How should Ministers vote today?

Apparently Ministers are advised to abstain today on the issue of whether we should have an early referendum on the EU. Let’s look at the case for each possible course of action:

Vote against the proposal to amend the Queen’s speech motion

Conventionally this is what Ministers would do. After all, they framed the Queen’s speech and signed off that it was the right programme for the country. Accepting an amendment implies they were wrong, and should have put a referendum bill in themselves. We know they gave thought to doing so, as they were bombarded with proposals for a referendum from Conservative MPs in good time  before they completed the Queen’s speech.

They should vote against if they wish to block any future attempt this Parliament to put a referendum motion and Bill to the Commons. Otherwise they will be accused of u-turn or worse if they fail to vote this amendment down but vote down any attempt to implement its views at a later date. I guess the Lib Dem Ministers will do just this, showing that the Lib Dem party has decisively torn up its pre 2010 election pledge to off an In/Out referendum now it is in more of a position to call one.

Vote for the proposal

Conservative Ministers could vote for the amendment,  saying that an In/Out  referendum is now Conservative party policy, so to vote against would be  bizarre. They could support either an immediate Mandate referendum to get on with negotiaitng a new relationship, or early legislation for the 2017 In/Out or both and be consistent with Conservative policy.

When asked why they were supporting criticism of their own Queen’s Speech, they could argue that it is the Coalition’s Queen’s speech, which is why it does not  in this area reflect Conservative policy. Different rules surely apply to Coalition government than have applied to single party government in the past. The Lib Dems after all changed their voting on cutting the number of MPs despite prior Coalition agreement.

Abstain

Abstention overcomes the problem of being seen to criticise their own Coalition Queen’s speech, whilst avoiding having to vote against official Conservative policy. Ministers are likely to see  it as the least bad compromise.

It also means that the attitude of Labour is in the spotlight, as Labour can determine the outcome if most Ministers abstain. Unfortunately as Labour now looks likely to vote against it, it seems the amendment to the Queen’s speech is doomed.

Conclusion

The danger of Lib Dems and Labour being against a referendum, and Conservative Ministers feeling they have to abstain, is that Parliament fails to reflect the majority wish to the voters.

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137 Comments

  1. Nina Andreeva
    Posted May 15, 2013 at 5:19 am | Permalink

    JR you never really go out on a limb with your predictions e.g. UKIP not to take control of any councils earlier in the month and here is another, “Parliament fails to reflect the majoirty wish to the voters.”. That is hardly a surprise to anyone, look at the list of topics were MPs knows better than the people to whom they are supposed to serve i.e. gay “marriage”, capital punishment, mass immigration etc

    • Jerry
      Posted May 15, 2013 at 8:12 am | Permalink

      @Nina Andreeva: That is surely a classic example of what John was talking about the other days, a comment that has no relevance to the core debate, it is not even ‘thread drift’, just a vehicle to mention a chosen political party… 🙁

      • Brian Tomkinson
        Posted May 15, 2013 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

        Jerry,
        Are you the self-appointed censor for this site?

        • Nina Andreeva
          Posted May 15, 2013 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

          No he is not very good at comprehending what people write. If it failed JRs new posting criteria, why did he let it through?

          • Jerry
            Posted May 16, 2013 at 7:48 am | Permalink

            Brain and Nina, so we are not allowed an opinion unless it meets with the approval of the ‘thought’ police now are we – Seems to me that you are the people who want to censor, you only ever want to read comment that reinforce your own opinions. 🙁

      • zorro
        Posted May 16, 2013 at 11:35 am | Permalink

        @Jerry – But that is exactly what you were implying and judging in the comments of others.

        zorro

    • Tad Davison
      Posted May 15, 2013 at 9:27 am | Permalink

      You’re absolutely right Nina! Hardly democratic is it. That is what I’m after, greater democracy, and I will vote for any party that delivers it, but having looked at their track record, I fear the present system will continue to deny me.

      Tad

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted May 15, 2013 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

      Nina–I don’t even understand the sentence

    • Timaction
      Posted May 15, 2013 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

      What we need is a date for the In/Out referendum or a general election so we can make it happen!! All the rest is window dressing.

    • alan jutson
      Posted May 15, 2013 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

      Nina

      I thought Johns prediction was exactly right as it turned out, so full marks to him for being acurate.

  2. Kevin R. Lohse
    Posted May 15, 2013 at 5:33 am | Permalink

    It’s difficult. In an attempt to preserve the pretence of a Coalition, Ministers from both parties could abstain, which would get the LibDems out of voting against their own manifesto. As the Lib Dems would be unlikely to stick to such an arrangement, that idea is still-born. Even if the Lib Dem ministers say they will abstain, Conservative ministers would do well to stay within hearing distance of the division bell. The votes of the minor parties could be critical in the vote. If Lib Dem ministers are going to vote against, then Conservative ministers are free to vote for.

    This sort of mess was predicted by those of us who live and work in an area with a large Lib Dem organisation. We have found them to be invariably devious, untrustworthy (etc) who will do anything to wield whatever power they can manufacture by fair means or foul. If Cameron hadn’t been so dismissive of his own Parliamentary Right and the voluntary Party, he wouldn’t be in such dire straits now.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted May 15, 2013 at 9:49 am | Permalink

      I’ll tell you what the Lib Dems are like Kevin, provided John lets me, and it’s not good!

      The local MP for Cambridge, Julian Huppert, still hasn’t provided me with the figures I asked him for back in July 2012, concerning how much our membership of the EU has cost, and continues to cost the UK. And I suspect he knows if he did so, I would take him to pieces. He quite simply does not want that debate because, as Maggie might have said, he’s ‘frit’!

      And some years ago, after the death of Geoffrey Dickens, I spoke to his agent on the telephone, who told me this appalling fact. The Lib Dems started their election campaign, the moment they heard he was dying. Talk about a lack of respect and irreverent haste! That was shoddy politics of the lowest order!

      Geoffrey Dickens will always have my respect, (etc)Tad

      Tad

  3. Mark W
    Posted May 15, 2013 at 5:47 am | Permalink

    I agree with your point on ministers voting for the amendment. It is my own thought.

    The media have this wrong. Coalition policy and Tory policy are different, hence LibDems and boundaries. If all Tories supported then the numbers are close.

    The LibDems have broken their word on so many issues I would hardly expect them to stand by their 2010 pledges.

    However if this vote fails today then labour will show their true position in deed.

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

      @Mark W: “However if this vote fails today then labour will show their true position in deed.

      That will depend on what they do, what if the Labour Party are whipped to abstain, the motion will then either pass or fall on what the Tories do…

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted May 15, 2013 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

        Jerry–And how likely is that??

        • Jerry
          Posted May 16, 2013 at 7:55 am | Permalink

          @Leslie Singleton: On an amendment, especially if it leads to political embarrassment for the PM and his government, quite possible – not that they did, as we have discovered, the Labour leadership have now firmly nailed their colours to the EU flag-pole- although I would agree they are hardly going to abstain on the actual main Bill.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted May 15, 2013 at 9:54 am | Permalink

      Mark, that’s exactly what this debate needs, for all the others to show their hand. It is what I have been angling for, for ages, to establish who is, and who isn’t in favour of the EU. But one party cannot criticise another party’s stance, if their own position is not that far removed from it. There has to be a clearly discernible distance.

      Tad

      • Mark W
        Posted May 15, 2013 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

        Tad and Jerry.

        I think this whole issue will be interesting. I imagine some parties were hoping to see the other sink it without having to show a hand.

