The double referendum on the EU


Yesterday David Davis made the public case for the double referendum which some of us are urging the government to launch.

The idea would be for this government to put through a Bill requiring a Mandate referendum on the EU issue. The question would be:

“Do you want the UK government to negotiate a new relationship with the EU based on trade and political co-operation?”

The aim of such a question would be to unite all shades of Euroscpetic opinion behind a single proposition, to carry it by a large margin. The government would then have a strengthened hand in negotiations in Brussels, and would also have to get on with sorting it out, as the people would have spoken. It should unite come-outers with those who wish to be in a common market, with those who merely wish to repatriate certain important powers.

The second referendum would follow once the negotiations were complete. That would ask

Do you want to accept the new negotiated  relationship with the EU or not? Voting No means withdrawing from the EU.

The knowledge in advance of the second question would send a clear message to other EU members that if they wish to keep the UK in some kind of relationship they need to take seriously the many changes the UK wishes to see in the relationship. If they offer nothing or little, the UK people are very likely to vote for out altogether.

This seems to me to be the best way forward. The negotiations would also allow the government to negotiate the items that would need to be sorted out for exit anyway. There do need to be arrangements on ferry routes, airspace,pipelines, extradition, police intelligence and all the rest between the UK and the rest of the EU.

David Davis dismissed the arguments of the pro Europeans that  we would be damaged by exit. He pointed out how much more trade we now do with non EU nations, and anyway how trade with the EU could continue without full membership. He showed how much damage to our productive potential and our exports the high costs and restrictions of EU regulations now do.

The Lib Dems in the Coalition may not agree to such a Mandate referendum to get this process started. Conservative Ministers should table it anyway. It would be surprising if the Labour Parliamentary party turned out to help the Lib Dems trying to  vote it down, when the public so yearns for a different relationship and a chance to have a say on this most important of issues.


  1. Martin Cole
    November 20, 2012

    There is a fatal flaw to this proposal, one partly recognised and accepted by David Davis during some of his recent explanatory interviews, that of course being that none of the politicians who have guided the country into the present quagmire of the EU, are to be trusted to negotiate our way out.

    An idependent negotiating team might be acceptableto the public, but would our present political class release the authority to independents who would quite clearly kill off the three main parties’ golden goose, which now quite obviously only exists to the professional politician’s benefit.

    IMO Conservative MPs seeking to disentangle Britain from the quicksand of the EU, may only do so at this late stage, by biting the bullet and removing themselves from the Tories, as successfully accomplished by Roger Helmer MEP.

    1. JimF
      November 20, 2012

      The fatal flaw is that the EU won’t negotiate, so there will be nothing to put into the mix.
      This is therefore a play between Conservative Euroscseptics where the game is to get a path, however long and tortuous, towards stasis in our relationship with the EU, and the Europhile Conservatives’ wish to kick this into the long grass while the EU marches on with us handcuffed to it.

    2. Disaffected
      November 20, 2012

      Spot on. Based on performance or outcome of pledges/promises, who would trust or believe a word Cameron/Clegg says??

      Clarke countermands anything Cameron says that sounds a little Eurosceptic. He is in a ministerial post when Cameron claims we are in times of austerity, value for money for taxpayers etc and Clarke does not have a department to run or job description and is still being paid as a minister!!

      Meanwhile, Tory MPs being weeded out for more expense scams, all within the rules of course, while the Tory speaker seeks to use lame security excuses in failing to allow FOI requests. We heard all about this sort of sleaze before and were promised robust action!

      However this is against the background that Cameron hosted dinners for party donors at No.10 at taxpayers’ expense and we have yet to find out the outcome after months of a Tory inquiry. Oh dear, what a discredited, and somewhat ineffective, individual.

  2. colliemum
    November 20, 2012

    It is a good proposal, and it would be great to put it in practice.

    What is lacking is a timetable.
    I don’t think people would be happy with negotiations dragging on for years, the second referendum promised to be held when the cows come home ….

  3. pete
    November 20, 2012

    Following this course of action would o course be better than we have now – but his statement

    “how trade with the EU could continue without full membership. He showed how much damage to our productive potential and our exports the high costs and restrictions of EU regulations now do.”

    Now is left some sort of scare mongering that if we leave the EU we stop trading with them? This all sounds like pulling teeth when a pull out and a free trade deal would work just as well

    1. pete
      November 20, 2012

      “Now is left” – now is there

    2. uanime5
      November 20, 2012

      Given that even the USA doesn’t have full access to the EU’s markets it’s highly likely that if the UK leaves the EU this will result in the UK having a far more restricted access to the EU’s markets.

  4. Mark W
    November 20, 2012

    I saw David Davis yesterday making this statement. I hope it’s not a pipe dream. Obviously this would be the end of UKIP too, lets hope Cameron goes with it.

  5. Mike Stallard
    November 20, 2012

    I have been following this blog, with relish and, yes, respect, for several years and on economics I reckon it is the very best there is because I can understand some of it!
    So it is with sadness that I say that you are wrong on this post.

    People could not give a monkey’s about the EU. To them it is much more distant that Syria and President Obama. Politicians may not be trusted, but, like postmen, they ought to get quietly on with the job. I do not want to be constantly reminded by the postman of his existence and people do not want to be reminded of politicians either.
    So a double referendum may look good from Westminster, but I do not think most people round here would turn out. They didn’t much care for the Police business either.

    David Cameron faces a choice: EU or us.
    He has got, eventually, to make that choice. Drifting, half truths and being nice to everyone is not going to win the next election. And the longer he leaves it, the deeper will be the scorn of the electors.
    Mr Hofstadter is not going to negotiate with people whom he despises: get used to it!

    1. martyn
      November 20, 2012

      Of course people care about the EU. In my profession (construction) we attend lectures and conferences all the time about compliance with EU regulations and rules. Once these are known and understood we sell our goods and services to the other member states. We are making money from it. Its happening all around us.

      1. Bill
        November 20, 2012

        Which British construction companies have construction contracts in mainland Europe? Don’t bother mentioning the service contracts within ex-British owned, now mainland owned companies who operate in Britain because that’s where their market is. That’s like MPs scaring us on the loss of the EU ‘market place,’ when we know from, from living and working in Europe, how rare it is to see British products in mainland stores.

        1. martyn
          November 21, 2012

          Rubbish. My firm surveyed French univesities ten years ago and we made lots of money. Open your eyes.

        2. martyn
          November 21, 2012

          Have you heard of a firm called Rolls Royce?

      2. uanime5
        November 20, 2012

        Interestingly these things will continue even if the UK leaves the EU because if the UK wishes to sell good and provide services to the EU they will have to meet EU standards.

        1. martyn
          November 21, 2012

          uanime5. exactly.

        2. James Sutherland
          November 24, 2012

          Yes, goods exported to the EU will have to comply with EU standards – just as goods we export to Japan must comply with Japanese standards. When are you launching your campaign for us to become a province of Japan?

      3. MrDavies
        November 20, 2012

        Irrelevant to our being in or out of the EU.

  6. Brian Taylor
    November 20, 2012

    Would you please keep us informed as to who would negotiate the new terms for the UK, and what do you think about using Article 50 which would require the EU to negotiate a new arrangement?

  7. Kulgan of Crydee
    November 20, 2012

    I am afraid a double referendum is not what the majority of the people want. The Tories will hemorrhage votes to UKIP because of their failure to represent the majority view on the EU added to the fact that we were promised a referendum by Conservatives which they reneged on (yes Labour did the same).

    I was a Conservative voter all my adult life until now. I feel betrayed by the party I put my faith in. We do not want a 2 stage referendum or one of David Cameron’s In/In referendum. We want an In/Out referendum and we want it as soon as is practically possible.

    I feel

    1. Mike Stallard
      November 20, 2012

      And what use would that be? If the vote went against the EU, it would simply be seen as a mistake and a new referendum would be administered asap. The juggernaut needs more than that to stop it!

      1. MrDavies
        November 20, 2012

        We are not the Irish, we will keep voting for what we believe in.

    2. Timaction
      November 20, 2012

      We just want out asap. No messing about with pointless renegotiation or in/in referendums. We want out and then a trade ONLY arrangement. The rest is not wanted or needed. Politicians can find alternative employment elsewhere, including Mr Clegg.
      Loosing influence in the world, risk to 3 million jobs, no voice, the single market is all specious nonsense put out by the Europhile MP’s to fool the gullible and can be refuted by hard facts every time.

  8. Electro-Kevin
    November 20, 2012

    A Conservative party delivering this amount of say to the public will win the next general election.

    The BBC must remain impartial.

    Ed Miliband “Sleep walking out of the EU.”

    What is it about Lefties ? Why do they ALWAYS reverse the truth ?

    We sleep walked IN to the EU. We’ve woken up from a dream into a bloody nightmare.

    1. martyn
      November 20, 2012

      Elsewhere on this blog today someone has very helpfully reproduced the pamphlet that was compiled by the Labour government at the time of the referendum. I read it as a school boy. Maybe you didn’t. Its never too late.

      If you read the Treaty of Rome 1957 its all there too. Page 2 is a good place to start. The problem is that too many Brits did not bother to read it; if you don’t read the small print ………….

      1. Electro-Kevin
        November 20, 2012

        There were only nine nations when the referendum took place.

    2. MrDavies
      November 20, 2012

      BBC impartial? Do you believe in faeries too?

  9. lifelogic
    November 20, 2012

    “Do you want the UK government to negotiate a new relationship with the EU based on trade and political co-operation?”

    Does anyone at all not want this?

    The main problem is who would do the negotiation. I assume under Cameron it would a be “balanced” team like Clarke, Clegg, Heseltine, Cable and Lord Patten doing the negotiation.

    I see Miliband is making sceptical noises too. He still says remaining in is “in our interests” though like Cameron and all the EUphiles they never give a single sensible reason why. At least he did not say anything daft about not wanting a great Switzerland as Cameron did (again with no reasons given – one assumes a phobia of cuckoo clocks).

    If there ever were a referendum, as was dishonestly promised by all parties, I wonder if they will ever actually give some reasons for remaining in the EUSSR? Rather than saying coming out is not in the EU’s interests – what actually are these reasons?

    1. zorro
      November 20, 2012

      That’s not a very balanced team, you need to add John Major to add that extra je ne sais quoi element…….


  10. Old Albion
    November 20, 2012

    Renegotiating terms is a fantasy John. If the EU allowed the (dis)United Kingdom to do so. It would have to allow all states to do so.
    We need a referendum that asks ‘EU. Stay in or leave’
    The reason we won’t get that is. The Lib/Lab/Con are all dedicated Europhiles.

    1. Richard1
      November 20, 2012

      I do not think this argument holds water. Of the 27 EU states, 17 are in the eurozone, and 9 of the other 10 – ie all except the UK – are in theory committed to join the eurozone. The eurozone appears (at the moment) to be following the ‘remorsless logic’ of fiscal integration. The eurozone countries will probably demand that all EU countries committed to joining the Euro do likewise. So unless the Eurozone breaks up, the UK will have to have a separate deal from the rest, because we are the only EU country not either in the Eurozone nor committed to be. This is therefore a good opportunity for us to move to membership of the single market without the costs and burdens of compliance with the terms of membership of the eurozone.

