Which referendum and when?

 

           There are four possible referenda on offer at the moment and in discussion in Westminster.

1. There is Mr Cameron’s proposal,a  referendum in 2017 on the question

Do you wish to accept the new relationship with the EU we have negotiated, or leave the EU?,

to be legislated for now.

2. There is the UKIP favoured In/Out referendum as soon as possible.

3.There is the Mandate referendum now, on the question

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

to be followed by an In/Out on the new terms

4.There could be a hybrid, offering voters a choice between In/Out and renegotiate.

             The advantage of the hybrid is it could give a mandate for renegotiation if that is the most popular, or could lead to early exit if there is a strong majority already for that course of action. The problems with the hybrid include the likelihood that no one course of action gets an overall majority, undermining its authority, and the lack of much support for it in Parliament. I cannot see this being a serious runner.

               The advantage of Mr Cameron’s referendum   is that it is the only one so far backed by the leader of a major party with MPs in the present Commons to vote for it. The disadvantages to non believers  include that it depends on a Conservative victory at the General Election and  it is later than people want. I do not think it is sufficient.I do think a Conservative government led by Mr Cameron would hold it as promised. Conservative MPs elected on a manifesto pledge to do so would insist on it, and I think he would wish to keep his word.

               The immediate In/Out referendum has two major disadvantages. The first is it has the fewest votes in the current Commons, and it is difficult to see how that can change, as the main party leaders are all against it. The second is were we to hold one early next year the CBI, TUC, Labour party, Lib Dem party and many business groups, lobbyists and quangoes would line up for In. Most Conservatives would be for Out but some well known figures including some senior Ministers would also join the Ins. Were we to hold an In/Out referendum which led to a vote to stay in, Eurosceptics could not restart the debate for several years as the people would have spoken just as they did in 1975. One of the arguments the In crowd would use is that the UK had not even tried to get satisfaction for its problems by talking to the EU about it first. They would make much of the absence of agreed successor arrangements for a wide range of important matters. They would run endless scares about how cold it would be for the UK outside the EU’s embrace which some would believe.

                That leaves the Mandate referendum which I have discussed before. Assuming 80% plus would vote for the negotiation of a new relationship with the EU it w0uld give the Prime Minister  every help in seeking that new relationship most of us want. If the EU still turned us down after that as many think they would , then the public could and most likely would vote to leave. The EU would by then have had every chance to sort out what matters to them as well as to us, and would know the UK’s likely intentions.

                It is good news that two Cabinet Ministers have come out in favour of voting  for Out of the EU, with others also of the same opinion. Given the difficulty of governing this country from the UK now that the EU has such wide ranging powers, it would be good to hear of more Ministers who have come to realise we no longer have a self governing democracy here at home all the time we remain subservient to the EU  treaties.

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173 Comments

  1. Lifelogic
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 5:36 am | Permalink

    Nothing Cameron promises is likely to be delivered and certainly not after 2015 unless a ukip deal is done and even then. Any negotiation with the the EU is clearly pointless with heart and soul in charge – negotiation is not his strong point and his heart is clearly for a non democratic, federal, socialist, superstate. He certainly would not want a greater Switzerland or Norway even if he cannot give any good reasons. We just need to leave and then negotiate later. Lies and jam tomorrow or 2017, promised by serial ratters is just pointless.

    • Hope
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 7:39 am | Permalink

      Last week Cameron’s spokesperson said it was not incompatible for him to vote for amendment JR set out. At the weekend we are told Tory ministers will abstain while Lib Dems vote against. Trust Cameron is a sign of insanity, he cannot be trusted just like Clegg.

      There is another choice, treat all elections as if it were a referendum and vote UKIP. That is my preferred choice as I trust them to act on what they say. Millipede will not even allow the public a say on the matter,sheer arrogance.

    • Hope
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 8:09 am | Permalink

      I suspect Obama blew his whistle to his lap dog Cameron to remind him the UK must remain in the EU.

      • lifelogic
        Posted May 14, 2013 at 6:51 am | Permalink

        Or perhaps the main EU leaders, Obama and Cameron just decided between them how best to present it to the World, so that Cameron could best continue with his suppression of UK democratic will until after he is finally evicted from office.

    • lifelogic
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

      So Cameron in his usual lying/spin mode now describes those, not wishing to go along with his clearly fake/shame/renegotiation/delaying tactics, as “throwing in the towel”.

      Is this idiotic statement just designed to enrage the solid wing of the party?

      Could someone please ram the towel down his mouth and thus shut the serial ratter up please. We have had enough of his losing elections, his general incompetence, his heart and soul, his serial ratting, fake spin, and say one thing do the complete opposite.

      A promise from Cameron of a referendum, two years after he is booted out, is as worthless as is he is.

      • Disaffected
        Posted May 13, 2013 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

        He also forgets that he threw in the towel before negotiation by saying he will fight heart and soul to stay in the EU. What idiot would do that before negotiations and then make derogatory remarks about others who he perceives has done the same. Oh, and fill his new think tank with pro EU, Eton and Oxbridge clones.

        Come on, is there any Tory with backbone to get rid of him?

        • lifelogic
          Posted May 13, 2013 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

          Just as daft as Gordon Brown saying he was going to sell the UK’s gold just before he did so. Someone needs to send Cameron a duffer’s guide to negotiation and deals.

        • alan jutson
          Posted May 13, 2013 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

          Dissafected/Lifelogic

          Agree with your thoughts on Mr Cameron suggesting a vote for even a renegotiated referendum, is throwing in the towel.

          Does he not realise that the more people who want a referendum NOW, actually strengthens his hand (if he wants to seriously negotiate) because he can then say it is going to be OUT unless you give us what we want !

          Unfortunately Mr Cameron has form at being poor at negotiations, when he allowed Mr Clegg to run all over him and gain far more power than his votes dictated,

          Cameron also seems to have given up on Boundary changes, instead of holding Clegg to the promise and forcing the issue.

          So what hope have we of any sensible or realistic chance of success with the EU with him in control of things.

          If he is so keen on his idea of renegotiation, then why not start NOW ! and show us all he means business.
          Why delay ?.

          John, I have no problem with renegotiation first, providing it starts in this Parliament, has a fixed two year time scale and a guaranteed referendum on the result to take place within 3 months of the end of the negotiation time scale, all written into law to underscore it all.
          Thus if the EU drag out negotiations, we simply vote on whats on offer at the time !
          Its all so very simple.

    • Gwen Tanner
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

      @lifelogic: Have been procrastinating for a while, but just to say I so look forward to reading your posts….keep them going! I would post more often myself, but you say it all for me and I’m sure many others would agree on that point.

      • lifelogic
        Posted May 13, 2013 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

        Thanks, and even my spelling is improving a little I think.

  2. Julian
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 5:39 am | Permalink

    It seems to me there is no doubt that there is a mandate to change our relationship with the EU. The only benefit of a mandate referendum is if it starts the process of renegotiation straight away. i.e. That it is worded in such a way that the Lib Dems have to support the process in coalition.

    • Hope
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 7:45 am | Permalink

      Borrosso said last week the EU will be a federal state in three years, this beats Cameron’s time scale for a referendum. He is kicking the can down the road hoping the people will not have a say. November 2014 will see QMV come into force and the UK will not have a say in the EU as. Small minority. The others will vote for us to pay more and accept what they say.

      Cameron’s warning about the Lisbon treaty is real and true, look at his YouTube clip, he reneged on his promise to hold a referendum on it if he became PM. If his stark warnings were true it is difficult to understand any circumstance for him to change his mind.

      • Vanessa
        Posted May 13, 2013 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

        What most people forget (or don’t know) is that the Lisbon Treaty has a “Self-Amending Clause” which means that the Commission can change any clause, para, meaning whenever or however they like. New Treaty anyone ? It won’t happen, it is just to keep the Brits on side. There is no chance of a re-negotiation the “competencies” once taken will NEVER be given back – that is how it is set up to be.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted May 13, 2013 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

        Box 2 on page 5 of this document:

        http://www.openeurope.org.uk/Content/Documents/PDFs/2011Eusocialpolicy.pdf

        explains what will actually happen about QMV on November 1st 2014.

      • Jerry
        Posted May 13, 2013 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

        @Hope: “Borrosso said last week the EU will be a federal state in three years, this beats Cameron’s time scale for a referendum.

        Only if it doesn’t trigger the UK’s law that requires a referendum on the transfer of new powers to the EU, and quite frankly I can’t see how even the EU can by-pass the legalities for that. Such a move, within three years, would hardly be incremental adjustments to the existing Lisbon treaty although I suspect the EU might try, more reasons for being in the room as they say…

        That said, I still believe that we need the basic question asked and answered before the next GE in 2015 (as I set out earlier today).

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted May 14, 2013 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

          If like last time it could be arranged that on paper the federalising treaty change provisions “applied” to other EU countries but did not “apply” to the UK, then like last time Hague would use Section 4(4)(b) of his “referendum lock” law to rule out a UK referendum.

          • Jerry
            Posted May 15, 2013 at 8:00 am | Permalink

            @Denis Cooper: Not sure I follow what your saying, surely if the UK has an opt-out then does it actually matter if there is a ‘Little USoE’, in effect the UK would be like Mexico or Canada, a part of the the NAFTA but not a part of the USA?

            Indeed I suspect this is what Cameron is thinking when he talks about renegotiations, and if so I can see other members of the EU supporting such a move, especially those not currently using the damaged Euro.

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted May 15, 2013 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

            Jerry, I’m saying that there could be massive changes to the EU treaties, and all those changes would need to be agreed by the UK government and Parliament to go ahead, but it could be arranged that none of them triggered a referendum in the UK. For the observant that was the lesson of the EU treaty change agreed on March 25th 2011: on October 13th 2011 Hague laid a statement before Parliament saying that in his opinion there was no need for a UK referendum because on paper that treaty change did not “apply” to the UK. That blew out of the water the old argument that the other EU member states would need EU treaty changes and that would provide the opportunities for the UK government to negotiate other treaty changes that it wanted, because there was just such a treaty change demanded by Merkel and yet Cameron asked for no other treaty change in return for his agreement; indeed if he had done so then there would have been a treaty change which did “apply” to the UK and consequently he could have been faced with a UK referendum which he definitely didn’t want; so in fact thanks to the clever way Hague had written his “referendum lock” law to block referendums Cameron had a very strong reason not to ask for anything.

          • Jerry
            Posted May 16, 2013 at 11:50 am | Permalink

            @Denis Cooper: Yes indeed but what if the UK are outside of any federal state created out of EU members, surely this is exactly what is meant by a “Two Speed Europe” [1], a basic agreement that all agree (which, in a way is what ever countries, member of the EFTA or EEA, like Switzerland, Norway and Iceland etc. agree to even today) but with a closer or complete integration of those countries that wish.

            Could Cameron (or any UK government) get massive changes in how the EU works, no, could he get a stop to the enforced rolling federalisation across member states (especially those whose citizens have expressed opposition), perhaps – of course the real issue is not what the EU might do in such a case but just how far a UK government will push the issue.

            [1] or even a Three Speed EU

    • Dan H.
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

      There are really two issues here that need to be dealt with. Firstly, there is a common misconception regarding negotiation with the EU, which is that such negotiation is even possible. Put simply, it isn’t. The only avenue for a renegotiation is Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which permits a member state to renegotiate their position only after a national referendum has voted to take that country out of the EU.

      The second issue is one which involved Mr Cameron personally. The UK population conflate a “strong leader” with a person who is opinionated, decisive and who commands rather than leads by consensus. Mr Cameron is much more of a negotiating, lead-by-consensus sort of fellow and rightly so as he is in a coalition with a sensitive minor partner. However this, combined with offering a referendum far off in the future hedged about by conditionals and fluff has led him to a reputation as an indecisive wet.

      This reputational problem, combined with the fact that UKIP seem almost unstoppable, can only be solved by completely stealing UKIP’s thunder. The only way to do this is to set up a straight IN/OUT referendum on EU membership to be held as rapidly as possible, then deal with the fall-out from this as it happens.

      This plan of action would restore the popularity of the Conservatives, and do much to restore Mr Cameron’s much besmirched reputation.

