A first step towards a referendum on the EU


Yesterday in Parliament we voted for a referendum on the EU before 2017. No Labour of Lib Dem MPs opposed it, though their parties told them not to vote for it.

During the debate the critics of a referendum trotted out the usual lies and false threats. They implied that the rest of the EU would refuse to trade with us if we left or if we insist on a new relationship. These MPs declined to understand that we buy more from them than we sell to them, that the Germans have said they will want to carry on trading with us, and no-one serious in the UK is suggesting disrupting our trade. Our trade is anyway governed by international rules today, so the EU will need to abide by them come what may.

They also argued that a referendum would create uncertainty for business. A good answer was that on such an argument we should not hold General Elections either, as they create uncertainties for business. Democracy is vital, and every MP should be upholding it. As so many Labour and Liberal MPs voted for Nice, Amsterdam and Lisbon, the very least they could do is let the UK voters decide whether they wish to stay in this undemocratic arrangement or not.

What came across yesterday was the tiredness and the feebleness of the pro EU arguments. There was a stubborn unwillingness to grasp the essential truth that as the Uk does not intend to join the Euro we need a new relationship with the EU which is fast becoming a federal state designed to stand behind the Euro. It was also bizarre that they spoke against a referendum yet refused to vote against one!

It was a good first day for the Bill. The Commons expressed a strong wish to see this Bill to the Statute book. The Lords would be well advised to understand the strength of feeling in the Commons that the UK voters need a say on this vital issue. They would also be wise to grasp that Labour is not happy with its policy of indecision. If Labour is serious about wanting to win in 2015 they will need to rethink their policy and welcome the idea of renegotiation and a referendum.

To the lonely Lib Dem MP who told us the electors are more concerned about jobs and prosperity than the EU, I say he should realise that most people in the UK now understand that one of the great impediments to more jobs and prosperity is the EU itself, with all its extra costs, taxes, rules and its deeply damaging Euro. The recession in Euroland is holding back the UK. We need to fix the EU relationship I n order to generate more jobs – how else, for example, do we get the cheap energy our business and consumers need?

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  1. lifelogic
    Posted July 6, 2013 at 6:01 am | Permalink

    Indeed as you say “most people in the UK now understand that one of the great impediments to more jobs and prosperity is the EU itself, with all its extra costs, taxes, rules and its deeply damaging Euro”.

    The endlessly argument put by EUphiles, that the EU is not one of the main issue for voters is just as bogus as their other arguments as the EU is the cause of the many of the issue they do site.

    I simply do not believe we will ever get a fair referendum, certainly not under the ratter Cameron. I see we have the CBI doing their usual damage on the issue already.

  2. Nina Andreeva
    Posted July 6, 2013 at 6:06 am | Permalink

    Cheap energy eh? Well for starters stop money printing and stop trying to import inflation. You could also try copying the Germans and go hell for leather in becoming the world leader in alternative energy technologies. Take a drive along any autobahn and see what they are up to. Is it not sinking in yet why they have had such a successful economy since 1945? Its because they continually innovate. The Japs have a similar outlook its called ‘kaizen”. Once again Britain is going to get left behind with only “two world wars and one world cup” to cry about. While at the same time get a political elite that realises you do not have to continually kow tow to the EU diktat, and like the Germans also do, burn coal if you want to.

    • Bazman
      Posted July 6, 2013 at 8:06 am | Permalink

      Absurd and pointless alternative energy being researched and worked on by the Germans in heart of the EU? Any of the fantasists have anything to say on this? Germany is a middle class country and they like work. Britain is not and many policies are entrenching this money for nothing attitude of rich and poor. Do not blame the EU for this. Any social progress such as not sacking woman for getting pregnant is seen as uncompetitive in world markets. Does Germany and many other EU states compete in a race to the bottom for the lowest in society? As if we can compete on these issues with the third world?

      • ian wragg
        Posted July 6, 2013 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

        I think you will find working married women in Germany the exception not the rule. I worked for a large German company and most of my colleagues wife’s didn’t work.

        • Bazman
          Posted July 6, 2013 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

          Maybe they were all at home baking bread? This is my experience of Bavaria. Bavarian bread outside this is bad. A middle class world no less. Ram it.

