to ‘not leave it there’ and by what method he intends to repatriate our powers.

  24. Yorkshireman
    Posted May 17, 2009 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    Great post John!.

    David Cameron must honour his referendum pledge, pre or post ratification.

    At the moment British politics is in the gutter and for a future Conservative Government not to honour their pledge would mean that Parliaments reputation would sink even lower.

    For all three parties to renege of the promise would be disastrous.

    A clear post referendum pledge, before the general election, would strenghten the Conservative vote and support across the country. I’m surprised the Conservatives don’t make more of this because it is a vote winner.

    If the Conservatives don’t use this issue, UKIP will and they will gain the votes from it.

    Keep on lobbying the leadership on this one John because your views on this are sound and reflect the majority of British public opinion.

  25. Derek W. Buxton
    Posted May 17, 2009 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    I appreciate your article sir, but fear that it is not compatible with your party leader. I would dearly like it to be so but have major doubts. Parliament has already lost it’s way as a brake on the executive and I see no sign of change. Do, however, keep up your efforts to get some sense into the whole matter.

    Derek

  26. Denis Cooper
    Posted May 17, 2009 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    Firstly, I would point out that strictly speaking any referendum within the UK is never more than a consultative referendum, unlike say Ireland where the referendum on the Lisbon Treaty was given legally binding force through a codified Constitution.

    In the UK, the government may solemnly promise to respect the outcome of a referendum, and Parliament may even say in an Act that the result will be binding on the government, but as the supreme law-making body Parliament always retains the legal right change its mind and set aside the result.

    Therefore there would be absolutely no reason why a newly elected Prime Minister Cameron should not ask Parliament to immediately pass an Bill authorising a retrospective referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, in order to properly establish the views of the British people before his government embarked on any process of re-negotiation.

    Parliament could enact that a “no” result would automatically lead to revocation of the British instrument of ratification, or alternatively to more limited consequences such as restricting the domestic application of any consequences of the Lisbon Treaty, or requiring that any such domestic application must in each and every case be expressly approved by Parliament.

    Secondly, according to a recent Populus poll:

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/peter_riddell/article6275933.ece

    “If other countries ratify the Lisbon treaty, 82 per cent say that Britain should hold a referendum on the issue. Just 13 per cent disagree.”

    so Cameron is way out of step with public opinion on this.

  27. Malcolm Edward
    Posted May 17, 2009 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    The EU is beyond reform – the corruption, arrogance, adverse regulatory and centralist and totalitarianist tendancies are too deep rooted for it to be a system that we should wish to be part of.
    It is far simpler, cleaner safer and fairer to all to leave the EU rather than be involved in complex negotiations for a semi detatched status, which will never prove satisfactory and will seed on going problems therafter.

  28. A. Sedgwick
    Posted May 17, 2009 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    Nick Clegg on the AM show repeated his previous commitment to an in/out referendum on the EU rightly saying this is the real issue. Why cannot DC do the same? The Treaty of Lisbon is just a stop on the journey to a federal Europe. We as a nation need to know do the majority want to be on this journey. If the Libdems put the in/out choice in their manifesto and the Conservatives don’t there will be many of us who change allegiance in seats that could swing as a result.

    Reply: Mr Clegg can promsie what he likes – his party failed to vote for a Lisbon referendum when it mattered.Lib Dems want more EU, not less.

    • mikestallard
      Posted May 17, 2009 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

      Very few people (see above) want the in-out choice.
      What many of us (see above again) want is to be in the favourable position of either Norway or Switzerland where we can trade easily, but do not have to pay billions of pounds to be hectored and controlled by the Brussels Komisariat.
      Nick Clegg and the Liberals, to be fair, have always wanted “in”. They have not changed their position since 1976.

      • A. Sedgwick
        Posted May 18, 2009 at 11:24 am | Permalink

        You are describing the out choice. Best wishes.

    • A. Sedgwick
      Posted May 18, 2009 at 11:21 am | Permalink

      Quite, but the irony is that you have the pro EU party offering the democratic choice to the country which will appeal to the anti EU voters like me, whilst the Eurosceptic party i.e. Conservatives is currently not offering that option. Best wishes.

      • alan jutson
        Posted May 18, 2009 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

        Yes its clever of the Libs isn’t it.

        That is why UKIP will get a big boost.

        The sad fact is the Two big Party’s will think it is simply a protest vote against expenses, and take no notice.