        It’s in Labour’s interest to hold back and let the Tories squabble. But does Labour want the public to see them as against a referendum. I’ve noticed them being very reserved with language in interviews. The media enjoy the “Tory split” but I’m not convinced Labour is without problems.

        None of the parties really wants a referendum as at top level they want to remain in and fear a public vote. I think that there’s a hope that the longer it is left then younger generations might not have a taste for independence from something that has existed all their lives.

        On the other hand it may all fall apart or the Eurozone becomes the real USE and the rest of us fracture apart. Who knows.

        My personal preference:
        I would like a main party (there are only two) to have a commitment to leave without a referendum.

        As a second option an In/Out referendum guaranteed by both main parties with a promise to back the main governing party from a position of opposition should the LibDems be part of a future coaltion. (A LibDem promise has no validity).

        In reality I just don’t see a referendum happening. The election pledges will be washed away in future coalition agreements.

        The vote will fail tonight. (I hope I’m wrong but I would put money on it). I will happily come here tomorrow and declare myself an idiot if it passes.

        • Jerry
          Posted May 16, 2013 at 8:12 am | Permalink

          @Mark W: “None of the parties really wants a referendum as at top level they want to remain in and fear a public vote.

          Which is a very dangerous game to play, we have already got mass dissatisfaction with politics, many now do not see the two or three party system as the answer, we are already seeing alternative parties take to the stage and win -both left and right, well the latter almost- if the three existing main parties are not careful, their obsession with focus groups etc. will make them irrelevant.

          I think that there’s a hope that the longer it is left then younger generations might not have a taste for independence from something that has existed all their lives.

          Funny that, the youth of the 1950/60s didn’t know anything other than the “establishment” but that didn’t stop them gaining a sense and then taste for a what we now regard the norm, I suspect that the real impetus for change will be when the young start using their Facebook, Twitter accounts and Ipads for change rather than just socail entertainment, in the same way as popular music lead the way in the 1960s – this has already begun in a limited way.

          • Mark W
            Posted May 16, 2013 at 10:33 am | Permalink

            Jerry.

            Interesting points with social media. It played its part in the Arab Spring.

    • behindthefrogs
      Posted May 15, 2013 at 10:30 am | Permalink

      To summarise your comment. When the LibDems,who are after all a minority in the coalition, fail to meet an election pledge because they don’t have Tory support, they are breaking their word. However when the Tories similarly have to break their pledge, it is all the fault of their coalition partners who had made a different pledge.

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted May 15, 2013 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

        frogs–How is the Liberals’ breaking their Manifesto pledge the fault of the Tories?

      • Mark W
        Posted May 15, 2013 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

        The LibDems went into the 2010 election with a manifesto commitment to an In/Out referendum. Not as strong as signing a promise to not raise tuition fees but still a manifesto commitment.

        My complaint is they are breaking their own election pledge.

        Boundaries was a part of the coalition agreement. Quite specific too. Although not as strong a point as what I stated above, if the LibDems can do that why should Tory ministers not hold to Tory policy over coalition policy. The Tories made plenty of Eurosceptic noise in the run up to 2010.

        I think it is the Eurosceptic noise that needs to be set out in print, so those issues can be accountable at a later date.

        • Peter Davies
          Posted May 15, 2013 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

          Indeed I found an image of the LD commitment the other day, I did send a copy to the DPM’s Twitter account earlier in case he had some sort of memory lapse!

        • sjb
          Posted May 16, 2013 at 8:44 am | Permalink

          @Mark W
          The LibDems’ In/Out referendum pledge was not unconditional: the trigger being “the next time a British government signs up for fundamental change in the relationship between the UK and the EU. ”
          -p67, Liberal Democrat Manifesto 2010

          • Leslie Singleton
            Posted May 16, 2013 at 10:20 am | Permalink

            sjb–It’s always the next time–in other words jam tomorrow–or in five years’ time

          • Mark W
            Posted May 16, 2013 at 10:36 am | Permalink

            SJB.

            Worthy point but “fundamental” is a weasel word. To vague an escape route to the political scoundrel.

  4. Javelin
    Posted May 15, 2013 at 5:58 am | Permalink

    I have read through the EU Referendum Act and I don’t see any clauses that will order the referendum results into law. It just orders a referendum.

    • Jerry
      Posted May 15, 2013 at 8:19 am | Permalink

      @Javelin: Not sure it could do what you ask anyway, at best it could simply order the government to start the process of exit, not actually revoke any previous law.

    • zorro
      Posted May 15, 2013 at 8:46 am | Permalink

      Indeed……In fact, is there any clause which commits the government to do anything following the result of a vote…..?

      I think not……Any chance of any negotiations starting before 2015…..I think not.

      zorro

    • Vanessa
      Posted May 15, 2013 at 9:41 am | Permalink

      Very interesting ! As slippery as fish !

    • Tad Davison
      Posted May 15, 2013 at 9:56 am | Permalink

      Only when they get the result they want, then they make it binding. Oh what a fantastic and democratic place the EU is!

      Tad

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted May 15, 2013 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

      It’s not an Act, which would be legally binding; at the moment it’s nothing more than a Tory party gimmick, a Tory party document in the form of a draft Bill with no more legal weight than another Tory party document, its election manifesto.

      And it’s not the first time that the Tory party has deployed this gimmick, as can be found by putting these four words:

      draft bill lisbon referendum

      into google and casting your eye down to:

      “Read our draft Lisbon Treaty Referendum Bill”

      from 2009.

      And although that previous Tory party draft Bill may have impressed some easily misled people at the time, needless to say it was never introduced into Parliament and so it had no chance of becoming law giving us a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty; while this new Tory party draft Bill may perhaps be taken up by a Tory backbencher, but it also has little chance of becoming law.

      Which is unfortunate, despite the fact that as it stands the Tory party draft Bill has some very serious defects which would have to be addressed, preferably before it stopped being just a Tory party gimmick and instead became a real Bill before Parliament, but otherwise during its passage.

      • Jerry
        Posted May 17, 2013 at 7:17 am | Permalink

        @Denis Cooper: Every Act (that creates the Law) starts life as a Bill laid before parliament so I’m really at a loss as to what your point is?

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted May 18, 2013 at 11:28 am | Permalink

          Jerry, you’re not usually quite this slow.

          Thinking back to 2010, do you remember something called:

          “INVITATION TO JOIN THE GOVERNMENT OF BRITAIN”,

          the Tory party manifesto for the general election?

          That said at the bottom:

          “Promoted by Alan Mabbutt on behalf of the Conservative Party, both of 30 Millbank, London SW1P 4DP.”

          because it was a Tory party document.

          Well, here’s the Tory party draft EU referendum Bill:

          http://www.conservatives.com/Policy/Issues/~/media/Files/Downloadable%20Files/Draft_Referendum_Bill.ashx

          which also says at the bottom:

          “Promoted & printed by Alan Mabbutt on behalf of the Conservative Party, both of 30 Millbank, London SW1P 4DP”.

          That’s because both those documents are just Tory party documents, and both with the same legal weight, zero.

          The Tory party draft EU referendum Bill is short, just one side of A4 as pointed out in the Commons; without making any boast I could probably have knocked that out myself, maybe with a few slips.

          And probably I would have given more thought to the potential for Clause 1 to precipitate a constitutional crisis; and I would have thought about putting in an entrenchment clause to stop the next government of whichever party or parties from getting the next Parliament to repeal it; and I would have specified a question which was not biased towards staying in the EU; and I would have thought about the action to be taken by the government in the event of a vote to leave; and maybe I would have run on to an additional hundred or more pages laying down the detailed conduct of the referendum, much of which I could have lifted from the Act for the AV referendum.