      • Nina Andreeva
        Posted July 6, 2013 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

        Yes the nutters who see no future in alternative energy sources probably had great grand parents who said Herr Daimler was wasting his time with the horseless carriage, because you always need some chappie to walk in front of it with a red flag. More than likely they also saw no need for unleaded petrol either, as the the data on the malign effects of leaded petrol on childrens health was all falsified, it causes your engine to “knock” etc

        However the UKs welfare state does need a good (prod ed) to get things going. Its worth the short term pain, just compare the youth unemployment rates in the UK and Germany.

    • Jerry
      Posted July 6, 2013 at 11:30 am | Permalink

      @Nina Andreeva: “You could also try copying the Germans and go hell for leather in becoming the world leader in alternative energy technologies. [..//..] and like the Germans also do, burn coal if you want to.

      Ever wondered why the Germans are having to turn back to coal and burn it like it’s going out of fashion, could it be that they closed their truly alternative energy technologies (nuclear) thinking that they could turn back time and use the natural power sources (wind and solar) that our forbears rejected long ago – yes I now that they didn’t have modern technology but the same basic flaw still exists, the wind only blows when it nature allows, the sun only shines when nature allows.

      Apart from that, I agree with all you say, indeed the UK could and should be more like Germany and stop keep going on about two wars and a game of football!…

      • nina andreeva
        Posted July 7, 2013 at 11:29 am | Permalink

        Yes but guess how long it took for the Wright Bros to get off the ground at Kittyhawk and for Neil Armstrong to get off the Lunar Module on the Moon? The country that masters that sort of technology will rule the world. You can guess it will not be the UK. The technology does not work, it kills birds, we can get by through selling pseudo Victorian teabags to Japanese tourists etc

  3. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted July 6, 2013 at 6:06 am | Permalink

    One question . If the EU is governed by international law as far as trade is concerned,then what would be the benefit of new trade laws?
    Isn’t the real problem outside trade laws ?
    I get the impression that the government and opposition are play acting, a diplomatic scenario for the world stage on the referendum. I wonder who else thinks this?

    • alan jutson
      Posted July 6, 2013 at 10:06 am | Permalink

      ……”I wonder who else thinks this”…

      Margaret, I think many of us have similar view to yourself, and still worry that it is all about politics, and keeping in power !

      Only time will tell.

  4. stred
    Posted July 6, 2013 at 6:22 am | Permalink

    Let us pray that the Scots have left the UK and that millions of extra EU citizens have not arrived by 2017. The there may be a chance of winning the vote. And afterwards, reversing some of the policies enhanced by the civil servants who have been so keen to collaborate.

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted July 6, 2013 at 8:20 am | Permalink

      I would hate to see Scotland leave the union.

      That said, (I think) 94 guaranteed Labour seats at the Westminster parliament would disappear too.

      Every cloud has a silver lining.

      On the other hand we’d have eternal Conservative governments. Then again, maybe UKIP would emerge as the second party. Or a real 3 way split would finally make voting reform inevitable.

      • Alan
        Posted July 7, 2013 at 7:22 am | Permalink

        Yes, that Mr Cameron is prepared to campaign to keep the UK together is a good argument against those who say that politicians are motivated only by their own self or party interest. Mr Cameron could probably ensure Conservative governments in England for some time to come if he supported Scottish devolution, yet he choses not to do so.

    • Jerry
      Posted July 6, 2013 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

      @stred: If Scotland leaves the Union there might actually be a greater number (and perhaps even a majority) in the remaining Three Nations who want to remain a part of the EU, you seem to forget that only the centrist SNP want Scotland remain a part of the EU whilst many more parties (both left and right) are either already anti EU or are starting to questioning the benefit of the EU.