  11. David Rickard
    November 20, 2012

    I think your final remark about the Labour Party not voting down a mandate referendum is somewhat hopeful in the light of Ed Miliband’s speech yesterday. The mandate question you suggest is also rather ambiguous: it implies an exit (relationship with the EU as an ‘external’ partner), and what does a ‘no’ response from the electorate mean? Both those in favour of leaving the EU altogether and those in favour of closer integration could give a ‘no’ response to that question.

    How likely is it, in any case, that our EU partners would be willing to enter into complex, time-consuming negotiations offering the UK some sort of special affililate-membership status all its own, especially as the Eurozone countries would be busy trying to work out what fiscal and banking union is going to mean for them? Wouldn’t they just turn round to the UK and say, ‘look, you’ve signed up to the treaties – get on or get out!’

    No, we need an in / out referendum first, and the supporters of ‘in’ could then fight that cause by promising to fight the UK’s cause within the EU. What’s the point of hugely complex negotiations if we’re not even sure the re-negotiated relationship will be accepted by the British people?

  12. Martyn
    November 20, 2012

    Sounds to me like a workable plan, John but I very much doubt the government it will let it take off. You mentioned a few re-arrangements that would need to be made, but may I suggest that the list should include the UK electricity supplies?

    We are busy closing down power stations, building thousands of unreliable windmills and are completely dependant on daily pulling electrical power from France to keep the lights on in Southern England. Upset that arrangement and the lights will be going off in England even earlier than is now predicted and all the windmills in the world are not going to recover the situation. If we remove the UK from the EU and its planned ‘super-grid’ systems what shall we do for electrical power? Buy it from the EU at greatly increased cost to our businesses and consumers, perhaps, whilst continuing to see our bills increase to subsidise wind farms across the nation?

    It has long puzzled me why we could not employ small-scale existing nuclear systems that power our nuclear submarines. Of proven safety in close proximity to humans shut up in a tin can, why could not similar devices be distributed around the UK to cover local demand? Suitably positioned outside of cities and towns, of course.

  13. Leslie Singleton
    November 20, 2012

    What you write today reads well and logically and convincingly or at least it does till the last paragraph. The Liberals are going to be away with the fairies of course and will indeed not support such an approach and my gut reaction is that unfortunately Labour too, even for something the nation palpably wants, are unlikely to do anything that could be interpreted as helping the Tories. I hope I am wrong. If I am indeed wrong and Parliament can agree this plan, presumably it can be put in to operation forthwith. If Labour are not on board, presumably this forms the basis of the next Conservative manifesto, preferably with a General Election ASAP if a way can be found of going round the new and unfortunate fixed term. Any chance Cameron doing something right for once and grasping this nettle?? Say not the struggle naught availeth.

    1. Leslie Singleton
      November 20, 2012

      John–What am I doing wrong now, such that at shortly after Midday I haven’t passed Mods with above comment logged at just after 8 am, whereas 18 others have?

  14. Christopher
    November 20, 2012

    Getting the best possible deal for Britten should be in the job description of the Prime Minister I do not understand why the first referendum is necessary? This stinks of the EU trick of voting again and again until the public give the right answer.

  15. me
    November 20, 2012

    Double referendum? Mandate referendum? Just give us a bloody in/out referendum.

  16. NickW
    November 20, 2012

    I am very much in favour of the double referendum; it needs to become Conservative policy.

    The campaign message to unite the country was written by someone else on another blog; I cannot remember the original author;

    “Love Europe; Hate the EU”

  17. Andy H
    November 20, 2012

    I would agree that this in principle would be a good idea, but for a few things.

    We have seen how the EU have treated populations that voted against them, but calling for a second referendum. They also are in a position for an expensive multiyear campaign (using our own money) to scare people in voting for them.

    Therefore this agreement would also need a clear timeframe, which is as short as practicable, and also an impartiality from BBC led propaganda.

    In short, the Pro EU BBC will need to be dealt with first, as a matter of national urgency.

  18. Peter van Leeuwen
    November 20, 2012

    Mr Davis’ idea is good, both for pro-Brixit as for anti-Brixit forces.
    1. it will give some public relieve – finally a referendum!
    2. it will allow for some fudge to allow the 2nd referendum to result in “yes” as well, the first referendum will almost certainly give a “yes”. Remember, no better fudge than European fudge, and the UK may get its totally uniquely tailor-made special and essential relationship with the EU.
    3. The pro-Brixit forces (like UKIP) will fight another day in their decades long battle for “amicable divorce”.
    4. Some anti-Brixit forces may yet awake from their hibernation, realise that they haven’t managed public opinion very well and find common ground on which to stage a campaign to remain engaged with the EU. I think these forces include the CBI, the City and the American government, powerful forces, which explains why both Cameron and Miliband are in the anti-Brixit camp.

    1. A Different Simon
      November 20, 2012

      Peter ,

      Re item 2 , you are right of course .

      There is absolutely no chance whatsoever that the UK will be allowed to leave the EU .

      The City of London , multinational corporations , shadow banking industry , the establishment in the US , UK and Europe , Council for Foreign Relations , the BBC , UK civil service , Murdoch and the EU all want the UK to remain in the EU .

      Even if by some miracle the loaded referendum question , scare tactics , saturation media campaign fail to deliver a remain-in result the votes will not be counted , collated and reported properly .

      The ruling class always get want they want and they want the UK in Europe .

      Anyone who thinks elections and referendums change anything or that the people have real power is naive .

      1. martyn
        November 21, 2012

        A different Simon. cold sensible logic. Also you are quite right.

    2. martyn
      November 20, 2012

      Peter: yes. Point 4. Quite Right. The Transatlantic Economic Council have been instructed by the EU to establish a new joint High level working Group on jobs and growth. It is designed to identify and assess options for strengthening the transatlatic trade and investment relationship especially in those areas with the highest potential to support jobs and growth.

      And where will plucky little Britain be when this all happens?

      on the outside looking in.

    3. Lindsay McDougall
      November 21, 2012

      The CBI never did represent the best of British business. It tends to consist of large, turgid, low profit and unambitious companies.

      From way in the past, there was a man called Sir Hector Laing, chairman of Jacobs biscuits. Enoch Powell addressed a CBI meeting and, as usual, he took no prisoners. Harold Wilson’s Labour government was in power at the time and Sir Hector wanted to show that his company would co-operate with the government of the day. When the time for questions came round, Sir Hector issued a long string of gobbledygook, with phrases like ‘industrial strategy’, ‘regional policy’, ‘prices and incomes policy’ and ‘cost push inflation’ coming forth in random order.

      “Stick to biscuits” said Enoch. Good advice.

  19. AndyC71
    November 20, 2012

    All very reasonable, but for one flaw… there won’t be any negotiation. Even if Brussels were to take Mr Cameron’s position seriously at this point -and regrettably I don’t believe they will – all they have to do is wait for the next pro-EU government to come along.

    The UK should withdraw and then begin negotiations. If that were party policy, then a parliamentary majority for it would be far more likely, in 2015 if not now. By carrying on like this, the Conservatives will just leak 10% to UKIP at every opportunity. And that, while I admire UKIP’s intention, has proved counter productive over the past decade or so.

    November 20, 2012

    A great idea! Now get on with it!

    1. RB
      November 20, 2012

      But what about those who want to say no to the first question because they want out. Are they then counted as content with things the way they are?

      A silly idea. Just get us an IN/Out referendum, you know, like the one you all promised us.

  21. Alan
    November 20, 2012

    I can’t see much point in the question for the first referendum. Who would vote ‘no’?

    I am pro-EU and I would vote ‘yes’. Logically a Europhile who wanted a fully integrated European state could vote ‘yes’. People who wanted less integration with the EU would vote ‘yes’. People who wanted more integration with the EU could vote ‘yes’.

    I think the only people who voted ‘no’ would be those who wanted things to stay exactly as they are and those who wanted out of the EU in any circumstance and did not want any negotiation at all. And maybe some people who didn’t understand the question.

    1. A Different Simon
      November 20, 2012

      Alan ,

      I think you have inadvertently lead us to the perfect solution .

      – Anyone residing in the UK who wants to be part of the EU should be assisted to move to Europe . That includes Mr Clarke and all our other MP’s .

      – Anyone who wants Britain to remain sovereign can stay here .

      Everyone can vote with their feet .

      1. A Different Simon
        November 20, 2012

        Correction : “anyone who wants Britain to BECOME sovereign can stay here” .

    2. Denis Cooper
      November 20, 2012

      Quite correct, somebody who wanted the UK to disappear up the fundament of a anti-democratic pan-European federal superstate could happily vote “yes” to that question alongside somebody who wanted the UK to be an independent sovereign state in perpetuity.

  22. Roger Farmer
    November 20, 2012

    Seems a reasonable proposal, however it must happen before the next election or Cameron and his Conservatives are dead in the water. There must be a fixed date for the final referendum or the EU will be encouraged to stretch it out ad infinitum. Lets have the first one in June 2013 and the follow up in June 2014. Promises of the process after the next general election will get laughed out of court by an already disillusioned electorate.
    If Cameron feels he can take us to war on his personal conviction then he can declare the referendum irrespective of Lib/Dem opposition. It is a battle in which life is not at risk, but which I would rate as more important than anything that has happened since the Second World War.

  23. Alan
    November 20, 2012

    And then there is the second question, which has a statement added to it to change its meaning. Some people might well disagree with the result of a negotiation and still want to stay in the EU.

    In my opinion a referendum question has to be unequivocal. It should not allow a ‘yes and no’ answer. The question almost has to be ‘Do you wish the UK to remain in the EU?’

  24. Andy
    November 20, 2012

    An excellent idea: lets get on with it.

  25. David Williams
    November 20, 2012

    How would it be known when the negotiations are complete? A fixed time period would have to be set between the first and second referenda.

    Who would be eligible to vote? UK nationals only? UK residents from other EU countries?

  26. Sue
    November 20, 2012

    “Do you want the UK government to negotiate a new relationship with the EU based on trade and political co-operation?”

    How do we know whether you lot are lying again? How can you be sure that the EU would be willing to negotiate at all? They seem rather keen on excluding us every time we object to something we are unhappy about but more than happy to take our money. Where are the powers that were going to be “clawed back” from your election promises? You can’t even honour a manifesto pledge.

    The UK government has lied consistently about the EU and it knowingly conned the British Public with the Common Market vote when they knew full well where it was headed.

    My opinion? Out first, then negotiation. You’re just not trustworthy.

  27. Disaffected
    November 20, 2012

    It is reported how Clarke has undermined Cameron, once again, on EU budget talks. A freeze is only a starting point for negotiations. And, once more, the public are left to wonder whether to believe a word Cameron says. In times of austerity and cuts backs, can the country afford a minister without a portfolio who has previous form for falling asleep on the job?