          But of course if it had been me doing that, rather than the Tory party, it’s unlikely that any journalists would have written about it; and if they had written about it they would not have mislead their readers by saying that I had “published a new law”.

          • Jerry
            Posted May 19, 2013 at 8:44 am | Permalink

            @Denis Cooper: Talking about people being slow, what do you not understand about the fact that every policy a government brings forward starts life as a party policy – Thatchers sale of Council houses, control of the Unions, removing money controls etc. all started out as a policy emanating from CCO/CCHQ, just as Nationalisation of the railways etc. stared life as a party policy emanating from Transport house (the then LPHQ).

            Sorry, I still do not see what your point was, unless it was to confuse…

        • APL
          Posted May 18, 2013 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

          Jerry: “I’m really at a loss as to what your point is?”

          The Tory party is pulling the wool over your eyes, again.

          • Jerry
            Posted May 19, 2013 at 8:51 am | Permalink

            @APL: See my reply to Denis. But I can assure you that I have not had the “wool pulled over my eyes” on this, I fully understand what has always been a party policy statement and and not a formal Bill laid before Parliament.

  5. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted May 15, 2013 at 5:59 am | Permalink

    I really doubt whether a majority of the voters would like to have a referendum to be held in at least 4 years time from now.
    Anyway, the “Brixit” billboard would have been erected by Britain and the continent should start exploiting that, even if a Brixit were not to happen in the end.

    • Jerry
      Posted May 15, 2013 at 8:26 am | Permalink

      @PvR: The EU and it’s members (unless they also are moving towards an exit by default [1]) will be able to exploit anything because they will still be subject to and punished by EU law should they try -unless it is done at the EU level, on the other hand the UK will be able to exploit opportunities because what can the EU threaten, to kick us out of their “club”? Bring it on, the UK will reply!

      [1] that is, a possible exit is flagged up and others behave as if the exit has taken place

      • Jerry
        Posted May 15, 2013 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

        Sorry, that should have read “…will NOT be able to exploit anything because…”

        • Peter van Leeuwen
          Posted May 15, 2013 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

          @Jerry: in spite of these EU regulations some eurozone countries rank higher than Britain in competitiveness. Nobody is yet “kicking you out”, you’re even welcome to stay. But do feel free to leave!

          • Jerry
            Posted May 16, 2013 at 8:27 am | Permalink

            @PvR: Competitiveness is not the only thing a company needs to succeed, it needs opportunity first, access to the market place. You can make the best, cheapest widgets in the world but if your government [1] won’t allow you to sell them to your customer and this applies to both imports and exports.

            [1] or in this case the EU regulative framework that all member states have to apply

    • Tad Davison
      Posted May 15, 2013 at 10:00 am | Permalink

      Your point is lamentably scan. What do you mean when you say, ‘the “Brixit” billboard would have been erected by Britain and the continent should start exploiting that,’ ?

      Exploiting what, our intention to leave?

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted May 15, 2013 at 11:39 am | Permalink

        @Tad Davison: but of course, we on the continent also have our national (and European) interest: so – strengthen out ties with the US and talk to Japanese car industries, and lure global investors in general to come to the, apparently not self-destructing eurozone, just for the possibility that the UK will marginalise itself by leaving the EU. The Obama government is the right government to appraoach for that. If it is all not going to happen, I mean, if Britain, after a fair new deal will stay in the EU, that is ok. But the risk of a Brixit is also an opportunity for continental countries, why waste it? 🙂

        • Tad Davison
          Posted May 15, 2013 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

          So tell me, and I really want to hear this, what guarantees do you have that the EU will not implode in on itself and become an even bigger disaster zone than it is now?

          It won’t need free trade with the US then, it will need another Marshall plan!

          I have never seen such self-deception that flies in the face of the situation on the ground. You talk as if the EU is working well, and will draw inward investment and trade from all over the world!

          How can goods made in the EU ever hope to compete on a level playing field with countries whose costs are far lower?

          That sounds like the making of a one-way street to me, as is now developing between the UK and the EU, where we have a massive and unsustainable trade deficit.

          Any Greeks or Spaniards amongst our number who would care to tell us how their employment prospects are at the moment, thanks to the unreformed EU?

          An EU reformation is long overdue, but the pro-EU people who oppose it are entrenched. They stick blindly to a myth, that their dream of a protectionist and uncompetitive EU can actually deliver. In a reply to another person, I mentioned that the MP, Bill Cash, had recently met with some very senior EU figures, and was assured by them, no concessions would be made to the UK.

          If we do leave, all the half-baked spend-thrift EU projects will miss our money!

          • Tad Davison
            Posted May 15, 2013 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

            Furthermore, the MP Bernard Jenkin, has just said in response to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, the Lib Dem Danny Alexander, that if Britain were out of the EU, we would still be free to establish our own trade links with the US, and the EU, as the EU’s own rules say that has to be so.

            Thus, if we in the UK make item ‘A’ far more cheaply than the same thing made in the EU, which is more expensive because of their higher manufacturing costs, does that not suggest the UK will win the export in preference to the EU, as people always want more for less?

            I rather fancy that the EU will one day be forced to follow our example after all. And all those borrow and spend socialist-centric EU politicians will be but a past aberration.

          • Peter van Leeuwen
            Posted May 16, 2013 at 11:48 am | Permalink

            @Tad Davison: all these Anglo-Saxon prophesies about euro collapse and EU collapse have never come true, but please just continue believing your false prophets while we move on. Just study the figures and see that Europe is attracting inward investment. As a example, Chinese investment in the Netherlands has multiplied over the last few years. And if production were to move to low cost countries only, how come that Philips moved its shaver factory from China to the Netherlands last year?
            I don’t hold high hopes for exclusive deals for the UK, but some reforms benefiting all EU members may well happen in the next few years. A conglomerate of 27+ countries cannot move fast.

          • Jerry
            Posted May 17, 2013 at 7:30 am | Permalink

            @PvR: “all these Anglo-Saxon prophesies about euro collapse and EU collapse have never come true

            Yet!

            It will only take Italy or France to need a bailout and it WILL be game over for the Euro (and thus EU), Germany will simply not be able to afford to bailout France, Italy or both – even if the German politicos and central bank wish to and think it is affordable, the German people simply will not stand for it.

            As for Anglo-Saxon prophesies, here is another for you to mull on; There is none so blind as those who chose not to see…

      • uanime5
        Posted May 15, 2013 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

        Well if the UK is threatening to leave the EU then other EU countries have less incentive to make concessions to the UK. For example during the talks about the EU’s budget France specifically asked why should the UK be given concession when they make not be in the EU in 2017.

        So threatening to leave will harm the UK’s short term influence in the EU.

        • Tad Davison
          Posted May 15, 2013 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

          Bill Cash said in the Commons today, that he had seen very senior EU figures only recently, and they had told him there would be no concessions anyway, so negotiations for a better EU seem pointless. We have no real influence anyway, and after QMV kicks in, we will be locked in with no chance of getting out.

          • Jerry
            Posted May 16, 2013 at 8:36 am | Permalink

            @Tad Davison: How will QMV make our membership of the EU irrevocable, for starters it would mean the EU breaking one the of the basic principles of the UN’s UDHR.

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted May 16, 2013 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

            QMV kicked in long ago, there is no change in the offing which would lock us into the EU.

