Will they hold a referendum on the EU?

 

          The mood seems to be changing a little in the two main party leaderships since we held the Parliamentary vote last year to require a referendum on the EU. Then they were both adamant that it was a bad idea. The Conservative leadership said they would provide a referendum should any future powers be conceded to the EU, to be defined by themselves. Labour stuck to its position in government that referendums were undesirable and not needed. They after all gave away massive powers of self government at Nice, Amsterdam and Lisbon, but never thought a referendum necessary.

          Now we read that both leaderships are gingerly considering offering a referendum on the EU. In Labour’s case the aim is probably to offer an In/Out referendum in the hope and expectation that they would win it to keep the UK in. Labour as a party would of course campaign for a Yes vote to staying in on current terms, as these are the terms they signed us up to.  They would hope to split the Conservative party in the process, with many Conservatives campaigning to leave the EU whilst the leadership might be in two minds with some wanting to vote to stay in on current terms if it was that or out completely.

          The strategy is of course risky for Labour, which is why they have not rushed to offer a referendum. There is the risk from their point of view that they could lose the referendum. The British people might vote to come out. There is the near certainty that either way, whatever the result, Labour would be on the less popular side of the argument and would simply end up reminding people just how much power they gave away whilst in office. Labour could win the referendum, but  make themselves unpopular in the process. Some people might vote to stay in through gritted teeth, believing they had to, but not feel good about it.

          The Conservatives also have to think very carefully about this issue. If there is serious talk of offering a referendum on Lords reform- and I am told there is – they need to understand that many people will be amazed that we can have a vote on that, following the vote on how to elect MPs, but still no vote on the big topic that really matters.

                The leadership’s view on the EU is that they want to get powers back from the EU, but are currently blocked from trying by the Coalition agreement. They  concede that the current relationship is not working for the UK, but they probably want to negotiate a less intrusive  relationship that keeps the UK in the EU but outside the Euro core. A premature In/Out referendum makes this a difficult strategy, as the UK electorate will either say pull out or say stay in on current terms before they can renegotiate. Meanwhile many in the Conservative party would welcome an In/Out referendum and will vote to come out.

           The Conservative leadership could offer a twin referendum strategy. It could offer a referendum asking the UK people if they want the government to negotiate a better deal with less intrusive Brussels controls immediately. Labour and Lib Dems would find that difficult to oppose and the UK people are likely to vote Yes in large numbers. That could then give the Coalition government the mandate to demand a new relationship from Brussels, and might be easier to achieve within the Coalition than an In/Out vote. The Conservatives could offer a referendum on whether to accept the revised terms or to leave, once the negotiations had been completed.  That way the Conservative leadership could be on the popular side in the first referendum, and keep its options open on whether to stay in or leave, depending on the terms they obtained in the negotiation. That would provide maximum leverage to get a better deal.

         Those who think an early In/Out referendum is the best answer for Eurosceptics need to be careful. We want to avoid a re-run of 1975, where all three main political parties, the CBI, the TUC and most other main institutions lined up to tell us the EEC would be good for our economy and essential to our trade, leading to a large majority in favour of membership.

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136 Comments

  1. alan jutson
    Posted June 8, 2012 at 6:03 am | Permalink

    Interesting that the main Party’s are now talking/thinking about an EU referendum (if indeed they are at all) because as I understand it, The Lib Dems promised such in their last manifesto.

    Labour could do it for popularity, with nothing to lose but all to gain because they now have a new leadership which could simply distance themselves from past government decisions (yes the Public do have a short memory and can be that stupid).

    The Conservatives have promised a referendum under certain conditions in the past, but now no one believes that will ever happen whilst Cameron is Prime Minister.

    The Conservatives are in poll position, because they are the ones who can actually do something about it.
    The other two Party’s can only promise, and we all know the value of promises.

    If the Conservatives really want to gain anything from their thinking, and above all actions, then a promise to hold a referendum has to be made now, and held before the next general election.
    The Lib Dems could hardly oppose it, as news footage is available which shows Clegg supporting one.

    If a referendum is held then what we need is truth and fairness, we do not want lies, manipulated figures or taxpayers/EU money funding an In campaign, without a similar sum funding an Out one.

    The actual question is of course all important.

    I will not hold my breath.

    Reply: The Conservatives can only do something if one or other of the other two parties supports them

    • Posted June 8, 2012 at 6:58 am | Permalink

      No government shall bind its successor. That is how our system of government works.

      Hence, the result of any referendum held at the tail end of a government’s term can be reneged upon by the incoming government. That’s why the possibility is being mooted – it’s useless. It’s as useless as the referendum ‘lock’.

      Now consider that the Conservatives are unlikely to gain an overall majority, even were they to obtain the most votes in the next GE. That would deliver, in all likelihood, another coalition with the EU fanatical ‘Liberal’ ‘Democrats’.

      Even if all three parties put in their manifestos the pledge to deliver us out of the EU if the public vote for “out”, none of them would honour such a pledge. History has ample evidence of that tendency.

      Manifesto pledges only provide a kind of mandate. They do not compel parties to honour their pledges.

      Reply: Governments in the Uk regularly bind their successors, by enacting EU law which the next Parliament cannot change.

      • lifelogic
        Posted June 8, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

        “No government shall bind its successor. That is how our system of government works.”

        Not in practise. You would have trouble undoing devolution for example and many of the EU treaties. They can and do stuff the Lords, the BBC, the legal system, the regulatory system and the EU with placemen and sign up to super national courts that cannot, it seems, be ignored. And they can adjust the future voting arithmetic with devolution, boundary fiddling and the rest.
        Also other ways thing can be done that become politically hard to change like the absurd 50% tax and employment regulations.

        • Posted June 8, 2012 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

          Indeed. Successive governments have used treaties to subvert democratic and parliamentary processes. They impose on us restrictions which would never get through parliament but via the treaty route. The banning of nutritional supplements is but one example of thousands.

          I challenge JR to find out how many treaties the UK is obligated to honour and how much of our current law obtains from those treaties.

          When was the last time we had a vote on any treaty?

          • uanime5
            Posted June 8, 2012 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

            Well if each treaty is incorporated into a statute then it works out at one law per treaty. Though it’s a very long law with many parts.

          • Lindsay McDougall
            Posted June 11, 2012 at 9:40 am | Permalink

            We didn’t – and for that reason we are perfectly entitled to repeal EU treaties without a referendum. In practice, though, we will need a mandate from a General Election.

    • alan jutson
      Posted June 8, 2012 at 7:23 am | Permalink

      John

      Reply to Reply

      Perhaps we will see if the Conservatives leadership are thinking the above, if and when, a possible Douglas Carswell motion is put before Parliament (as being reported suggested).

      If the Party’s organise a 3 line whip against an in out motion, then we know the truth, no Party wants any sort of Referendum, its all spin and lies.

      The Conservatives are in poll position because at least if they support the motion for a referendum, then they can be seen as wanting to let the people decide.

    • Single Acts
      Posted June 8, 2012 at 7:59 am | Permalink

      Also in reply to John

      If you lot (the parliamantary conservative party) had a good strategic think about this, you should simply offer a one page referendum bill next Monday. You know the Lib Dems would vote against it (manifesto committment be damned) and so would Labour in a panic; you would thus lose, not have to offer something the leadership doesn’t want but you could then say to the puclic and tricky back benchers “We offered a choice, it was the other lot who thwarted it”

      You want to get a poll bounce and a placated party I understand, that’s how to do it.

      Thank God the leadership is too dumb to think about anything except taxing pasties.

      reply: Some of us did offer a simple referendum clause to a Bill last year, but there was no majority for it.

      • Posted June 8, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

        It just shows where most MP’s think that their side of the bread is buttered & why the political class as a whole (with some rare exceptions) is in such low esteem.

        • Bob
          Posted June 8, 2012 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

          Which is why voters should use what brains they have and discriminate very carefully instead of voting tribally or based on hairstyles.

          I’m afraid that the dumbing down of the British people has been a very successful project, and it may not be possible to reverse it in time to save what’s left of our nation.

    • Captain Crunch
      Posted June 8, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

      Europe and the EU is the massive fault-line that runs through the Tory Party.

      Labour only have to hint at the chance of a possibility of a referendum and it re-opens.

      Expect the Labour Party to keep showing a bit of leg on a referendum and trouble to brew in the Tory Party.