  28. Normandee
    November 20, 2012

    All well and good, but I am still waiting for an answer, let’s put it another way, do I support a Tory who is going to vote against everything that I want to see achieved, or give an opportunity to another candidate who is very definitely going to support the actions we all want to see ?

  29. Jerry
    November 20, 2012

    All very sensible, and only something an extreme europhobes and europhiles would baulk at.

  30. Bill
    November 20, 2012

    Happy to proceed on this basis, but it will be a rocky road. See Benedict Brogan’s comment in the DT recently:

    ‘His [Cameron’s] only hope of placating his own side is to deploy his veto to block whatever largesse is agreed, which brings its own perils.
    For a start, if he uses it to scupper a deal that requires unanimity, then the EU goes into special measures that mean British contributions automatically go up by more than inflation. The taxpayer on whose behalf he is acting would end up paying more for Mr Cameron’s failure to ensure he pays less.’

  31. Rebecca Hanson
    November 20, 2012

    This is a much better idea than trying to bring down the EU by preventing prisoners having the vote.

  32. kevin
    November 20, 2012

    The trouble with the first question is that it is so weaselly worded that you couldn’t vote either ‘yes’ or ‘no’ with confidence.

  33. stred
    November 20, 2012

    If only David and you were in charge….

  34. Winston Smith
    November 20, 2012

    Have you seen the newspapers this morning? The Metro – a free newspaper given out in urban areas, with a readership of 1.4m – has a four page spread on the benefits of immigration. It is paid for and is written by the EU. It states mistruths and lies from dubious sources as facts. Why are we paying for political propoganda from the EU?

    1. Jerry
      November 20, 2012

      Are you sure about that?…

      Strange but according to and their copyright info at the bottom of the page, plus the relevant page at Wikipedia [1] the newspaper title is owned by Associated Newspapers Limited – the publisher of the Daily Mail…

      But a nice rant Winston, thanks for the laugh!

      [1] Metro is a tabloid free newspaper available in parts of the United Kingdom and published by Associated Newspapers Ltd (part of Daily Mail and General Trust). It is distributed from Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays) on many public-transport services in selected urban centres across the United Kingdom and at other outlets such as cafes, workplaces, bus stops, etc. Distributors have also been employed to hand out copies to pedestrians.

    2. Jerry
      November 20, 2012

      Sorry but I might have miss read what you actually meant Winston, do you mean this was a four page supplement, paid for by the EU?

      But still the main thrust of my original reply still stands, it is a bit rich to criticise the use of half-truths and dubious sources when another title in the same group so often stoops to the same level and is then often held in high esteem by europhobes. Ho-hum…

    3. Excalibur
      November 20, 2012

      Well done for highlighting this treachery, Winston. For long I have scoffed at the idea of conspiracy theories. Not any longer. Having twice stood against tyranny in the last century we are now the target. What better way to progress towards a New World Order than to alter completely the demographics of British society. It will ensure that we will not stand in the way for a third time.

  35. Brian Tomkinson
    November 20, 2012

    There is a strong sense of deja vu about this proposal. In its February 1974 manifesto Labour pledged to renegotiate the terms of British accession to the EEC, and to then consult the people on whether Britain should stay in the EEC on the new terms if they were acceptable to the government. This was largely inspired by a split in the Labour Party over the membership entered into in 1973 by Heath. On 18 March 1975, Wilson declared “I believe that our renegotiation objectives have been substantially though not completely achieved”, and that the government would recommend a vote in favour of continued membership. After Parliament voted decisively in favour to continue membership of the Common Market the referendum was held with the question : “DO YOU THINK THE UNITED KINGDOM SHOULD STAY IN THE EUROPEAN COMMUNITY (THE COMMON MARKET)?” The referendum was held with a government recommendation that people should vote to stay in. Reading, or in my case re-reading, the pamphlet sent to voters is illuminating and I attach a link for any readers interested and also your colleagues to see how the people were duped all those years ago. You will therefore forgive me if I am less than enthiusiastic of another scheme which on the face of it seems to hold the possibility of leaving the EU but I fear is just another political ploy and a re-run of 1975. I voted ‘NO’ to our membership then and want to vote ‘NO’ to it now.

    1. Brian Tomkinson
      November 20, 2012

      I notice that once again my comment awaits moderation whilst many posted afterwards are showing.

      1. Mark W
        November 20, 2012

        Regarding posts, they appear to moderator (John himself I believe) last first. So anytime he logs in he gets them reverse order. As he can’t be expected to tie himself to a PC all day to moderate, some earlier postings can appear after later ones.

        In respect to your post. I have always feared that an IN/OUT referendum would be scare mongered by many media outlets, big business and main three parties that the result may not go my way (OUT). Personally I favour our elected MPs taking us out and then hold a referendum, if there’s demand, to rejoin. Then the real benefits of independence could be realised before a referendum.

        However, this is unlikely. David Davis appears to have come up with a solution that offer the public a vote framed in a way that would make it difficult to scare monger. (Not impossible and I’m sure it will happen). Quite a clever move. If this looks serious and a proper timetable is set in place, it must happen before the General Election, then Cameron could seriously wrong foot UKIP by finally giving into public demand.

        I would be very sceptical of any guarantee by Cameron for anything after the election, unless it was put forward that failure of a referendum in a new parliament by a certain date triggered a further disolution of parliament. I’m not sure that one parliament can bind another though.

        Reply Thank you – today I was very busy in Parliament and the response on this blog was huge. MY machine does not show the earlier posts until I have cleared the later ones, otherwise I would of course moderate in time order.

  36. Phil
    November 20, 2012

    I voted years ago for a europe wide free trade area.The pro european lobby extolled the virtues of cheaper goods and markets to capture my vote.What we actually got was an insidious european government by stealth culminating in the Lisbon Treaty which in any prior era would have resulted in the arrest and trial for Treason of all those who participated in this con.We want our country back, our laws back and our system of justice back, repeal of the human rights act and Qatada on the next plane out of here.I can only speak for myself but I am reasonably confident that a great many who voted in the same vein feel as trongly as I do now.

    1. Gwen Tanner
      November 20, 2012

      I agree totally with all the points you have made and do not believe that ‘sleepwalking out of the EU’ is the best way forward; we need to take a fasttrack route because this is what 57% of the electorate want and they want it now NOW!

    2. APL
      November 20, 2012

      Phil: “What we actually got was an insidious european government by stealth ..”

      We also got more expensive food (thank you CAP), restrictions on imports from New Zealand and Australia, which the French former colonies were not subject to, by the way (another Triumph of Conservative negotiation, one does have to wonder how they will fare this time when the EU has run rings around them so many times before?).

    3. uanime5
      November 20, 2012

      The ECHR and EU aren’t same thing so even if the UK leaved the EU people will still have human rights.

  37. Robert Christopher
    November 20, 2012

    “Do you want the UK government to negotiate a new relationship with the EU based on trade and political co-operation?”

    A No vote would imply that there would be no change, except that it is impossible, with the Euro Zone continually moving the goal posts. We would be left in this ridiculous position of becoming isolated, ever more second class citizens, yet still paying up!

    A Yes vote would allow the current EUrophiles to ‘non-negotiate’ us into an even worse position than we have now. How long would these ‘negotiations’ take? (Years, or even longer?) Would we need to have another vote? The EU has form on this! Did anyone expect, following Blair’s negotiated rebate reduction, that CAP would change? No, neither did I! We need to put our efforts into deciding what we want!

    Surely, is it beyond the wit of the current government to bring some proposals to the table, with some relevant information, so that it can be discussed (on the BBC!) and show to the rest of the world that we mean business? It would show them, and us, that we do know where we are going and how we are going to go about it. How about outsourcing it to some motivated people?

    We know that the vast majority are fed up with the EU and the direction that it is taking, so why not propose a course of action?

    Isn’t it that what national politicians are for?

    Cameron has been in Number Ten for over two years and NO visible progress has been made in this direction. In fact the opposite has been the case: no wonder UKIP are on the rise!

    1. Denis Cooper
      November 20, 2012

      “We know that the vast majority are fed up with the EU and the direction that it is taking”

      One good reason for asking the British people about the direction the EU is taking, which is in the general direction of “ever closer union” as mandated by the treaties right back to the very first line of the 1957 Treaty of Rome.

  38. Steve Anderson
    November 20, 2012

    This is absurd !!

    The government dont need an extra mandate from the people to go and renegotiate a better deal. Thats what they should be doing day by day.

    This is merely a tatic to kick it into the grass. Promise the electorate the first part of a referendum after the next general election. Then take 5 years renegotiating, then and only after the election after next promise an in-out.

    It just wont do, and you just dont get it do you.

    1. Jerry
      November 20, 2012

      Yeah, kick it into the long grass by passing a Bill that would require a referendum, presumably within a given timetable…Ho hum!

    2. APL
      November 20, 2012

      Steve Anderson: “This is merely a tatic to kick it into the grass.”


      But anyway, when did you believe a Tory promise – remember we are approaching a General election, they’re gonna get all Eurosceptic on our arses.

      We’ve had promises, what we want is action. Let’s see how the vote on the ECHR goes?

      1. Jerry
        November 21, 2012

        @APL: “We’ve had promises, what we want is action. Let’s see how the vote on the ECHR goes?

        Of course, but what is the alternative, unless someone can persuade Labour to take a leap to the far left and become europhobes (and Socialist) once again what choice is there? UKIP are not going to be able to do anything what ever they promise in their sun Twitter and Facebook feeds to their loyal and receptive supporters. As has been pointed out elsewhere, it would be a very good result for UKIP if they equal the LDs last election results but they would need 100 plus seats to force the issue and as for obtaining a parliamentary majority they don’t even contest 326 seats if I recall correctly!

        Reply There were 100 Conservatives pro referendum but we still have not been able to force that issue to a successful conclusion so far, but at least we are there with a voice and vote which means we do have some influence on events.

        1. APL
          November 22, 2012

          Jerry: “Of course, but what is the alternative, ”

          If you are a dyed in the wool Conservative who can’t countenance voting for another party, seek out and support (or stand as ) your local independent Conservative candidate.

          If like me you have become so disillusioned with the Conservative party and happen to live in a constituency where there are seventeen varieties of Socalist and one Blue Labour (AKA Tory) candidate, then you are effectively disenfranchised.

  39. Sean O'Hare
    November 20, 2012

    A convenient method of parking the “EU problem” until after the next election. No thanks, not good enough!

    1. Jerry
      November 20, 2012

      There is no mandate for the government to anything but, in case you had forgotten, the Tories failed to get a majority and the UKIP failed to get a single MP elected, so yes this might very well need to wait until after the next election when there will be (hopefully) be a mandate – assuming that UKIP have not consigned the UK to five years of a pro-EU government or coalition of course…

  40. WittringsfromWitney
    November 20, 2012

    Mr. Redwood,

    David Cameron talks about renegotiation, as does Andrea Leadsom and her group, as does David Davis and you.

    Would you please explain how this renegotiation process works? When and how does one go about it as there is no Article in the Lisbon Treaty to cover this procedure?

