Mr Cameron set out a good vision of the UK negotiating a new relationship with the EU. He does recognise that the Euro area is rushing on to full political, monetary, banking, and economic union. He has no more wish to belong such a union than many of you or me. He is in Coalition with a party which does welcome the current unacceptable level of European authority in the UK, and would happily accept more. There is little chance of the Lib Dems in the Coalition agreeing to early action to negotiate a new relationship or to hold an In/Out referendum.
The policy of negotiate and decide for after the next election is fine. Those who claim the EU will not negotiate or will not offer anything we could accept will have their chance to vote for exit should that prove to be the case. The problem is many do not want to wait another two years before we start this process. Some want proof that a future government will deliver the In/Out referendum, whilst others worry that there could be another federalist Lib/Lab government elected instead.
That is why some of us favour the Mandate referendum soon. This would ask the question Do you want the UK government to negotiate a new relationship with the EU, based on free trade and political co-operation? This might get through even the current House of Commons were the Conservative leadership to adopt it. It is difficult to believe Labour would join the Lib Dems in wanting to vote this down.
If it did take place it is likely a very large majority of the British people would vote Yes. This would strengthen the Prime Minister’s hand with EU member governments, showing that he was speaking for the overwhelming majority of the British people and not just for the largest minority party in the Commons. It would also make it more difficult for other parties in the House to seek to block a renegotiation which I suspect is much sought after by the British people.