  2. ian wragg
    Posted June 8, 2012 at 6:04 am | Permalink

    There is no mechanism for renegotiating our relationship with Europe. Either we go ahead with Cameroons favoured federal Europe ruled from Berlin or we get out.
    There is no third way.
    Candidate countries are still expected to join the Euro despite the catastrophe that is.
    Hopefully, the Euro will collapse and the whole edifice will unravel.
    Anyway, no one will believe Cameroon or Gideon on this topic.

    • lifelogic
      Posted June 8, 2012 at 11:11 am | Permalink

      @ian wragg

      “no one will believe Cameroon or Gideon on this topic”

      Indeed not they have no credibility certainly not on this issue. Just like Major&Lamont after the self inflicted ERM disaster. Perhaps they could start off the referendum campaign by telling us just how many billions of losses they have made (with our money) on the huge PIGIS (and IMF) soft loans so far. One assumes Osborne gave Darling the nod when he signed up for this absurd money down the loo policy!

      Money that could have been usefully used to get some cash to SMEs rather than stealing it off them in extra taxes. Most of whom current find it even harder to borrow on sensible terms at the moment than it is to fire some useless, could not care less, employee.

      • Posted June 8, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

        Couldn’t agree more!

      • JimF
        Posted June 8, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

        Now you know what he means by – we’re all in this together – us, Spain, Greece, France….

  3. norman
    Posted June 8, 2012 at 6:08 am | Permalink

    I like the idea of the double referendum. Most of us would be sceptical that a Europhile Whitehall would negotiate anything more than half-heartedly but the thought of having to put it to the people may get Ministers attention and persuade them to keep a close eye on the detail.

    As for:

    ‘there is serious talk of offering a referendum on Lords reform’

    Wow. I’m flabbergasted.

    I realise that the Party leadership are completely out of touch with the country but a referendum on Lords reform. Just now? Really?

    Clegg’s revenge for Cameron’s perceived stab in the back during the AV referendum?

    Will certainly inflict heavy damage on the Conservatives if such a move is allowed to go ahead. Maybe he’s not as stupid as he lets us believe he is.

  4. Julian
    Posted June 8, 2012 at 6:09 am | Permalink

    The government doesn’t need a referendum to renegotiate the terms of membership. As you say, the people would be likely to vote Yes in large numbers. i.e. We already know what the answer would be, so why wait? Commission an opinion poll if there’s really any doubt.

    On the other hand, I do think there should be an In/Out referendum straight away. If the vote is to stay in, the number of votes that were cast to leave the EU would be a sufficient mandate to renegotiate, if you think one is needed. The government could make this clear before the referendum that this would be their aim.

    Finally, on your comparison with 1975, I don’t think there would be a repeat. Even if all parties and every other institution were in favour, we now have blogs and there would be a coordination of the Out vote from the ground up. People are less inclined to go along with what they are told.

  5. lifelogic
    Posted June 8, 2012 at 6:13 am | Permalink

    You say “The leadership’s view on the EU is that they want to get powers back from the EU, but are currently blocked from trying by the Coalition agreement.”
    This is the leadership claim, but it is not true. The Lord Patten and Ken Clark appointing, cast rubber Cameron is just using the LibDems as an excuse. He clearly wants this mad line himself anyway.

    Had he taken a better small government, low tax, anti EU strategy (and not given Clegg equal TV billing) he would have won outright. How could anyone not win against the sitting duck “some bigoted woman”, “no return to Boom and Bust” Brown.

    No one who claims to want to make Britain “one of the most business-friendly countries in the world” yet then does the complete opposite in every single way, nor one who goes back on his renegotiation and cast rubber pledges can be trusted with any future promises.

    We need a referendum now to authorise a renegotiation and another to accept or not the results of this. The BBC need to be sorted so it is not a propaganda arm of the EU socialist super state.

    The BBC was on, yet again, this morning about Women’s pension being lower. In fact women do far, far better from pensions than men do. They pay less in and collect more, as they live longer and often get a residual pension from their husbands. They are slightly younger too than their husbands on average. Anyway the main male pension is usually for both of them and they get part even on a divorce and work fewer hours over their lifetimes.

    Not through the warped, BBC viewing system, though. Soon we have Cameron’s absurd, and costly, gender neutral insurance rules – does he think he is God and can change human nature by law like the BBC.

    Clearly we need to do something about the height difference too with a gender equal, EU height directive and high shoe grant allowance as soon as possible it is just not fair is it.

    • lifelogic
      Posted June 8, 2012 at 7:10 am | Permalink

      BBC again wittering on about the “more than 50% of out trade goes to the EU nonsense”. With a referendum they would be pumping out this biased EU propaganda rubbish every minute.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted June 8, 2012 at 10:19 am | Permalink

      I agree. I watched Newsnight last night, and thought how unbalanced the debate on the latest Euro crisis was. We had a crazed, unashamed Europhile on one side of the debate, and a mildly Eurosceptic Tory MP who was most careful not compromise his leader’s position on the other.

      If we are to nullify the propaganda of the left, we need to ensure the arguments of TRUE Euro-scepticism are put forward. I think an official complaint is in order, to the effect that the BBC must in future be even-handed. Political bias cannot and must not stand.

      Tad

    • Posted June 8, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

      It’s in the genes. Nature made us differently & wired our brains accordingly. It’s only in the last 50 years that things have changed so we van’t adjust our thinking that quickly without upsets. Equal pay for equal work done – yes but equality of the sexes when we are two different branches of the same species? No.
      (Medical practitioner)

      • lifelogic
        Posted June 8, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

        If you measure almost anything about men and women you get (on average) statistically different results not least on what motivates them, the subject they choose, jobs they like and what they most desire. How on earth can you expect them to be the same, or equally represented everywhere (on average) given this? It is totally irrational BBC think.

        Talking of which Kate Humble the “the great BBC thinker” has been on BBC message pushing wind farms. “Windfarms a vital she says” in the telegraph today.

        I do not suppose she has a clue what a mega joule is, nor any knowledge of the huge pointless subsidies they need, nor the huge cost of the intermittent nature of the supply and back ups needed, nor the environmental damage they pointlessly do.

        She say of her expensive education:-

        “I was a very bad student. I had a fantastic Latin teacher which did mean I did Latin A-Level but other than that my school career wasn’t something to be proud of.”

        Did they cover the economics and engineering of wind farms, and the chaotic nature of weather systems with its countless variables – in Latin A level I wonder?

        • lifelogic
          Posted June 9, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

          Perhaps she could explain in plain English (or Latin) why she thinks these ugly, noisy, bird and bat killing machines should be placed all over the countryside, when they provide such a tiny amount of intermittent power and make not the slightest economic sense without huge subsidy.

          • Bazman
            Posted June 9, 2012 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

            Maybe you could explain why nuclear power should be used when such large subsidies are needed? Don’t say over zealous health and safety as you are like pontificating on the efforts required to ride a push bike again. Not real.

          • lifelogic
            Posted June 10, 2012 at 10:45 am | Permalink

            The do not need subsidy, other than perhaps to overcome the ill informed and irrational fears that planning objectors and some politicians have to them.

            They just need a determined and sensible government.

          • Bazman
            Posted June 11, 2012 at 5:49 am | Permalink

            Might need some subsidy should something go wrong. It won’t? One word. Titanic. I don’t think a built, run, decommissioned, insured with no government intervention should the worst happen, privately owned nuclear power station will be built within the M25 any time soon and planning permission would not be the main reason. Just a few NIMBY’s I suspect. Absurd I know. Best to place it up north and let the government chuck as much money as they like at it. That’ll work.

          • Posted June 13, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

            She’s never heard of Thorium Reactors, nor the fact that they are safe & thorium is a readily-available alternative. Why are the Chinese investing so much money in developing them?

    • Bazman
      Posted June 9, 2012 at 9:35 am | Permalink

      You do not take into account that woman in general give up their jobs to look after children. Woman would have to earn a lot to make it worthwhile to carry on working with two or three children and pay childcare. Looking after children is not seen as work, but as just pushing the Hoover around a bit and watching daytime TV inbetween socialising with other mothers. Which of course this is exactly how it is. Easy life.

      • lifelogic
        Posted June 9, 2012 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

        You take your choices both male or female and take the rough with the smooth – such is life – get over it.

        • Bazman
          Posted June 10, 2012 at 8:30 am | Permalink

          The rough and smooth is sometimes a bit more undulating for some and many have the suspension of wealth and contacts not created by themselves such as the middle class social security system. Which of course does not exist. Would you if given the chance come back as a man or a woman? Everyone would come back as a man. Wonder why?