    There is of course Article 50 but this would mean the UK giving formal notice to quit and having done that immediately beginning negotiations for a trade arrangement similar to Norway (EFTA) or bilateral agreements as has Switzerland achieved.

    Rather than what are no more than vacuous statements about renegotiation, do you not believe that we, the people, should be told?

    Just asking, you understand.

    1. Jerry
      November 20, 2012

      The Lisbon Treaty doesn’t allow for Euro bailouts either, did that stop them?…

    2. APL
      November 20, 2012

      Whitterings from Whitney: “immediately beginning negotiations for a trade arrangement similar to Norway (EFTA) or bilateral agreements as has Switzerland achieved.”

      Do we even need that, simply apply to rejoin EFTA we are still in the WTO and we still have our permanent seat at the UN.

    3. Denis Cooper
      November 20, 2012

      Article 48 TEU on revision of the treaties, starting on page 41 here:

      That Article has already been used at least three times since December 1st when the Treaty of Lisbon came into force:

      1. At the behest of Angela Merkel, to amend the treaty provisions on the composition of the EU Parliament to allow three surplus Germans to keep their seats legally rather than illegally, approved by our Parliament through Part 2 of the European Union Act 2011:

      2. At the behest of Angela Merkel, to amend Article 136 TFEU to give the eurozone states the new legal right to set up the ESM bailout fund notwithstanding the “no bailout” clauses in the treaties, approved by our Parliament through this Act which came into force on October 31st 2012:

      3. To provide the Irish with the protocol promised to them as an inducement to vote “yes” in their second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, currently up for approval by our Parliament as part of this Bill:

      Section 2 of that Bill, which had its Second Reading in the Commons on November 6th:

      “2 Approval of Irish Protocol

      (1) Subsections (2) and (3) have effect for the purposes of section 2 of the European
      Union Act 2011 (which sets out requirements to be met before a treaty which
      amends or replaces the Treaty on European Union or the Treaty on the
      Functioning of the European Union may be ratified).

      (2) The Protocol on the concerns of the Irish people on the Treaty of Lisbon,
      adopted at Brussels on 16 May 2012, is approved.

      (3) That Protocol does not fall within section 4 of the European Union Act 2011
      (cases where treaty or Article 48(6) decision attracts a referendum).”

      1. Denis Cooper
        November 20, 2012

        That should have been “December 1st 2009”.

      2. WittringsfromWitney
        November 20, 2012

        Oh FHS! Don’t drag that red herring in again, please. What is it about the initials DC that those with them talk a lot about that which they know not?

        1. Denis Cooper
          November 20, 2012

          You asked a question, I gave you the answer; you may not like the answer, but that’s what it is; as you could easily check for yourself just by clicking on the first link, if you really wanted the answer rather than preferring to remain in ignorance so you could continue wittering on with the same old misleading nonsense.

          1. WitteringsfromWitney
            November 21, 2012

            Denis, We, the UK, are not asking for revision of the Treaty – we are specifically asking for certain powers back, we are asking to renegotiate our terms of membership. For that reason Article 48 cannot apply. Also where in Article 48 does the word renegotiation appear?

            If the UK is determined to renegotiation our membership then there is only one way – Article 50.

            It is perhaps opportune to note that John Redwood has yet to answer my question and one can but wonder why.

            Oh and I do not live in ignorance – I’d match my knowledge of matters EU against yours any day.

          2. Denis Cooper
            November 22, 2012

            Of course Article 48 TEU would apply, don’t be so stupid.

            If as you say the aim is to “renegotiate our terms of membership” that would mean changing the EU treaties, and Article 48 is about changing the EU treaties.

            It doesn’t have to include the word “renegotiation”; it says:

            “The Government of any Member State, the European Parliament or the Commission may submit to the Council proposals for the amendment of the Treaties.”

            and it even continues:

            “These proposals may, inter alia, serve either to increase or to reduce the competences conferred on the Union in the Treaties.”

            There’s no reason why the UK government should not submit proposals for treaty changes that it wants, in the same way that the German government submits proposals for, and gets, treaty changes that it wants.

            Reply If a state the size of the UK has the political will to renegotiate then there will be a renegotiation. If it produces something that the UK electorate want then it will entail Treaty change for the UK. If it does not then it will mean exit.

          3. Denis Cooper
            November 22, 2012

            Oh, and:

            “If the UK is determined to renegotiation our membership then there is only one way – Article 50.”

            is even more stupid, as Article 50 TEU on voluntary withdrawal is obviously about negotiating non-membership, not renegotiating membership.

  41. Sir Graphus
    November 20, 2012

    Sounds like two excellently worded questions.

    A straight in-out question is too decisive; out means out. In means agreeing to further integration, with the EU taking a “yes” to mean agreement to, on past records, 40 years of future treaties.

    1. Sir Graphus
      November 20, 2012

      But no doubt Nick Clegg will want to add a few words of his own and totally wreck it.

  42. Oswald Thake
    November 20, 2012

    The problem will be that none of the concessions made to Britain during successful negotations – or negotiations the Great and the Good will tell us are successful – will be honoured. The E.U. has form for this, and so have our politicians.

  43. The Meissen Bison
    November 20, 2012

    Hmmm. How about inserting the word “only” between “based” and “on” in the first question?

    As it stands, there’s too much wriggle room and the bulk of the voters, encouraged by the scare tactics of the ‘pros’, will probably accept whatever the Government comes back with, however inadequate, and vote in favour of proposition two.

  44. Johnny Norfolk
    November 20, 2012

    No. We want an in/out referendum and then just a trade agreement. The people have never been asked as the original referendum that I voted yes to, was based on lies.

    I want my country back.

    1. martyn
      November 20, 2012

      No – you didn’t read the treaties did you? Its all there from the Treaty of Rome 1957 onwards. The problem is that Brits like you did not bother to read the script.

      1. zorro
        November 20, 2012

        If you accept that, then you must accept that the politicians (our elected representatives) misled the British people….I am thinking about Edward Heath and the Labour Party with the subsequent referendum waffle….They all said that the UK would not lose its sovereignty and would continue to govern itself albeit ‘pooling its sovereignty’ for supposed common advantage. Oh, and there was the ‘Common Market’….Why did the politicians mislead the British public and not openly talk about what the Treaty of Rome really meant. Their bounden duty was to represent their electorate and ensure that our country was properly governed from Westminster without overbearing foreign influence…..


        1. martyn
          November 21, 2012

          zorro: of course they misled the British people. Because they could. They knew that most people would not read the treaties. Have you?

          1. zorro
            November 21, 2012



      2. Ian Marshall
        November 21, 2012


        It was sold to us as the Common Market and that was what we thought we were joining. With twenty twenty hindsight it now seems naive to say the least and has left our nation with a bad taste in its collective mouth. Since that time most of the countries in Europe have had the democratic opportunity of voting if they want their country to be a member of the EU, some of those countries twice especially, when they got the vote wrong. The British have not had the democratic opportunity of voting once on the EU even though our political leaders continually promised we would have. That is why plain and simply we want a vote and until we get it this will rumble on and on. Thus becoming a running sore in the side of the EU and seriously wounding successive British governments until we are forced to withdraw.

        1. martyn
          November 21, 2012


          I understand your point of view. Some governments in the past in the UK have stood on a EU/EEC exit manifesto. They did not get elected. Those against the EU have realised that the only way they can get what they want is a referendum. We don’t have referendums on any other constitutional issues; the monarchy, the church, NATO etc. Also no British Prime Minister of any hue wants to have his/her legacy of being remembered as the person who took the UK out of Europe. That is why they have passed the buck and will do what all governments do when it goes wrong: point to the people and say that was their choice.

          Reply We often have referenda on constitutional issues – devolution, elected Mayors, different voting systems, regional government etc

    2. Jerry
      November 20, 2012

      @Johnny Norfolk: “I want my country back.

      I wasn’t aware that the land mass known as Britain had vanished, but that might explain why I got my feet wet when I stepped outside though, oh hang on, it’s just raining! 🙂

      Sorry but I seem to be in a somewhat sarcastic mood this morning…

  45. martyn
    November 20, 2012

    Is this post serious?

    1. “Getting all shades of eurosceptic opinion behind a single proposition.”

    You wouldn’t even achieve this on this blog let alone the entire eurosceptic community.

    2. ” Ferry routes, airspace, pipelines, extradition, police intelligence and all the rest between the UK and the rest of the EU”

    No bureaucracy required then. We would deal separately with each and every country individually on all the issues you list above “and the rest” as they would be no longer bound to deal with us under any EU provisions?

  46. David
    November 20, 2012

    The only issue I see with David Davis’s proposal (apart from getting it accepted) would be timescale. Does the country have time for two referenda, and assuming the first one passes, how may years would government take on negotiations? I can see the second referendum never quite happening and nothing changing.

    1. lifelogic
      November 20, 2012

      I can see it never happening too.

  47. Jon Burgess
    November 20, 2012

    Ultimately this approach would give me what I want above all else – a say on whether we should remain in or pull out of the EU, so I would support it as an eventual means to an end. What worries me is the renegotiation that precedes it. We were lied to in 1975 by all the main parties about the nature of the Common Market so why would this be any different?Not to mention the untold pressure put on the electorate by the BBC, Brussels pensioners, pro EU business leaders, failed national politicians and other colleagues of yours to maintain the gravy train and status quo. I fear we would not be told the truth and the counter arguments would not get a fair hearing.

  48. James102
    November 20, 2012

    The EU is sold to the British public as an economic project yet we have never had an official cost-benefit analyses of our membership—-why?

  49. English Pensioner
    November 20, 2012

    I don’t think that the proposal is a good idea, it is certainly not a way to getting out of the EU
    Assuming that a new agreement is reached, it will be so technical that the general public won’t understand the detail and will have accept the government’s word that it is better for the country than the previous one.
    The government of the day will support it, after all they agreed it so it must be OK, the LibDems will support it as the lesser of two evils, and Labour with its love for centralised government will also support it. I cannot imagine the government would say “We’ve renegotiated, this is the best we could get but we don’t think that it’s good enough, so we recommend withdrawal”
    The electorate will accept the government view on the basis of “Let’s give it a try”. and we will remain in the EU.
    Note that yesterday Ken Clarke said “David Cameron assures the public, he’s always assured me, that he believes, as I do, that Britain’s place in the modern world has got to be in the EU.”
    Very clear to me, the Tory leadership will fight tooth and nail to stay in.

    1. martyn
      November 20, 2012

      English pensioner; last line. good. All is not lost then.

  50. Freeborn John
    November 20, 2012

    Overall, this is the beat proposal I have seen to date. It’s weak spot is that it drags things out. But equally if an Act is passed & first referendum held in this parliament it would be difficult for a Labour government to wriggle out of it after 2015.

    On another issue I do hope that Cameron will resist Eu ‘own resources’ in the 7-year budget discussions, including the eurozone Financial Transaction Tax revenue going direct to Brussels as an EU own resource / direct tax. I dont see why the eurozone countries should get a discount on their eu budget contributions equal to the tax they raise from use of a financial services industry predominantly located in the UK.