  3. colliemum
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 5:54 am | Permalink

    Firstly, thanks for the review, or overview, of the referenda ‘on offer’ or rather, in the public debate.
    Sadly, this illustrates yet again the distance between the voters and the ruling classes in London. Let me quote:
    “The immediate In/Out referendum has two major disadvantages. The first is it has the fewest votes in the current Commons, and it is difficult to see how that can change, as the main party leaders are all against it.” Nothing could show the gulf between Westminster and the electorate better than this statement. This basically says, we – the MPs – can’t do this, so it can’t be done, and never mind what you people want.
    Isn’t there an old saying “where there’s a will there’s a way”?

    Then there’s this:
    “The second is were we to hold one early next year the CBI, TUC, Labour party, Lib Dem party and many business groups, lobbyists and quangoes would line up for In.”
    This means that because in addition to the usual suspects in the political parties, quangos, lobbyists, unions, and of course the BBC whom you didn’t mention. might be against this (we don’t know, because everybody in London is apparently too scared to even ask, never mind debate), it is better not to do this, and never mind what people up and down the country want.

    This is very defeatist – and it also leads to the question: wo governs this country? The MPs as representatives of us, the voters and tax payers who are paying for every entity you mention, or all those entities you’ve listed?
    It is very sad to note that our representatives are apparently far more afraid of lobbyists, the TUC, party leaders, quangos and the BBC than of us, the voters.
    I think it’s not just high time this were changed, I think this change is already upon you, given the experience of the last local elections, and that it will grow like an avalanche grows.
    UKIP’s success is not due to Nigel Farage, but due to more and more of us voters asking why, once elected, our representatives stop representing us and cave in to the demands of all those you’ve listed. Now we present the reckoning.

    • Jon Burgess
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 6:52 am | Permalink

      Well said.

    • Boudicca
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 6:54 am | Permalink

      Well said.

      The Conservative Party needed to start dismantling the liberal-left’s client state AND the quasi-governmental bodies that support it.

      It made a start with the client state by starting to reform welfare, but the quasi-governmental bodies have been left completely alone. A REAL bonfire of the Quangos should have started the day after the General Election. The right of Charities to engage in political activities should have been removed. The BBC should have been given one warning – and then, when it failed to take notice – a hardliner should have been put in charge: not liberal-CON Patten. The Govt (ie taxpayers) should stop funding political lobbyists/fake charities.

      LibLabCON have ignored us for decades. UKIP represents us now.

      • Hope
        Posted May 13, 2013 at 7:49 am | Permalink

        Well said, Boudicca. Games up for the lib lab con, no one believes them anymore. Vote UKIP. BTW their economic plans add up better than the other three who lie and at least there would be real cuts starting with the EU!

    • A.Sedgwick
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 7:48 am | Permalink

      Excellent piece, I would just add that if all the usual suspects do brainwash the majority into EU domination until it collapses then so be it. Just bring the fight on.

    • Anti-establishment
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 7:54 am | Permalink

      I agree.

      I think that if Conservatives continue to treat voters like fools, they will pay a heavy price at the next election.

    • Jerry
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 8:07 am | Permalink

      @colliemum: You forgot to mention the CBI in your comment, but then you were attempting to construct the perfect Left vs. Right rant, forgetting that the are those on the right (in and outside of the Tory party) who are a more than a little europhile.

      Quite correct about UKIP though, it is just a pity that Mr Farage doesn’t understand that himself and their inability to succeed were it matters. UKIP needs to have a UK leader, not a MEP based in either Brussels or Strasbourg, he needs to either stand aside from his MEP duties and lead the party here at home or he needs to carry on with his “sound-bite” [1] leadership within the EU and allow someone else to lead…

      [1] as is the case for all MEPs, such is the EU political/group system

      • Gwen Tanner
        Posted May 13, 2013 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

        He does want to lead, but he has already pointed out that he also wants to see the European Elections through and then he is going to become an MP – he’ll obviously have to find himself a safe seat, but hey ho, me thinks this man DOES know what he’s doing. He definitely needs to broaden his party management.

        • Jerry
          Posted May 13, 2013 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

          Gwen Tanner: “He does want to lead, but he has already pointed out that he also wants to see the European Elections through and then he is going to become an MP – he’ll obviously have to find himself a safe seat

          “Will”?! I believe you mean it his wish or hope to become an MP. Oh and please do remind us were this safe UKIP seat is, and what is the name of that invisible UKIP MP currently sitting on the green benches…

      • forthurst
        Posted May 13, 2013 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

        “You forgot to mention the CBI in your comment, but then you were attempting to construct the perfect Left vs. Right rant”

        The President of the CBI is Sir Roger Carr knighted for his services to business in 2011. In 2003 when Carr was chairman of Chubb, the company was sold to UTC; in 2010, when Carr was chairman of Cadbury, it was sold to Kraft. Chubb was founded in 1818, Cadbury in 1824.

    • me
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 8:20 am | Permalink

      spot on

      • Duncan
        Posted May 14, 2013 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

        We should have an IN / OUT referendum now – then invoke Article 50 and get out. Then negotiate trade links – being VERY careful to protect our borders.

    • Roger Farmer
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 8:54 am | Permalink

      Spot on. We need the quickest way to invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty that can be made available to us and that appears to be to vote UKIP. Mostly those who represent us do not, so we will only get smoke and mirrors until 2015. I hope UKIP isolate those Conservatives who want out of the EU, and concentrate their political drive on all from all parties that would deny us our democratic right.

      • Vanessa
        Posted May 13, 2013 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

        By invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty the British MPs/MEPs are then BARRED from all the discussions and negotiations on OUR EXIT. Do we really think this would be in Britain’s best interest?

        You can be assured the EU will decide the terms which will be VERY expensive and VERY onerous on Britain and we will not be able to do anything about it. They do not want a country to leave, least of all Britain who contributes the second HIGHEST amount to their greedy little pockets.

      • Jerry
        Posted May 13, 2013 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

        @Roger Farmer: Not so, there is a left wing political party that say they will simply stop paying the membership fee should they gain power (either outright or via coalition) on the day they assume office – can’t get much quicker than that, and as I’ve said before, if push comes to shove five years of hard left-wing socialism might a price worth paying to be rid of the EU and its eurocrats…

    • Deborah
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 9:24 am | Permalink

      Well said.
      The worm has turned. Times are changing.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 11:07 am | Permalink

      Absolutely!

      Tad

    • lifelogic
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

      Indeed “Who governs this country?” Well clearly the EU bureacrats, the political parties, the BBC and the media the establishment. Tax payers money is used to buy influence, MP’s MEPs and to feed the people on a propaganda diet. The voters just get fake democratic sham every 5 years where politicians can lie about what they will do should they be elected.

    • lifelogic
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

      Indeed.

      “Who governs this country?” Well clearly the un-elected EU bureaucrats, the political parties, the BBC and the media the establishment. Tax payers money is used to buy influence with high salaries, pensions and special tax rules for MP’s, MEPs and hangers on and to feed the people on a propaganda diet. The voters just get fake democratic sham every 5 years where politicians can lie about what they will do should they be elected.

    • uanime5
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

      You seem to have ignored that the “CBI, TUC, Labour party, Lib Dem party and many business groups, lobbyists and quangoes” are all made up of voters. You’ve also ignored that many people are more likely to trust non-political organisation than politicians regarding what is best for them. So if big businesses say that being in the EU is good for business expect people to side with these business leader more readily than politicians.

    • nicol sinclair
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

      plague on all their houses…

      lost the post & can’t be bothered to retype but the gist was a complete support to Colliemum and a rant to all our MPs bar a few who have lost touch with those who elected them. Many of them may be queuing up outside the ‘bru’ come the next election. Bring it on.

    • James A. Hutchinson
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

      Well said Colliemum . MP’s are elected to represent the public’s views ; the people who put them into their privileged positions . Therefore they should reflect public opinion and not ” do their own thing ,” as they appear to do once elected .
      With regard to the renegotiation Cameron insists upon, it is a non-starter . The EU is determined to become one vast political state where sovereignty counts for nought . Cameron is just playing for time as his promise of a referendum will not happen as the Tory party will not get re-elected . He has for too long allowed the Lib-Dem tail to wag the Tory dog ( I believe him to be a closet Liberal anyway ) , and has destroyed all hope for his party .
      I have been a lifelong supporter of the Tory party , but enough is enough , I will be voting for UKIP at the next election as I believe they are more Tory than the Tories .

  4. Kevin R. Lohse
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 5:59 am | Permalink

    Mr. Cameron’s proposal is so hedged in by qualifications as to be meaningless. It is transparently a device to divide the right of the party while enabling the continuation of Cameron’s present policy of enforcing integration over the wishes of the electorate. Besides which, nobody outside Westminster believes Mr. Cameron any more.

    The UKIP proposal is a nuclear option. It presupposes that the EU will not allow the UK to pursue a negotiated trading and political cooperation status and allows no time for a withdrawal by negotiated settlement. Unless this option is refined, it is too crude to be in the UK’s best interests.

    Option No 3 seems reasonable until the question of the composition of the negotiation team is raised. A team with Ken Clarke and Vince Cable on it led by the Deputy Prime Minister? Cameron has proved adept at marginalising the Conservative eurosceptics, and a team formed under him would be unlikely to ensure a fair balance of views.

    Option 4 at first sight seems to be a classic fudge, but it does have the advantages of keeping the question in the public domain while allowing time for the painful tragedy of the decline and fall of the Euro comes to it’s inevitable conclusion. It is in the Nation’s interests to delay any decision until that event is manifest.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 9:07 am | Permalink

      Unfortunately it is by no means inevitable that the problems in the eurozone will lead to its downfall; while we were sitting back idly and allowing Germany and the other eurozone states to do whatever they could to preserve it intact so that it could later expand and eventually engulf us as well they would be grabbing more and more power to use against us; but worse than that, Cameron has signed up to the Save the Euro campaign and he has already demonstrated that he will not only turn a blind eye to actions which are illegal under the EU treaties but he will also give away EU treaty changes on demand without asking for any other treaty changes in return, and to stop us interfering he will co-operate with the design of EU treaty changes to ensure that Hague can use his so-called “referendum lock” law to block any referendum.

    • Ken Hall
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

      Option 3 would be the best policy if that we could believe the serial liars in Westminster. The problem is, that we already know (Thank you Dan Hannan) that our “Humphreys” in the FCO who deal with the EU have told us that there will NOT be a renegotiation, or reform and we have also been told that we have assured the foreign offices of our partner nations (and Cameron is delivering the same message to Washington DC today) that we are NEVER leaving the EU.

      We know that our audit of EU competencies is not getting any support or co-operation from the EU or any other member state, so we are not even getting accurate information back upon which to begin a negotiation.

      Those scupper ANY negotiation before it has even begun.

      So now the ONLY way to get what we want, thanks to Cameron’s inept or deceitful “negotiating strategy” is to use article 50 and withdraw from the EU altogether, then negotiate better terms, IF the British people want that.

      Every other option is kicking the can down the road until the UK is so deeply integrated, or legally signed up to be further integrated later on, that independence then becomes actually impossible.

      I do NOT believe that any Conservative Government led by Cameron will EVER grant the British People a meaningful, honest referendum on EU membership.

      Cameron and the conservative MPs are NOT acting in good faith with the British people with regards to an EU membership referendum.

      etc etc

  5. Sir Richard Richard
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 6:41 am | Permalink

    I do think a Conservative government led by Mr Cameron would hold it as promised.

    Perhaps. But I’m tempted to believe Peter Hitchens who predicts that the Tories will never again win any general election outright.

    • MickC
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 6:52 am | Permalink

      Cameron cannot be trusted-and I too believe Hitchens is right.

    • Jon Burgess
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 6:54 am | Permalink

      Me too.

      And I wouldn’t trust Cameron’s word either.

      It is in or out that I want, and if the outs can’t win the debate then so be it.

      • Hope
        Posted May 13, 2013 at 7:52 am | Permalink

        Look at the composition of his new pro EU Etonian Oxbridge policy unit and think has he sought a balance of opinion?

      • Vanessa
        Posted May 13, 2013 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

        If the “outs” can’t win we have another one saying that was the wrong answer now try again and get it right this time !!!