          • lifelogic
            Posted June 10, 2012 at 10:53 am | Permalink

            Rubbish, woman have huge advantages, in so very many ways (in developed countries anyway) they live longer, work fewer hours, get the children and the house on any divorce (almost regardless). This especially now that giving birth is fairly save and controllable, get free housing too often if needed.

            True in some countries a woman’s lot is dreadful but not in most developed countries.

        • Bazman
          Posted June 11, 2012 at 5:51 am | Permalink

          As I said. Woman? Easy life. Just push the Hoover round and watch daytime TV.

  6. Posted June 8, 2012 at 6:16 am | Permalink

    I can think of nobody who would accept:

    * the promise of a referendum: Cast Iron saw to that.
    * a renegotiation of our membership: renegotiation is not possible.

    Even though the EU is in turmoil, there’s no escaping from the fact that in every EU treaty, there is the explicit statement of intent of “acquis communitaire”, or “ever closer union”. It is the goal of the EU and always has been.

    Each and every one of those who draw (or expect to draw) EU pensions is bound to push for closer union. To be seen to be doing otherwise is to risk their pensions.

    A huge number of the 2010 parliamentary intake cut their teeth in ‘politics’ in some EU apparatchik spawning ground. Go check.

    A huge number of our civil servants have EU pensions or other EU perks.

    The same skewing of the political landscape has taken place in other EU countries, such that you’ll hear barely a squeak against the EU from EU politico spawn.

    Can you honestly entertain the notion that any of these spawn will renegotiate for Britain anything which is anti-acquis communitaire? And even were they to do so, it’s hard to imagine that any “renegotiation” will come to pass – be accepted by all EU member states. But should the EU and our government defy gravity and eventually manage to extract immunity from some EU ‘competences’, you can be absolutely sure that they will be:

    * vanishingly inconsequential;
    * short-lived.

    Renegotiation the dream of the deluded or the spin of the manipulative sophists. Probably both.

    Whatever the case, the public won’t accept “promises”. They expect action. And if they don’t get it, the political classes can expect to be turfed out in numbers not even seen at the 2010 GE.

    • lifelogic
      Posted June 8, 2012 at 7:12 am | Permalink

      I tend to agree with that line.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted June 8, 2012 at 11:26 am | Permalink

      This is what I mean when I refer to people taking their thirty pieces of silver. It’s called bribery, and is the mechanism used by the EU to achieve endorsement and compliance. Bevan did it with doctors when he ‘stuffed their mouths with gold.’

      It’s the thing that divides people into two groups, the dishonest, who put themselves first; and the honest, who always act altruistically and in the best interests of the nation.

      Political parties are full of the former ‘Toadies’, which is why the public holds them in such disregard and contempt. Only the very best and well-intentioned people are fit to hold office. Fortunately, there are still men and women of integrity, and soon, this nation will come to depend upon them like no other time in our long history. We ordinary people need to lend them our unwavering support.

      Tad Davison

      Cambridge

      • lifelogic
        Posted June 8, 2012 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

        “Fortunately, there are still men and women of integrity” not sufficient of them, in the Commons, it seems and by some degree alas.

  7. Johnny Norfolk
    Posted June 8, 2012 at 6:21 am | Permalink

    We must be asked if we want to give up our country to become one of the states in the United States of Europe. The snooner the better.

  8. Adam5x5
    Posted June 8, 2012 at 6:23 am | Permalink

    “We want to avoid a re-run of 1975, where all three main political parties, the CBI, the TUC and most other main institutions lined up to tell us the EEC would be good for our economy and essential to our trade, leading to a large majority in favour of membership.”

    The world has changed significantly since then, the media is no longer controlled by the papers and BBC, people can at the click of a button read independent blogs and smaller newspaper articles from around the country and with vastly different viewpoints. Accordingly, I would like to think that these bodies like the TUC and CBI have less influence as people can read several viewpoints and facts and determine their own opinion. (Although this may be an unduly optimistic view of my fellow countrymen)

    A referendum on Lords reform but not the EU would be another nail in the coffin for the Tories and coalition – as far as I can tell from speaking to people no-one has a priority to change to Lords, in fact I can’t even remember discussing it. It would just show how out of touch the coalition and politicians in general are.

    I would prefer the UK to leave the EU completely, but I am not opposed to the idea of renegotiating the relationship. What concerns me about this is the demonstrated inability/unwillingness of our governments to take on the EU machinery in any meaningful way.
    Some questions over the two referendum model remain.

    1. Over what time scale would these negotiations take place?
    There must be a limit or the government/EU could just drag them on indefinitely.

    2. What powers would we be renegotiating for?
    2.5. and what would we likely get?

    3. Who would do the negotiating? the government? our EU MEPs?

    I imagine that the other EU members have a lot on their minds at the minute and wouldn’t take kindly to us suddenly saying we wanted detailed negotiations of what powers we can get back – so would be somewhat recalcitrant in their dealings.

    In that case would it not be cheaper and easier just to have a single referendum?

    1. I suggest a maximum of one year
    2. Fishing, agriculture, regional, Justice, foreign affairs etc
    3. The government

    • Adam5x5
      Posted June 8, 2012 at 6:58 am | Permalink

      Thanks for your reply (note – you missed putting Reply: )

      Regarding your answer to question 2 –

      If we got all those powers back, then surely there wouldn’t be much point in staying in the EU?

      I don’t understand what you mean by Regional powers. Is this regarding counties?

      Also – don’t we have a separate foreign policy anyway?

    • KestrelSprite
      Posted June 8, 2012 at 9:54 am | Permalink

      You seem to forget that British voters, whose common sense you would be relying on, voted in three Labour governments in succession, with disastrous economic and social consequences.

    • forthurst
      Posted June 8, 2012 at 11:00 am | Permalink

      “the media is no longer controlled by the papers and BBC, people can at the click of a button read independent blogs and smaller newspaper articles from around the country and with vastly different viewpoints.”

      People can vote, but they don’t always bother and they can access the web, but they may not have JR’s prospective words of wisdom uppermost in their minds. The BBC is still a major impediment to public understanding of issues and events insofar as it denies alternatives to its worldview the oxygen of publicity.

  9. Roger Farmer
    Posted June 8, 2012 at 6:38 am | Permalink

    Re -negotiation is a red herring. Cameron won’t try it and Brussels would not countenance it. It is only a time buying process to con the UK electorate into thinking something is happening. Typical Cameron smoke screen tactic, talk about it, but do nothing.
    Any referendum promises from anyone following the next election will also be a con. All three political parties have previous form and cannot be trusted.
    As for the coalition block on doing anything now, just another ploy to avoid making a decision. If the Cleglet trys to block it, offer him a general election.
    We need leadership at a churchillian level, but where will we get it.

    • APL
      Posted June 8, 2012 at 7:32 am | Permalink

      Roger Farmer: “Typical Cameron smoke screen tactic, talk about it, but do nothing.”

      Yes, but what is so perplexing is that ‘re-negotiation’ is the preferred option of our supposedly Eurosecptic host.

      • lifelogic
        Posted June 8, 2012 at 11:18 am | Permalink

        “Typical Cameron smoke screen tactic, talk about it, but do nothing.”

        I suppose this is better than his say one thing do the complete opposite which is his usual approach.

        Say “we will be business friendly” then tell businesses they cannot retire people or fix insurance premiums according to risk, fix banking rules so they do not lend and increase all the taxes and regulations all round while killing demand with tax, borrow and waste.

        • JimF
          Posted June 8, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

          Remember it is the perception which is important to these guys, not the reality. That is why Mandelson, Cameron, Blair, Kinnock can all be put in one box. Our friend Brown took it one stage further with delusional tendencies toward a perception, in preference to reality.
          We really do have to go back to Thatcher, Tebbit, Joseph et al for intelligence coupled with a hold on reality.

      • Roger Farmer
        Posted June 8, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

        Apl. Yes it is curious, really cannot see where he is coming from. Political EU is a cancer whichever way you care to look at it. It should be cut out.
        Sadly it has been a fantasy from day one, built on political ambition to the denial of logic. When it self destructs I sincerely hope that it does not destroy the original free trade area which I saw as a good idea. A United States of Europe will only work when after a lengthy period the economies of the constituent countries are in some form of balance, and then only with the democratic consent of the people of Europe.
        Democracy has been the prime victim in this dreadful experiment.