  29. [[NAME EDITED]]
    Posted May 17, 2009 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    Among the things you say we should take back, you don’t mention the fisheries; perhaps that comes under “control of our borders”.
    Acorn: there may need to be a pan-European party to sort out the European mess, but there is no need whatever for us to participate. Let us leave the EU and let them sort themselves out, or not, as they choose.

    Reply: With Owen Paterson I made that official Conservative policy in a previous manifesto, and would like to see it there again.

    • adam
      Posted May 18, 2009 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

      The EU has got fisheries wrong as far as i can see. They have made fisherman catch more fish and make them work longer hours to sustain a living as a result, in truth they should be due some sort of compensation.
      As they refuse to listen to concerns they show their true colours behind the fancy PR, dictatorial and not truly concerned with the well being or sustainability of fish.
      When will they actually do something to protect fish stocks

  30. Tim Almond
    Posted May 17, 2009 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    We have a principle that the actions of 1 parliament cannot be expected to be continued by another, so why can’t Cameron just have a vote, and if necessary, break the treaty?

  31. Ian Jones
    Posted May 17, 2009 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    The UK will not be negotiating from a position of strength, the choice will be either in or out and that the UK will have to choose whatever the EU offers. Do you think the French and Germans will allow the UK to be a member of the free trading block but not have to follow the social laws of the EU?

    The only option is to work with the EU and make it better, walking away will not bring prosperity but poverty.

    • Iain
      Posted May 17, 2009 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

      “The UK will not be negotiating from a position of strength,”

      Of course we are, we’re one of its bloody bankers!

      • alan jutson
        Posted May 18, 2009 at 9:06 am | Permalink

        Agreed.
        He who pays the piper, plays the tune.
        Take it or leave it.

      • Number 6
        Posted May 18, 2009 at 11:22 am | Permalink

        Exactly, we pay in massive amounts and get what back? Laws that dictate what we can grow in our own farmland and what we can put in our own dustbins. The EU wants total control of every aspect of our lives and it is being given the ability to exercies that control that by all of the main political parties here.

  32. DennisA
    Posted May 17, 2009 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    To paraphrase the pop song, “the only way is out”.

  33. jim
    Posted May 17, 2009 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    I think it will become an issue sooner rather than later.
    Phase 2 of the financial crisis is about to begin. We could see the government forced from office quite quickly. Then we would have to return to rebuilding, which would be difficult to do given Parliament has little real power.
    We’ll have to see how events play out.

    • SJB
      Posted May 18, 2009 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

      What is “Phase 2 of the financial crisis”, Jim?

      • jim
        Posted May 19, 2009 at 3:11 am | Permalink

        Think of it as a global margin call. New capital is being requested from government, banks and individuals. Governments are seeking new capital, thus issuing new bonds. Banks need new capital to offset losses, particularly against consumer loans. Companies are making less profits or losses, so are being required to recapitalise or have their loans called in by the banks. Workers are having pay cuts, as companies increase payments to their bankers.
        So the next stage of falling asset prices is about to hit, it is basically a process of deleveraging that will go on for a good few years, unfortunately. Needless to say not everybody is going to get their new capital, so bankruptcy looms for too many over extended people, pushing down asset prices, so banks require more capital…..and so on.

        • SJB
          Posted May 19, 2009 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

          Thanks for the explanation, Jim.

  34. Boudicca
    Posted May 17, 2009 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    Like others earlier in the comments, I subscribe to the view that we were promised a Referendum so a Referendum we should have. On the Lisbon Treaty.

    If that is rejected, as I believe it will be, we then need to open negotiations with Brussels at the same time as starting a Consultation Process in the UK. Both should have a firm timescale and at the end of the process there should be a clear choice:

    1) stay in the EU but under the terms negotiated with Brussels (whatever they happen to be)
    2) Leave the EU and assume a relationship similar to Norway and Switzerland – free trading partners but no political union

    I favour (2) because I think the UK should be strengthening trading links with the Anglosaxon Commonwealth countries, India, China and not be tied into an inflexible superstate which is already a dinosaur before it is even created.

    The European nations are not the same; they don’t share the same histories, legal systems, traditions, cultures …. the Commonwealth countries do, and we have long histories with India and China, which whilst not always positive in the past, have evolved into positions of mutual respect. We should build on them. As for America = yes the past few years under Bush have been dreadful, but if push came to shove, I’d trust the US to support us a damn sight more than France, Germany, Italy, Spain etc. The only EU countries I think would stand up for the UK are in the former Eastern block.