    • Jerry
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 7:34 am | Permalink

      @SRR: If Peter Hitchens is correct then we best start asking Ed Millband what his EU policy is, anything said by either the UKIP or Tory parties is irrelevant!…

      • lifelogic
        Posted May 13, 2013 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

        I think there is as much chance of a Labour referendum as there is of an honest Cameron one. Even Keith Vaz (not someone I usually agree with on anything much) has urged Labour to pledge a referendum.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 11:55 am | Permalink

      Peter Hitchens is fairly typical of most of us. We are fundamentally conservative, it’s just that the party of that name has changed out of all recognition, and no longer reflects our thinking and desire. Hence, the steady transfer of our allegiance to a party that does have resonance with our views.

      It doesn’t matter how much Cameron says he’s a Conservative, his actions clearly show that he is no such thing. He’s firmly in the Clarke, Howe, Major, Heseltine Heath-ite mould. People rejected that type of politician twice in 1974, and again with emphasis in 1997 once they had discovered just what a pro-EU whimp we had as a leader.

      Cameron’s politics weren’t clear before 2010. He made some of the right noises, which got SOME Tories to vote for him, but not enough evidently, and after a period in office, his actions have exposed his weaknesses and his preference for the EU, so again, the prerequisite in all of this, is his removal.

      In the first instance, it’s an issue of trust, and once the public’s trust in any given politician is diminished, they are a lame duck. In keeping with the views of Peter Hitchens, such a person is unlikely to win an outright majority, only more of the same, when we really need strong leadership. It cannot be clearer!

      Tad Davison

      Cambridge

      • Hope
        Posted May 13, 2013 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

        Well said.

    • lifelogic
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

      If he did hold it he would be only if he thought he could win a stay in vote. All the powers that be, the question, the EU, large industry, the unions, tax payers money, fake promises ……. would be used to ram it down the voters throats. Cameron anyway clearly cannot win the election without a UKIP deal and even then they will be hard pushed. They will be well behind UKIP and Labour in votes for MEP’s shortly before the election. They are dead in the water and cannot really even change leader usefully now.

  6. Boudicca
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 6:46 am | Permalink

    I agree that an In/Out Referendum now is dangerous. If the sheeple were scared into voting IN that would be “discussion over” forever – not just the next few years.

    Ordinary people who aren’t interested in politics who drag themselves to vote for a rosette of whichever colour they support once every 4 or 5 years aren’t going to bother educating themselves about the consequences of an IN vote. Ever Closer Union means what it says: there is no status quo that can be maintained. We’re on a escalator to a Federal Union, we’re just a bit lower down than the Eurozone countries but heading in the same direction.

    I favour a mandate Referendum now, giving the British Prime Minister authority to attempt a renegotiation but one that is backed up by Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. That signals that we intend leaving the EU, which is why Cameron refuses to consider it. His whole strategy is to get a mandate to keep us IN.

    The mandate Referendum should clearly state what powers the PM seeks to have returned so we know what success and failure look like. And it should also state that if the EU isn’t prepared to enter into meaningful negotiations, Article 50 will be invoked and we will start negotiations for a Trade Only Treaty instead with no need for a further mandate from the British people.

    The problem is Cameron. He can’t be trusted. He doesn’t want to leave the EU and he has stated a number of time that he will never lead the UK out. You can’t have someone so obviously intent on keeping us in the EU responsible for negotiations which must have a significant chance of resulting in a decision to leave.

    The FCO, Hague and Cameron all want a mandate to keep us in. They are not trustworthy negotiators – particularly in view of the FCO’s despicable history relating to the 1972 Accession and 1975 Referendum (site ref that did not work for me deleted-ed)

    In order to carry out negotiations, the Conservative Party needs to win a Referendum. It won’t be able to do that without the UKIP vote and that means ditching Cameron and Hague. The ball is firmly in the court of the Conservative Party. Do they want to win the next General Election or not?

    • Jerry
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 7:37 am | Permalink

      Boudicca: “I agree that an In/Out Referendum now is dangerous. If the sheeple were scared into voting IN that would be “discussion over” forever – not just the next few years.

      Nice to see that you respect democracy in action!

      Next you’ll be suggesting that there should only be one answer any question asked… 🙁

      • Kevin R. Lohse
        Posted May 13, 2013 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

        since when is feeding the electorate biased information/propaganda then demanding a vote, “Democracy in action”?

        • Jerry
          Posted May 14, 2013 at 9:13 am | Permalink

          @KRL: How is giving “information/propaganda”, in other words both sides, being biased?!…

          On the assumption that you didn’t actually mean what you wrote… Are we here talking about a biased broadcaster, editorial bias within the print media or a political party or group doing their ‘thing’, or are we simply talking about politics in action. One man’s information is another’s propaganda – looks, smells and sounds like a healthy democracy, complete with a free press/media to me…

    • Electro-Kevin
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 8:09 am | Permalink

      In/Out please, Boudicca.

      In the meantime a cessation on all European edicts, directives and immigration. The public mood is clearly in a state of flux and our people should not be subject to further EU integration until this is resolved.

      Let’s have the vote (regardless of predictable scare mongering) and go with the result. It it’s In the rest of us forever hold our peace.

      If it is In then we will not be needing a Parliament at Westminster will we ?

      My guess is Out. The reason ?

      Europhiles made a huge mistake in blaming so much on Europe for major decisions such as ejecting Abu Qatada et al. And issues of welfare entitlements etc.

      • Electro-Kevin
        Posted May 13, 2013 at 8:10 am | Permalink

        Correction: ‘ It it’s In the rest of us forever hold our peace.’

        IF it’s in…

    • Deborah
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 9:40 am | Permalink

      “Do you want to win the next election or not?” is actually the key question.

      Given that Cameron and his main cronies all have very safe seats and will be provided with self-important, well- rewarded, high profile positions, whatever the outcome of the next election, I don’t think winning outright matters too much to them. It certainly didn’t seem to be a priority for the party leadership in 2011 and, with same sex marriage etc, they seem to have been doing their best to lose the next one.

      But for the ordinary Conservative MPs, hanging on to their seats for grim death, UKIP is doing a fabulous job in focussing their minds.

    • martin
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 11:29 am | Permalink

      “In order to carry out negotiations, the Conservative Party needs to win a Referendum.”…..

      Why..??????
      The Traitors who Signed away this Country’s Governance, Justice system, etc’ did Not ask us for a Mandate first, they just went ahead & did it, signed on the dotted line, & then lied to us afterwards about the true nature of the so called “Common Market”, E.U. etc’.

      I do Not see what genuinely prevents D.C. from just going ahead & Renegotiating our membership Now, if he had the Backbone, & Genuinely Wanted to do so.
      Nick Clegg is Not going to do anything, other than make a few rude noises about it, because at the end of the day, him & his chums wont want to jeapordise their Nice Fat Salarys, Grace & Favour pads, expences etc’. by pulling the rug under the coallitions feet…!

      The Real reason why any Referendum will Not happen while D.C.’s still P.M. is because he does’nt Want one, he uses Nick Clegg as an Excuse Not to do anything….!

      If the Parliamentary Conservative Party does Not want to get Wiped out at the next General Election, then the P.C.P. needs to Wake-up to Reality & Remove D.C. Now because they Are Running out of Time.
      If they leave it till next year his replacement wont have enough time to turn around this country’s economy etc’, go ahead with ReNegotiation, then offer an In /Out referendum afterwards, & i do Not agree that is Too Risky.
      Millions have woken up to the Need to Leave the E.U. & that is born out by the comments on just about every media website here in the u.k.

    • Chris S
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

      “It won’t be able to do that without the UKIP vote and that means ditching Cameron and Hague”.

      It isn’t realistic to expect the Conservative party to ditch the PM before the election and it isn’t necessary : all that’s needed for now is a strategic agreement on carefully selected seats that will ensure the maximum number of Westminster seats are won by Eurosceptic candidates.

      These need to be seats in areas where the Conservatives can’t win but UKIP are a more acceptable face and strong Conservative areas where a split vote could let in the LibDems of even Labour.

      If UKIP wins enough seats to help the Conservatives to form a majority government, the time for horse trading will be after the election, not before.

      There seems little doubt that informal local deals will be done even if the Conservative leadership foolishly won’t entertain the idea.

    • waramess
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

      You have clearly not thought this one through because if there were an opportunity for Cameron et al to scare the “sheeple” into voting to stay in EU then he would do so now.

      Democracy is democracy and that is what we are supposed to have and the only way to ensure it operates successfully is for the electorate to have the opportunity to say NO to the party in power, which they are doing by a vote for UKIP

      Nobody should take the electorate for fools because they are not and they are quite capable of having a collectively sound opinion; rather more so than the people they chose to represent them, I think.

    • Ken Hall
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

      UKIP have enough former tory support to kick the tories out of power. By 2020 we will have the same for labour and will be going for our own majority.

      We just got 25% of the vote in a national election and our support is still growing fast.

  7. Denis Cooper
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    I’m sorry, JR, but I don’t trust Cameron to keep his word on anything; specifically in this instance I don’t trust him to do what he is now promising for after the 2015 general election in the rather unlikely event that he continued as Prime Minister but with an overall Tory majority in the Commons; nor do I believe that there would be a sufficient number of Tory MPs who would be prepared to force him to keep his word, which in the end could only mean the clear threat of a leadership challenge; in any case, I don’t think much of Cameron’s proposed strategy of allowing Germany and other countries to make whatever changes they think are needed for the survival and expansion of the eurozone, possibly including EU treaty changes, before he starts to press for changes that this country needs to protect its vital national interests; he has already thrown away one opportunity to negotiate EU treaty changes for our benefit when he gave Merkel the EU treaty change she demanded in 2010, finalised as European Council Decision 2011/199/EU of March 25th 2011, free gratis and for nothing, asking for and getting no other treaty changes in return, and I would fully expect him to simply give away other EU treaty changes in the same way.

    • Hope
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 7:56 am | Permalink

      Well said, Dennis. He could have changed the Lisbon treaty if he wished in 2010 and he chose not to. Nothing stopped him, he chose not to act in face of his promise to hold a referendum if he became PM. No one should trust him.

    • Deborah
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 9:41 am | Permalink

      Exactly.

  8. ralphmalph
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    In my mind the reasons that you are trying to get any vote in the house on the various referenda is that the Conservative backbenchers are trying to send a message to the electorate that the Conservative party is serious about the European issue. The reason you are doing this is because you know that a significant proportion of your core vote do not trust Mr Cameron on this issue. How can we when he says that he wants to negotiate a new deal and in the same breath says “I want to stay in”. Can be interpreted that he has already made his mind up before negotiations have even started.

    So if you have a trust issue the only way you can solve it is through complete openess and honesty. Does a referendum question in the house address these two points, well no it does not.

    So the only way that Mr Cameron can win back the trust of the people is to deliver on what he has said and keep the electorate updated. We have been told that Mr Hague is auditing the EU competances and the impact on UK law. Well what is the status? After a big launch it has all gone very quiet. Start letting the electorate know the progress, the honest truth of the progress, prove you as a party are serious.

    Then start the negotiations now. Mr Cameron needs to say I am sending these people over to start the neogtiations and keep the electorate updated with honest and truthful status reports. If the commision refuse to enter into negotiations or if they are not seriously engaging in negotiations tell the public. Say the commission, eventhough the UK is the second largest contributor to the EU, their largest export market, the country that is providing work for a lot of europes youth treats us with complete disdain. Mr Cameron can then say that if this continues he has no option but to recommend to the people of the UK to vote out in the 2017 referendum. Put the pressure on the EU, state publically that you are standing up for the UK national interests over the EU interests

    You could then go into the 2015 election saying we have started the tough process of getting a better deal for the UK, do not jepodise this by voting for other parties, keep the process going vote Conservative.

    You can not out KIP UKIP by words only actions.

    Replt I am trying to get them to start the negotiations! I have also made clear to them we are not after some tinkering within exisitng treaties.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 8:44 am | Permalink

      “If the commision refuse to enter into negotiations”

      For clarification, the negotiations would not be between the UK representatives and the EU Commission, but between our representatives and those of the other EU member states.

      That would be true whether they were negotiations under Article 48 TEU for EU treaty changes with the UK to remain in the EU, or negotiations under Article 50 TEU for treaty arrangements which would apply after the UK had left the EU.

      Both those Articles may be read here:

      http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:C:2010:083:0013:0046:EN:PDF

      starting on page 41.