  10. Robert K
    Posted June 8, 2012 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    The risk of a simple In/Out vote is clearly a re-run of 1975, in which case we would be stuck in the Euro-disaster forever and be dragged down by it.
    The referendum I would like to see would have two questions: 1) Do you want in/out of the EU and 2) If we remain within the EU, do you want a substantial renegotiation of our terms of membership, ensuring we remain outside the eurozone and the costs of maintaining it.
    However, the political machinations are unpleasant to contemplate.

    • chforsyth
      Posted June 8, 2012 at 8:12 am | Permalink

      “We want to avoid a re-run of 1975”

      A big difference is that people have had long experience of the EU, and recent sight of the hopelessness and sheer destructiveness of its leaders in the handling of the euro crisis; they hadn’t (really) had direct experience of the EEC, nor was there then an alternative on offer. It would be good to build up an attractive alternative well before a referendum.

      With our current professional politicians, it needs to be In/Out. Given “renegotiation”, they will continue to prevaricate and compromise. It’s easy to see they lack even a sense of priority, as another comment observes about Lords’ reform (that perennial obsession of student politicians). On Europe, they might sometimes make bold statements, but take fright from the reaction of their fellow politicians in Europe, and retreat.

  11. Graham Swift
    Posted June 8, 2012 at 6:50 am | Permalink

    Merkel proposes a federal EU = Germany wins WW3 without firing a single bullet. That was Heath’s intention from the start of his ‘ Common Market ‘ confidence trick. They hanged Lord Haw-Haw for treason. Heath should have been dealt with (severely-ed). Treason is treason.

    • APL
      Posted June 9, 2012 at 7:03 am | Permalink

      Graham Swift: “Germany wins WW3 without firing a single bullet.”

      I don’t quite understand this obsession with Germany?

      They aren’t winners in this scenario. They have managed to make good in engineering and manufacturing, good for them, but their customers are all under equal financial strain and cutting back.

      If there is an ally on the continent we should cultivate it is Germany not France.

  12. Stephen O
    Posted June 8, 2012 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    To get around the libdem roadblock does not seem to a great justification for holding a referendum. Nor does obtaining the country’s approval to get a better deal for Britain – Is that not already in the goverments collective job spec?

    I would hope just threatening a referendum and its likely landslide of an outcome might make the libdems see some sense and support an attempt to improve our relationship with the EU.

    Also think it is a bad negotiating strategy to talk about getting a better deal for just the UK. Most of the changes we would seek would benefit the majority of EU members not just ourselves, so really are pro-European proposals.

    Reply: We need Lib Dem votes to put through a referendum in the Commons.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted June 8, 2012 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

      ‘Reply: We need Lib Dem votes to put through a referendum in the Commons.’

      That is probably true, but persuading them to change course with an unashamed pro-EU lunatic at the helm, is going to be difficult. Only the recognition by them, that they are 180 degrees off course, and consequently, they face absolute melt-down at the next general election, will make them think again.

      The acid test will come with the next Euro-elections. Total wipeout for the Lib Dems will make them consider the suitabilty of calamity Clegg as their leader.

      Churchill once said, ‘He who doesn’t change his mind, doesn’t think.’. What that says about the Lib Dems, is a matter for further debate. But in my own experience, they have their pro-EU agenda, yet they won’t enter into a proper debate with anyone who is prepared to challenge it.

      To deny debate, is to deny democracy, which exposes the lie that the Liberals are in any way democratic.

      Tad Davison

      Cambridge

      • Posted June 8, 2012 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

        You must have a mind to change it. The Lib-Dems are (with respect to Italy) the single most incoherent political entity (with influence) in the West.

    • JimF
      Posted June 8, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

      The LibDems might be reminded that they wanted a referendum prior to the last election. What changed?

      • lifelogic
        Posted June 8, 2012 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

        What changed? The Libdems actually got into power, as they never expected too so could say anything at all pre-election.

  13. Posted June 8, 2012 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    It can only be an In or Out question if we are allowed to vote in a referendum.
    There are too many vested interests amongst our political elite to believe that renegotiation would be impartial.

  14. A.Sedgwick
    Posted June 8, 2012 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    Re-negotiation is unworkable, impracticable and implausible given agreement has to be reached with all the constituent parts of the EU. It is the Europhiles way of placating a troublesome child. Increasingly Cameron is being seen as about power not policy, which would be a good motto for the EU.

    The option is clear cut – an in/out referendum and if it is in then we can get Disney to run the various state owned palaces and castles as theme parks and be done with it.

  15. Pete the Bike
    Posted June 8, 2012 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    The whole question may well be academic. The EU project is more than likely to collapse under the weight if it’s own contradictions and stupidity. Lets hope it’s soon as they idiots in charge just keep making it worse and the longer it goes on the worse it’ll be.

    • Electro-Kevin
      Posted June 8, 2012 at 11:38 am | Permalink

      This is our only hope.

      If it comes to pass there won’t be much rejoicing.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted June 8, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

      It is my dearest wish that the crooked, corrupt, and morally repugnant EU collapses. Such monsters are not in anyone’s best interest, however much it’s proponents may argue otherwise.

      Could we please then have the words, ‘EU supporter’ tattooed on their foreheads, so we never again put them in a position of trust, in much the same way the Nazis were excluded after World War Two. That’s important, because if ever they DO get back into a position of trust, the same, sneaky people might once again try to create the same old super-state. The Fourth Reich, is just as dangerous as the Third Reich!

      Tad Davison

      Cambridge

  16. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted June 8, 2012 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    Your party leaders probably think they have a good position by saying they want renegotiation to get powers back but cannot because they are prohibited by the coalition agreement which, let us remember, was agreed by those self same leaders. What evidence is there that such a renegotiation would be agreed by the EU and which powers would your party want back? I would like to see a definitive list. We know your party leader wants to stay in the EU, he has told us, and so his negotiating position seems rather weak to me. I don’t believe that this is any more than a ploy by your party to create an illusion of euroscepticism and keep the natives quiet. Will you and your colleagues vote for Douglas Carswell’s private members’ bill ‘Repeal of the European Communities Bill’? That will confirm, I think, that most of you are happy to keep bending the knee to Brussels and will eventually tell us that we have no option but to become members of a country called Europe and surrender what is left of our sovereignty.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted June 8, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

      Wise words Brian!

      Tad

  17. Martyn
    Posted June 8, 2012 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    Government insistence that ‘it is now law’ that there will be a referendum if the EU demands further transfer of power from the UK to the EU is risible, since all real sovereignty has already been surrendered to the EU and there can be no going back, other than the UK completely repudiating the Lisbon Treaty. Having read the Treaty, I can say that it is the most convoluted and verbose much amended document to confuse the reader that it has been my misfortune to read. However, a few examples within the Lisbon Treaty include:
    Article 49:
    49.1. Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.
    49.2. A Member State which decides to withdraw shall notify the European Council of its intention. In the light of the guidelines provided by the European Council, the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union.
    That agreement shall be negotiated in accordance with Article 188 N(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. It shall be concluded on behalf of the Union by the Council, acting by a qualified majority, after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament.
    Meaning? The UK cannot withdraw without the consent of the Council and EU Parliament.

    Article 3A-3: “The Member States shall facilitate the achievement of the Union’s tasks and refrain from any measure which could jeopardise the attainment of the Union’s objectives.”
    Meaning? No member state shall criticise or oppose the EU.

    Article 10A-c-3: “Member States shall make civilian and military capabilities available to the Union for the implementation of the common security and defence policy,” “Member States shall undertake progressively to improve their military capabilities.”
    Meaning? That the UK must hand control of its armed forces, ultimately including its nuclear weapons to the unelected EU politburo, where Germany will very largely have the last say in how, when and where they are to be used.

    UK sovereignty has been reduced to what amounts ruling on the few internal minor matters graciously allowed to our government under the terms of the Lisbon Treaty. Referendum? No chance. Repudiate the Lisbon Treaty? No chance.

    • Sebastian Weetabix
      Posted June 8, 2012 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

      “The UK cannot withdraw without the consent of the Council and EU Parliament”

      Rubbish. We are a fully armed sovereign state. If we choose to do so, we can pull out whenever we feel like it, and there is nothing the council or the EU parliament can do about it. What we need is backbenchers prepared to assert the supremacy of parliament over European institutions and pass the necessary legislation.

      • Posted June 8, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

        All we need do is categorically refuse to pay any more money over until it gets its financial affairs in order (& I don’t mean this awful Euro)!