    • forthurst
      Posted May 15, 2013 at 11:31 am | Permalink

      “Anyway, the “Brixit” billboard would have been erected by Britain and the continent should start exploiting that”

      The Continent, the EU, does not need any further encouragement to exploit the British, as they have been doing that ever since we joined. Although the benefits for other Continental countries are proving to have been chimerical, for this country, that was obvious from the start, albeit only spotted by insightful people who had bothered to read the rubric such as JR. Our borders are ancient and largely defined by the sea; those on the continent may be more arbitrary and a lot more recent and if they want to move them around or abolish them, that is their decision, but it should have nothing to do with us. Most of us, apart from our politicians who mostly hate the English and wish to multiculturalise and abolish our country, now would prefer a period of disengagement, albeit with friendly relations and mutually beneficial trade.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted May 15, 2013 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

        @forthurst: we differ about your assertion that we’ve exploited the British. As far as clear borders is concerned, you’re right of course, except for the border between N.Ireland and Ireland.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted May 15, 2013 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

      Peter–Did you mean “at least”? If so, what you have written is correct because most want it “at most”.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted May 15, 2013 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

        @Leslie Singleton: at least, because from May 2013 to end of 2017 is at least 4 years. Then what if it appears that a EU treaty change will be later, and that the best chance for the UK to get a better deal is to piggy-back it on a new treaty? I could imagine that the “cast-iron” 2017 could become 2018 or later. After all, UK legislation can be amended. I’m aware that some want an early or almost immediate referendum, even some europhiles do.

    • Timaction
      Posted May 15, 2013 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

      Will you exploit our annual trade deficit of £50 billion with the EU or our £12 billion NET contribution? Maybe try to stop us getting our fishing grounds back or reduction in food costs as we won’t be subject to the common agricultural policy. Perhaps we won’t notice the £9 billion it costs us annually to implement the unproductive EU laws and directives even if we’re exporting OUTSIDE the EU! With majority voting coming in next year we won’t even have a voice, who cares about staying in this undemocratic monster.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted May 15, 2013 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

        @Timaction: why do you “forget” your huge benefit in exporting services to the rest of the EU? Is the UK suddenly only interested in goods?
        Also, have some study of how EU members trade with and export to countries like China. It might be a bit sobering to see them doing better than the UK. Lastly, why would industries with an eye of exporting to the EU want to risk all this pound sterling volatility, if they can easily relocate to inside the eurozone?

        • Jerry
          Posted May 16, 2013 at 8:45 am | Permalink

          @PvR: The UK “imports” far more from the rest of the EU than we “export”, would the other EU countries really want the EU to stop them trading with the UK?! As for our own exports (in the true meaning of the word) once outside the EU we can sell our goods and services to who ever we choose, even those countries we are currently not allowed to or have difficulty with because the EU have not ‘agreed terms’.

          • Peter van Leeuwen
            Posted May 16, 2013 at 11:56 am | Permalink

            @Jerry: while you wait for your Brixit, we on the continent already export our goods all over the world. EU regulation doesn’t prevent us. I do doubt though that after Brixit, you will suddenly start exporting to “forbidden” countries (Iran, North Korea, maybe Syria).
            And of course we will still trade and export to the UK after your Brixit.

          • Jerry
            Posted May 17, 2013 at 7:44 am | Permalink

            @PvR: “while you wait for your Brixit, we on the continent already export our goods all over the world. EU regulation doesn’t prevent us

            The regulations do not prevent you just so long as the regulations allow you…

            But if any nation can export/import goods from any other nation -in or outside of the EU- just what is the point of the EU Pater? Also, in case you have not noticed, the UK actually exports to the RotW, more than you possibly realise because of the Rotterdam Fudge, the UK is most certainly not waiting for our EU exit so that we can start being a major international trader, we have never stopped being one.

  6. Javelin
    Posted May 15, 2013 at 6:16 am | Permalink

    It’s very simple dissapointment and annoyance has been building for years about the EU, immigration and Sovereignty but has been supressed through the use of politically correct language. In the past few months it has been accepted by the left that it is not racist to be anti-immigration. This has opened Pandora’s box. Contagion has moved from on line comments to off line opinion. What we are seeing is a ground swell of opinion that is either anti or more punchy than the press articles being written. In this sense both the press and the politicians are being overtaken by events and public opinion.

    The truth is nobody knows where this will stop. This is NOT John Major and a Tory EU split – it’s much more than that. The latest polls show disaffection in the Labour core vote as well. I would guess that there are more Labour votes who should be anti-immigration than Tory voters and this side of the equation has yet to reveal itself.

  7. Acorn
    Posted May 15, 2013 at 6:19 am | Permalink

    What parameters will the Speaker use to pick one of the six amendments plus the amendment to Mr Baron’s amendment? It appears that the Speaker could put the mockers on this byzantine circus.

    Reply I expect the Speaker will allow this amendment. He needs to see numbers of MPs in support, and some from a variety of parties. We have numbers and a few non Conservatives.

    • Jerry
      Posted May 15, 2013 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

      @JR Reply: Thanks for an insight in how the Speaker makes such choices!

  8. Jerry
    Posted May 15, 2013 at 6:28 am | Permalink

    John, surely this is all quite simple (unless Cameron actually has never wanted this referendum), minister should vote as they personally see fit or as instructed by their constituency members -in other words treat this as all but a free vote, otherwise they must vote as their party policy would have been had they not been in a coalition government, for the Conservatives that will mean voting for the motion surely as I find it hard to believe that a majority Tory government would not have started the process of renegotiation or even held the referendum by now.

    I don’t see how Cameron could dare sack any Minister who did vote for this motion as he would be seen to be nailing his pro-EU colours firming to the mask aloft Downing Street, he really would be toast both inside and out of the party and Mr Farage will be looking down the TV camera lens again whilst laughing into his pint of beer! For all his dithering, and yes I have changed my opinion on this, Cameron is now dammed if he does and dammed if he doesn’t. Whilst I’m not quite at the point of repeating the final words of Leo Amery’s 1940 speech, relating to what Cromwelll said about the Long Parliament, but the time seems to be fast approaching…

    Of course, for the LibDems it is a little more complex because before the last GE the europhile LDs were suggesting that there needs to be a simple In/Out referendum if for no other reason than to put the issue to bed, now (as the Euro crisis deepens and ever more become at least eurosceptic) they now seem less than their Democratic name suggests…

    • Tad Davison
      Posted May 15, 2013 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      I would only trust David Cameron to deliver on his pledge, if he guaranteed to be shot unless he did. It’s up to him to win the trust of the British people, but so far, he doesn’t seem to be making a very good job of it!

      (There, not a mention of any fourth party who could be trusted to deliver)

      Tad

  9. alan jutson
    Posted May 15, 2013 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    I really do hope that you and your fellow like minded Mp’s keep up the pressure on this one John.

    It is about time that Mp’s and Ministers stood up to be counted, and not just act like lobby fodder.

    For Christs sake its their own jobs that are at stake here, do they want to govern the Country or not ?
    If not, then why stand for election as an MP in the first place, other than perhaps for the title and a good pension.

    The European elections are just a year away, just wait and see what happens to the LibDems and Labour if they direct their members to vote it down.

    As for Cameron, if he started negotiations now, then perhaps some of us may believe that he is seeing the light, AT LAST, although I would not put my house on it.

    Your brief statement on Radio Berkshire was straight to the point when you said something similar to:
    We cannot govern properly in the present position because the EU has control over almost everything we want to do, so why not start negotiations now.

    Keep up the pressure on the lobby fodder, and remind them why they are in Parliament.