  51. Alan Wilkinson
    November 20, 2012

    It seems a sensible approach in the circumstances. If MPs represented their constituents, such an option might not have been needed.

  52. Brigham
    November 20, 2012

    Why mess about like that. What about “EU in or out?”

  53. Barry
    November 20, 2012

    Speaking as a British taxpayer living in France, we also need a renegotiated Double Taxation Treaty, because we’re now paying more in total to the UK and France than we’d be if we paid all of our tax in one country or the other.

  54. Ken Hall
    November 20, 2012

    What a time wasting load of expensive rubbish.

    A clear and growing majority want to withdraw from the foul and anti-democratic EU Why waste huge amounts of time and money to delay withdrawal as long as possible?

    Does that mean you want the “Go In Totally” (or GIT) lobby to have even more time to organise and lobby and create their own lie and fear filled campaign?

    Just get us the hell out of the EU as soon as possible, or watch in dismay as UKIP take enough tory votes to leave you in opposition to Miliband.

    The ONLY way the tories could win the next election is to change the habit of the last 30 years and stand up FOR the UK and give us the full, in or out, referendum on the EU BEFORE the next general election.

  55. roy
    November 20, 2012

    Cameron looking for face-saving miniscule tweaks to the EU budget so he can come back home looking as if he accomplished something.
    Well I keep posting this because it will come true shortly,
    Cameron WILL capitulate on the EU budget and British tax paters WILL stump up even more cash to the EU, There will of course be lots of posturing to give the impression that Cameron is dictating terms but its all bluster so dont be fooled.
    Cameron has claimed that Villans will NOT get the vote but he is allready talking of a fudge and some convicts WILL get the vote, so its even more bluster. His ploy is to throw the issue into the long grass instead of telling the ECHR to get stuffed
    Cameron will soon promise a referendum on the EU AFTER the next election and may well promise to put it into law. But there will be several caviates based on spurious renegotiations that will eventually deny an in/out referendum so do not fall for it.
    Cameron is a dyed in the wool Europhile and whilst his Eton cabal run the Tory party you will NEVER get out of the EU. And we can now look forward to vast numbers of immigrants from Rumania and Bulgaria who wil be entitled to benefits, housing, education and health care all at our expense.

    So vote UKIP at every opportunity

  56. Mark
    November 20, 2012

    I think pipelines are already covered by bilateral treaties such as:

    EU law might still apply at the foreign end of the pipeline, but the treaties require an element of compatibility between regulatory regimes already. In essence, there are separate agreements that handle such things as pipeline inspection and maintenance, and access rights etc. that are covered by commercial and operating agreements that have been approved by the authorities at each end. I think that the drafting of these treaties has learned from the initial Frigg Treaty that imposing a definitive timeline for the treaty to expire is not a good idea.

    I note several treaties for the holding of emergency oil stocks in foreign countries – again on a bilateral basis. It might be interesting to know how much oil is being held in this way compared with stockholding in the UK. I do not think that DECC publish figures for the breakdown, but it clearly has implications for the practicalities of security of supply as more and more UK refineries close, rendering their crude oil storage useless.

  57. Elliot Kane
    November 20, 2012

    The problem, IMO, lies with the first question, John. For several reasons.

    First and foremost, the question is unclear. “Do you want the UK government to negotiate a new relationship with the EU based on trade and political co-operation?” does not give a clear ‘what happens if we vote no?’ It could be read as ‘no means me stay as we are,’ ‘no means we go for greater integration,’ or ‘no means we leave the EU entirely’. Unclear consequences in any referendum question are never good.

    Secondly, where is the point in the first question? The EU does not return powers and it does not renegotiate to allow the return of powers to any member state. We know this already because they have said so many times. We also know that the EU has no respect whatsoever for democracy and does not care who has or does not have a diplomatic mandate. The entire history of the EU and referenda consists of either getting the people to vote again until they vote the ‘correct’ way or flat out ignoring the results. Why would anyone expect a British referendum to be viewed any differently in Brussels?

    The entire point of the EU is to build a United States Of Europe – a federal superstate. From their POV, Britain’s one real decision is to either be a part of that or leave. The rest is just dreaming. The other EU nations do not share the British desire for a close alliance of sovereign nations, and it’s past time our politicians accepted that basic fact (No insult intended to you, BTW, John. I do NOT see you as one of the delusional MPs).

    Essentially, the first question is a waste of time and millions of pounds of taxpayers money for no good reason. It will also delay the actually important referendum by years and possibly decades, as ‘when the negotiations are complete’ can mean ‘never’. Without an actual set timetable for the second referendum going in, the first is purely a Europhile delaying tactic.

    The only point of the first question that I can see from a Eurosceptic POV is to persuade a few Europhile MPs (Including the Prime Minister) to cross the Rubicon, whether they wish to or not. I don’t somehow think they – or the public – are going to be fooled.

    From a Europhile POV, it’s yet another way to put the issue off indefinitely – more ‘pie in the sky, by and by’.

    All the people of Britain want – by an increasingly large margin, according to all polls on the matter – is the straight in/out referendum.

    More delaying tactics and pointless muddle will not ‘unite all shades of Eurosceptics’. We are all pretty much united already: yes to free trade, no to everything else.

    The EU have no interest in negotiation. Neither do we. It’s time for a – hopefully cordial – parting of the ways. We want to be good neighbours instead of bad flatmates. It’s as simple as that.

  58. Rowley Pugh
    November 20, 2012

    In June 1975, at the age of 21, I voted to join the Common Market, this was to my understanding at the time the natural successor to our membership of EFTA (European Free Trade Association.) in fact that is how it was sold to me.
    37 years later, The Common Market has achieved metamorphosis and become the EU.

    This is not the animal in any shape, form or agenda I voted for.
    It is a product of Dr Frankenstein’s laboratory, rather than evolution.

    We can’t destroy the monster, but, by withdrawing our membership and support, it has a little less to feed on.
    To quote one of the Ancients of Greece, a state, desperately sad and mauled by the EU, even had its right to self determination removed to Berlin, or is it Strasbourg/Brussels.

    “One is rich not through one’s possessions, but through that which one can with dignity do without.” Epicurus

    1. ciconia
      November 20, 2012

      A little older, but I remember it well.
      It seemed so sensible and the antis seemed so paranoid; as if anybody could ever want or need anything more than a perfectly sensible trading arrangement and more cooperation now the last nastiness was behind us.

      1. Edward
        November 20, 2012

        Indeed Rowley, your account is exactly how I remember the original vote to join was explained to us.
        I also remember that broadly speaking the more left wing you were, the more against joining the Common Market you were.
        The Trade Unions were all against it saying it was a Tory and multi-national conspiracy designed to make the rich richer and the poor poorer.
        Strange how things have changed!

        1. Brian Tomkinson
          November 20, 2012

          I don’t remeber Enoch Powell being a member of the Labour Party!

  59. merlin
    November 20, 2012

    Your comment is just smoke and mirrors, my prediction in 5 years nothing will change, it is a political tactic to give the impression that Cameron is going to do something which he isn’t. The only way for the UK to leave is to have a large number of UKIP members of parliament and this will take time, unless John people like yourself join the party that puts Great Britain first. Cameron is a deeply committed europhile and will never change, just like Heath and Major.

  60. Tarfu
    November 20, 2012

    Yet again we have ‘renegotiation’ put before us as if it were a possible option.
    The following question has been raised on this blog and others time after time, but it needs to be repeated yet again:
    Can somebody, anybody, please describe the mechanism by which powers can be repatriated from the EU, other than by invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and negotiating a withdrawal. A brief overview will suffice.

    I have no doubt that there will be a deafening silence

    1. Denis Cooper
      November 20, 2012

      See above.

    2. Chris
      November 20, 2012

      I believe you are absolutely right to raise this, and I view with increasing irritation the confidence that politicians seem to have in this way forward. I do not believe this possibility exists (I have made separate comment on this). Are some politicians just simply waiting for an outright refusal from the EU to renegotiate/repatriate powers, so that then they can say to the UK people, that at least they had tried to stay in the EU? I just don’t know, but what I do know is that so many in the electorate do not like games being played. They want a straight question IN/OUT as soon as possible.

      Reply Of course, but the problem is the public also elected a Parliament which does not intend to vote for an In/Out referendum – we tried that so now we are trying another route.

      1. Denis Cooper
        November 20, 2012

        If intransigence on the part of some other EU member state governments meant we got nowhere with Article 48 TEU on revision of the treaties, then that would greatly strengthen the case for moving on to Article 5o TEU on voluntary withdrawal.

      2. Chris
        November 20, 2012

        We thought, misguidedly as it turned out, that we would get a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, which at least would have given us some sort of chance to voice concerns. On that basis, David Cameron won over a significant number of voters. Yes, we were foolish to be seduced. Contrary to what a lot of commentators said, we did not vote for a coalition, we voted for our party to win.

        Reply: The Conservative party made quite clear well before the election that in its view you could no longer have a referendum on Lisbon once it had been fully implemented and ratified by all member states. |There was nothing misleading about that statement. Some of us then went on to promise to vote for a referendum on the general issue of the EU, which we duly did last year in Parliament as promised.

        1. Denis Cooper
          November 21, 2012

          However that was an incorrect view, as shown by the fact that the 1975 referendum was a retrospective referendum; and Cameron’s argument that the Lisbon Treaty no longer existed as a treaty was false and misleading, as shown by the fact that it’s still included in the collection of treaties on the EU’s website:

          Reply NO Mr Cameron was not misleading. Once all countries had ratified Lisbon it became part of the Consolidated Treaties and the UK legally could no lonmger opt out or remove its ratification already granted by Labour. That’s why we moved on to needing a more general referendum. Mr Cameron and MPs like me tried to persuade the Czechs to hold out from ratifying Lisbon so we could hold a referendum on it and then scupper it,subject to the will of the voters.

          1. Denis Cooper
            November 21, 2012

            No, “consolidation” just means that the legal provisions of successive treaties have been combined into a form which is more convenient for checking the current position.

            Each of those treaties still exists a separate legal document, and in this case the Treaty of Lisbon is here:


            As with all of the previous separate treaties the Treaty of Lisbon involved the deposit of a separate instrument of ratification by the UK, but there is no new instrument of ratification for the “consolidated” versions of the treaties.

            If, as Cameron falsely claimed, the Treaty of Lisbon no longer existed as a treaty, what would now be the meaning of Section 2 of the European Union (Amendment) Act 2008, which added the Treaty of Lisbon to the list of treaties in section 1(2) of the European Communities Act 1972?


            Presumably we could say that as the Treaty of Lisbon no longer existed that could no longer have any effect, and if the government of another EU country said “You agreed to this with the Treaty of Lisbon” we could say “No longer exists, chum, and although back in 2008 we did pass an Act to approve it that no longer has any meaning because that treaty no longer exists, and obviously we can’t be bound by a treaty which no longer exists.”