      As Mike Wilson points out, Scotland has UK Parliamentary seats that (due to the to Maggies Poll Tax) now tend to be very safe and often quite left-wing Labour seats, it is this left-wing of “traditional Labour” who have always been the most critical of the UK’s membership of the EU – so much so that perhaps the europhobes on the right should be welcoming the re-emergence of the left (in the shape of Unite), not blasting both barrels at them, but then perhaps the person with his finger on the trigger each Wednesday isn’t that eurosceptic…

  5. Denis Cooper
    Posted July 6, 2013 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    It should be said that a handful of Labour MPs voted for the Bill, against the wishes of their party leaders. One of them was Gisela Stuart, who had been quite amusing in her dismissal of the “uncertainty” argument:

    “In debating the arguments for and against a referendum, what if we were to substitute the words “general election”? Who in this place would stand here and say, “We can’t possibly have a general election – it would be really bad for the economy, it would be really costly, it would affect business.” Every so often in the democratic process we have general elections, and we must apply the same principle to something as significant as this.”

    It should also be said that more than a handful of the Tory MPs who voted for the Bill are on record as having opposed holding an EU referendum, and they need not think that yesterday’s vote will expunge their records.

    Some Labour MPs were very pointed in their comments about the real reason for this Bill, and suffice it to say that none of this would be happening if UKIP was only on 2% in the opinion polls, not on 22% and just 1% behind the Tories as reported in a recent poll.

    • Lindsay McDougall
      Posted July 7, 2013 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

      I’m a little worried that we think we would automatically win a referendum. What would happen if David Cameron obtained some concessions during the negotiations that were not enough but could be superficially presented as acceptable? The full weight of the pro-European MPs and media, not to mention EU funding of propaganda, would be thrown behind the effort to win a ‘Yes’ vote. It might succeed.

      Far better to have a belt and braces approach. We should define our ‘red lines’ and put them in the Conservative Party manifesto. These are measures to recover powers that are non-negotiable and may as well be implemented immediately we take office.

      My ‘red lines’ are repeal of the commitment to ever closer Union, and repeal of our Acts of Accession to the federalist treaties – Maastricht, Amsterdam, Nice and Lisbon.

      What are YOUR red lines, Mr Redwood? Do not imagine for a single second that Mr Cameron is going to be given a blank cheque to renegotiate. We have experience or what Messrs Heath, Wilson and Major got up to. These ‘red lines’ must be specific and substantial and in the manifesto.

      Reply I have said I want a relationship based on trade and political co-operation outside the current treaties.

      • Lindsay McDougall
        Posted July 9, 2013 at 11:56 am | Permalink

        The implication of your reply is that you will recommend an OUT vote when the referendum comes.

  6. bluedog
    Posted July 6, 2013 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    At last! A Conservative politician who talks complete sense on the EU. It is absolutely essential that Britain regains the sovereignty surrendered to the EU and negotiates a Free Trade Agreement in lieu. If the Eureaucracy are in too much of a huff to do this, we should simply negotiate bilateral FTAs with principal trading partners such as Germany etc.

    It is a concern that Cameron has told an interviewer from the Spanish paper El Pais that if the referendum vote is ‘no’ he will do everything he can to oppose the will of the people. Is Cameron taking instructions from Mandelson on the EU as well as SSM?

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted July 6, 2013 at 7:56 am | Permalink

      I think what Cameron said in that interview may have got warped in translation from English to Spanish and back again.

      But people are entitled to be suspicious when the Bill he supports fails to say what must happen in the event of an “out” vote.

      It could lay down that the government must immediately notify the EU that the UK intends to withdraw under Article 50 TEU, but it doesn’t.

      That is one very noticeable defect, another which has attracted less attention is that the Bill would effectively give the pro-EU Lords a veto over whether the referendum would be held.

      As stated in the Commons Library Research Paper that can be downloaded here:


      “The Bill simply provides for a referendum on continued EU membership by the end of December 2017 and does not otherwise specify the timing, other than requiring the Secretary of State to bring forward orders by the end of 2016. These orders would need both Houses to agree to the detailed rules for the poll and the date. If no party obtained a majority at the next general election due in 2015, there might be some uncertainty about the passage of the orders in the next Parliament. Unless the orders are passed, it would not appear possible to hold the referendum, since the day and the conduct of the poll would not have received parliamentary assent.”

      We have a House of Lords packed with unelected EU pensioners and supporters and fellow travellers, all installed for life and with no need to fear public opinion or electoral consequences, they would be under no obligation to pass the orders and there would be nothing that anybody could do to force them to do so.