    • zorro
      Posted May 15, 2013 at 8:53 am | Permalink

      The litmus test is that he should be engaging in negotiations now…..Of course, he isn’t and won’t do so……Of course, he therefore lacks credibility.

      zorro

      • alan jutson
        Posted May 15, 2013 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

        Zorro

        Agreed, makes no sense to delay, unless you intend to kick the can down the road forever.

  10. Andyvan
    Posted May 15, 2013 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    Your conclusion is most likely. Parliament will fail to reflect the wishes of voters. It has consistently done so for very many years. What it reflects is the party and personal advantage of MPs. That is what it does and we’ll see it proved again in this case. What amazes me is that more people don’t see that- or maybe they do given the extremely low and falling voter turn out at election time.

  11. Wattylersghost
    Posted May 15, 2013 at 6:51 am | Permalink

    Cameron voting “No” with the Liberals and Labour will show the man in his true colours.

    Desiring to be all things to all people – he is nothing to anyone. But don’t blame the man, he has not changed, blame the Tory Party who chose this incompetent – it was all plain to see when he was chosen to lead.

    Reply Mr Cameron will not vote No with the Lib Dems

  12. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted May 15, 2013 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    Negotiating a new framework for our relationship with the EU is vital. As far as voting for one party or another is concerned , the politicians are spoiling it for themselves by concerning themselves about losing face. Most voters would agree that they want what is best for the country and the parties who argue amongst themselves appear to work for themselves and not ‘the relationship’ . This intention to do what is right for the UK does not clearly present itself . We are beginning to see a federal Europe state. There are some who complain about the British state. How on earth are they going to cope with a very large state where their voice is completely lost in grey suits and high salaries?
    I listened to Germaine Greer on Europe on Question time. She made it quite clear that she was Australian and the Commonwealth had let Australia down. The comment had a tone of retribution in it. She has an Italian house and beautiful garden in Italy . Unfortunately most in the UK are not as well placed and are not likely to be so integrated in Europe.
    This tone I pick up in many comments. The state of GB has been blamed for the downfall of much unrest and the full integration into Europe seems to be a way of handing over power to top our own governments and ‘teach them a lesson’.
    This attitude works for those with a good income , but it will not be suitable for Joe public who struggles daily.

    • margaret brandreth-j
      Posted May 15, 2013 at 8:10 am | Permalink

      correction ” the downfall of many and much unrest”

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted May 15, 2013 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

      I saw her talking about that, and I wished I could jump in and tell her that in 1975 we were officially assured that the Commonwealth countries wanted us to stay in the EEC.

      From the government’s official pamphlet urging a “yes” vote, which was delivered to every household:

      http://www.harvard-digital.co.uk/euro/pamphlet.htm#10

      “It has been said that the Commonwealth countries would like to see us come out.

      This is not so. The reverse is true.

      Commonwealth Governments want Britain to stay in the Community … ”

      (Just as with the question proposed in the Tory party draft Bill, in 1975 a “yes” vote meant that you wanted to remain in the EEC, it being known that in a referendum there is normally a slight but significant bias towards “yes” responses, as well as a bias towards keeping the status quo.)

  13. APL
    Posted May 15, 2013 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    JR: “Parliament fails to reflect the majoirty wish to the voters.”

    Plus ça change.

    Nicolas Soames telling us the public shouldn’t get any meat because they would only want more, was deliciously ironic, if only because of the (adjective left out) gentleman’s total lack of self awareness.

    The metaphor was probably not best employed by a man who clearly indulges his love of red meat.

    Shades of Marie Antoinette about this Parliament.

  14. Mick Anderson
    Posted May 15, 2013 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    Viewed from the outside:

    Voting against the proposal will show the electorate that the Conservative leadership is Euro-fanatical despite their assertions to be mildly Euro-sceptic. Having been worried by recent events, this seems like giving an open goal to their opponents

    Voting for the proposal doesn’t fit the oft-repeated view that Mr Cameron is really a Euro-fanatic pretending to be otherwise. Commentators will start looking (even harder) for a stalking-horse, after all it’s contrary to the Queens Speech and therefore against the leadership….

    Abstaining shows that they are happy for things to be decided by the votes of Labour MPs, so why exactly are they in office?

    My conclusion is that once again the Party leadership has allowed itself to be painted into a corner. They can only lose; the only question is to which face is going to wear egg this time….

  15. Old Albion
    Posted May 15, 2013 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    Quote…………….The danger of Lib Dems and Labour bengn against a referendum, and Conservative Ministers feeling they have to abstain, is that Parliament fails to reflect the majoirty wish to the voters………… end quote

    Nothing new there then………..

  16. lojolondon
    Posted May 15, 2013 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    John, this throws the hypocrisy of the LibDems into sharp focus. They had a clear commitment to a referendum on Europe in the last election, since the election, they have voted and spoken against the issue at every opportunity.
    Also, crucially, as you say, this vote throws into sharp contrast the gulf between the wishes of the people and the actions of Parliament.

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted May 15, 2013 at 9:22 am | Permalink

      What about the hypocrisy of the Tory party? Cameron gave a cast iron promise on a referendum on the Lisbon treaty. It is irrelevant that the treaty was already signed. He could have given us the referendum and, if we had voted ‘no’, he could have opened the alleged renegotiations.

      And made this go away. But, no, that would have required leadership and belief. And he, it appears, is like a sheaf of corn in the wind. No idea. Truly pathetic.

      Reply He promised a pre ratification referendum and voted for one in the Commons.

      • zorro
        Posted May 15, 2013 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

        ‘Today, I will give this cast-iron guarantee: If I become PM a Conservative government will hold a referendum on any EU treaty that emerges from these negotiations. No treaty should be ratified without consulting the British people in a referendum…’

        His exact words – no caveats on decisions made by small Central European countries…….. Even if the Treaty was adopted, he still committed to consulting the British people in a referendum before we ratified it.

        zorro

        reply Exactly – he made clear it was before ratification.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted May 15, 2013 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

          Well, JR, I sometimes think I should go on a Use of English revision course, but it seems that you need it even more than me!

          In Cameron’s September 2007 Sun article there was no caveat that his guarantee would expire once the treaty had been ratified.

          • APL
            Posted May 16, 2013 at 8:48 am | Permalink

            Denis Cooper: “but it seems that you need it even more than me!”

            Who would have thought it, John Redwood ‘channeling’ Bill Clinton, it all hangs on the meaning of ‘it’.

            Rather pathetic really.

        • APL
          Posted May 16, 2013 at 5:37 am | Permalink

          JR: “Exactly he made clear it was before ratification.”

          NO! In the citation there are two distinct a INDEPENDENT clauses. The first a statement of intent, the second, more of a reproach to Brown.

          • zorro
            Posted May 16, 2013 at 8:56 am | Permalink

            Indeed…..He should have put the second sentence first…..The reason he didn’t is because he wanted to emphasise his Cast Elastic guarantee…..

            John, the second sentence was made redundant after Brown signed in 2009. The first sentence has always remained valid. Cameron’s escape clause is that we don’t have a Conservative government…..I can’t disagree with him there…..

            zorro

          • zorro
            Posted May 16, 2013 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

            I also doubt whether he thought a Tory government was possible in 2007….that might be one of the reasons why he said it then….He was considering the possibility of a future agreement/way of working with the Lib Dems as part of a way to reshape the political landscape and form a majority…..You have to look at his quotes in the political context in which they are made.

            zorro

      • Mike Wilson
        Posted May 15, 2013 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

        His argument about not prejudicing other countries’ processes is bizarre. If he didn’t want Lisbon, all he had to do was say that he would hold a referendum on it, regardless of whether it had been ratified. Whether that did, or did not, influence other countries in the process of ratification would be a problem for them – not us.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted May 17, 2013 at 8:27 am | Permalink

          Correct, but he lacked the will and the courage to take that stand.