    • Tad Davison
      Posted June 8, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

      Time was, we could shoot traitors!

      I knew what these Europhiles were doing all along, as did most other Euro-sceptics. The Europhiles like Heath, Heseltine, Hurd, Howe, Clarke, Blair, and Brown certainly knew, but betrayed us anyway!

      They depended upon those treaties being virtually indecipherable by ordinary folk who would ‘blank’ at the sophisticated terminology, to get them to go along with the sham. ‘Put your faith and trust in us’ they would say, and the hapless people went along with it.

      People like a straight black and white choice without the garbage. Most tend not to be so interested in the minutia of a given policy, just it’s end result. The Europhiles depended on people believing their claptrap. But this is having an unintended consequence, because even the most ill-informed voter can now see how ruinous and corrosive the EU is to every decent thing they believed in.

      The Europhiles have lost their credibility, which is why they are largely conspicuous by their silence. That they are no longer jumping up and down to defend the EU, shows the weakness of their cause. But this fight is not over by a long chalk. They have placemen in every office and institution, just biding their time.

      And what does that say about the BBC whose remit is to entertain, to inform, and to educate. Had they not a duty to explain these treaties to the public so they could make an informed choice? I’d say they failed lamentably!

      The Europhiles will need to be as dishonest as they have always been. Conversely, all we need to do, is to keep on telling the truth. It helps to have a fair and equitable means to convey the message. Whilst the BBC remains partial towards the EU, we need to do our utmost to counter their political pro-EU bias. We need to dismantle the propaganda machinery, or at least neutralise it, to stand any chance.

      Tad Davison

      Cambridge

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted June 8, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

      The consolidated versions of the EU treaties are here:

      http://eur-lex.europa.eu/JOHtml.do?uri=OJ:C:2010:083:SOM:EN:HTML

      What is now Article 50 TEU, which starts:

      “1. Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.”

      has:

      “3. The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period.”

      Meaning that if there was no agreement on the terms of withdrawal after two years and no agreement to extend negotiations then the treaties would lapse anyway.

      That would of course create chaos, not just for us but for them as well – eg there’d be no agreed basis for trade to continue – so it wouldn’t be allowed to happen.

  18. Single Acts
    Posted June 8, 2012 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    The who concept of course pre-supposes that even if the “better off out” side won any vote, the leadership of the various parties wouldn’t just take it as ‘advisory’ or have another vote etc

  19. frank salmon
    Posted June 8, 2012 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    “Let’s Roll”

    (The last recorded words of the posse of passengers attempting to prevent their hijacked plane from crashing). The comments above are well meant but we are on the plane and it WILL crash.

  20. Posted June 8, 2012 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    I wouldn’t vote for renegotiation, even though I would be happy with Britain being some form of “Associate Member”. My reason is that I wouldn’t trust any of those presently in power in any of the parties to genuinely renegotiate, we would get a few minor changes of minimal importance (which would be grossly exaggerated) and told that is the best that could be done.
    Re-negotiation is only acceptable if it is followed by a referendum to confirm that the renegotiated terms are acceptable.
    To me, the only way is “Out”, but I fear that billions of EU money will be spent in propaganda to persuade us otherwise.

  21. Dave H
    Posted June 8, 2012 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    As it stands my local MP isn’t going to get my vote next time around unless we get a referendum on Europe first or he at least votes for such a vote. I might choose to vote for no one rather than another candidate, but at the moment he’s one down.

    • Posted June 8, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

      I’ve already done that with mine & told him so (he’s in a marginal) since he sides with the Europhiles.

      • Tad Davison
        Posted June 8, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

        You should see the plonker we’ve got in Cambridge!

        Tad

    • Bob
      Posted June 8, 2012 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

      @Dave H

      Would you accept a cast iron guarantee for a referendum in the next term?

      • Posted June 13, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

        I thought that we had already had the cast-iron guarantee from Cameroon! Look where that got us – so NO – it’s too late. He should have voted with the “rebels” and not with the party whips.

  22. colliemum
    Posted June 8, 2012 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    The ‘twin referendum’ strategy looks good, but will only work if the government sets a very strict timetable for the renegotiations.
    We’re all aware of how adept Brussels is at kicking the can down the road, having followed the crisis summits over the last couple of years.
    The government should tell Brussels that the second referendum will be held one year after the first, and if the renegotiations are still in the air, then it will become a simple in/out referendum. It should also tell Brussels that during that year no new EU directive will be adopted.

    Any government which uses this two-referendum strategy, and the party which is in government, will get trounced into oblivion without such time limit because people will rightly assume that the unholy combination of Brussels and europhiles is only throwing up dust, deceiving the people yet again.

  23. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted June 8, 2012 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    In an in/out Referendum, voters will be subjected to an unceasing barrage to the old IBM selling technique of FUD – fear, uncertainty and doubt.

    Much better is to have a well thought out Conservative Party manifesto with specific proposals, to be implemented unilaterally if necessary. It would be necessary to ensure that any person not willing to sign up to the manifesto was stripped of his/her status as a Conservative candidate – and that goes for sitting MPs too. Only by that very thorough method would the electorate be given a genuine choice on Europe.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted June 8, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

      Ah, but therein lies the problem Linsay.

      I have friends in the parliamentary Conservative Party, who are solidly Euro-sceptic, and they are constantly fighting battles to have them de-selected, or their constituency boundaries changed, as a result of the unseen hand of the Europhile wing. The cancer within the Tory party has spread, but is heavily disguised as respectably Euro-sceptic, so is difficult to distinguish, but it isn’t yet inoperable.

      I once thought about standing as a Conservative candidate, but I’m afraid my mentor, Sir Teddy Taylor, taught me well. I’d have been a conscientious MP in very much his image, which would never do these days. The Tories only want yes-men. Those with the nation’s, or their constituent’s best interests, need not apply.

      Tad

  24. Caterpillar
    Posted June 8, 2012 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    The timing of these games do not reflect well on the political ‘class’. When the PM whipped on the referendum vote, the timing of a referendum would not have been awful. But now it is, the PM ought rather be deeply involved in discussions on potential future structures of Europe, rather than of referenda … at the moment Lord Owen is leading the way.

    Aside: When/if there is a referendum it should not be assumed that the electorate is incapable of answering a nested question e.g. (i) in/out and (ii) if stay in options.

  25. oldtimer
    Posted June 8, 2012 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    I understand the reasons why you suggest a twin referendum strategy. But is it practical politics within the constraints of the present coalition? If it proves to be unattainable, what then, given the declared position of the present Conservative party leadership? Cameron does not believe in a simple In/Out referendum and will do everything possible to prevent it – and so long as he remains PM he will succeed.

    Other contingencies and opportunities need to be considered if you are to achieve your objective. The tribulations of the EZ seem likely to offer an opportunity because, sooner or later, Germany`s role in it will have to be resolved. A TV interview with a German professor yesterday evening reminded me that German voters were not offered a referendum on replacing the DM with the euro. Will they continue to be content to be led by the nose by the German political class and to cough up the extra taxes needed to bail out the EZ defaulters? At the moment the EZ participants are more or less ring fencing, or bending the rules, to keep issues within the EZ and not spilling out into the wider EU. But for how long can they keep this up and avoid the need for a new European treaty or a change to the German constitution? The trigger for a renegotiation and a referendum on it could result from such an outcome.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted June 8, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

      The German people not having their democratic rights upheld. The political classes doing things their way anyway. That sounds like history repeating itself. Didn’t the same highly dangerous thing happen back in 1933?

      Tad

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted June 8, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

      “But for how long can they keep this up and avoid the need for a new European treaty … ”

      Minus two years, roughly; it wasn’t long after the illegal bailout of Greece in May 2010 that Merkel started to murmer about the need for a radical EU treaty change to supply a legal base for a permanent bailout mechanism – the existing EFSF being illegal under the present EU treaties – and that treaty change was formalised through European Council Deeision 2011/199/EU of March 25th 2011.

  26. waramess
    Posted June 8, 2012 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    It is not a question of whether the government might want to re-negotiate it is a matter of legitimacy. So long as it is clear that the majority of the population want a referendum on the question of EU membership it is quite wrong to proceed as if there is no need for democratic consent.

    No matter that a referendum might backfire on the Europhiles or for that matter on the Eurosceptics; this is a matter for the government to seek democratic consent for the decisions they make in the future and not for a gaggle of wise men to exclude the people from the democratic process.

    This is now far more urgent a matter than it has been in the past and particularly important since the electorate have been coralled by the three main parties into voting for a Europhile government, whichever way they vote.