      And finally even though it would be technically possible to include a provision to entrench the Act against normal repeal no such attempt it made, so after the 2015 election whichever party or parties form the government could easily get the Act entirely repealed to cancel the referendum or amended to postpone it for some more years.

    • uanime5
      Posted July 6, 2013 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

      The problem with FTAs is that the UK will be subject to quotas and tariffs, just like China and the USA.

      • Jerry
        Posted July 6, 2013 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

        @U5: Or not as the case might be, like Norway, Switzerland and others, but even if we are so what, trading freely with the RotW doesn’t seem to have done China nor the USA any harm!

        And don’t forget that quotas and tariffs will apply both ways, I’m sure that the likes of BMW and Merc etc. will not want to see to many (up-market) US or Japanese cars sold in the UK in place of their own products, I’m sure that the European white and brown appliance manufactures etc. will not want to see either a revival in the UK’s own white and brown appliance manufacturing sectors or the UK buying from further afield – more to the point, European companies will not want to see their own UK produced products being held at UK customs…

        Sorry U5, whilst I have no doubt there will be hard bargaining (on both sides) nor that there will not be problems, you have simply engaged in the sort of scare story John was talking about, so often put about by europhilles.

        • uanime5
          Posted July 7, 2013 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

          Unlike China or the USA Norway and Switzerland have to obey EU law, so the UK’s choice is either obey EU law or be subject to tariffs and quotas.

          Given that the UK is a net importer and any tariffs on EU products will push up their price, the result will be a lot of things suddenly becoming more expensive to buy. Something that is unlikely to be popular.

          Let’s not forget that it will take many years for any revival of UK white or brown appliance manufacturing.

          • Jerry
            Posted July 7, 2013 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

            @U5: More pie in the sky… 🙁

          • APL
            Posted July 13, 2013 at 8:22 am | Permalink

            Uanime5: “Unlike China or the USA Norway and Switzerland have to obey EU law ”

            Jerry: “More pie in the sky”

            Yep, plain wrong too. But it’s what Uanime5 does, so he is good at it.


            The link Mr Redwood is to a conversation between Dr Richard North and Bjorn Knudtsen Norwegian chairman of the seafood committee of the Codex Alimentarius committee.

            They discuss among other things how his committee frames international agreements that the EU then implements. Thus does the UK have less of a say in EU regulations than does say Norway.

      • bluedog
        Posted July 6, 2013 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

        Quotas and tariffs are an impost on the private sector rather than the state which suffers the cost of EU membership fees together with associated bureaucratic expenses. In any event, both the USA and China are highly successful trading nations and do not suffer by being excluded from EU membership.

      • Edward2
        Posted July 7, 2013 at 6:20 am | Permalink

        Who seem Uni, to be able to trade OK with us and other European nations.
        I don’t notice any shortages of American nor Chinese goods in our shops.

        • uanime5
          Posted July 7, 2013 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

          Just because you can see Chinese or American goods doesn’t mean they’re trading well with the EU. I have no doubt that these countries would try to sell the UK even more if it wasn’t for the tariffs and quotas they’re subject to.

  7. alan jutson
    Posted July 6, 2013 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    This is good news.

    But pray tell me why did Cameron use a three line whip this time for a referendum, but back in October was against one to such an extent that some people resigned.

    What has changed ?

    The real progress would have been if you had all voted for a referendum in this Term with a three line whip, and negotiations had already started or at least our position had been set out and presented.
    Then you would have given the LibDems and Labour a real problem at the next General Election if they had voted it down.

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted July 6, 2013 at 7:54 am | Permalink

      What has changed ? The threat of UKIP!

      • lifelogic
        Posted July 6, 2013 at 9:08 am | Permalink

        Indeed and if the threat of UKIP goes they will doubtless rat yet again. But surely the Tories will come thirds to UKIP in the MEP elections in under 12 months and then go in 2015. Then Labour will surely do the dirty on the electorate yet again.

        All thanks to Cameron’s ratting socialism and his throwing the election away last time.

      • alan jutson
        Posted July 6, 2013 at 10:04 am | Permalink



        I agree to a degree, but this is not the real reason, I really do believe Mr Cameron thinks he can win the next General election if he promises a future vote on Europe (because the other two major Parties are in Chaos over this subject now).
        The sting in the tail is that he has not said he will agree with the decision of the people should that referendum happen, which causes me to raise the subject, other than the above reason, what has changed.