    • Roger Farmer
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 9:15 am | Permalink

      Reply to Reply.
      If Cameron still has failed to start negotiations having had three years to do so. The will is not there nor will it ever be. I suggest you start pressing hard for the UK to activate Clause 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. The EU can then be sure of our intentions and behave amenably to a trade only agreement or run off the field with the ball. If the latter, wait for the explosion at Mercedes, BMW, VW, Opel, Porsche, Fiat, Alpha Romeo, and Renault.

    • Deborah
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 9:47 am | Permalink

      Well said.

      More weasel words will not convince the electorate. Only evidence of action will suffice.

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 10:18 am | Permalink

      I do hope UKIP reject your overtures. UKIP must NOT become a home for disillusioned Tories.

      UKIP must be the natural home of all those who despise the Labour, Lib Dem and Conservative parties. The three parties have ruined this country. You’ve allowed mass immigration to make many people feel like a stranger in their home towns. You’ve built a huge state we cannot afford (to the tune of £150 billion a year) and you are passing those debts on to our children and grandchildren. You do not have a coherent energy policy. You have allowed a client state to be built. I could go on and on and on.

      We need a FRESH start. Not a stale ‘oh look, all the nasty right-wing Tories have joined UKIP’ start. If disaffected Tories try to negotiate with UKIP – as if they have something in common – that will be the death knell for UKIP.

      Please leave UKIP alone and let them get on with winning 35% of the vote in 2015 and forming a government – WITHOUT YOU.

    • Chris S
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

      Reply to the reply :

      John, we should start a debate here on the Red Lines : the minimum powers we need David Cameron to repatriate in order to even think about staying in.

      This is at the very heart of the problem and everyone has simply been talking around the subject.

      However impossible we individually believe the chances of success are, unless we establish the Red Lines, we can’t move the issue forward, can we ?

      Hardcore UKIP supporters also have a vested interest in joining in this debate with us.

      Reply I want us to be free to agree what we wish, change what we wish, and avoid what we wish – in other words to be outside the current majority vote based treaties.All the time we are in a structure which requires us to do things we do not want we cannot say we have a self governing democracy.

      • Chris S
        Posted May 13, 2013 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

        Revised Comment :

        I agree with your sentiments but exactly what does this entail for key areas of policy over which the EU now claims primacy ?

        Given that other member states are unlikely to give the UK an exclusive veto over anything, can what we want be obtained by a wider number of opt-outs ?

        This is the debate those of us who want change need to instigate.

        The key question is surely this :

        Is what we would like to achieve remotely possible within any form of recognisable “membership” of the EU ?

        It would appear that Lords Healey, Lawson and Lamont have already reached the conclusion that it isn’t.

        If we don’t believe it is either, we would better serve the country by, after careful analysis of the situation, coming to that conclusion and going public over it. We can then make the case to leave from a position of strength.

        It surely can’t be necessary to wait until 2014 for the review instigated by the PM to be completed before we can even look at the problem.

        The extended timescale given to the Whitehall review seems very much like that allotted to the airport capacity review : an attempt to kick an inconvenient can down the road just far enough to avoid an argument while the coalition needs to hang together.

    • Jon Burgess
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

      Yes, but as usual your party leadership does not listen to you. That’s why I won’t support your party; the leaderships position (and the position of the majority of your colleagues) is not the same as yours on the EU and other significant areas.

  9. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    As a europhile foreigner, who’d like to keep the UK in the EU but would also respect its departure, the UKIP favoured In/Out referendum as soon as possible (option 2) is the best. As I see it, it will be lost for UKIP, it may actually spell the end of UKIP and the rest of the UK political landscape would realise that its role could only be a constructive one within the EU.

    • forthurst
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

      “As a europhile foreigner”, what is it that you particularly like about 60% youth unemployment in Spain?

    • Jon Burgess
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

      I’d be happy to accept 2) as well, but without a UKIP majority parliament there is frankly no chance of it. Too many vested interests are at stake to allow the plebs an opportunity to ruin the party.

    • Vanessa
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

      UKIP does not favour a referendum. Their whole reason for being is to leave the EU, they do not offer a referendum but if in office would start to untangle the mess.

    • sjb
      Posted May 14, 2013 at 10:00 am | Permalink

      @Peter
      I suppose if foreign investment in the UK starts to dry up because of uncertainty about the UK’s continued membership of the EU then a referendum might be brought forward or policy changed.

      A former Secretary State of Trade and Industry said all the Japanese car manufacturers based in Britain had told her that if the UK left the EU then they would leave the UK.[1]

      With regard to Spain, a fund manager said: “two-thirds of the wage competitiveness lost to Germany since the formation of the euro had now been regained, demonstrated as carmakers such as Ford and Renault relocate production to Spain from eastern Europe.”[2]

      [1] Margaret Beckett on the BBC’s Daily Politics programme, tx date: 13 May 2013
      [2] http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/a1b50b64-bba8-11e2-82df-00144feab7de.html#axzz2TBzqgagU

      Reply I remember strong warnings that Japanese car makers would leave or not invest more if we failed to join the Euro, but that did not happen.

  10. Nick
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    OK. I pay you 1 penny.

    You sign a contract.

    If there is no referenda, they you give me your entire wealth. Houses, cars, goods, pension funds, the lot. You agree to hand over your earnings whilst in government, all of it, to me.

    Since you are so certain, you are up on the deal. You are enriched by whatever I pay you for the contract.

    However, if you renege, like the lib dems and cameron, and labour, then you suffer the consequences.

    What’s not to like about the deal?

    • margaret brandreth-j
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

      well Nick, I have had my house, cars, pension , professional status , in fact everything I owned and worked for, removed ( ‘removed’ is a term I use since I have been edited and is to be used as a tracer word) and it has been impossible to let truth be for 3 decades . “They” are laughing , and why should they give up everything I worked for ? Isn’t the analogy piercingly obvious…

  11. javelin
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    Clearly from the comments Cameron is not trusted. I don’t trust him either.

  12. Jerry
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    There needs to be in my opinion; a referendum held before the next election but after the Scots have held their own independence referendum, the UK’s EU referendum should not be asked in Scotland should the Scots have voted for Independence (and thus, in effect, started the process of separation [1]), the question on the [first] referendum should be a simple In/Out, if the UK chooses to remain within the EU then there might be a need for a second later question asking permission to renegotiated out membership – but this might be better left to the 2015 GE manifestos, or be asked in a referendum at some point after.

    [1] it can’t be right that the Scots might be able to, in such circumstances, affect the outcome of a countries future they have just asked to leave, I am certain in such circumstances the Scottish parliament will resist as much as possible anything -other than related to separation- any decisions taken in London.

    • Chris S
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

      There are 11 Libdems, 41 Labour and 6 Scot Nats MPs in the house of Commons representing Scottish seats and one Conservative.

      So, if the Scots vote to leave in 2014, the Conservatives will certainly win the 2015 election, even with the present unfair boundaries.

      The sole sitting Conservative MP, David Mundell, appears to be Pro-EU so we are not going to miss him either.

      Let’s hope the Scots vote to leave. As well as an end to all their whinging, we will get our referendum.

    • uanime5
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

      Given that the Scottish referendum is being held on the 18th of September 2014 and the General Election is being held on the 7th of May 2015 there isn’t much time to hold and In/Out referendum. Especially when you consider how low voter turnout is during the winter months (15% of voters voted for Police Commissioners on the 15th of November 2012).

      • Jerry
        Posted May 14, 2013 at 9:37 am | Permalink

        @U5: There is time immediately after the Scots referendum and you forget that Wilson had a Oct. GE in ’74, there is time before 7th May 2015. Nothing is impossible unless one is attempting to find problems because they suit your own political wishes, such as wanting to retain the split on the right until after the 2015 general election for example…

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

      It’s a plan, but not really the best plan because with the Scottish referendum set for September 18th 2014 it would either be straight on to the campaign for an EU referendum in late October or into November without the two sides having known beforehand whether they should plan to include Scotland – depending on the nature of the referendum, arguably the Scots could be included either way but with their results kept separate, but I doubt that Salmond would like that – or a delay with the EU referendum in the middle of the winter, or a longer delay for the referendum until say early March 2015 so that it would be done before the start of the general election campaign.

      This autumn would be the best time, and failing that next spring; but I don’t think it would be a good idea to combine it with the EU Parliament elections next May because political parties slagging each other off during an election campaign would not mix well with two cross-party/non-party referendum campaigns.

      • Jerry
        Posted May 14, 2013 at 9:49 am | Permalink

        @Denis Cooper: What you say is true but surely, and certainly if the SNP are pushing membership of the EU as they seem to be doping at the moment, the two are some what linked so I actually do not see why both issues can not be campaigned-on/debated -NOT voted on- at the same time in Scotland (no such problems in the rest of the UK, just the one issue), thus I do not see any reason why the EU referendum could not be held a week or two after the Scottish referendum – and yes, if a longer gap is needed then a date in March 2015 is not out of the question either.

  13. Denis Cooper
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    As we are talking about referendums which are theoretically conceivable rather than politically feasible, I suggest as a fifth option that Cameron could keep the promises he made about the Treaty of Lisbon.

    I refer not just to the unqualified “cast-iron guarantee” of a UK referendum that Cameron offered Sun readers on September 26th 2007, but to the subsequent more vaguely worded promise that a Tory government “would not let matters rest there” if the treaty came into force without having been approved in a UK referendum, a promise which was repeated right up to the Tory manifesto for the June 2009 EU Parliament elections until finally abandoned on November 4th 2009.

    Just as the European Union (Amendment) Act 2008:

    http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2008/7/introduction

    gave parliamentary approval to that treaty to amend the EU treaties – which amending treaty must still exist as a treaty, of course, notwithstanding Cameron’s brazen denial of that fact, because otherwise this Act to approve it would have become a nonsense – so there could still be a Lisbon Treaty (Disapplication) Act to repeal the 2008 Act and lay down procedures for Parliament to accept or reject EU measures which depended upon the treaty amendments made through the Lisbon Treaty, item by item.

    And that disapplication Act could include the referendum provisions that were missing for the 2008 Act, so that the people would decide whether they preferred the new Act to come into force and disapply the Lisbon Treaty, or they were prepared to bend the knee and accept that treaty as being yet another EU fait accompli.

  14. Denis Cooper
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    “Most Conservatives would be for Out but some well known figures including some senior Ministers would also join the Ins.”

    Why not mention David Cameron by name, as one of those who would join the Ins?

    • Jon Burgess
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

      And who else apart from cuddly Ken & Francis Maude?

    • A different Simon
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

      J.R. ,

      What makes you confident that “Most Conservatives would be for Out ….” ?

      Is it the treatment of Greece which has made them become Eurosceptic or something else ?

  15. Douglas Carter
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    I’d agree with the comments of Kevin R. Lohse above with regard to Cameron’s habit of swaddling his alleged intentions in levels of conditions and qualifications, and I’m certain you yourself are well aware of the problems that causes for your cause Mr. Redwood. Whilst I’m aware nothing is certain in life, one thing which has become more or less as predictable as death and taxes, however, is continual acquiescence to the EU by successive British Governments no matter what they might claim in advance.

    As per your previous posting with regard to the Mandate Referendum, I agree with it and it has an advantage of presenting a manifest threshold, an unmistakeable politically geographic limit which propels any government beyond any convenient armour plating or camouflage. A mandate to renegotiate (or – in my limited terms as a voter, a ‘demand’ from the public to renegotiate) dispossesses that, and all future Governments from an ability to sit within the established EU status quo. If a Government ignores that demand from the electorate, as under Parliamentary culture they can, then they’re on their own and future articles accepted which remove further tracts of Political representation from the individual’s vote could be seen as non-legitimate, subject to repeal with genuine electoral approval behind such repeal. I think that’s one thing Cameron would be desperate to avoid – if there’s one thing that Cabinet Government seems to despise – on observation – it’s the notion it has obligations to the electorate.

    Good luck with the amendment, and the follow-on, no matter how the vote goes. However, to pre-empt:- I have no doubt that at least one MP will request of the Government whether any Referendum conclusion delivered by the public will be recognised and actioned by the Government, no matter that final vote decision.