    • mikestallard
      Posted May 17, 2009 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

      Excellent! I speak Australian far more easily than I speak Polish – after 5 years of toil and strife!

    • Amanda
      Posted May 18, 2009 at 6:56 am | Permalink

      Exactly my view. Trade is global, economic power is moving eastwards, it makes far more sense to build relationships worldwide, than tie our boat to the failing EU hell bent on wrapping itself in a self-defeating cocoon of regulation and socialism.

      • Number 6
        Posted May 18, 2009 at 11:26 am | Permalink

        Agreed, this nation has a massive amount of talented people in all spheres of business. The Anglosphere/Commonwealth is the way forward. I think all of these countries will start to move ahead (India buying Jaguar is a good sign of where the money is going and who we have to deal with) and to be tied to the sinking socialist state of the EU is nothing short of treachery from the Conservatives who have always championed the rights of the individual and the free market.

  35. Jingouk
    Posted May 17, 2009 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    Continued EU membership will pose a threat to Nato as France edges us all further towards a European Defence Force. It will be lead by Franco-German strategic interests – Russia will be allowed to bully the former USSR states – and although there are token gestures towards Nato fighting support from France in Afghanistan – the reality is we are not getting the support that we are entitled to from France or Germany on that mission.

    The UK will become more muted bending to the EU will and the US will disengage.

    The UK electorate can see the struggle we have in Afghanistan, the horrendous economic situation, the corruption in Westminster and Brussels and the poor calibre of politicians with few exceptions charged with their mandate to govern.

    The electorates’ patience has run out.

  36. 13th Spitfire
    Posted May 17, 2009 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

    EFTA is where we want to be and where we should be.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Free_Trade_Association

    • Mike Stallard
      Posted May 18, 2009 at 6:34 am | Permalink

      Hooray!

  37. catosays
    Posted May 17, 2009 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

    John,
    I fail to see why DC can not stand up and say that even if the Treaty is ratified throughout the EU, we will have a referendum thereon.

    It’s not a difficult thing to do. The party would certainly win a lot of votes.

    This country was sold down the river by Ted Heath who blatantly lied to us about the ramifications of joining the Common Market. No one, except he and his coterie, envisaged this calamity.

    We want our country back…end of.

    Reply: It is not just Lisbon that we object to. If we can stop Lisbon then that triggers an automatic renegotiation, as the EU will have to think about what to do instead and the UK will be represented by a government that wants powers back for a change. If we are too late to stop Lisbon then we need to renegotiate more generally, as Mr Cameron has promised to do. I am saying we should then vote on the results.

    • SJB
      Posted May 18, 2009 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

      In a post-Lisbon scenario, the Europe policy page on the Conservative’s website is not as explicit as Mr Cameron. It states: “… we would not let matters rest there.”
      http://www.conservatives.com/Policy/Where_we_stand/Europe.aspx

      The policy document goes on: “… any FUTURE [my emphasis] EU Treaty that transfers powers from the United Kingdom to the European Union would be subject to a referendum of the British people.” So, as things stand, it appears the British electorate will not be offered a referendum on the fruits of the renegotiations.

    • catosays
      Posted May 18, 2009 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

      You haven’t answered my question. Even if the Treaty is ratified then why can’t we have a referendum thereon?

      We were promised one so where is it?

  38. Alan
    Posted May 17, 2009 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

    The idea of us electing representatives to parliament is that we don’t all have the time, interest, or maybe even intelligence, to understand complex political issues. MPs should be able to examine complex issues on our behalf. If we hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty it will not result is us all giving careful consideration to the Treaty. Most of us will not even read the posters, never mind the treaty. We will be swayed by newspapers and vested interests. That can’t be a good way to come to an important decision. If Mr Cameron wants to re-negotiate the Treaty (or earlier treaties) when he becomes PM he should just do so without pausing for a referendum. He will have adequate authority for this, since his manifesto will presumably make his intention clear.

    • Amanda
      Posted May 18, 2009 at 6:49 am | Permalink

      We live in a democracy Alan, it it the duty, the responsibility of us all to take an interest in the wellbeing of our society. And there is nothing, absolutly nothing, more important than our own self determination. If you want to be treated like a child, then all well and good, but most of us are adults and want to be treated as such.