        We have a very long way to go yet, but credit to our host and others who have been pushing for years for a referendum as it looks a little closer now than it did on Thursday.

        • lifelogic
          Posted July 6, 2013 at 9:16 pm | Permalink


          “I really do believe Mr Cameron thinks he can win the next General election if he promises a future vote on Europe”.

          If he thinks that he is surely wildly deluded (unless he does a deal with UKIP and even then). He will be hugely hit by a strong UKIP vote in Tory seats, he has a history or ratting, he is pro staying in anyway, he is likely to come third in the EURO elections to UKIP in May 14, he has done nothing likely to sort out the economy, the constituency boundaries have not even been leveled up, he has ratted on cast iron, IHT and married allowance how can he possible think that? Anyway Labour will promise a referendum too if they need too.

          The only good news is that Unite man Miliband is totally hopeless too.

          Cameron could, after all, not even beat the hapless sitting duck Gordon (some bigoted woman) Brown. What chance has he got.

  8. corncrake
    Posted July 6, 2013 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    Until such time as I am in the privacy of the polling booth with a simple In or Out question in front of me on the ballot paper. I shall be reserving judgement on any attempts to con me into believing any of our political parties are actually serious about allowing me a say.

    • oldtimer
      Posted July 6, 2013 at 8:04 am | Permalink

      A wise conclusion!

      IIRC the political parties, including Labour and the LibDems were in favour of a referendum before the Lisbon treaty, but reneged on their manifesto commitment.

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted July 6, 2013 at 8:17 am | Permalink

      I hope you are not holding your breath waiting for that situation.

      And, if ever you are in a booth with a simple In/Out question to answer, the whole political and media establishment will have spent months lying to people about the terrible consequences of pulling out. And the people, like the sheep that most are, will vote to stay in.

      We will never get the referendum anyway. Labour will win in 2015. Unbelievable. Surreal even, but there you are. That’s what our ‘democracy’ produces.

      Unless the EU project collapses, or our political system collapses and has to change, we will never get out.

      • bluedog
        Posted July 6, 2013 at 10:45 am | Permalink

        The EU will collapse now that 60% of the French are against it. The EU has failed France because a united Germany has emerged supreme in Europe, and the whole point of the EU was to stop that happening. Ergo, the EU is redundant, and the French need to think of another way to avoid German dominion. It won’t be easy. As was the case with Sarkozy’s special defence relationship, London will soon get a phone-call from Paris and be asked to join some new French initiative with Germany as the target. Let’s hope there is someone left in the FCO who can think objectively before we sign up. It may be wiser to get closer to the Germans.

      • Jerry
        Posted July 6, 2013 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

        @Mike Wilson: “Unless the EU project collapses, or our political system collapses and has to change, we will never get out.

        Well yes, such is the modern Tory, the modern Blue-Labour Party and the modern LibDem parties, had Thatchers three term government (via first Kinnock and then Blair) of the 1980s not destroyed the hard-left we might have had another In/Out referendum (if not UDI from the EU) long ago – be very careful of political change and the problem of unintended consequence leading to the exact opposite to what you want, remember that it was the Thatcher government who started the EU’s ball rolling by ratifying the SEA, further bolstered by agreement on ERM and them Maastricht…

        I have said this before, such is the damage now being done by the eurocrates within the EU I doubt that the UK would be any more damaged if we were to have five years of the hard left if that is what it takes to extract ourselves from the EU and start trading with the wider world once again in our own right.

      • M Davis
        Posted July 6, 2013 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

        … we will never get out. …

        Reminds me of the Eagles lyrics:
        You can check out any time you like. But you can never leave!

      • lifelogic
        Posted July 6, 2013 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

        I tend to agree that the battle is lost, thanks to Heath, Major, Blair, Brown, Cameron the Libdems, the BBC, the CBI and the countless career MPs.