            Reply : Lisbon no longer existed as a separate Treaty – it amended and was absorbed in to the otehr Treaties which now make up the consolidated Treaty. The point at issue, however, was primarily that once Lisbon was ratified by all countries there was no longer a legal opportunity to block it any more – it had become Euroepan law, thanks to Labour’s ratification for the UK and the final Czech ratification. We tried to get them to hold out so we could have let the UK voters vote it all down. Now we need to have a vote about the consolidated treaty.

          2. Denis Cooper
            November 22, 2012

            Clearly Lisbon does still exist as a separate treaty, which can be read at the link I gave below.

          3. Chris
            November 22, 2012

            With regard to Mr Redwood’s reply, as Denis Cooper states, the Lisbon Treaty very much exists as a separate treaty. It represents the latest amending treaty to the two founding treaties of the current EU, i.e. the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty establishing the European Community.

            To quote from “
            “The Lisbon Treaty is the latest of the Treaties which, to date, have amended the Treaties on the basis of which the Communities and the European Union were founded, such as the Single European Act (1986), the Treaty on European Union (Maastricht Treaty) (1992), the Amsterdam Treaty (1997) and the Treaty of Nice (2001)”. The Lisbon Treaty stands in its own right, and has not been “replaced”.

            Regarding your remarks on consolidation, there is also a consolidated version of the Lisbon Treaty available, which puts the two original treaties plus the Lisbon Treaty in one place. This consolidation of texts was simply to put all the material together and did not represent a change to the Lisbon Treaty nor a replacement of the Lisbon Treaty. It is simply an additional version which is basically easier to read/comprehend. See last sentence from
            “Why is the Treaty of Lisbon not easier to read?
            Changes to the EU’s Treaties have always come about through amendments to previous Treaties: this was true of the Single European Act, as well as the Treaties of Maastricht, Amsterdam and Nice. The Treaty of Lisbon uses the same technique………..A consolidated text of the two core Treaties, integrating the modifications which the Treaty of Lisbon lists in its articles, is also available.”

  61. Martin Ryder
    November 20, 2012

    This is a good compromise but I do not think that it is good enough. There is no time limit set for the end of the negotiations, they could go on for year after year until everyone is bored stiff with them. I am beginning to believe that the only way that the UK will be free from the EU will be if the whole rotten edifice collapses under the weight of the Euro.

    I consider that the Conservative Party should, between now and the next election, decide whether the party, not just the PM and his henchmen, is in favour of full membership or not and then fight the next election on their decision. Being honest with the people is a strange concept for a political party but it should be tried. It may mean that you will lose, whatever the decision, but that would be better than winning dishonestly.

    If the decision of the party is ‘not’ and you form the next government then you can start the process of withdrawal. If the decision is to remain in the EU and you form the next government then your leaders can go on their knees before Rumpy Pumpy and the Portuguese chap and do as they are told. At least you will have a democratic mandate.

    If the Conservative Party refuses, or simply cannot, make its collective mind up – which, let’s face it, is very likely – then your proposal is the next best thing. However I am not holding my breath whilst Dave dithers about whether to try the idea.

  62. A Different Simon
    November 20, 2012

    How about a Yes/No vote on a package of the following plus everything else which has been given away by your friends in Westminster over the past 40 years ?

    – Unlimited immigration from the EU
    – Unlimited immigration of people from countries outside the EU which the EU decides Britain ought to take
    – Removal of Habeous corpus
    – Revocation of innocent until proven guilty . Burden of proof rests with the defendant
    – Ratification by British citizens of the European arrest warrant principle and assertion that British courts are powerless to intervene
    – Indefinite detention without trial
    – Cross European secret police force
    – European taxation without represention
    – Ratification that policy be decided by an unelected commission
    – Obligation to house immigrants ahead of citizens
    – Driving on the right hand side of the road
    – Eventual adsorbtion of Britain into a country called Europe
    – Eventual replacement of sterling with the Euro
    – Replacement of a parliament in Westminster with administrative regions which cross current national borders
    – Requirement of licenses for leisure angling
    – Prohibition of working on your own car
    – Prohibition of washing your own car

    The British people need to know what they are letting themselves in for

  63. Lindsay McDougall
    November 20, 2012

    What David Davis has proposed is necessary but not sufficient. The negotiating position and the bottom line need to be spelled out in the General Election manifesto, and we need candidates who make that stance believable.

    That is why I am trying to stir up a grass roots campaign. All of you, please write to your MP or Conservative candidate, saying what you think the negotiating position and bottom line (minimum acceptable repatriation of powers) should be.

  64. GJ Wyatt
    November 20, 2012

    DD’s double referendum is a really good idea.

  65. Alte Fritz
    November 20, 2012

    As much as I loathe the EU, many of the comments posted are tendentious. We have been in for almost 40 years and need to present a case for leaving and that case really can only be that,current terms are unacceptable and that sufficiently attractive terms to remain have been refused.

    The suggested questions are clear and attractive which is one reason the Europhiles would not like them.

  66. Neil Craig
    November 20, 2012

    The LibDem manifesto said they wished a referendum on mem,bership. They were, of course, lying but the obviousness of the lie might giove they some pause before opposing a Tory call for refernmdums.

    Davis’ phrasing the pull out referendum beinmg a “no” vote for separation is masrginally loaded. “Yes” answers are marginally more likely to pass, as the SNP well know. However I do not copmplain strongly baout that – merely mentioning the fact.

  67. John Page
    November 20, 2012

    I didn’t understand the first question the first time I read it. In isolation it means nothing.

    Nor would it unite all strands of eurosceptic opinion – or are withdrawalists not recognised in the Senior Common Room?

  68. Neil Jennison
    November 20, 2012

    It isn’t going to happen. You can see the pro-Europeans mobilising…….just read the Guardian website. They will spend our money to frighten people with lies about the consequences of leaving.

    Cameron is pro-European too.

    Do you really think the Bildergers will allow their carefully crafted undemocratic Euro-state to fall apart?

    No chance whatsoever!

  69. Bert Young
    November 20, 2012

    I think that the David Davis proposal is both subtle and sensible . It is exactly the sort of approach likely to win overall consent in the H of C . I do agree with some of the responses so far that time scale could be problem , however , a suitable limiting feature could easily be built into the wording of the proposal . Rally the troops and go for it !!

  70. Denis Cooper
    November 20, 2012

    Even if the present government could and did get the present Parliament to pass an Act ordering that a referendum be held after the next general election, what would prevent the next government getting the next Parliament to repeal that Act?

    We come back to the fact that the present government stubbornly refused all proposals to entrench the so-called “referendum lock” law against easy repeal, so basically it’s not only a defective lock but a defective lock fastened to the door with the heads of the screws on the outside of the door where a burglar can easily get to unscrew them and so remove the lock.

    There are a number of ways that an Act ordering a referendum could be entrenched, but would we once again see Lidington with that silly smirk on his face, saying that there was no need for any entrenchment?

  71. Muddyman
    November 20, 2012

    In or Out – that is the question, the rest is just verbiage.
    We want no more ‘cast iron guarantees’ just a straightforward voting opportunity.

  72. John Orchard
    November 20, 2012

    The reason Cameron will not have a referendum is he knows fine well the vote would be to leave the Eu. If you watched Question Time last week Nigel Farage was quite clear in his summation that if you left the ECHR then you would have to leave the EU. Perhaps that says it all as to why Cameron promised a referendum but renaged ( among most other manifesto pledges ) as he knew this as fact.

  73. Daniel Thomas
    November 20, 2012

    The problem with this proposal is the timescale. This could take decades by which time the country will have passed the point of no return.

    To hurry things along it would help if during the course of the negotiations and until the second referendum is complete, no further powers, competences or money will be handed over to Brussels.

  74. Denis Cooper
    November 20, 2012

    I broadly agree with the approach advocated by David Davis, but:

    1. The “mandate referendum” should be held in 2013, not promised for 2016.

    Some will say that the present Parliament would not pass an Act ordering a referendum in 2013, but much the same applies to an Act ordering a referendum in 2016.

    2. Rather than his rather vague question, my preferred question would be very specific and would get to what I see as being the true heart of the matter, what kind of destiny we want for our country.

    So I would have something something like this printed on the ballot paper:

    “”Under the present treaties of the European Union the United Kingdom is committed to a process of “ever closer union” with the other countries in the European Union.

    Do you wish the United Kingdom to continue further with this process of “ever closer union”?”

    If the answer was “No, we don’t want to continue further with the process of “ever closer union” with the other countries in the European Union” then the UK government would have to seek very different treaty arrangements with those other countries.

    Either alone, or in concert with some of those countries where the peoples also felt that they’d already gone far enough or too far with that process and they didn’t want to go any further.

    Some will say that this question would be too technical for ordinary voters to understand, but if that’s the case maybe we shouldn’t bother with a referendum because after 40 years surely it should have become very widely understood that in 1972 we signed up to a treaty which has this as its very first line:

    “DETERMINED to lay the foundations of an ever-closer union among the peoples of Europe”.


    “DETERMINED to faciliate and encourage trade between our respective countries”


    “DETERMINED to lay the foundations of an ever-closer union among the peoples of Europe”

    And every subsequent integrationist measure has sprung from that paramount treaty commitment, which was reiterated in the Maastricht Treaty 20 years ago now:

    “RESOLVED to continue the process of creating an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe”.

    Is this what we want? An unremitting, unlimited and largely uncontrollable process of “ever closer union”, until our country no longer exists as an independent sovereign state in any meaningful sense?

    1. Peter van Leeuwen
      November 20, 2012

      Consider as a simple question:
      Do you want for the UK a new relationship with the EU instead of “ever closer union”?

      1. Denis Cooper
        November 21, 2012

        Treaty relationships which are not predicated on a commitment to a process of “ever closer union”, of course; what could be described as normal treaties, based on the presumption that the UK and probably other countries are determined to remain independent sovereign states in perpetuity and are making treaties for strictly limited and clearly defined purposes, and not as part of an ongoing process of merging many countries into one country.

        1. Lindsay McDougall
          November 21, 2012

          Therefore, the relationship that you want could be approximately expressed in terms of the Acts of Accession that you want repealed.

          I have specified the repeal of Maastricht, Amsterdam, Nice and Lisbon as a minimum.

          I could just about live with the CAP, the CFP, the Treaty of Rome and the Single European Act, provided that all references to ‘ever closer union’ were removed and the supremacy of European Courts was limited stricly to agreed trade related harmonisation.

          Where to you stand? We all need to make our minds up. JR is hardening every day. He wants out and he scents victory.

          1. Denis Cooper
            November 22, 2012

            I think it would have to be in the preamble to the new treaty, replacing the commitment to a process of “ever closer union” with a clear statement that the UK was making the treaty for limited purposes, that the intention was that the UK would remain a fully sovereign state and yes, that national law as passed by Parliament remained our supreme law.

  75. Jeremy Poynton
    November 20, 2012

    Rubbish. In or Out. And if the latter, then we decide what we renegotiate. I’m sick of politicians refusing to acknowledge what the country wants, and Davis’s proposal doesn’t. Indeed, does not the Lisbon Treaty state that a country has to leave to renegotiate anything? Stop sodding pussyfooting about for heaven’s sake.