          It was ridiculous to insist that without a UK referendum “we would have a new treaty in force that lacked democratic legitimacy in this country”, as Hague repeatedly said, but then roll over and accept that because there had been a second referendum in another country, which obviously could do nothing whatsoever to remedy the lack of democratic legitimacy in this country.

          I came across this article from June 2nd 2009, a few days before the EU Parliament elections:

          http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/104954/Cameron-demands-referendum-on-Lisbon-Treaty

          in which Hague said:

          “Every vote for the Conservatives on Thursday is a vote to increase the pressure on Gordon Brown to honour his word and grant the British people their rightful say on this Treaty. The voters deserve the right to decide their own future before it is decided by others.”

          What kind of political leader is it who asserts that the British people have a right to decide their own future, but then allows them to be deprived of that right and allows others to decide instead?

          This is why Cameron had to invent the brazen lie that once the treaty came into force it would cease to exist as a treaty, and so it would be imposssible have a referendum on it.

  17. lojolondon
    Posted May 15, 2013 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    John, I guess you have seen the comments on Guido and The Commentator about the Draft EU Bill.

    I have to say I always knew Cameron would disappoint us regarding the EU referendum, and now we know how. The Bill says there will be a referendum, but does not specify any actions to be taken when the result is known. So the way is open for the powers that be to insist on another referendum, or to do nothing, for example. My prediction is that this attempt to sway UKIP voters will really backfire badly, as they realise they are being lied to again.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted May 15, 2013 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

      If enacted as it stands the Tory party draft Bill would also give the pro-EU Lords a veto on whether the referendum would be held.

      See its Clauses 1(3) and (4); the Lords could just keep refusing to pass a resolution to approve the order setting the date, and as it’s delegated legislation there would be no way that the Commons could force them to agree a date.

      • APL
        Posted May 16, 2013 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

        Denis Cooper: “the Lords could just keep refusing to pass a resolution to approve the order setting the date .. ”

        Whats the betting that scenario won’t be a constitutional crisis.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted May 16, 2013 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

          It has the potential for creating a constitutional crisis, which is why it would be better to have that Clause modified, eg to say that if an order hasn’t been approved by a certain date then the minister can make it without approval by either House.

          • sjb
            Posted May 17, 2013 at 8:14 am | Permalink

            Am I correct in thinking that just one MP can kill the bill by shouting: “‘Object!”?

            Perhaps the rules for Private Member’s Bills have changed but I recall Dennis Skinner using this procedure some years ago when the subject matter was restricting abortion (time limits?).

            Reply No, not true. If MPs wish to stop a Private Members Bill they have to talk it out whilst staying in order, or find enough other MPs to vote it down.

  18. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted May 15, 2013 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    I thought there was something called collective minsterial responsibility. That being the case how can the minority part of the government vote the way they want to do and yet the majority are told to abstain. Presumably any Conservative minister voting in support of this amendment will be sacked? Once again it appears that the LibDems get to do what they want whilst the Conservatives have to look on whilst their coalition partners tail wags the dog. The way Cameron has handled this has done nothing to heal his reputation which is in tatters. It will be interesting to count the number of Conservative MPs who either abstain or vote against the amendment. An abstention from those who are not cabinnet ministers I shall take as a vote against. We are quite used to Parliament failing to reflect the majority wish of the voters, that is why we find a certain alternative party rather attractive.

  19. Roger Farmer
    Posted May 15, 2013 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    A Tory vote today, however many ministers are involved can at best be a gesture. It would seem that the Lib/Dems and Labour are intent on denying the voting public to control their destiny. I hope the electorate remember this.
    The only answer is for Cameron to invoke Article 50 now, leaving the EU in no doubt as to our intentions if they fail to negotiate. If they can read the writing on the wall, negotiate a trade deal along the lines of EFTA. Cooperate in areas of mutual benefit.
    Job done, Conservative fortunes blossom in time for 2015, and Clegg/Milliband are consigned to the dustbin of history.

  20. AndyC71
    Posted May 15, 2013 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    It’s odd to be having the vote at all in this precise manner, but given that it it is happening, Conservative ministers should vote according to what they actually think, so the electorate can clearly see what they each think. LD ministers will presumably vote in whatever way they think is best to preserve their EU pensions.

    Some congratulations are in order by the way, for yourself and the other MPs who have made this happen. True I guess that UKIP’s rise has concentrated minds in many constituencies, but let’s not be churlish; this does look like real progress.

  21. Martin Ryder
    Posted May 15, 2013 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    Ministers are first and foremost MPs and their constituents’ representatives in Parliament. All MPs, from whatever political party, should vote according to their consciences and for what they think is in the best interests of the people they represent. They should remember that they are paid by the British taxpayer and not by the EU taxpayer supported EU Parliament and EU Commission; though many might wish that they were.

    The vote today will show the British people which MPs consider themselves to be United Kingdom parliamentarians in a sovereign country and which MPs consider themselves to be colonial representatives in a colony of an European Empire. They will also show themselves to be Conservative politicians or Coalition or, as it increasingly seems to be, Liberal politicians. We can all then vote accordingly in 2014 and 2015.

  22. English Pensioner
    Posted May 15, 2013 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    The four year wait for a referendum is presumably to give enough time for all the big guns of the EU to roll into action with pro-EU advertising; time to allow big business to prepare its pro-EU campaign; time to allow Brussels to spend millions of our money on telling us how to vote and lying about the consequences if we leave; time to get even more immigrants into the country to vote in favour of the EU.
    Whenever politicians delay something there is always some underhand reason which is rarely to the advantage of the electorate.

    In any case, if this government passes a law for a vote, what is to stop the next government passing a law to delay or cancel the vote? Parliament is at liberty to rescind previous decisions, why not this one?

  23. Chris S
    Posted May 15, 2013 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    It’s disappointing that DC instructed ministers to abstain on the amendment because the Conservative party is now going to look divided on the issue. Had he allowed a free vote, the true opinions of most members of the house would have been out in the open.

    I wonder how many Pro-Europe Conservative MPs like Ken Clarke would have voted against it ?

  24. MickC
    Posted May 15, 2013 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    Conservative Ministers should obviously support the Amendment-it is Party policy. The Government is not a Conservative government-it is a Coalition because Cameron did not win the election. The LibDems have no qualms voting against Government policy-neither should the Conservatives.

    However, the entire exercise is irrelevant in any event. The people want a referendum, their representatives will not let it happen.

  25. MichaelL
    Posted May 15, 2013 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    John – isn’t the real danger that Conservative MPs don’t know how to pick battles they can win?

    Fail – and it just damages (as it already has) your own party – making David Cameron look worse than he already does.

    Amateurish.

  26. Mike Wilson
    Posted May 15, 2013 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    Notwithstanding this pantomime – which makes the Conservative party look like a bunch of amateur fools – what on EARTH IS THE POINT?

    Let’s say, by some miracle, a law is passed to have a referendum in 2017. (How can you frame such a law? This really is insanity.) Labour win the 2015 election – or go into coalition with the opportunistic Liberal Democrats – and they will REPEAL the law. No parliament can bind the next. You must think we are utter fools too.

    Again, the course is clear. Put a bill before parliament to have a referendum in 2014. If the Liberals and Labour vote it down – fine. We will all know where we stand. We will all know that when Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband say ‘they are listening’ – they are not listening. They are treating us with utter contempt. We can then return the compliment.