    I can see David Lidington in my minds eye right now. I hear versions of …’Well, it would be strange having held a referendum that we might then ignore the result\having gone to the expense of a referendum we would then commit the valuable resources to holding another’… (Answer – France? Holland? Denmark? Ireland? It would be more strange if it were to be permitted to stand, surely?) Please don’t let him get away with that pre-contrived posture.

    Or:- …’We will not ignore the public’s decision’… Which isn’t the same as saying ‘We will feel under an obligation to respect the decision of the electorate, and will action their decision into legislation and law’. I’d suspect it will be more a precursor to …’EU membership is a central plank of this Government’s Foreign\Trade policy and we will now have to hold a General Election to allow the electorate to make their minds up’… If your Government tried that on for size, then your party would lose any legitimate expectation to be heard ever again – so please watch out for that one too.

    Finally (apologies for the length of the post) Cameron’s list of demands to set in front of Brussels is missing the recovery of British Foreign policy competences. Naturally Cameron’s printer ran out of ink before it reached that point. Please prompt him to ensure it once again appears upon his pages?

  16. Acorn
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    History tells us the government rarely loses a vote of any consequence in parliament. If it does it can always reverse it the next day or in the HoC or the Lords. Governments nowadays don’t resign except on the loss of a formal Vote of Confidence, (John Major turned round a defeat using a VoC).

    I still think the nearest we the people can get to having a say in this esoteric Westminster debate, is to engineer a by-election in a bellwether constituency using candidates for the options mentioned by JR. For instance, UKIP would stand for option 2 etc. A MP could fall on his sword and give up his seat (stop laughing you lot). Natural wastage or a nice juicy scandal (the most likely) would do.

    Or we could get invaded by Switzerland. A country that has used referenda and citizen initiatives to politically educate its voters. The UK is the opposite, added to which, UK voters know less about the EU than the Swiss do. It ain’t that big an issue on the doorstep, voters will be media driven.

  17. Mike Stallard
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    Mr. Mclusky was elected by under 15 perecent of his electorate. I could cite quite a lot of other votes which were just as small.
    Face it, most people have no interest in politics,let alone the EU, and the turn out is likely to be minimal.
    Always remembering, of course, the postal vote swindle and the way the question is framed. Under Wilson, a number of people seem to have voted for the status quo to be safe.
    Some of the suggestions above seem to be equally vague.
    I do hope there will be a quorum set.

  18. oldtimer
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    I favour 3, the mandate resolution.

    Others have already pointed out their well-justified mistrust of the ruling political elite on EU matters. A mandate resolution is, as they point out, extremely vulnerable to the motives of those who will engage in the negotiations – assuming the rest of the EU even deigns to do so. So far they are reported to have rejected Mr Hague`s early advances on studying the various competencies.

    The point of a mandate resolution, for me, is to raise public awareness of the issue of the EU and, crucially, how UK membership is connected with fundamental problems that concern so many people. It will also help, I believe, concentrate the minds of MPs facing re-election. Mr Farage is and will continue to be successful because he has the ability to make that connection in words that people understand. Not for nothing is he so often seen with a pint in his hand talking the language understood in the pub. Opinion is shifting his way. A mandate resolution will give it a further boost by causing more and more MPs to engage in the issue – they will not be able to ignore it.

  19. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    It is clear to me that there is no intention amongst the joint leadership of the LibLabCon party to ever allow this country to leave the EU. All that is playing out at the moment is the tactical battle against the ever increasing popularity of UKIP. None of this talk would be taking place if UKIP had not been identified as a real threat. Cameron’s tactic of renegotiation is, in my opinion, just a cynical ploy repeating that used by Harold Wilson in 1975 which sadly worked to fool people into the real meaning of what was then called the European Economic Community or Common Market. All those organisations you quote as lining up to stay in will not change their views regardless of any negotiations. I don’t think it is possible to negotiate and remain members of the EU to become a self-governing country again.
    To me this is the substantive issue. I feel betrayed by MPs who, without the consent of the voters and without even asking their permission, have surrendered the powers with which we entrusted them to an anti-democratic foreign organisation.

  20. Denis Cooper
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    JR, could you and your colleagues please give serious consideration to an alternative question for a mandate referendum?

    A mandate referendum with your presently proposed question would be better than no mandate referendum, but it has been repeatedly pointed out that “political co-operation” is open to a range of interpretations, and not only by the voters but also by the politicians who would attempt to negotiate a new treaty on that basis.

    Even if the word “voluntary” was inserted, it could and would be argued that everything we do with the EU is already “voluntary” in the sense that our Parliament has freely agreed to approve the EU treaties, knowing very well that even if some of the measures springing from those treaties are inimical to our interests our government would not be able to veto them.

    The fundamental problem with the EU treaties has always been that they do not provide any kind of settlement, either legal or political, but instead prescribe a continuous and wide-ranging process of legal change directed towards the goal of total integration, until ultimately the independent sovereign member states which made those treaties would cease to exist as independent sovereign states in any meaningful sense.

    Which ambition was of course reflected in the solemn treaty commitment to “ever closer union” stated in the very first line of the 1957 Treaty of Rome establishing the European Economic Community, and reiterated in the Maastricht Treaty on European Union.

    Cameron has now openly declared that in his view Britain does not share that ambition, and that he would want to see that reflected in a new treaty:

    “The European Treaty commits the Member States to “lay the foundations of an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe” … We understand and respect the right of others to maintain their commitment to this goal. But for Britain – and perhaps for others – it is not the objective. And we would be much more comfortable if the Treaty specifically said so … ”

    But the last time the British people were graciously allowed to have their say through a referendum, in 1975, knowingly or not they did endorse the principle of “ever closer union”; so before there are any attempts at negotiating a new relationship with the EU should there not be a referendum to establish whether or not they now agree with Cameron on that fundamental issue?

    In view of what he said in his speech I don’t see how Cameron could possibly object to an immediate referendum with this something like this 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”?”

    Wouldn’t you agree that this would be a better question?

    Reply No ,it woulod be a worse question. It gives no mandate to negotiate a new relationship. The language chosen of course means we have to leave the current treaties as they do not deliver what we want.

    • forthurst
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

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

      Another option would be , “Do you want your country back?”. As you point out above, negotiation would be with the individual member states, all 27 of them; these may have more pressing issues to attend to, especially if they are net recipients of British taxpayers’ beneficence. As most people are not aware of how much of what they hate is being driven by the EU, it is disinguous to expect them to vote for their own interests on a question which is put to them in technical terms about EU renegotiation, by people who could not care less how much damage they do to this country or its people in furtherance of their own political and personal objectives.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

      Obviously I don’t see it like that.

      If a large majority of Britons voted in a referendum to say:

      “We don’t want any more of this EU “ever closer union””

      then the government would have been told to try to get us out of that fundamental treaty commitment.

      Which Cameron himself has actually said he would prefer to happen – “we would be much more comfortable if the Treaty specifically said so”.

      Exactly what would happen then would depend on the reactions from other EU countries.

      If there was a unanimous chorus of:

      “Well, we all want lots more of it, so if you don’t you’d better leave”

      then so be it.

      Clearly with such divergent national ambitions there would be no point trying to negotiate new terms for our EU membership, and the government would have to go straight on to sending in a formal notice of its intention to take the UK out of the EU under Article 50 TEU.

      But if some other countries came out and said:

      “Actually we agree, we’ve also lost our appetite for “ever closer union”.”

      as Cameron mooted might happen – “But for Britain – and perhaps for others – it is not the objective” – then that would create a fluid situation in which all kinds of new treaty arrangements might become negotiable through Article 48 TEU, maybe with the EU splitting between those countries which genuinely wanted to form a federation and those which definitely didn’t want that.

      If those negotiations still didn’t produce any satisfactory outcome for the UK, then of course the fallback position would be Article 50 TEU.

  21. Mike Wilson
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    Look back at the footage of Cameron – and the Lib Dems – promising us a referendum on Lisbon.

    Okay, you may argue that by the time the Coalition took office, Lisbon was already signed. BUT, he could have had a referendum them asking ‘Are you okay with the fact the last government signed up the Lisbon Treaty?’ and ‘if we cannot renegotiate our relationship with Europe to return vital powers – do you want us to leave the EU?’

    We could have had the debate about what Europe does and does not control in our lives and whether we derive any benefits from being in etc. If we had voted ‘no’ – Cameron would have had the perfect opportunity to go back to Europe and say ‘our people are not happy with Lisbon, we need to re-negotiate or we are going to leave’. This could have been settled, once and for all, in 2010 and would not now still be an issue.

    But, of course, that would have required leadership and one thing Cameron is not is a leader.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

      At the risk of becoming repetitious, I still believe that in June 2008 Cameron had the opportunity to kill the Lisbon Treay stone dead if he had wanted to and if he had been prepared to act decisively.

      On June 12th the Irish voted “no” to the Lisbon Treaty; at that point the UK Parliament Bill to approve it had not completed all its stages in the Lords – that was on June 18th, with Royal Assent on June 19th – and of course the UK’s instrument of ratification had not yet been deposited in Rome – after legal challenges, that was not done until July 16th, when Hague had some comments to make:

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7511281.stm

      “Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague said the prime minister had “no democratic or moral authority to sign Britain up to the renamed EU constitution”.

      It was “a total breach of trust with the British people and a flagrant breach of his solemn election promise to the British people”, Mr Hague added.

      He branded the government “arrogant and out of touch”, and accused it of “joining in the ugly bullying of the Irish people, who have clearly rejected this treaty”.”

      But in fact Cameron did nothing to help either the Irish people or the British people or any other European people, when in the chaotic aftermath of the Irish “no” he had the chance to take a firm stand and say loudly and clearly:

      “The Irish have voted to reject the Lisbon Treaty, and therefore it must be dropped.

      There must be no question of forcing the Irish to vote again in another referendum on the same treaty.

      The British government should halt the process of Parliamentary approval, and on no account should it proceed to final ratification of a treaty which should now be consigned to the wastebin.

      But today I want to make this crystal clear:: if I become British Prime Minister and the Lisbon Treaty has not been dropped, then I will hold a referendum on it even if the British government has already ratified it and even if it has already come into force.”

      • Mike Wilson
        Posted May 14, 2013 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

        Your last paragraph – is that a quote? Where can one find it?

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted May 14, 2013 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

          No, just my invention of what he should have said in June 2008.

  22. Kenneth
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    Today’s BBC News website has headlined with “…Tory EU row rages”.

    John, the Conservatives will not stand a chance at the next general election while the BBC continues with its propaganda.

    Yes, I know that a public attack on the BBC will make your party even more unpopular in the short term, but this MUST be brought out into the open now before it’s too late. The BBC will only be forced into holding a public debate about its own coverage if this issue is aired on tv over its head.

    I think the next party political broadcast should be a short evidence based documentary on biased coverage by the BBC and the effect on our democracy.

    • uanime5
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

      If this party political broadcast doesn’t compare the BBC to other news stations to determine whether the BBC is biased or not then all this broadcast will do is make it look like the Conservatives are twisting the facts.

      • Kenneth
        Posted May 14, 2013 at 9:59 am | Permalink

        Other news stations are also biased against the Conservatives with the exception of RT and LBC, perhaps. The problem is that the BBC dominates journalism. All other tv news channels make a loss and are run on a shoestring compared to the BBC.

        They also do not have the reach that the BBC does.

        Do not also underestimate that most broadcast journalists see the BBC as a potential employer.

        Whether it’s lazy journalism, lack of resources or desire for journalists to ‘keep in’ with the BBC, other broadcast news outlets generally toe the BBC line.

        I believe that, by tackling the BBC, the bulk of the problem of bias will be addressed across the board.

        As for twisting facts, I think it is not unreasonable for the BBC to justify its use of the word ‘row’ and ‘rage’ in this context. I also think it is not unreasonable for the BBC to provide some balance. On the same day as the so-called ‘row’, 15 Labour MPs launched a new group “Labour for a Referendum”, challenging the party and its leader to agree to an eu referendum.

        Where is the reference to this Labour ‘raging row’ on the BBC?

    • Bazman
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

      Google ‘Tory EU row’ You want a BBC that agrees with you. We ‘ken’ you as they say in Scotland Ken. What do you propose to do about all the other news sources reporting the same thing as the BBC? Should the BBC not have reported this so called row?
      Remind us who funds ad supports your (words left out ed) anti BBC site. (etc) Ram it.