    Leave, and rebuild out ties with the Commonwealth. After all, the economy is globalised, are we not told all the (bloody) time?

    1. Denis Cooper
      November 20, 2012

      “Indeed, does not the Lisbon Treaty state that a country has to leave to renegotiate anything?”

      No, it doesn’t, see above.

  76. Norman Dee
    November 20, 2012

    So you are reduced to erasing my question, rather than answering it. It doesn’t mean the question has gone away, and you must ask yourself why it is that you cannot find an answer, or why your only realistic answer is one that you cannot admit because you are afraid I am right.

  77. Bernard Juby
    November 20, 2012

    “negotiate a new relationship with the EU based on trade and political co-operation?”
    Fine words but what does “political co-operation” mean precisely????
    Surely we already have this with all English-speaking Nations as well as many others to boot. Why does this have to go in – unless they want to be able to tell us that most of the pomitical baggage that we want to get rid of is still negotiable – which it ain’t?
    Bring back EFTA, Bring back the Hanseatic League, bring back the Common Market – all is forgiven!

  78. Dr Dan H.
    November 20, 2012

    What an arse-about-face way of performing a simple action! Just what you’d expect from a politician trying to pull a fast one, in fact. What I suspect will happen is that Cameron will win a resounding vote for renegotiation, win back a few paltry powers (probably those which were never EU competencies anyway) then refuse to hold a proper IN/OUT referendum.

    In other words, he’s trying to set us up for a fiddle, a fix-up, a con. Typical of the man that he’s making such a ham-fisted mess of it.

    What we want is simple: a straight IN/OUT referendum which if the vote is for OUT, repatriates absolutely ALL powers to the UK. Once this is done, and we have sorted out the inevitable immigration mess that will result (etc), then we start talking to the EU.

  79. ciconia
    November 20, 2012

    The suggestion presupposes first, that we could agree what we want and get credible, i.e. not housetrained, representation for a beneficial renegotiation. Our own politicians at the highest level do not inspire confidence or trust.
    Second, that the eu would agree to renegotiate. We are +/- the second largest member. Given the current diversions and risks in the eu and eurozone, wouldn’t a sensible eu response be either a flat no, or later, can’t you see we’re rather busy at the moment? If so, we are left to either walk away, or be on the naughty step as was Germany, for fifty years. We’ll certainly pick up the blame for everything and anything for the rest of this century.
    We know where the eu is headed; at present it’s pretty inevitable we’ll be there too, it just takes us longer to surrender. The elites can argue what’s best for us, in or out. Like the euro experiment, we really don’t know what might happen, but the way the eu is handling it’s problems doesn’t inspire confidence, and there is every indication that this club is about to become very expensive and difficult.
    My own instinct is for honesty and to manage as amicable a seperation as possible.
    The longer it’s left the more the chance of events determining action instead of us.

  80. merlin
    November 20, 2012

    David Davis is ancient history, or a dinosaur who should retire now.

    John Redwood is a backbencher and not a member of the cabinet

    They are both voices from the past and have no future in the present government, in other words no influence on government policy at all.

    The majority of all MP’s are federal Europeans, there is a small minority who are supposedly anti European, although I have my doubts.

    The EUSSR is dictatorial and extremely powerful, and will do what it chooses to do regardless of the insignificant UK Parliament.

    The above is how it really is.

    Your blog, John, is really not helpful and will never happen and is in fact a complete fantasy, but, I honestly think you know that anyway

    There is a new reality, Great Britain is imprisoned in a German dominated, Super State, and will never escape.

    The solution a political party that has an overall majority of anti EUSSR MP’s, this can only happen if there are UKIP MP’s, that is the future and that is the answer.

    If this does not happen then the UK will become just another region of the EUSSR and cease to be a Nation State.

  81. bob webster
    November 20, 2012

    How long would the government need to renegotiate the terms of UK memberhip? A year? Two years? Five Years. During that period would they accept the imposition of further laws and regulation from Brussels, including plans to oversee immigration, social housing policy, the welfare system and the regulation of banking? What would ‘ political cooperation” comprise? Would the government offer a menu of powers to be repatriated before the first referendum, for example, a reclaiming of our fisheries and a firm undertaking to withdraw from the EU human rights laws that ensure that the UK can never remove undesirables such as Abu Quatada? Let’s have a straight in out vote – much simpler.

  82. roy
    November 20, 2012

    UKIP third at Corby with over 14% of the vote and the Limp-Dems loosing their deposit. Cameron’s arrogance has torpedoed ANY chance of a Tory victory for at least a decade it’s time he went. Ferage must be laughing for in spite of the deliberate efforts by the media to ignore or ridicule UKIP they are not only stitching up the Tories but are making the Liberals look as popular asAbu Hanser as he’s got both parties now on the ropes and it serves them right
    If the electorate do not get a binding in/out referendum before the next general election the Tory party is toast. Look at the results of the recent election in Maidenhead, Tories gone Liberal in massive loss of votes to UKIP. In 2013 this Tory government will allow unfettered access to Rumanians and Bulgarians who will automatically be entitled to benefits, free health care, free education, housing and jobs. Meanwhile we have more than a million unemployed and are under funding the NHS and closing old folks homes. If a political party was ever contemplating political suicide today’s Tories are setting a benchmark. You couldn’t make it up
    Just think about this, UKIP only really came to the fore after Brown signed the Lisbon treaty. However in spite of the fact that the Tories are the most established political party in the UK and both they and the Liblabs have far more financial support and better structured organisations the Corby results are significant for the following reasons

    UKIP had never fielded a candidate in Corby before and from a standing start took 14% of the popular vote. This was more than half of the 26% won by the Tories and almost 4 times the votes won by the Libdems who in spite of their cash and organisation lost their deposit. This UKIP result is breathtaking under the circumstances and only an idiot would fail to see their potential for clearly cash does not necessarily convert into votes


  83. pedroelingles
    November 20, 2012

    One Referendum is all that is required or likely to satisfy the electorate. Two Referendums will divide any chance demanded for an unequivocal historical decision and so, by being split, this country will finally be lost. The issue is perfectly straight forward with the electorate wanting an In or Out decision without any “Ifs” or “Buts”. Anything else no matter what it may be, is a mere prevarication, a playing for time and presumably with the hope that there will at some point in the future be a less than 15% turn-out whereby any result would be deemed unacceptable anyway. This is supposed to be a Democracy with majority rule however it is beginning to appear that too many of our elected representatives are professional politicians seeking successful advancement in their chosen careers. It does increasingly seem that in many cases the clear wishes of a majority of constituents are being ignored. Sadly Government is moving against the tide and is stubbornly splitting up its mandate and endangering the nation. Nero fiddled and now we are beginning to feel the heat. The people demand a Referendum not two or three or even four and neither, when/if they get it, do they want to have it mixed up with any Local Elections, etc., of any type whatsoever aimed as a last minute ploy at confusing the elusive voting day which so many desire. Pedroelingles.

  84. Dr Pangloss
    November 20, 2012

    What is the point of the first referendum exactly? Why not have a referendum asking if you would like politicians to act in the national interest. DD’s first referendum looks like some sort of device to persuade UKIP not to shaft the Tories. It will be expensive. If voters think politicians are using referendums to encourage them to do what they are there for anyway, there may well be a low turnout: what legitimacy will that give the people who … er … “want the UK government to negotiate a new relationship with the EU based on trade and political co-operation?”

    Then there is form. Beyond the occasional face saving deal, our politicians – and I include Margaret thatcher in this category – have negotiated with about as much success as Chamberlain did with Hitler over a rather longer period. Why? Well the clue is in the second word of the institution’s title: European Union. They want a political and economic union. That is what we call a sovereign state. Since the British have had a pretty decent, democratic one since 1688, its citizens have a simple choice: shall we stay or shall we go?

    Reply The purpose fo the first referendum is to show the rest of the EU they are not just dealing with a few Eurosceptic MPs in government, but with the settled will of the British people.

    1. Brian Tomkinson
      November 20, 2012

      Reply to reply,
      The EU totally disregards public opinion. What you seem to be saying is that they also adopt the same attitude to our elected Government. That is why we must leave as soon as possible.

  85. Chris
    November 20, 2012

    David Davis’s idea is unrealistic, I believe, because the EU will simply not wait for us. A referendum would have to be offered at a much earlier time i.e in the next year for it to have any chance of being effective, and with a much more honest question (and less open to later misinterpretation) e.g. along the lines suggested by Denis Cooper.

    I also feel that the idea of renegotiating repatriating powers back is based on a false premise. This would simply not be possible – Schauble in his Greenwich address made it quite clear, Barroso too with his remarks about not cherry picking bits here and there.
    For those in any doubt as to current thinking in the EU, have a look at Der Spiegel article today – a somewhat impolite article about Cameron, referring to his weakness, his dithering, his diplomatic ineptitude, and how he is not addressing the fears of the UK people about being swallowed up by the Brussels monster. It then goes on to refer to him indirectly as a “radical egotist” only half heartedly engaged in Europe, with the potential to destroy the entire project….They sound pretty annoyed to me, and there is an impatience evident.
    “…Cameron is doing nothing to combat those fears. And his strategy of inaction could very well lead to a situation in which the UK stumbles out of the EU accidentally. Britain’s ongoing assessment of EU integration in the search for elements it would rather do without is both undignified and dangerous. The rest of the club should refuse to play London’s game.
    Europe lives from the passion of its members and from their willingness to accept responsibility and obligation. Radical egotists who are only half-heartedly engaged have the ability to destroy the entire project.”
    “….Britain’s erratic position is increasingly becoming an annoyance for the UK’s partners on the other side of the Channel…”

    1. Denis Cooper
      November 20, 2012

      I’d like to read that article, but your link isn’t working.

      1. Chris
        November 21, 2012

        I have tried several times to post direct link and get spambot message. So, hopefully this will pass: try going to
        and search for article entitled: Britain’s EU Wavering. What Cameron Doesn’t Know Could Hurt You

        1. Denis Cooper
          November 21, 2012


          “Cameron simply doesn’t know what he wants from Europe and lacks a strategy.”

          I think maybe he does know, but he also knows that what he really wants would be totally unacceptable to most of his parliamentary and wider party, let alone the great majority of the British people, and so he has to conceal his true wishes and intentions behind a show of “euroscepticism”.

  86. nemesis
    November 20, 2012

    “Do you want the UK government to negotiate a new relationship with the EU “?
    Is divorce an option?

  87. Antisthenes
    November 20, 2012

    On the face of it a good idea. However why the need to have two referendum surely the minimum acceptable range and outcome from any negotiation should be established first if not achieved then the verdict would be to withdraw from the EU. The obvious minimum outcome is the acceptance that UK national law takes precedence over EU law. That would provide for opting in or out things EU as circumstances and public opinion dictates. That way the UK public can decided what they want to be excluded from or included in in EU affairs.