    Personally I don’t believe either party is in any way serious about a referendum and, as usual, it will only come about as a matter of expediency.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted June 8, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

      Well said!

      Tad

  27. Posted June 8, 2012 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    The big onstitution that supported the EU in the last referendum was the BBC. If anything the BBC is more powerful now, certainly the trades unions and the CBI are less powerful.

    Legally the BBC’s charter commits them to “balance” & that is the basis of their licence fee.

    However I don’t th9nk anybody can dispute that the BBC is visibly above the law and makes no attempt whatsoever to be balanced, even in choosing what parties to support. For example the Green party gets 40 times as much coverage, all supportive, than UKIP, almost all unsupportive. Since we have, nominally, a Conservative government, it is more than time for them to insist that the law on balance is enforced; to fire everybody in the organisation guilty of a degree of censorship Goebbels would have liked; &/or simply rescind the breached charter.

    It is not just, or even primarily, over the EU that the BBC is totalitariam and it is immensely damaging to the nation both economically and culturally.

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted June 8, 2012 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

      Neil,
      This government and even our host are delighted that UKIP gets so little coverage on the BBC so don’t expect them to do anything but encourage more of the same.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted June 8, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

      Amen!

      Tad

    • Bob
      Posted June 8, 2012 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

      “…simply rescind the breached charter.”

      That would be the best way to start putting this country back on track.

      It won’t happen under the LibLabCon governing cartel though.

  28. David John Wilson
    Posted June 8, 2012 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    The main issue is that we need to know what the individual parties intend to do within the EU. There is no point in voting for or against renegotiating our relationship with Europe when the main parties do not tell us what their main objectives are in trying to mould the EUs future.

    We need the individual parties to have manifestos for EU elections that show what they are trying to achieve. We need the conservative party to align itself with a group that will respect such a manifesto instead of a group of odd balls.

    Only when the public are clear what the political parties intend to push for within Europe can they be expected to vote in IN/OUT/RENEGOTIATE referenda.

    • Sebastian Weetabix
      Posted June 8, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

      This renegotiate option is a red herring. It isn’t on offer. We can accept the acquis communitaire or we can get out. Imagine a nested referendum which asks the following:
      1. in or out?
      2. should we renegotiate terms, yes or no?

      Just for fun let’s imagine the public votes ‘in’ to Q1 and says ‘yes’ to renegotiation. The EU then says ‘no, there can’t be any renegotiation, take it or leave it’ – what then? Unless there is threat to leave it is a pointless exercise. If we have already collectively voted to stay ‘in’ we have no negotiating position at all.

  29. Tad Davison
    Posted June 8, 2012 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    I’ll add another factor into the equation, or a spanner in the works, depending on one’s point of view.

    I am actively encouraging others to make a challenge to Cameron’s leadership, should he again fall short of public expectations.

    The situation is clear-cut. The Prime Minister must act in Britain’s best interest, and not merely go along with his own pro-EU instincts.

    Cameron says he’s Eurosceptic. That is nonsense. Were he truly Eurosceptic, he would move heaven and Earth, and Nick Clegg, to give us real change. I am absolutely certain that Cameron could have manipulated the whole debate in favour of giving the people their say.

    I want an in/out referendum. The only thing that bothers me, is how we counter the pro-EU propaganda, and the misinformation put out by some in the mainstream media. When, in the case of the BBC, debates are diberately slanted in favour of the EU, we face a sizable obstacle. We are then dependent upon the ability of the viewer to see through it, but far too many people think, ‘Ah, the BBC says it’s true, so it must be!’

    Given a level playing field, winning a proper debate is easy, because we have truth and history on our side. It’s overcoming the lies and deceit that will inevitably come from the other side – that’s the scary part!

    Tad Davison

    Cambridge

    • David John Wilson
      Posted June 8, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

      I agree that we need a level playing field. Somehow we need to counter the bias on the BBC and in other news media in favour of an OUT vote. What is needed is some clear guidance in those media as to what a renegotiation could sensibly cover. We need to also understand what our current elected MEPs are doing to represent the UKs interests.

  30. Denis Cooper
    Posted June 8, 2012 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    Rather than being constantly distracted by the distant prospect, possibly nothing more than a mirage, of an “in-out” referendum on the EU, why not insist that the radical EU treaty change already agreed on March 25th 2011 should be put a referendum?

    Before the general election the Tory party gave it to be understood that if any treaty changes were wanted by other EU countries then that would be taken as an opportunity to negotiate the return of powers, but on March 25th 2011 Cameron gave Merkel the treaty change she demanded and asked for nothing in return.

    Also before the election the Tory party gave it to be understood that we would have referendums on any future treaty changes, but last October Hague ruled that this major treaty change would not be put to a referendum.

    How can Cameron or Osborne or Hague possibly expect to be believed on any promise of an EU referendum some time in the future, when they’re in the process of actively denying us a referendum on that treaty change?

    Here is an e-petition calling for a referendum on that radical EU treaty change:

    http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/33825

    “That notwithstanding any provision of the European Union Act 2011 the planned European Union (Approval of Treaty Amendment Decision) Bill should include provision for a UK referendum on the relevant EU treaty change, that agreed by EU leaders through European Council Decision 2011/199/EU of March 25th 2011.”

  31. forthurst
    Posted June 8, 2012 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    Europhiles would may want a Referendum on the basis that public opinion is unlikely to become more positive and is quite likely to become more negative on staying in. If John Major’s ejection from the ERM destroyed the Conservative’s reputation for economic rectitude (quite rightly), surely an escalation of the turmoil in the Eurozone will work the same magic, especially if it is associated with public disorder? Events argue better than talking heads on QT.

  32. backofanenvelope
    Posted June 8, 2012 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    It is about time we came down from Fairyland. There will be no repatriation; the EU doesn’t do that sort of thing. Re-negotiation would be a nightmare and take years. Everyone would want something and some of those somethings would not be to our liking. An in/out referendum would probably result in our voting to stay in. We are stuffed!!!!

    Unless the whole thing collapses. So we should keep our head down and say as little as possible.

    • Sebastian Weetabix
      Posted June 8, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

      No, we should get out. If a house is burning down it is best to head for the exit, not to sit tight in the hope the fire doesn’t spread to the room we are hiding in.

      I do not understand why if you oppose our remaining in the EU you would not welcome a referendum. If the public is offered an in/out referendum on being part of a state called ‘Europe’ and is then stupid enough to vote ‘yes’ then so be it, that’s democracy. If we don’t have a referendum we will definitely never leave.

      • backofanenvelope
        Posted June 8, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

        I didn’t say I didn’t want a referendum. I would vote to leave; but I think that the electorate would vote to stay in. I still think a referendum is required; because our membership is poisoning our politics.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted June 8, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

      ‘Unless the whole thing collapses.’

      Realistically, that might be our only salvation. The worst possible scenario would be to have all debts accrued thus far by profligate governments, written off.

      What a nighmare! Then we’d never get out!

      Tad

  33. Electro-Kevin
    Posted June 8, 2012 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    “Those who think an early In/Out referendum is the best answer for Eurosceptics need to be careful. We want to avoid a re-run of 1975 …”

    Fine. In the meantime the intrusions, the loss of sovereignty, the rulings, the mass immigration … it all goes on and on. Why not a temporary halt to these deeply worrying changes until the people have been given a vote ?

    “Now is not the time for a discussion on our membership of the EU.” This has come from David Miliband but could have come from senior Tory politicians.

    It would seem that it never is the ‘right time.’ I figure that the plan is to prevaricate until we reach such a point that there is no point.

    No politician is open enough to tell us that we will never have a straight forward referendum. With the BBC controlling most of the broadcast media it’s going to be very difficult for the Eurosceptics to put their case.

    • Electro-Kevin
      Posted June 8, 2012 at 11:41 am | Permalink

      Having said that, many have had a gut full of the EU since 1975

      Abu Qatada may have done the people of Britain the greatest of services.

    • Sebastian Weetabix
      Posted June 8, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

      I recall the prevailing view in the BBC was very much in favour of changing the voting system. That didn’t go their way, did it?

  34. sm
    Posted June 8, 2012 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    We should withdraw immediately.

    The current institutional system is biased in favour of membership and cannot be trusted or considered to be impartial or fair.