      • Bazman
        Posted May 14, 2013 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

        Who is the main character behind this anonymous anti BBC site Ken. A fair question and why is he hiding? Come on tell us I already know. Yeah.. do visit again and face the same from me. Ram it.

  23. Tim
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    This option is just too ambiguous: “Do you want the Uk government to negotiate a new relationship with the EU based on trade and political co-operation?,
    to be followed by an In/Out on the new terms”

    The question presupposes that negotiation is both possible and could yield meaningful
    results. For the educated among us who understand acqui communautaire and that the EU is not a static body but one heading for ever closer union, we would have to vote “no” to the question. We don’t want to dither around on fruitless negotiations lead by someone who wants to stay in. We want out now. So for the mandate idea to be valid a “no” vote must mean out now, invoking article 50, and a “yes” would mean humouring Cameron to have a crack at negotiating followed by invoking article 50 when he inevitably fails.

  24. Iain Gill
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    if we are going to have a referendum on this issue why not a referendum on the voters number one issue ie immigration? lets have a referendum on uncapped ICT work visas being used so much to bring Indian workers into the country? or a referendum on tax and national insurance dispensations for foreign workers?

  25. Blue Majority
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    To win a majority at the moment we need some UKIP votes, some lib dems votes and some Labour in addition to Tories. The UKIP idea of a referendum in this parliament a) impossible and b) not street wise and c) based on wishful thinking the EU debate has ended (when it has barely begun as Redwood alludes to). Of course UKIP want the Tories to have the referendum in this parliament. I would be demanding the same thing if I were UKIP Significantly, it would stop support drifting back to the Tories in 2015. Ukippers are too impassioned and emotive. The polls on the EU right now are for the birds – ie. like mid term polls. The big pro-EU guns haven’t even been dusted off yet.

  26. Wotnoschool
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    I favour option 3, the Mandate option.

    Imust say I do get a bit tired of your regular commentators forever slagging off the Prime Minister and overlooking the fact that he is trying to govern with one hand tied behind his back by the desperate, opportunistic Lib Dems.

  27. Liz
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    I would not be in favour of any referendum that did not have an in/out option as I do not believe that any meaningful concessions can be obtained by renegotiating the terms of our membership. Remember that CAP was supposed to be reformed under previous concessions? Even if The British Government negotiated in good faith I do not believe that the EU would. Daniel Hannan is right – there is a resentment towards Britain in the EU from other countries – Britain’s vital interests can be sacrificed but not France or Germany’s. The latest manifestation of this being the Tobin tax. We have been too obedient in obeying EU directives which has made the EU hugely unpopular here.

  28. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    I agree , most want 3 of the options , if they do desire a referendum at all. Mr Cameron is visiting the US today to discuss trade relations and the possibility of free trade for any independent country?
    Question time on the 8th featured a pro European man ( I can’t remember his name :apologies) who said that Europe was about to embark on a very important business deal with America and we were upsetting the apple cart by our negative talk about wanting to leave the EU.
    From my own point of view I cannot see why the UK should buy more than usual or export more than usual whether we are in or out . Trade blocs are designed to penalise those whose get up and go is undermined

  29. Peter Davies
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    Clearly its the credibility of the PM at stake here – the problem with a mandate referendum is that it opens the issue up to manipulation – it sounds a bit too much like Neville Chamberlain to me, he comes back waving a piece of paper from Brussels before a big “YES” campaign only for us to discover later that its not such a good deal after all.

    The only way to do this a referendum to invoke Article 50 which will then kick off the re negotiation process.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

      Invoking Article 50 TEU would kick off the withdrawal process, its purpose in the treaties; fine by me, but I don’t see Cameron being prepared to do it.

  30. Freedom Lover
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    Boudicca’s right when she says that a Mandate Referendum is necessary now, giving (i) the British government full authority to attempt a re-negotiation but one that is (ii) backed up by invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, along with (iii) a very full list of topics that need to be re-negotiated. Once the EU sees this happening, they’ll know we are serious. Until then, as far as the EU is concerned, it’s all a charade. Without these three items, successive British governments can continue to deceive the British people, just as Ted Heath (to his eternal disgrace) did in the 1970s.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

      Freedom Lover –

      If the government invoked Article 50 TEU then that would be fine with me, because I’m absolutely sure that I want us out of the EU.

      I don’t believe for one moment that it would be possible to negotiate continued membership of the EU on terms which I would find acceptable.

      But it’s important to be clear that Article 50 TEU is not to be invoked unless you are absolutely sure that you want to leave; once the notice stating the intention to leave had been delivered, there would be no way back from that without the consent of all the other EU member states.

      And it is especially important to understand that the UK could not use Article 50 TEU to negotiate new treaty terms for after it had left the EU and then change its mind and decide to stay in the EU on those new terms.

      The best that could be hoped for would be all the other EU member states agreeing that the UK could rescind its notice and stay in the EU on its existing terms, while there would be a real possibility of some other member states insisting on a price for allowing the UK to change its mind, for example that we would have to relinquish all of our present EU treaty “opt-outs”.

  31. John Wrake
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    Mr. Redwood,
    The governance of this nation is more important than a choice of tactics in Parliament to persuade M.P.s to vote in favour of this or that arrangement for a referendum.
    When the law has been broken, it must be restored.
    Common Law, under which the English have lived since before 1066, demands that the facts of lawbreaking be established by examination of the evidence, that those accused be given fair trial before a jury of their peers, be accounted innocent until proved guilty and if found guilty, appropriately punished.
    Common Law is just that – common to everyone, no matter their status, whether as Monarch,
    Lord, Judge, Bishop, Member of the House of Commons, Policeman or private citizen.
    The Law by which we are to live was set out specifically for all time by our ancestors, often at great cost. It is set out in the written parts of our Constitution, which describe the lawful relationship between our governors and the governed, whereby the citizens give their sovereignty to their chosen Monarch in exchange for the Monarch’s promise to govern according to Law.
    The Monarch’s appointed Ministers are loaned that sovereignty for a limited period but must request a new loan every few years in a General Election.
    NOWHERE DOES THE CONSTITUTION ALLOW MONARCH OR MINISTERS TO GIVE THAT SOVEREIGNTY AWAY TO FOREIGN JURISDICTION. That is treason.
    Individual M.P.s must decide whether he/she will support a return to Lawful Government under the Constitution and how they personally will act to achieve it. This is a personal responsibility and individuals will be judged by their actions.

    John Wrake

    • uanime5
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

      John Wrake most of the things you’ve ascribed to the common law are rights people had because of the Magna Carta. Also before 1066 there was trial by ordeal and trial by combat, rather than trial by jury (introduced in the UK in the 13th century). Perhaps you should research how people resolved disputes in the past.

      You’ve also ignores that equity and the court of chancery were created because the common law courts were so unfair for ordinary people, for example as all the trial proceedings were in Latin the average person couldn’t defend themselves. Let’s not forget that much of the common law became so convoluted that the judges requested for Parliament to create statutes which would be easier to apply.

      The Bill of Rights gives Parliament many powers to govern, rather than the Sovereign.

      Entering into international agreements isn’t treason. Your dislike of these agreements will not change this.

      • Ken Adams
        Posted May 15, 2013 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

        John Wrake did not say entering international agreements was treason he said giving away sovereignty to foreign jurisdiction was.

        I hope you can note the difference?

        You might consider that the EU treaties are nothing more than international treaties but it has already been ruled that because they basically alter the settlement between the individual and the state they become constitutional.

        In any case one PM at least has touched upon the treason issue with regard to the EU he said “The dilemma of a British Prime Minister over Europe is acute to the point of the ridiculous. Basically you have a choice: co-operate in Europe and you betray Britain; be unreasonable in Europe, be praised back home, and be utterly without influence in Europe. It’s sort of: isolation or treason.”

  32. Tad Davison
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    The most urgent change we need, is the one at the very top. After that, everything else may well fall into place. Get rid of the Europhile Cameron, and replace him with someone who is in tune with the will of the British people, and there’s a chance, the people MIGHT just go along with the renegotiation agenda.

    It doesn’t seem to have yet dawned on the Parliamentary Tory party, that he’s damaged goods, has lost all credibility, and is just about to deliver a crippling defeat at the 2015 General Election, and probably at next year’s Euro-elections too!

    But there’s a lot of ambiguity about what is either good or bad for Britain, what should be renegotiated, and prosecuted to what extent. There is also the likelihood of a classic Euro-fudge, where compromises are rife. That is why we ought to withdraw completely, to stop the Europhiles who have a proven propensity for tethering us ever closer by trickery, stealth, and backdoor bargaining.

    And thereafter, we could have a proper modern UK constitution, to ensure we are never again duped into such a political union where others have the ultimate say over what we do without redress.

    Tad Davison

    Cambridge

    • boffin
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

      I have to agree with Mr. Davison; whilst the the present ‘leadership’ remains in place, the discussion as to the nature of the (essential) referendum has a certain quality of Titanic-deckchair-rearrangement.

      Like many other commenters here, I have lost (though I am bitterly sorry to say it) all faith in the hoped-for competence and integrity of Cameron and his clique of cronies.

      I fear that if they remain in place they will do great harm to our interests as a nation, extinguishing the Conservative Party as a political force in the process.

      I hope – but am not confident – that the parliamentary Party may be sufficiently savvy to do what needs to be done, and very quickly now. Then, and not before, will this referendum debate be meaningful.

  33. Roy Grainger
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    You missed out the option:

    5. There will be no referendum of any type at all because the Labour leadership and the Liberals don’t want one.

    • Jon Burgess
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

      And the most likely outcome!

  34. Andyvan
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    Lets face it, the only reason any party is even discussing a referendum is that UKIP is giving the ruling caste a kicking at the polls. Otherwise politicians would continue their usual policy of utter disdain for the opinions of the tax cattle. As soon as they can manage to sweep the matter under the carpet it will be back to business as usual. If it can’t be delayed so long that the result is meaningless the slightest ambiguity in the result of the referendum (if we ever get one) will be used to rubbish the result and everybody will leap back onto the EU gravy train. That’s the way government works and we are unlikely to see a sudden, total character change in bureaucrats, MP’s and ministers in the next couple of years.

    reply Not so Conservative MPs tried toget a referendum approved by this Parliament in 2011, and have returned to the issue again because we blieve in the need for change.

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply,
      Unfortunately your leader and the majority of your party voted against you. That is why we cannot accept that yours is a party which wants to leave the EU however eurosceptic you may say it is.

  35. ian wragg
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    I see today Cameroon is slapping down all and sundry who are wary of his EU referendum campaign. He is doing all possible to alienate the country as he knows he doesn’t have a snowballs in hell chance of achieving anything.
    Nigel farage must be laughing all the way to the HoC.

  36. Paul H
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    It is reported today that Cameron is criticising his (and your) fellow-travellers for having an apparent desire to “throw in the towel” before negotiations have even started and having a “strange opinion”.

    This is breathtaking hypocrisy from a prime minister who has already “[thrown] in the towel” by stating that he will not want the UK to leave anyway. Presumably he will now agree that his own opinions are “strange”?! Worse, he seems to demonstrate an astonishing naivity and lack of understanding about negotiation which, combined with his notorious thin skin and unwillingness to listen to advice that does not reinforce his prejudices, can only be deeply damaging to the British interest.

    I long ago decided that I would never again vote Conservative until Cameron (and, preferably, Osbrown also) were removed. Despite this, almost every time he opens his mouth my opinion of the man drops another few notches.

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

      Paul,
      You are not alone – millions share your view.

  37. Phil P
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    Trust DC like id trust a cat with a mouse lol “He is a lier”
    I dont want to be in the EU not for a long time, why becasue its not for the people its for greedy F??!ers that wont it all and have earned nothing.

    I will untill i vote for IN EU will do my upmost to not follow any Law or Rule that is placed upon us, why because i dont want it and it is agianst my right. All Partys need to get it in your heads you are nothing more then hotel reps we are the owners bosses and mangers.
    Anyone that has heard of civil war knows this to be true.

    Now is not the time for us to be keeping other afloat to line the pockets of these people.

    DC should count him self lucky because in my world for breaking any promise to his country as he has would be punishable by death would make you all think twice before making promises you cant or dont want to keep.
    His postiotion is an Honor yet he and others see it as a time to set them selfs up and line there pockets for life.
    Judgement is not far away and lets remeber on those whom he stands he will ask for help.