  88. Normandee
    November 20, 2012

    It has been pointed out to me that as a politician you cannot answer my question because of a mental block against actually saying yes or no preferring to obfuscate the questioner and make no real decision at all. And we all thought you were different !

  89. backofanenvelope
    November 20, 2012

    As Ciconia observes, they are “rather busy” at the moment. Let’s just keep our heads down, say as little as possible and agree to nothing. The whole thing will implode quite soon.

  90. Paul
    November 20, 2012

    As long as David Cameron is leader of the Conservative Party there will be no referendum with an option to withdraw completely. This double referendum proposal seems unnecessary – the British people are hardly likely to reject the idea of trade, cooperation and repatriation of powers. The first question is pointless. The referendum should be a single, simple, straightforward in/out question. Any chance of this happening with Cameron as leader? No. Any chance of the double referendum with the option to leave happening with Cameron as leader? No. Vote UKIP.

  91. pedroelingles
    November 20, 2012

    I note that Gideon Rachman writing in the FT states that “….beyond the EU budget, the basic British objection is that the EU is involved in all sorts of things that are better left to Nation-States …. A repatriation of some Powers from Europe … would give the British Government the arguments it needs to win a referendum to STAY in Europe.” How right is Mr Rachman and you cannot be more precise than that. Read his words slowly whilst bearing in mind the percentage of the British electorate demanding a simple unadorned “In/Out of the EU” Referendum then the inference is clear that the Government is conspiring with the EU to pay well advertised lip-service to the British electorate and clouding the issue. In other words a few glorious claw-backs of some “powers” with full Media treatment, flag waving, etc., will put a genuine Referendum on the back-burner probably for ever. Such “powers” could always be returned to the fold later of course. It seems to me that with the exception of a growing number of MPs the Gods in Government are desperately and intentionally trying to fob us off and are no longer representative of the majority of the electorate. pedroelingles.

  92. Atlas
    November 20, 2012

    A good suggestion by David Davis; let us see if Cameron heeds it.

  93. alan jutson
    November 20, 2012

    This would perhaps be acceptable if as David Davis suggested, the exact proceedure, including timescales was made into LAW.

    Thus the promise to hold a referendum could not be broken by any other Party at a later date (unless that law was repealed I assume).

    If we are to simply rely upon politicians promises, then it is a complete waste of time.

    Absolutely no point in promising this for the next term.

    It needs to be done and set in motion BEFORE the Next General Election.

  94. Denis Cooper
    November 20, 2012

    As an aside, the Irish have just had a referendum on children’s rights, and the Supreme Court has found that the government broke the law by running a biased “information campaign”:

    Not the first time that the Irish government has done this, in fact it always does it for EU related referendums, but it’s the first time that the court has upheld a complaint since the 1995 decision on the McKenna case.

    I’d expect the same here for any referendum on the EU, as in 1975, and of course getting a complaint upheld after polling day wouldn’t make any difference to the outcome.

  95. Alan Wheatley
    November 20, 2012

    While perhaps not the heart of David Davis’s proposals, certain one of the intended consequences can be found in his speech to Conservative Home on Monday afternoon. Towards the end he says “And I am not at all sure how UKIP would do in the European election once the government has faced up to this Policy properly [i.e. of offering a double referendum]”.

    Should there be doubt as to the meaning, Conservative Party Home website makes the intention clear in their precis of the speech when they report “In short, he believes that only action, not words, can now see off UKIP (which fits in with his declaration on Marr yesterday that another referendum pledge by Mr Cameron wouldn’t now be trusted).  Mr Davis referred to his strategy as a “UKIP killer”.”

    This explains the timing and the double referendum. Get the first referendum (which is neither here nor there in the grand scheme of things) in before the European Elections in 2014. As for the second referendum, David Davis helpfully makes clear in his speech the extent to which the electorate can rely on having their say when he explains “Crucial to this principle of people power is the rule that a government cannot bind its successors”. Even a future Conservative government could find a way to get out from a law passed by the Coalition, so the promised second referendum could evolve into something quite different to the promise currently being dangled before us.

    Reply: The aim is to give people a chance to vote for out, and to ensure that the EU is well aware of what the British people will do in the vote if they do not offer us a new relationship that makes sense.

    1. Brian Tomkinson
      November 20, 2012

      Reply to reply,
      We know that the EU totally disregards public opinion. What you seem to be saying is that they also adopt the same attitude to our elected Government. That is why we must leave as soon as possible.

    2. Alan Wheatley
      November 20, 2012

      Re reply: David Davis clearly thinks there will be supplementary benefits to be had for the Conservative Party by seeking to achieve the aim this way. Others in the Conservative Party may be more attracted to his proposal by the supplementary benefits rather than by the aim.

  96. Barbara Stevens
    November 20, 2012

    I’m a bit concerned here, what does ‘political cooperation mean’ really. For any loop holes in this question and if , God for bid, a Labour government were to get back in, could they use this to begin the process of edging further back in again. For we all know Miliband wants to remain in, as he said this week; what the nation wants appears not to matter one jot. Its this lot I really worry about, we all know the mess we were left in and they are in denial about it all; so we can assume they would just ignore us over the EU.
    Other than that, for myself it would be to come out, with a trade agreement only. Nothing else, and political will would have to be scrutinised carefully. Once out we don’t want MPs creeping us back in by the back door; its all about trust, and I don’t trust Labour one bit. Cameron has his faults but I’d much rather trust him with the nation than anyone else. UKIP will never really be strong enough I don’t think, but I’d definately vote for the Conservatives if we had this referendums before the next election so the problem is settled once and for all and we know our way forward as a nation. I cannot understand why Cameron won’t agree to it, as for Clegg his position is such he will be lucky to maintian his seat, he cannot afford to be seen as the man who stopped a referendum. I hope Cameron goes for it, insists its the nations choice, and gives us the right to choose our own destiny.

  97. roundhead
    November 20, 2012

    Excuse me, but may I may be so bold to say that I do not trust politicians enough to believe that what they might “say” will have been won in negotiation after the first referendum will have any basis in reality? Even so, what can be negotiated back is something that has previously been negotiated away, and so, by nature, is something that can be again negotiated away at a later and more expedient time, while we yet remain bound in that despicable institution of the EU. Unfortunately, there are possibly enough gullible people around to swallow this ill-thought-out/mendacious scheme to ward off the present threat to the Conservative Party from UKIP, which is probably what it is all really about.

  98. Jon
    November 20, 2012

    Its a great idea.

    I assume for after the next GE so should get the eurosceptic vote. It would force Ed Milliband, Labour and the Lib Dems to be peo EU, which they are but stop them trying to fool some voters.

    I think it may even take a little pressure off the upcoming treaty for the PM if he went down this road.

    It would need to secure any loopholes, such as if it was agreed to proceed on a different relationship that it wouldn’t be easy for a future government to inch us back in.

  99. uanime5
    November 20, 2012

    The UK’s bargaining position is only strengthened if the UK has something the EU wants. If the EU can trade in more or less the same manner if the UK leaves then the UK has very little to bargain with. However if the UK leaves the EU trade between the UK and EU will resume on the EU’s terms not the UK’s because the EU’s negotiating position is stronger since 50% of the UK’s trade goes to the EU but only 10% of the EU’s trade goes to the UK.

    Given how the public voted in favour of remaining in the EC it shouldn’t be assumed that the public wants or care about a new relationship with the EU.

    1. uanime5
      November 20, 2012

      One problem with using the referendum to negotiate is that it won’t be seen as representing the UK if only a small percentage of the population vote in it. For example if this referendum has the support of 51% of the voters but there was only a 15% turnout, just like the PCC election, then the EU is likely to say that this referendum lacks credibility as it only represent the views of just over 7% of the voters.

  100. Chris
    November 20, 2012

    An excellent article in D Tel which should be digested by all politicians before they decide on any strategy, including double referendums (written by someone who worked at Cons HQ). I think there will be many on this website and Conservative Home who will be delighted by this admission that the relentless pursuit of focus groups, deciding policy on the basis of what they think the voters would like to hear, and the fear of discussing issues that may lose votes has been a disaster for the Conservatives.
    “The Tories have gone astray – and I helped.Ever since 1997, the Conservative Party has put strategy above principle, with disastrous results” by George Bridges.

  101. MrDavies
    November 20, 2012

    Part one is a distraction.

    Vote IN or vote OUT.

    If the INs have it, they can negotiate all they want.

    Reply The present Parliament will not vote for an In/Out referendum – that is the whole point of this.

    1. MrDavies
      November 22, 2012

      The present parliament should vote for an In/Out referendum – that is the whole point of *this*.

  102. Jon
    November 20, 2012

    Every company comes to this crossroads point.

    It either looks to the future of where its trade is and what it needs to do to restructure, a difficult few years. Alternatively it can carry on regardless with what it is familiar with and go bust.

    I hope our executive make the right choice and be bold at this crossroads.

  103. Tom William
    November 21, 2012

    Of course economic arguments are important (and several mentioned here are inaccurate or ignorant) but so are others. Samuel Adams, a Founding Father and cousin of President John Adams wrote:

    If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquillity of servitude than the animating contest of freedom—go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen!

    Worth pondering?

  104. David Langley
    November 21, 2012

    The BBC is our public service broadcaster, for too long now they have been broadcasting information that is wrong about the legal and historical facts of our being in the EU project.
    Why has there not been a series of programmes building to the present day situation?

    The excellent plethora of genuine non political experts can deliver the facts and the history while politicians can discuss and present their reasons for remaining in or withdrawing from the Federal states of Europe.

    This would then follow the facts of doing either. Hopefully it would help prevent the lies and distortions being put about as at present painting a very confusing picture. Some on this blog are driven by beliefs based on little knowledge of actual EU facts, others have read and understood the problems leading from of a no to the EU vote. A yes vote would release governments to consider full blown membership, with our future completely subsumed into the corrupt EU project. Do we trust politicians to allow the British public full knowledge of the true EU project? My guess is we will enter a referendum with most of the electorate thinking we are still voting for the “Common Market”, and vote yes to our ultimate defeat.

  105. The PrangWizard
    November 21, 2012

    Whilst i go along with the desire to be out of the EU, i would just make the point that the idea that we have a united Union and the British people will vote ‘as one’ must be questioned. British MPs cannot go on assuming they speak for everyone, there is no Britain in the old sense. NO MP speaks for England, because England does not have its own parliament.

    Can we imagine a scenario where the Scots vote to stay with the EU because of their aims for independence. The English vote against.
    What if the vote is close but the Scotish votes sway the outcome against English wishes?

    The English vote will not be recognised as valid because our existence is currently denied, not only constitutionally here, but the EU does not recognises us.
    Scottish self-determination will be accepted because Scotland is recognised by the EU.

    The English may have accepted such a result before devolution but surely not now.
    How can any such matters be regarded as legitimate for the English?

    Until England has the same rights to self determinationas the Scots all ‘British’ ideas and parliamentary votes will be a cause of friction.

    An English parliament must come before everything else.

    Reply As an Englishman representing an English constituency I can speak for England and often do.

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