    An honest party wishing to rejoin the EU could place it in their manifesto and or alternatively hold a referendum to rejoin requiring e a 75% majority of all eligible voters, any non vote means we stay out.(Negotiation in a full union is like asking for subsidarity)

    UKIP would then not present a threat to any of the main parties – ANY promise from the main parties is not worth co2 emitted/expended in the process.

    The probablity is the Germans or others will sink the Euro and the union project. Perfidious Albion will alas still be in Europe though not run by a foreign power.

  35. Adam5x5
    Posted June 8, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    I would think that the Conservative party would have to offer a referendum in the next election or face defeat through defections to UKIP.

    Of course, this is assuming that the electorate believe ‘Cast Iron Dave’ about his referendum election promise.
    I personally would trust that pledge as far as I could comfortably spit a live rat.

  36. Leslie Singleton
    Posted June 8, 2012 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    The EU is a mixture of the Tower of Babel and a dog’s breakfast–how did we get in so deep? Europhiles remind me of bad traders doubling up on their all-or-nothing hopes following wrong bets in the past.

  37. David Langley
    Posted June 8, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Like you said in reply to Fausties blog, governments sign up to EU laws which are binding on the next government and cant get out of. There you have it, no renegotiation is possible, we have to get out by a new act or resiling from all the previous acts and amendments. The referendum question has to be framed when we have educated the mass of our people as to what Supranational means. My MP thinks we can pull out the bits we dont like and amend the rest as we wish, no chance. The whole point of the EU project is to not allow Countries to mess about with the rules. We are ruled by the centre as in the USSR, its slowly going that way, we refused the EuroArmy thank goodness, and various other scene stealers but our Billy Public has a lot to be taught before voting time.

  38. Sue
    Posted June 8, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    “Will they hold a referendum on the EU?” Only if they are completely sure they can get a positive result. If they did decide to go ahead, can you imagine how much propaganda, scaremongering, spinning and pure lying would be involved? No doubt, they’d get a generous budget from the Masters in Brussels too.

    It’s a shame really, one would have hoped that our government would have done the decent thing and got us out of the EU already. They’re always professing that representative democracy works. The people’s pledge is running a series of “mock” referendums by region. If you want to know how people really feel, use the results from them and get us the hell out of this nightmare.

  39. David Langley
    Posted June 8, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    I just love FAUSTIEBLOG

  40. David Saunders
    Posted June 8, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    Usual Cameron, long on rhetoric, short on delivery. David Nuttall’s amendment during the EU debate that led to 81 rebel Tory MPs defying the tin eared whip, would be a step forward. Meantime, no change, no chance.

  41. BobE
    Posted June 8, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    Only 2 years and 11 months to go.
    The Euro colapse will bring down most of the EU (with any luck).

  42. Posted June 8, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    “We want to avoid a re-run of 1975, where all three main political parties, the CBI, the TUC and most other main institutions lined up to tell us the EEC would be good for our economy and essential to our trade, leading to a large majority in favour of membership.”

    John, this is unlikely to happen since time has proved them wrong and the views of small businesses (who saw the ominous tidal wave of legislation) right. Besides the country is alert to fighting weasel words and the interference from Brussels in trying to get a Yes.

    I believe that the recent “in-house” poll of Conservative activists showed an overwhelming majority in favour of an In/Out Referendum.
    No wonder that the “top” is worried. You defy your activists at your own peril. They are still seething over the way that the Lib-Dems succeeded in getting their stupid Referendum and then connived to prevent the country from getting what they really wanted. Last year’s debate was an engineered farce designed to get precisely no-where.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted June 8, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

      Bernard,

      I believe that the recent “in-house” poll of Conservative activists showed an overwhelming majority in favour of an In/Out Referendum.

      Doesn’t that just say it all?

      The public want it, the activists and party members want it, but the leadership doesn’t so it looks unlikely to happen. What a shame John doesn’t allow profanity, or I’d tell Cameron and Co. what I really thought of them!

      Tad

      Repyl: Let’s see if the reported possible change of mind is for real. There are certainly a good number of us Conservative MPs that want a referendum and have shown we are willing to vote for one.There would be more if the governemnt said it wanted one.

      • Bob
        Posted June 8, 2012 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

        The Tories selected Cameron as leader because they saw him as the most acceptable candidate to the BBC.

        That’s how critical the BBC issue is.

  43. ITF_Tory
    Posted June 8, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    Mr Redwood mentioned the Parliamentary vote last year for a referendum on Europe. This is but one example of a Parliamentary vote that is not binding. What I don’t understand is how a Parliamentary vote can’t be binding. The very concept of a non-binding Parliamentary vote doesn’t make sense to me. Is anyone able to explain this strange rule?

    Reply: A backbench motion might be allowed to pass, but may only be advisory because the government could at a later date impose a whip to impose a different view, and enough MPs might then follow the whip. Of course if Parliament votes against the governemnt’s wishes and the government cannot reverse that vote, the vote stands. A vote can be advisory if it urges the governemnt to legislate but is not itself the legislation.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted June 8, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

      Reply: A backbench motion might be allowed to pass, but may only be advisory because the government could at a later date impose a whip to impose a different view, and enough MPs might then follow the whip. Of course if Parliament votes against the government’s wishes and the government cannot reverse that vote, the vote stands. A vote can be advisory if it urges the governemnt to legislate but is not itself the legislation.

      I’m a big fan of yours John, and I really appreciate being able to comment on this blog, but is it any wonder people can’t make head nor tail of politics with a reply like that one?

      Tad

      Reply: Let me do better. If we vote on a law then the vote determines the result. If we vote on a motion advising the government, the government may not accept the advice. Then there could be a trial of strength to see if the backbenchers will press their advice. They will need a majority to force the governemnt to behave as they wish.

      • Tad Davison
        Posted June 8, 2012 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

        Many thanks

        Tad

  44. FreedomLover
    Posted June 8, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    John,
    My proposal is that any EU Referendum that we finally get should offer choices in this 3-way form:

    Tick Box 1. Should the UK remain in the EU, or leave? If the majority is ‘Yes’, then a 2nd referendum would be held
    in between 6 & 12 months to confirm this. If ‘Yes’ again, Britain would leave. If either the first or second referendum produces a ‘No’ then then would be regular In/Out/Negotiations referendums at a minimum of once every 5 years.

    Tick Box 2. Britain should instead stay in the EU, but hold substantial negotiations with the EU on the return of as many as possible national powers already ceded to the EU. There would be a review referendum after 12 months, with the option of acceptance of the results of these negotiations, continuation of the negotiations, or an In/Out referendum for departure from the EU.

    Tick Box 3. Britain should stay in the EU, but have confirming In/Out/Negotiations referendums at least once every 5 years.

    Naturally the wording would have to be clear yet neutral, with preferably a committee of Law Lords ensuring there was no bias in the wording that might favour either ‘In’ or ‘Out’ groups.

    Finally, there needs to be a very clear & enticing picture offered of what the UK would like once it has left the EU, & a similarly enticing aim for the country so that those who support a UK departure have something really appealing to oentice those who are undecided. So far, we seem to be talking only of getting out of the EU. but we also need to decide what we want for the uK once we’ve left the EU’s baleful embrace. Otherwise we may never escape it!

    I hope this is helpful, John.

    • Bob
      Posted June 8, 2012 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

      @FreedomLover

      There’s nothing like keeping things simple, is there?

      I’ve had another idea, how about restoring full power to our elected politicians?

    • uanime5
      Posted June 8, 2012 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

      So if the people vote to stay in the EU you want referendums every 5 years until you get the result you want; which is leaving the EU. Expect these referendums to be denounced as being an expensive sham.

  45. Martin
    Posted June 8, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    A lot of folk I talk to about matters vaguely European have most issue with the ECHR. Where in all these considerations is the ongoing position of the ECHR being addressed? This is the court that makes laws that nobody can change in or out of the EU!

    • uanime5
      Posted June 8, 2012 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

      The UK will only stop obeying the ECHR once the people decide they’d rather be slaves without any human rights. Until then expect the ECHR to continue to protect people.

      • Little White Squibba
        Posted June 9, 2012 at 10:41 am | Permalink

        “The UK will only stop obeying the ECHR once the people decide they’d rather be slaves without any human rights. “
        That is disingenuous, and actually silly when you read it again. If we can retrieve our ancient liberties, human rights can go hang.

        • uanime5
          Posted June 9, 2012 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

          What ancient liberties are you referring to? Feudalism?

          Given that in the past the poor, women, and minorities had far less rights than wealthy men the modern human rights are far superior to ancient liberties.