  9. alan
    Posted July 6, 2013 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    “Critics of the referendum trotted out the usual lies and false threats”. Did all supporters stuck only to truth and real threats? I doubt it. In my view there is often as much or more deception in the anti-EU case as in the case for it. I see this as an argument against a referendum, since a referendum is a vote of those who do not have the time to investigate topics in depth, whereas a vote in the parliament is supposed to be a vote of those who do have the time to understand a topic. That’s one reason why I think we should have a representative democracy, not a direct one.

    Then Mr Redwood equates the demand for a referendum with the demand that we should hold general elections at intervals. I don’t think they are the same. You can perfectly reasonably believe in holding general elections but not believe in holding referendums on complex topics like belonging to the EU. I think this is an example of the anti-EU case using lies and false threats. The argument that “If you oppose the referendum you are opposing democracy” is in my view false.

    “The pro-EU arguments were tired and feeble”. I sympathise. The UK’s EU policy is a mess; we have too many opt-outs and we do not take a leading role in determining many of the EU’s policies. It is treated here as an alien entity that we are fighting against instead of part of the way that west Europe is run. The result is we are neither in nor out of the EU, and it is difficult to argue convincingly for this position. There can’t be many people who actually wanted to end up where we are now. Add to that the EU’s current economic difficulties and there are few of us left who can argue enthusiastically for it. I even find myself wondering if, in the long term, it would be better that the UK did leave. If, as I expect, this turns out to be a mistake, then we will eventually rejoin, but next time as a full member which wants to take an active part. The main defect of that policy is that it will take about 10 years to leave and discover whether or not we have made a mistake in leaving and then to get back in again. And in the mean time it will have moved on with no attention paid to the UK’s interests.

    “If Labour want to win in 2015 they will need to welcome a referendum”. I doubt it: historically the EU has been a minefield for the Conservatives and Labour will want to avoid the same trap. About the last thing I want is two parties who want to spend all their efforts on discussing and renegotiating details of the Lisbon treaty. I’d rather they concentrated on getting the countries economy working efficiently. It’s depressing that the topic that seems to excite so many Conservatives is the negative one of getting out of the EU, whereas the boring one of improving our productivity is addressed only by enthusiasm for keeping the pound, so that we can devalue it.

    It’s commonly stated that the recession in the Eurozone is one reason why we cannot get out of our own economic difficulties. But if there were no Eurozone most of these countries would have devalued their currencies and our exports would be less competitive. You can argue that the euro has helped our recovery by making our devaluation more effective. Maybe this is another example of the “lies and false threats” of the Eurosceptics?

    • James Matthews
      Posted July 6, 2013 at 9:57 am | Permalink

      “Maybe this is another example of the “lies and false threats” of the Eurosceptics?”

      Nope. It is even an example, let alone another example.

    • alan jutson
      Posted July 6, 2013 at 10:10 am | Permalink


      If only more politicians would be more honest and vote with their real thoughts and those of their constituants, instead of being like sheep following the Party line all of the time. perhaps we would not need a referendum at all.
      But until the above happens, we have to occassionally get stuck in and try to force the issue.

    • ian wragg
      Posted July 6, 2013 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

      They may well have devalued but they would be in work and available to spend money. You obviously haven’t been to Athens or Lisbon recently.
      The grinding poverty in Greece and the absolute number of suited beggars in Portugal is frightening and social unrest is not far away.

      • Alan
        Posted July 7, 2013 at 6:59 am | Permalink

        Ah, you are wrong there. I was in Lisbon a few weeks ago.

        However, you make a fair point, that the euro has meant that countries could not devalue to lower wages and thereby maintain higher employment. But that would have been at the cost of lowering the value of savings and wages. So the amount of money, in terms of real wealth, to pay for goods we export to Lisbon would be much the same and it would have been in the hands of those more likely to buy our exports, since they are wealthier and have money left over after buying necessities.

        Of course, eventually the Keynesian multiplier would kick in, but I didn’t want to get into complex discussion.

  10. Denis Cooper
    Posted July 6, 2013 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    After its Second Reading Mr Wharton’s Bill still has a long way to go through the rest of the stages in the Commons, and even in the rather unlikely event that it got as far as the Lords that chamber is packed with EU pensioners and supporters and fellow travellers, none of whom need have any fear of public opinion or electoral damage, and they would almost certainly stop it. Notwithstanding the misrepresentation in a certain newspaper that MPs had voted “unanimously” for the Bill, the fact is that less than half voted for it and that would be put forward as an argument against letting it through.