  38. RB
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    The audit of EU competencies is scheduled for completion by the end of 2014.

  39. Tad Davison
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    If we had an in/out referendum now, and the people were scared by the BBC and others to stay in, couldn’t we just keep having referendums until we got the right decision, then closed the door, as happened elsewhere with the EU?

    Tad Davison

    Cambridge

    Reply No. As you well know they only allow more votes if you vote the wrong way from the EU’s point of view.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

      That is very true John, so what is that telling us about the way the pro-EU people work, have worked in the past, and are likely to work in the future. Can we really trust anything they say and do?

      Tad

  40. Max Dunbar
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    With a superficial and patently insincere dilettante like Cameron we needn’t expect any satisfactory result on this issue in the near future. In the meantime, UKIP provide the real impetus for change, provided that they can get their act toghether and produce more spokesmen of the calibre and strength of character of Farage. At the moment it is the Farage Party.

  41. javelin
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    There are alot of MPs who worry that Europe will be another thorn in the side of the Conservative’s electoral prospects. They believe that history will repeat itself. But history never repeats itself in exactly the same way. Who is to say that this time around that holding a referendum will not help the Conservative Party. Surely if the whole party got behind a referendum (negotiated or not) this would be best for the Conservatives. It would put to bed divisions in the party and put the prospects of the Labour and LibDems to bed.

    But Cameron needs a referendum BEFORE the next election. He has been the victim of his own slackness. He needs to accept that and accept that he had every opportunity to negotiate with the EU but has not taken the opportunity given to him.

  42. Tad Davison
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    Been listening to the BBC’s Daily Politics show, and Nigel Farage suggested some TRULY Eurosceptic Conservative politicians, could have the UKIP logo, as well as the Conservative Party logo on the ballot paper, thus signifying that candidate’s preference to leave the EU. So how about it John?

    On the BBC’s 1 o’clock news, it’s political reporter, Norman Smith, said some were making the comparison between this present situation, and the Maastricht issue that damaged the Major government, and suggested that the referendum issue could become an obsession.

    I have news for the BBC. Our membership of the EU, and our exit from it’s grasp, is THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE that faces us at this time, because it strikes at the very heart of our democracy, our future prosperity, and our right to self-determination. Everything else is secondary.

    The pro-EU people have had 40 years to get it right, and the experiment has failed miserably. The people of this land, not to mention those of other countries, have paid an enormous price for the Europhile’s incompetence, yet they still say the EU is the best thing since sliced bread, and want yet more of it. When pressed, which the BBC tends not to do, the Europhiles simply cannot explain how greater integration, or even the preservation of the status quo, will benefit us in the UK.

    We just can’t go on like this, can we Mr Cameron and the BBC!

    Tad Davison

    Cambridge

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

      Tad,
      Well said!

  43. waramess
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    The very sad thing about all this is that it is not a question about which MP’s want to stay in and which want to get out of the EU, it is about whether the politicians are willing to give the electorate the opportunity to decide.

    The politicians say that the matter is too complex to let the people decide however if that were the case then deciding on which political party should run the country would be too difficult for the people to decide and goodbye democracy.

    Just at the moment, apart from UKIP the NO voter has nowhere to go because of the stitch-up between the parties; for that is what it is: vested interests of the most pernicious kind. Politicians and Civil Servants all looking for a role of some sort when the music stops.

    It is, as with windmills and high energy prices immigration etc., Parliament against the people with Parliament taking a very high handed approach.

    Absolutely no doubt why the ranks of UKIP are swelling and they will continue to do so until the main political parties stop looking after themselves and start to properly represent the electorate.

  44. Pleb
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    You must admit that voting for the Kippers has lit a fire under the conservative party.
    Without these Kippers nothing would have happened.
    I should think that the knives are being sharpened for some changes in personel.

    Reply All this was going on before the local elections, as I explaned at the time. The Queen’s Speech amendment was planned as the next stage in the Baron campaign which he sarted some time ago before the elections.

  45. Graham Hamblin
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    Unless the Prime Minister gives notice under Article 50 of The Lisbon Treaty it is all meaningless because it is the only lawful way he can renegotiate. Maybe he just knows something we don’t, for example a new Treaty will be on the cards before 2017, and get him out of trouble?

    I have waited since the mid 1960’s for a free and fair vote on this issue and voted Conservative in the hope they would grant it. I did not vote last time nor will I because I am fed up with lies and broken promises.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

      No, it is not true that Article 5o TEU is the only lawful way he can renegotiate.

      Back in 2010, did you notice Merkel giving notice that Germany intended to leave the EU before she demanded the EU treaty change that she eventually got through European Council Decision 2011/199/EU of March 25th 2011?

      Nope, she said she wanted it, she got the Belgian government to propose it under Article 48 TEU, and here it is:

      http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2011:091:0001:0002:EN:PDF

      As the Belgian government can propose an EU treaty change under Article 48 TEU – albeit acting as a proxy for the German government – surely it is evident that the UK government can also propose EU treaty changes under Article 48 TEU?

  46. Ken Hall
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    How can I make it any clearer where the majority of UK voters stand on this issue.

    WE DEMAND A FULL IN OR OUT REFERENDUM BEFORE THE NEXT ELECTION!!!

    Now, as for the rapidly increasing percentage of voters who now define themselves as UKIP voters, our position is very simple.

    If we arrive at the polling station in 2015 for the general election and we have not already been able to vote in a full, honest, binding, all the way in or all the way out referendum on EU membership, then our vote will definitely be going to UKIP.

    I shall repeat that in simplified form, so you understand it:

    If we have NOT voted in the referendum, we will be voting UKIP.

    Allow me to repeat that as computer code for your geekish brain:

    if (((!vote_exists($ReferendumVote)) OR ($ReferendumDate > “01:|06|2015”))) {
    $myGeneralElectionVote = UKIP;
    }

    If you are worried about UKIP taking enough votes from the conservatives to let Miliband in, then the ONLY option UKIP voters will accept is a full, complete, binding, honest all the way in, or all the way out referendum to be held before or at the very latest, by the general election. Preferably before the end of 2014. Nothing less than this is acceptable, because the future of our nation is at stake.

    This is deadly serious and way more important than petty and pointless and frankly, irrelevant labour vs tory politics. All this pissing about with various flavours of promises, bills and statements of intent are wasting time and they seriously, and I mean seriously, pissing us off. Such time wasting measures are only boosting UKIP.

    We do NOT believe any promise, or bill, or statement of intent coming from tories or labour.

    It only takes 5% of the electorate to vote UKIP to put the tories in opposition. Without an in or out referendum giving us the option to allow the EU to set almost all (eventually all) our laws, or not, what is the point in differentiating between the EU loving tories and the EU loving labour. Without that referendum at a minimum, There will easily be enough UKIP voters to keep you out of power.

    It is debatable, but there is enough evidence to suggest that enough votes went to UKIP in 2010 to force you into coalition, purely because Cameron failed on the EU. and although some complain that this has hurt the country, there is no evidence whatsoever that, in spite of rhetoric to the opposite, anything would have been significantly different if labour or the conservatives would have secured a majority.

    The impression your actions in power give to us, the voters, is that there is no significant difference in delivery. Only in rhetoric.

    Get you act together and PROVE there is a difference, by delivering the actual, real, binding, simple 50%+ majority all the way in, or out referendum before the general election whilst you are in power to do so.

    • margaret brandreth-j
      Posted May 14, 2013 at 5:13 am | Permalink

      Reply to Mr Ken Hall: there is a big wide world full of people trying to be democratic. In this way many wars are avoided. We could use Arab spring tactics because we are so pissed off and truly bring our country to ruination. We also, in being democratic try not to be offensive and so inflame the less stable into aggressive action. Your comment has none of these qualities.

  47. david langley
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    Cameron has said that he would before the next election negotiate a list of competencies that Hague has put together for him with the EU. These competencies have not yet been seen or heard of by the electorate. We know we are being charged a fortune for running our own country but we have not yet heard the BBC or Cameron talk about the negotiations. When are they going to start? When is Hague going to offer them up? What is he waiting for? Forget your Mandate its at this time worth nothing. I and most of the country want to know what we are facing. We do not want to wait for 2015 thank you, lets get on with now have the debates in parliament and get to the election with a real prospect of getting somewhere.
    I will bet my pathetic pension on fudge procrastination and acres of long grass put before us before the above questions are answered, would you like to tell me please?

  48. Ken Hall
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    A) Cameron has not even stated what powers he wants to claw back from the EU.

    B) The EU Commission and the other council of Ministers leaders have stated that they will not allow him to claw back any significant powers AT ALL! “It is NOT an Al A Carte menu”

    C) It only takes ONE member state to veto any new treaty based on that renegotiation.

    D) It took 10 years, 3 referenda (which rejected it) and a name-change for the EU Constitutional Treaty to get ratified as the Lisbon Reform Treaty. Both Treaties are the same insofar as they both impose an IDENTICAL legal framework over the whole of the EU as each other.

    E) This legal framework is now imposed also on ALL the nations who voted in their own referenda to REJECT such a legal framework (when it was called the constitutional treaty) and they were NOT given another chance to reject the same legal framework once it was re-written as reforms of previous treaties and then called the Lisbon REFORM Treaty.

    Taking all of the above into consideration, there is NO WAY IN HELL that Cameron is going to deliver a significantly reformed, renegotiated EU upon which to base a referendum, by 2030, let alone 2017.

    It is RIDICULOUS to even pretend otherwise. Any pretence that a renegotiation is even possible in the short term is extremely insulting and offensive.

    Now give us our full, in or out referendum NOW before it is too late!

  49. Rods
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    Accepting that successful politics is the art of the possible then I think it will have to be item 1 as this is the most likely to be supported and passed in a Commons vote. I think a defeat at this time will further weaken the Eurosceptics position in Parliament.

    Personally, I prefer 2 as I don’t think that any negotiations by the EU would be in good faith. I don’t think the Conservatives will win the next General Election outright, so we end up with the following scenario:

    The crumbs conceded by the EU in negotiations would be presented by Cameron in a “Chamerberlain” moment as “renegotiation in our time” followed by a successful in-vote backed by the leadership and many MPs from the three pro-EU parties and most of the MSM. Within 2 years, the passing of the EU FSE treaty and the UK a province of the FSE, the populace will have, too late, realised that this was a con to take away the last vestiges of self-rule! FCO 30/1048 spells out only too clearly how our democracy is being stolen from us.

    From the Conservative’s point of view, I think this current political maneuvering over Europe will make very little difference as the momentum is with UKIP, where after what happened with the last Cameron referendum promise, nobody trusts him. With UKIP coming first or second in the recent local elections in 55% of seats then I think that if they do very well in the European elections next year, then there will be a leadership contest in the Conservative party as MPs are very pragmatic and ruthless when it comes to hanging onto their seats. This will be followed by an election pact with UKIP to split who contests which seats, much like happened in 1908 between the Liberals and the then recently formed Labour party. Such a pact suggests that with current voting patterns, the Conservatives and UKIP would form the next Government.

  50. Anne
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    I wonder if you are aware of this? Come the General Election the people of this Country are going to use the GENERAL ELECTION in 2015 as the REFERENDUM they have been denied, and as they know-without doubt, that all three major Political Parties want to remain in the EU-FOREVER the people are only going to vote for those that want out of the EU -even the raving Looney Party if that is all there is. Only those well
    known Back Benchers that are urging their Government to hold a referendum are likely to get into Parliament, for THEY, like the vast Majority of people, now put their Country before their Political Party and the European Union. Their total commitment to their Oath of Allegiance is to the British Crown and all the people in this Country that Crown Represents.

  51. Popeye
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    Does it not occur to you that the Prime Minister wants to stay in Europe?
    Why, is a mystery to me, unless he harbours Blair’s one time dream of being President of Europe.
    Rather like wanting to be captain of the Titanic?

  52. uanime5
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    One possible outcome with negotiating with the EU is that the EU may say that if the UK wants a different relationship then it should join the EEA. This would be problematic because the choices would then be have the same relationship with the EU, leave the EU and join the EEA, or leave the EU and not join the EEA. This isn’t something that can be easily resolved with a referendum.