          • Lindsay McDougall
            Posted June 11, 2012 at 9:23 am | Permalink

            I wasn’t aware, in the 1950s and 1960s, of living in a feudalist state. On the contrary, lots of exciting things were happening and it was a very democratic time. We didn’t join the EEC, as it then was, until 1st January 1973.

            Workers didn’t lose rights in UK but eventually Trade Unions did. They lost the ‘right’ to call very damaging strikes without their victims having the right to sue them in the civil courts. This legislation should have been passed after 1970 but Ted Heath funked it (as usual). Paradoxically, it was finally passed in Mrs T’s early years, after we had joined the EU.

            Do you want the sort of Trade Unions that the French have?

  46. Mike Stallard
    Posted June 8, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne are both, as is Mr Clegg, eminently educated, clubbable people. So are most of their cabinet. They are men and a couple of ladies, who have got to the top by being nice to people and staying popular even if it meant dressing up in silly clothes, spending and wasting a lot of money and behaving very badly in public.
    They aren’t going to change.
    Behaving badly is their huge phobia. So “saying things” in the EU meetings, upsetting people in EU meetings, saying things that Mrs Clegg and the LibDems don’t like, is as bad as passing wind in front of the Queen.
    That is why there is a consensus in favour of the EU.

  47. JimF
    Posted June 8, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    You’ve thought about the best option but your solution is “wishy-washy”. How do we know that having won the referendum to renegotiate, there won’t be some minor change (I suspect City-related) which will keep us in the EU game and then all 3 parties and CBI TUC vote for that?
    There needs to be an in-out vote AS HAS ALREADY BEEN PROMISED
    a/ without the spin and hyperbole which has characterised government since 1997
    b/ where politicians from all parties are free to state their case
    c/ where the facts are put to people rather than fiction.
    I guess that is the only way you will get UKIP off your back.

  48. Barbara Stevens
    Posted June 8, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    The simple truth is, me and many more, don’t want the Labour party allowed to negociate with the EU at all, and that includes Clegg. They have conceded enough as it is which we are all suffering from. The Conservatives have, and should, let us decide and as promptly as possible. Hiding behind the coalition is a flawed statement; even Clegg and his cronies know the ‘will of the people’ is paramount in a democracy. Cameron should make this plainly clear. He nor Clegg have the right to withhold a referendum when the electorate demands it. If they blog such a move then Cameron should tell us who, why and whom is denying us this democratic right. Honesty, openness, and telling as it is, is the best way forward. If the Lib Dems don’t like it tough. WE will know and vote accordingly. As the Lib Dems are now so low in the polls having, or forcing and election would be detrimental to them, and they know it.
    If there is an alteration of the treaty, then it will trigger a referendum, and it should be clear and concise. In or out, nothing less. I’m sick of promises that have no intention of being kept, and Cameron as made plenty; he can now redeem himself by keeping his word, and telling the Lib Dems that’s how it will be. Trust and respect as to be gotten back this would be the best way to do it. Until that happens, I’m still rather wary of the Conservative party.

  49. Javelin
    Posted June 8, 2012 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    Last Friday I posted the inevitable Spanish banking bailout at around Eu400bn. They haven’t told the Germans yet. But RBS had a figure of 370-450 today.

    They have run out of money in the Eu now only the EFSF can save them. But I am told all it is a scruffy office in luxembourg with lots of leverage but no lenders.

    Next step is going to be the EU banking consolidation. Aka ECB lender of last resort can print money. Don’t tell the Germans.

  50. Posted June 8, 2012 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    The risk is high, but the reward worth it. The moment that a straight in/out referendum is announced begins a total transformation (not unlike Perestroika). An almighty effort to alert the voters, as the song title goes, Nows the Time!!!

  51. Tim
    Posted June 8, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    Mr Redwood. Do you believe renegotiation is possible? In other words how on earth under acqui communitaire is it possible to repatriate powers? We are signed up to ever closer union. How does this tally with repatriation, the opposite of ever closer union. Do you genuinely believe that other EU countries would agree under QMV to such a request? Seriously, do you? Until you make this clear you will continue to be viewed as another Conservative smoke screen to delay and prevaricate against the wishes of the British people. Francois Hollande correctly said Britain cannot treat the EU like an a la carte menu, choosing the bits we want. He was right and you surely know that.

    In or out, is the only honest and possible question.

    Reply:Which is why I want the second vote which becomes In/Out if they do not offer us a decent deal.

    • Tim
      Posted June 8, 2012 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for the reply. I very much respect your principled stand and agree with 95% of what you say, but on renegotiation and repatriation I believe you are pinning your hopes that rational dogma can win over a mindset that has no reverse gear. If we could turn back time then it might be possible, but you cannot learn the words to the Welsh national anthem retrospectively anymore than you can win back powers from the EU. We must leave now and frankly it is sad that our representative politicians even need a referendum. If they truly represent the people then they should just get on with it.

  52. James Reade
    Posted June 9, 2012 at 4:07 am | Permalink

    Can those “massive powers” given away be listed please, just so I know just how “massive” they were. I’m intrigued. Always on here it’s said how many powers Labour gave away, but never are these powers listed. I’m just curious.

    Reply: Labour gave away many vetoes over large areas of activity. I will catalogue them again when I can dig out my old notes on it all.

  53. peter
    Posted June 9, 2012 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    Here’s an idea and you JR are probably best placed to put this together. How about producing a publicly available document which covers covers every business, social area of consequence as a result of leaving the EU at a high level that even people like me could understand.

    Something that describes each listed item at a high level on a single easy to read line for each (I guess there are 1000s so stick to the ones that really matter – leave out the bent bananas etc).

    Start with the positives like the Common Fisheries Policy and CAP

    So it would go like

    Business Powers Repatriated

    Item Outcome Remarks
    Common Fisheries exclusive to UK fishermen Industry boost est £xx PA

    Trade Implications

    Item Possibility Mitigation
    Exports to EU Possible Import Tax Use EFTA – Risk minimal
    EU exports to ROW Can this happen under EFTA? Is there another mechansim?

    Social Implications

    Item Outcome Remarks
    Working time directive NHS Doctors unhindered Better flexibility and VFM

    Something like this presented in a balanced and unbiased way should help all to see the wood from the trees and allow all to understand what it would mean because my bet is most of the house of commons don’t even understand the full facts.

    Reply: An MP working group will publish such a document later this year, cataloguing the many areas where the UK would be better off doing its own thing.

    • peter
      Posted June 9, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

      Sorry John

      This comment didn’t come how I intended. I have sent you an email with an explanation

    • alan jutson
      Posted June 9, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply

      A working group of Mp’s will…………..

      Is this a Cross Party group of Mp’s who have been asked to do so by Government, or are they doing it as a personal interest exercise for publication to the media and whoever else is interested.

      Are you involved in any way ?

      Reply: It is a cross party group and the government is involved. I attend meetings and put in my views from time to time.

  54. lojolondon
    Posted June 9, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    I guarantee the ‘Brave Dave’ will, when forced, give us a referendum.

    But, dishonestly, he will offer not two but three options – the third way will read – “stay in the EU and reform from within”.

    Then, when that option wins, he will say ‘that is what we have been doing all along’, and there will be no progress.

  55. Derek Emery
    Posted June 9, 2012 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

    If Germany manages to save the Euro the price will be the creation of a two speed EU with an fiscally integrated Eurozone and a few countries like the UK that are not. There is bound to be some re-jigging of the UK relationship then with the EU as we will no be a full member of the inner circle.
    I very much doubt that an integrated EZ can be anything other than low growth as the Liberal mentality that rules the EU has anything but a competitive edge. The Far East and other countries are drive3n by competition. The EU is like an Olympic contender that does not like indulging in in competitor but hopes to win anyway. Dream on.
    Alternatively if the EZ cannot be saved then there will be negative effect on the project which is to achieve unelected central control of the whole EU.

    Its obvious that much future growth is not going to take place inside the navel gazing EU but in the rest of the world.

    There is a high cost from rules regulations and the ever-increasing burgeoning annual club fee for being a full member. This huge fee does not buy the UK a large trading surplus unlike Germany.

    The problem is that expansion of UK trade is far more likely to come from the growing rest of the world. What is the advantage in remaining a full paying member of a failing club with ageing demographics where trade is likely to decline.

    Imports will increasingly come from the rest of the world as the EU is left technologically in the slow lane and the rest of the world is where the future export potential resides.

  • About John Redwood


    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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