    But the Conservative Party’s position is incoherent. Half of them want out. Some of them want in. Some want to re-negotiate. It is a mess.

  27. Richard1
    Posted May 15, 2013 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    I am concerned that this referendum amendment will not do the Conservatives’ electoral prospects any good. I don’t see why it isn’t good enough to make a clear commitment that if there is a Conservative Govt there will be a real effort at renegotiation, with an In-Out referendum after 2 1/2 years. If people want a referendum then they have to vote Conservative. That also gives time for considered debate in the country, meaning the result will have more weight in future decades than if it happens at short notice. This episode has the feel of the Maastricht rebellion, which achieved nothing in substance (since John Major had already got opt outs from the Euro and the Social Chapter) but did give a big boost to Labour. If the same thing happens now, all that will be achieved by this Conservative split will be a Milliband-led govt, no renegotiation, no referendum and all the other disasters that come with Labour govts, of which we are rightly reminded frequently on this site.

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted May 15, 2013 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

      I have the opposite concern – in that, after this current shambles, I never want a Conservative government again.

  28. Brigham
    Posted May 15, 2013 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    The one good thing about the coalition is the scrutiny that the liberals have had. Now people know what an underhand backstabbing lot they are, the chances of them getting seats in the next election has really receded. Let us hope that the electorate remember the imcompetence of the labour party as well.

  29. John Wrake
    Posted May 15, 2013 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    Mr. Redwood,
    I hope that you will publish this comment which is not Party Political in any way.
    Our relationship with the European Union is an unlawful relationship because it is contrary to our historic Constitution, which states that the Monarch is not, nor shall be, subject to foreign Jurisdiction. Edward Heath was warned that signing up to the Common Market entailed loss of Sovereignty, but chose to ignore the warning and lie about it to the electorate, as I heard myself.
    What is lawful is not decided by Referendum, but by reading the Law.
    Until Members of Parliament agree to return to the Rule of Law, nothing will change. If present Members are unwilling to do so, they must be replaced by those who will.

    • Peter D avies
      Posted May 15, 2013 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

      Also the 200 mile maritime boundary as mandated by the UN which makes it incompatible with the EU CFP

    • uanime5
      Posted May 15, 2013 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

      A constitution is not something that can never be changed due to changing circumstances. So your whole argument that “because the UK didn’t used to be bound by foreign jurisdictions we shouldn’t be bound now” is somewhat flawed. It’s also misleading as the UK has in the past entered into treaties with various countries which have limited the UK in one way or another.

      Also as Parliament makes the law MPs can change the Rule of Law in any way they want.

      • Peter Davies
        Posted May 15, 2013 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

        And MPs from all parties need to start listening to the people that voted for them rather than sing the tune of party whips

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted May 15, 2013 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

        If I were you I’d look again at that last sentence and re-word it.

  30. Martin Ryder
    Posted May 15, 2013 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    Ministers are first and foremost MPs and their constituents’ representatives in Parliament. All MPs, from whatever political party, should vote according to their consciences and for what they think is in the best interests of the people they represent. They should remember that they are paid by the British taxpayer and not by the EU taxpayer supported EU Parliament and EU Commission; though many might wish that they were.

    The vote today will show the British people which MPs consider themselves to be United Kingdom parliamentarians in a sovereign country and which MPs consider themselves to be colonial representatives in a colony of an European Empire. They will also show themselves to be Conservative politicians or Coalition or, as it increasingly seems to be, Liberal politicians. We can all then vote accordingly in 2015.

  31. Phil
    Posted May 15, 2013 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    Im sorry but this is why the whole system needs bringing down and built again we do not live in a democracy.

    “Democracy is a form of government in which all eligible citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives.
    Democracy allows eligible citizens to participate equally—either directly or through elected representatives”

    why do you and the goverment think this is your decision to make, so for the people you REPRESENT to have there say you and the goverment have to decided if we should be allowed.
    Parliament might wont to be carefull before people start to realise they are taking away are freedoms, because what will follow will not be what they want or what they can deal with.

    “majoirty wish to the voters.” I’ll help here we the “MAJORITY” want a Referendum before election day, the only vote Parliament should get is the same one as the rest of the countries “eligible citizens” on in/out Referendum day, or do you all think you are above the people as most think they are above the law.

  32. Peter D avies
    Posted May 15, 2013 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    I hope that Tory Ministers show some backbone and vote for what they believe in so we can all see who the real Federalists are. I believe that this one issue will keep your party in power after 2015 if your MPs show intent by action and not just words.

    Vote for the motion, let it fail and use it to beat the Lib Dems and Labour with a stick the next 2 years as we see the EU crumble.

    Then do a deal with UKIP to stay away from all seats occupied by Eurosceptic MPs (Incl Labour ones) and go after the rest to ensure that the HOC is made up (after 2015) of enough MPs who would vote to invoke article 50 to leave the EU when the time comes.

    If the PM has chosen a better strategy in 2010 you could be legislating for this now, given that 20 odd marginal Labour seats would have probably become Tory ones had it not been for UKIP splitting the vote.

  33. Pleb
    Posted May 15, 2013 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    MPs should vote on their own view. To do otherwise is vote-fodder.
    Parlament should abolish the whip. All MPs should act on their own, allways.

  34. Toby Ross
    Posted May 15, 2013 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    We have to respect the result of the 2010 General Election. The Euro-Federalist parties represented in Parliament took over 55% of the popular vote and whilst it is perfectly true that the Lib Dems promised an In/Out referendum no-one voted for them in anything other than certain knowledge that they were the most Federalist of all the Parties. Notwithstanding opinion polling, by-election or local elections it cannot be argued that the Euro-Federalists were overrepresented in Parliament following the General Election and, as John concedes, there is no majority in this House of Commons for a referendum, mandating or otherwise. As an aside, I think the Conservatives have played this hand well – the Coalition Agreement says that there will be no further transfer of powers, the Sovereignty Act ensures future referendums, the Prime Ministerial veto guarded against British involvement in further fiscal harmonisation, there was a victory of sorts in regard to the EU budget and we now have a renegotiation of terms and an In/Out referendum right at the top of the political agenda.

    Furthermore, we ought also to respect the will of Parliament in regard of its determination that the Government continue and that there be no General Election before 7th May 2015. Again, we might not like the result of the last General Election but it happened and we are bound to see it through. Yes, the Lib Dems behaved disgracefully over boundary reform but if the Coalition was to be dissolved over a loss of confidence following a prima facie breach of the Coalition agreement it should have happened at the time.

    Strictly speaking Ministers probably should vote against the Amendment but then back a backbench Bill but that is nice to the point of absurdity. Abstain, vote for the Private Members Bill and then get out and win that General Election.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted May 16, 2013 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

      “it cannot be argued that the Euro-Federalists were overrepresented in Parliament following the General Election”

      Well, barely 10% of the electorate support having any more EU integration at all, and only a fraction of that small fraction would want it to go all the way to the UK being part of a pan-European federation; so on a simple proportional basis there should only be about 20 MPs who support the legal subordination of the UK in a pan-European federation; but there are clearly more than 20 who actively support it, and many more who are not prepared to do anything much to stop it.

  35. chris S
    Posted May 15, 2013 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    Good to watch Clegg squirming during PMQs over his referendum policy !

    Well done for the wag who circulated those photocopies of his referendum policy from the last election.

    He was reduced to blatantly lying about it in the house, maintaining that the policy was always a referendum in the event of a treaty change when we all know it most definitely wasn’t.