      As a country we believe in education, so that people can participate in democracy – that is why improving it is a priority. We also need to teach and expect patriotism again – because that is where the notion of responsibility for each other comes from. And we need to stress our christian heritage as a backdrop to our lives again – because that is our gateway to altruism and spirituality, whatever ‘religion’ we subsequently choose to follow.

      Finally, electing a representative does not mean you can duck ‘responsibility’, if you are going to give a representative power then you have to take more care considering the representative. Responsibility in a democracy has to be taken somewhere.

    • Iain
      Posted May 18, 2009 at 9:06 am | Permalink

      “The idea of us electing representatives to parliament is that we don’t all have the time, interest, or maybe even intelligence, to understand complex political issues”

      You clearly didn’t watch the Lisbon treaty debates, when few if any Labour MP’s bothered to turn up, and even when the argument was won on the floor, against the Government, these lobby fodder MP’s turned up to vote the Governments way without even bothering to hear the debate!

      I should also remind you of Ken Clarke’s boast about Maasticht, that he had never bothererd to read it.

      At least with a referendum the the debate would be had in public where both sides would have to make their case, and neither side could rely on the Whips and compliant MP’s to get their way.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted May 18, 2009 at 9:24 am | Permalink

      Hum, but all the representatives we elected in 2005 promised that in this particular case they would NOT take the final decision, but instead they would refer it back to the people … no contradiction with parliamentary democracy, if Parliament decides to refer a decision back to the people; the contradiction comes when MPs promise to support doing that, and then vote against it.

    • adam
      Posted May 18, 2009 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

      We elect MPs to be our representatives. In theory.

  39. Johnny Norfolk
    Posted May 17, 2009 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

    John Major should have held a referendum when he was PM. This needs to be sorted out once and for all.

  40. Adrian Peirson
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    How is it that 80% of our Laws are now made by a foreign Power and yet no one has been brought up on chargers of Treason.
    What is going on, do we have Constitutional Laws in this country or not.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-xGM6hzeWk

  41. robert
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    Government , government, government then more government; more local , more regional, more sub national more national, more European, more and more government of every shade.

    When oh when will the bloody politicians learn that the proliferation of government in all its manifestations is the root cause of all our problems.

    Give us back responsibility for our own lives then please bugger off!

  42. adam
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

    If the Conservatives were to move away from Europe there would need to be a strategy to maintain Britain as an independent nation state successfully. In an effectively post war world with the US/EU/Russian alliance as the main actor what would be the model for economic success and keeping a strong currency. These type of questions need to be considered before any withdrawal might take place.

  43. James Morrison
    Posted May 19, 2009 at 5:38 am | Permalink

    The EU has already made it very clear that a “No” vote to the Lisabon Treaty is unacceptable and is forcing the Irish to vote again.

    Presumably this will continue to happen until the Irish vote “Yes” at which point they won’t ever be allowed another vote on the matter.

    So I don’t really see why there is such a fuss about having a referendum on the Treaty here too, we won’t be treated any differently.

    The British people were lied to and cheated into voting for membership last time around. The youngest person allowed to vote at that time must be close to 50 now, and much has changed in the purpose and scope of the EU. The referendum needs to be on our continued participation in the “project”. Prior to this we also need to perform an independent evaluation of the benefits (or not) of our continued membership.

    But no politician is going to allow this vote to happen as they have too much to gain personally from the EU gravy train.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted May 19, 2009 at 8:34 am | Permalink

      You could try:

      http://www.global-vision.net/facts/fact15_1.asp

      for what I suspect is an exaggerated view of the costs – 25% of GDP, about £350 billion a year:
      “But these costs are, arguably, just the “tip of the iceberg” … Two recent analyses using different data sources and different methods have come to remarkably similar conclusions about the huge current and future net costs of British membership of the EU … Milne put the cost of membership at 26% of GDP. Minford et al calculated that the cost of membership was 24.5% of GDP.”

      £150 billion a year net cost is, in my view, a more credible estimate, similar to the 12% of GDP that the EU Commission admitted could be the cost of their excessive regulation.

      It’s not a net economic benefit, that’s for sure.

      • James Morrison
        Posted May 19, 2009 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for the info, I’m not sure I will enjoy it, but I will definitely read it!

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  • By Don’t forget Lisbon « David Jones, MP on May 17, 2009 at 8:15 am

    […] Redwood has a typically incisive and intelligent blog post on the Conservative options on Lisbon here.  I strongly recommend you to read […]

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    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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