    Also new research shows that there’s a correlation between unemployment and home ownership; for example doubling the levels of home ownership will double unemployment. The main reason seems to be that home owners tend to be less geographically flexible than renters so they’re less able to move where the jobs are. So it’s possible that if it ever became cheaper to rent rather than buy a house in the UK that unemployment would be reduced.

    • Lindsay McDougall
      Posted May 17, 2013 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

      All you are saying in your first paragraph is that we have not yet defined what OUT means. That’s true, but any likely meaning of OUT would be prefereable to the status quo. The day will come when my proposal to repeal the Acts of Accession to Maastricht, Nice, Amsterdam and Lisbon, and the commitment to ever closer union, will seem moderate to you.

      I am glad that you favour labour mobility. There are, of course, other factors getting in the way generating employment, not least the existence of social housing and the refusal to operate a housing market free of political interference.

  53. Stanley Cook
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    To me, all this underlines yet again how appallingly short-sighted our immediately post-war governments were in standing aside from the drive for closer relationship between European countries. We were well-placed then, as top dogs in Europe, to help create a looser, more democratic form of association than the one eventually formed, but we chose to let others make the running and look at what happened! So I would certainly favour continuing our membership of the EU on much improved terms. If that became possible, we would then at least have a chance, along with our natural allies in northern Europe, especially Germany, of influencing developments in the currently sclerotic Union. This country, in my youth a beacon to occupied Europe, should not opt out of future involvement and watch it fall chaotically to pieces if we can possibly avoid doing so.

  54. Barbara
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    I like No 2 option but want it done before the next election so it’s done and dusted and if the Conservatives lose the election the decision will have been made by the people. We cannot and should not trust Labour and certainly not Lib Dems, with this question. They are arrogantly suggesting only politicians can decide such things. I think negotiations should have started or should start soon; it would be foolish not to. When the election comes the argument would be settled and the Conservatives should get the bounty of a win when the nation decides. UKIP, could be marginalised by such a deed. Where is the common-sense of the Conservatives gone, this could be the vote winner they hope for? Losing the election or a split parliament, could in effect do more harm than good, but it will happen if we are not allowed to make our own decisions and our own destiny.
    Many more within the House of Commons will have to understand the will of the people will be met, or they will be the losers.

  55. Anne
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    John Wrake above is absolutely SPOT on, and many people have done the tired Journey to various Courts in this Country to bring charges of treason before the appointed Judges, none thus far have succeeded and may have used up their alloted money in so doing.

    However, if John Redwood puts my previous contribution to this subject of a REFERENDUM on the EU, I have put forward a completely new approach, once agreed by the majority of people we may well be out of the EU in 2015 at the latest-for the people have never ratified any EU Treaty, they have never given their agreement to one, and they have never agreed that their money should go to pay the many billions of British pounds towards foreigners to make laws for a British Government to obey. It is absolutely contrary to our Constitution and what the people in the past of this Country have been conscripted into two World Wars to prevent. Not long after the last war 1945, the EEC came to be!

  56. Christopher Ekstrom
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    Option # 2: the old In/Out as soon as Cast Iron wee davey wonder boy main-chancer is sent to the ash heap of history. For the benefit of UKIP, & England, lets hope Cast Iron lasts another six months, twisting in the wind, defections to UKIP galore. JR you might yet get that coalition Cabinet post…& you will have Nigel & the kippers to thank!!!

  57. midgeismum
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    Well Mr. Redwood.

    You know Mr. Cameron quite well – does he know how frustrated middle England is?

    Will we, for once, see a Prime Minister actually do what the people want?

    Do you share these posts with him?

  58. Max Dunbar
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    There are five referenda to consider if you include the Scottish choice in 2014. If Scotland were to leave the Union what would be the consequences for the rest of the UK in terms of membership and negotiation with the EU? The SNP are keen to ditch one union and immediately apply to join another more remote one that sits more comfortably with their socialist view of the future for the inhabitants of Scotland.

  59. The PrangWizard
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    I hear that Malcolm Rifkind has accused the MPs who support the ‘regret’ motion of disloyalty to the Party and to Her Majesty, and of other things. Same old, same old insults from the Establishment, your anti-EU view will not be tolerated. And Cameron has said there will be no referendum before the next election.

    How do you see this? Can you really remain in your Party? Will it always come before principle? Endlessly? I fear you do the nation and your supporters a dis-service by sticking inside the Party which will continue to knock you down and insult you.

  60. Jon
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    I think the press and media are slow on this one. The Conservatives are now largely EU sceptic and the split is not as severe as it was 20 years ago. Labour does have EU sceptics in it but are in a pro EU party.

    The arguments the Conservatives are having are about the mechanics but agree there should be a referendum. I think the stance of Labour and the Lib Dems will be far more contentious as time goes on.

  61. Anne Palmer
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

    Sadly I note that my two contributions to your Blog have not been allowed, yet I am not in any Political Party or Orgnisation, never have been and never will be, for the freedom for our Country from foreign rule comes first. Having been through a terrible war from 1939 – 1945, all I want is this Country to be free once more from foreign rule. Only then can I die in peace.

    What I proposed in the two previous contributions to your Blog is the simplest, easiest way to free this Country from foreign Rule without the bloodshed that will come any other way, for the people will not believe the result of a REFERENDUM held by this Coalition Government presently in the House of Commons. I think you also know that too.

  62. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

    There’s nothing wrong with having a referendum in 2017, as proposed by the Prime Minister. What is wrong is that there is a lack of trust regarding his negotiating position. I know exactly what I want, including the ‘bottom lines’ and I could write a proposal for a new relationship for him. Unless Maastricht, Nice, Amsterdam and Lisbon are repealed, his Bloomberg speech is meaningless. And I’m simply not prepared to settle for anything less. If the EU won’t agree, it’s OUT.

  63. JM
    Posted May 14, 2013 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    Europe is a boil that needs lancing for both the Tory party and the country. Whilst those who took the trouble to read the writings of the founders of the European Iron & Steel Treaty, which was the very first incarnation of what is now the EU, will have seen that the focus was always a European State, the fact is that when the British people were asked to vote on continued membership, they were lied to. They were told that they were entering a free trade area. We were not. We were entering a ratcheted system focused on attaining a European State. This is not what the British, nor I believe any other people in Europe, want. It is now quite clear that this is where we are headed and that is why we should again be asked whether or not we want to continue with this arrangement.

    The Euro crisis provides an opportunity for the peoples of Europe to pause and to consider what it is that they want out of their relationship with their neighbours.

    The history behind the “European Project” as it appears to be known in Brussels is the two wars that convulsed the whole of Europe in the first half of the 20th century. No one wants to find ourselves in that position again. To that extent the Project has been a resounding success. We have enjoyed one of the longest periods, if not the longest period, in history when there has been no conflict between the major nations of Europe. It is now inconceivable that such a conflict could occur. One could ask if the Project has therefore served its purpose and could be wound up altogether. This might be dangerous as over time the ties that presently make a future war inconceivable could erode or fray. However, given that there is apparently little appetite for a European State, it does provide an opportunity to pause and reconsider just where we are going.

    To this end, I consider that the present calls for an In/Our referendum are misconceived and historically ignorant. History tells us that we do need some kind of formal structure and relationship between the nations of Europe if peace is to be maintained. I suspect that the British wish for a relationship based upon free trade and free movement of people and goods. We have all become used to easy travel around Europe with no currency control or difficulty. I am sure that no one would wish to lose this. Beyond that we seem to have little unity of view. Some would wish to stop there. Others would wish to see a more detailed relationship. This all points to a referendum authorising a renegotiation of the relationship with a subsequent referendum to be held to decide whether we then stay in on the terms as then set out or come out altogether.

    This would provide our government with a real negotiating platform. Our European partners would know that the possibility of the UK leaving Europe is a real option. It would enable those other states who might also wish for a different relationship to attain it. We have to get away from this lock step approach of ever closer union which means that if a step is taken it can never be undone even if it is shown to have been a mistake.

    It would also be a very difficult argument to resist domestically. What is wrong with saying that we want do not want to have ever closer union but to have a different relationship. We can explore what we can get and then decide whether or not we want to stay in on those terms. This time we would know exactly what we would be voting on. The British being what they are, it is likely that the result would be accepted for some considerable time thereafter. The debate will have been had and a decision made; the boil will have been lanced.

    On a separate note, it appears that the Scots are to be told that if they vote for independence it does not automatically follow that they would achieve membership of the European Union as part of the United Kingdom. Since the United Kingdom will have ceased to exist, does that mean, by the same process of logic, that we would all fall out and have to reapply?

    Reply I do not think the rest of the UK will be allowed out of the EU just because Scotland leaves. However,there would need to be a renegotiation, as we would presumably have fewer E Parliament seats, fewer votes in meetings, smaller contribution etc. So it could provide the opportunity to demand a new relationship. However, I think Scotland will vote to stay in the UK.

    • margaret brandreth-j
      Posted May 14, 2013 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

      Extremely articulately expressed JM ..

  64. Major Frustration
    Posted May 14, 2013 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    When I’m ill I dont wait four years before seeing the doctor. Am now on tenth day without a BT landline – third world country or what.

  65. Wokingham Mums
    Posted May 14, 2013 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    During coffee today we discussed Europe. John you make a lot of sense. And the Conservative party should take the lead.

    It seems to us that a high percentage of the British public would either like to re-negotiation of our membership or to leave the EU. So , it seems do MP’s cross party. And all agree this issue is not going to go away.

    So it seems sensible to us, to start negotiations or to at least formally tell the EU of our intentions. Each party needs to debate and set out for us voters the terms of our membership each would want to negotiate. Then come the election us voters would understand each parties position.

    After the Election the new PM of the day would have a mandate given by us the voter of the terms and conditions we the voters want to remain in the EU. The new PM would also have a mandate after those negations to put those agreed new T&C’s to us the voters with a Stay with the new T&C’s or leave referendum.

    Simples

  66. sjb
    Posted May 14, 2013 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    The Telegraph are running a poll on Cameron’s proposed question:
    “Do you think that the United Kingdom should remain a member of the European Union?”

    After 903 ‘votes’:
    Yes: 47; No: 53

  67. Ian Guiver
    Posted May 14, 2013 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think it helps those of us who want to leave the EC to assume that the Prime Minister is driven solely by bad intent. We need to properly understand what is going on in his mind so that we can make the right tactical choices – and to understand the perspective of our opponents, otherwise we’ll not be able to convince people to vote Out.
    It is of course obvious that David Cameron is playing for time and he has given the game away by admitting that he wants to stay In and won’t invoke Article 50 at this point. He is a traditional conservative – in favour of the status quo and skeptical about taking big leaps into the unknown. So he doesn’t want to leave the EU, which he sees as a huge risk for himself and the country.
    He has that in common with many people in Britain. As the recent elections showed, when UKIP and Tory votes are put together, this is a conservative country. Instead of getting excited about the possibility of an immediate referendum which won’t happen, we should use the time to concentrate on explaining to people why it is that Britain is more likely to prosper outside the EU and to play whatever part we can in giving the country back confidence in the ability of us British to take on the world – and win. It is deep pessimism and a reluctance to face our problems and challenges that actually lies at the heart of the In argument. Many people will say that they’d like to leave the EU – but hesitate to actually vote to do so because they have been convinced that will mean economic stagnation.I don’t agree with Bill Clinton about much but when he says an appeal to people’s hopes and ambitions will always triumph over fears and insecurities I’m sure he is right. Those of us who believe in democracy whether in UKIP or like John Redwood, still in the Conservative Party, must build a consensus in favour of Out based upon the confidence that we will be better off as well as more free when we are Out of the EU.

  68. Mark J
    Posted May 14, 2013 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    Belated comment on this post.

    What David Cameron is doing is offering two options in a proposed referendum rather than the three that are needed.

    At present his “promised referendum” will offer either to stay in (as we are) or leave completely. One major option that he has deliberately missed out and one that the majority will vote for is to leave but remain trading partners with Europe.

    So why is this not being offered as an option in the proposed referendum?

    • Jerry
      Posted May 16, 2013 at 11:57 am | Permalink

      @Mark J: Because it is a given?…

      We are not members, for example, of the NAFTA or the USA but we still trade with North America and the USA in it’s own right – no one has ever suggested that we cut all our trade, economic or even socail links with the member states of the EU!

  • About John Redwood


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

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