    Surely someone should take this up with the speaker ? If a minister tells an untruth, isn’t he normally brought to book over it ? Perhaps this doesn’t apply to political matters ?

    Somebody ( Paxman ?) simply has to nail Clegg down on this issue.

    How we miss Robin Day !

  36. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted May 15, 2013 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    And the attitude of Labour and the LibDems is thereby shown in all its sordid glory.

  37. nicol sinclair
    Posted May 15, 2013 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    If Ministers (of the Tory party) abstain, given that it is the Coalition’s own Queen’s Speech, than that, in my view is akin to voting against their own programme.

    A plague on your house.

  38. Trevor Butler
    Posted May 15, 2013 at 1:53 pm | Permalink
  39. uanime5
    Posted May 15, 2013 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    So it seems that in this case it’s politically best for ministers to be neutral, rather than be on either side.

    Personally I doubt the electorate will care too much about this as they’re probably more concerned with A&E departments not being able to cope and that the poorest in society are suffering due to austerity far more than the wealthy.

    • Chris S
      Posted May 15, 2013 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

      Wrong yet again, uanime5

      There is no Austerity here in the UK.

      Government expenditure is going UP not down as it needs to

    • Chris S
      Posted May 15, 2013 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

      The A and E problem is down to the aging population and the ridiculously generous GP contract settlement foisted upon the taxpayer by Patricia Hewett and Gordon Brown which allowed GPs to opt out of providing out of hours services to their patients.

      We now have the NHS paying moonlighting doctors over £1,000 a shift to care for their own patients when they were able to opt out of providing the care for a reduction of only £6,000pa of their much higher salary.

      Thanks to Labour, our Doctors are now the highest paid in Europe and they work lower hours than many. One rural GP I know earns more than £200,000 p.a.

      If DC had the guts he would call the GMC in and tell them the party’s over.

      • APL
        Posted May 16, 2013 at 10:41 am | Permalink

        Chris S: “the ridiculously generous GP contract settlement foisted upon the taxpayer by Patricia Hewett and Gordon Brown .. ”

        How incompetent can an organization be? To hold the advantage in negotiations ( Not all NHS doctors can suddenly work in the private sector for £100,000 per year* ). Yet, still screw up the negotiations.

        It has civil service written over it.

        By the way, if they were all fired tomorrow, medical costs would fall through the floor.

  40. Tad Davison
    Posted May 15, 2013 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    If anyone has any doubts about this matter, then don’t miss the speeches of Bill Cash and Bernard Jenkin in the Commons today! The figures ought to be on the front page of every national newspaper, and be the first headline of every national broadcaster!

    Tad

    • Tad Davison
      Posted May 15, 2013 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

      At the time of writing, add the name of Peter Bone, but oh dear, Mr Ottaway, I get the feeling he is on the wrong side of the argument, and the wrong side of the divide. I see another Peter Temple-Morris in the making!

      Tad

    • Tad Davison
      Posted May 15, 2013 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

      And Richard Drax was spot on too! I could have written that myself. It’s good to know that at least some MPs are aware of the true situation and are listening to the people.

      Tad

  41. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted May 15, 2013 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    Ian Swales made a salient point about luring businesses to connect with Europe and facts about Luxemburg having too much power of UK’s interests. Peter Bone seemed to be reiterating what you have said about Europe. Hazel Blears spoke passionately. An Irish MP spoke about fiscal stimulus etc. What I think is that a law should be framed to look at our trade relationship again within a short time based on consensus. All laws can be repealed or contracts/treaties can be ignored . This is not an argument for not going ahead with referenda.

  42. Denis Cooper
    Posted May 15, 2013 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    It’s really very very simple.

    If you’re an MP, no matter what party, and you regret that the Queen’s Speech made no mention of an EU referendum Bill then you should vote for the amendment.

    Those who regretted it but nevertheless voted against an amendment which expressed the regret they felt would be guilty of a deliberate untruth, aka “a lie”.

  43. Barbara
    Posted May 15, 2013 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    Its about time all MPs called time on thinking under party lines and began thinking what the public want. Its the will of the people that should be adhered to, and the will says we want a referendum, before 2017. We want it settled before the next election, so we can all move forward knowing where we stand. We are sick of hearing one thing then another while MPs argue and exchange arguments who’s to blame. Cameron should know by now he’s out of tune with the nation on this, most of his party realise it and have accepted they have to acknowledge the will of the nations demands. Clegg and the Labour party are wrong to and are showing their single-minded attitudes against democracy as it suits them. We should be grateful for the few MPs who are fighting for the nations freedom and people’s right to vote for their own destiny.

  44. Monty
    Posted May 15, 2013 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

    Well now we know that 130 voted for the amendment, of whom 114 are Conservatives.

    Labour and the Lib Dems have demonstrated their contempt for the public, and their devotion to Brussels.

  45. Jon Burgess
    Posted May 15, 2013 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    Cracking piece on the Peter Hitchens blog today. Particularly liked the bit about Cameron’s no ifs or buts!

    As ever, Hitchens cuts to the chase and exposes the Tories for the useless lumps they are.

  46. Jon
    Posted May 15, 2013 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    The vote didn’t reflect the will of the people. It makes the case for a party that offers a referendum all the more important.

  47. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted May 16, 2013 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    We now know that they abstained. The Government is now supporting a Private Member’s bill to provide an EU referendum in 2017. The opposing Labour and LibDem forces will talk it out because no government parliamentary time will be provided. Nevertheless, it will have served its purpose in getting the public to comprehend the attitude of the 3 main parties.

    The focus now shifts to the main issue – what should the Prime Minmister’s negotiating position be and what are his ‘bottom lines’? This matters vitally, particularly in getting UKIP votes ON MERIT. If we get it right, a deal with UKIP will be easy. You all know my opinion on this; I have said it ad nauseam.

    Somehow the issue of who stands as Conservative Candidates in 2015 has to be addressed. We can’t afford any Conservative Europhile candidates. Professional Conservative politicians have to look at the composition of the Board of the Conservative Party, which has an influence in this matter.

  48. John Wrake
    Posted May 16, 2013 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

    Reply to uanime5 at 2:03
    Clearly you are not familiar with the written parts of the English Constitution. They are not Parliamentary Acts but contracts between the people and the Monarch and are specifically stated to be for all time, and ratified by people and Monarch in those terms. To attempt to change them is a treasonous act against the Monarch. Any law emanating from Parliament and any Treaty contrary to the Constitution is, by definition unlawful.
    It is no coincidence that some Politicians, ever since the 1911 Parliament Act, itself treasonous, have constantly sought to change the Constitution in order to cover their unconstitutional actions. No wonder that under Blair, the Labour Government announced that the Treason Act had been rescinded.
    The Law by which the English are to be judged is not E.U. Law, nor law pronounced by the European Court of Human Rights, but the Common Law of England, which states that a man must not assault his neighbour, must not defraud his neighbour by stealing his neighbour’s goods and he must not deceive his neighbour. That is the only Law which limits our God-given freedom and it is Law common to all estates of men, political parties, governments, corporations, banks and every other grouping.
    Until our nation returns to life under the Rule of that Law, the corruption which marks us at present will continue to grow. Those who suggest a new constitution are either ignorant or malicious.

    John Wrake

    • sjb
      Posted May 17, 2013 at 8:29 am | Permalink

      The Common Law of England (& Wales), in the form of the decided cases of the superior courts, has held that the Parliament Act 1911, the European Communities Act 1972, and the Human Rights Act 1998 are lawful.

  • 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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