    Even so it should be pointed out that as it stands the Bill is seriously defective in several respects and in fact it should not go on the statute book unless its defects were remedied, and so it is rather worrying that Mr Wharton is trying to discourage his colleagues from tabling any amendments.

    Reply Of all those voting it was unanimous. What is odd is the behaviour of those who spoke against it but did not vote against it, presumably because they know people want a referendum.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted July 6, 2013 at 9:00 am | Permalink

      Well, some Tory MPs called out “no” to the Speaker but then voted “aye” …

      Reply Not so. The two who shouted No were the tellers for the Noes.

      • Alan
        Posted July 7, 2013 at 7:17 am | Permalink

        Comment on the reply:

        So I take it that means that people shouted “No” just in order to ensure that a vote would be taken, instead of the motion just being approved immediately. I ought to be able to work into my next anti-Eurosceptic rant something about the willingness of the Eurosceptics to waste Parliamentary time.

        Reply Surely it was important to record who was pro a referendum and who was not. The Lords will be influenced by the strength of feeling in the Commons, and that needed to be recorded. You should be cross with the MPs who spoke against a referendum but who would not then call a vote.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted July 7, 2013 at 10:59 am | Permalink

        The tellers for the “Noes” were both Tory MPs!

        I recorded the debate, I watched most of it – skipping over some of the more obvious “I’m only making this speech so I can put on my blog and refer to it in leaflets and above all get it reported in my local paper” contributions – rewound several times to carefully check what had happened at the end, and there were certainly more than two voices raised against the Second Reading, almost as many as those in favour.

        I don’t object to Tory MPs contriving to get a formal vote, I think it was a good thing; but it was of their contrivance, and indeed it had to be of their contrivance when the Labour and LibDem leaders didn’t want it.

        Reply Yes of course Conservatives required the vote to see if any of the other parties who oppose a referendum would vote against the wishes of the electorate in furtherance of their political disagreement with a referendum.

    • alan jutson
      Posted July 6, 2013 at 10:13 am | Permalink


      “What is odd is the behaviour of those who spoke against but did not vote against it”.


      They have exposed the real problem with our so called democracy, they say one thing, but do another.
      Have they no shame when pocketing their earnings and expenses ?

    • Jerry
      Posted July 6, 2013 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

      @JR reply: Or they were simply following the instructions of their party whips – to abstain?

  11. Richard1
    Posted July 6, 2013 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    I’m not sure you are right to blame expensive energy only on the EU. The UK’s Climate Change Act of 2008 was a home grown imbecility and appears to go far beyond anything the EU is mandating. If we want cheap energy in this country, that piece of legislation, and all the nonsense that goes with it, will have to go.

    • Bazman
      Posted July 6, 2013 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

      Profiteering by the utility companies with their smokescreen of tariffs and cartel like pricing between the main six with the poorest paying the most has no bearing on energy costs I take it in your dream world?

      • Bazman
        Posted July 6, 2013 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

        No replies? Ram it.

        • Edward2
          Posted July 7, 2013 at 10:40 am | Permalink

          No replies Baz, because Richard1 was right in saying the Climate Change Act is adding great sums to our energy bills.
          Your post is about energy industry competition
          and is something that the industry regulator has powers to deal with but bear in mind all EU nations are deliberately pursuing energy policies which are resulting in high costs for consumers

      • lifelogic
        Posted July 7, 2013 at 11:34 am | Permalink

        I agree confusion tariffs and lack of competition in the market needs addressing, but the green nonsense and weak pound are the main drivers.

  12. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted July 6, 2013 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    Let’s face it the vast majority of MPs (including Cameron and Hague) want the UK to stay in the EU regardless of what the public think. They will use all their power and influence to maintain that membership whatever the terms. Yesterday’s vote was a cynical ploy by the Conservative party to try and stem the flow of disallusioned voters to UKIP. They mean to keep us in the EU whatever it takes.

  13. Bazman
    Posted July 6, 2013 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    If you had a referendum on the NHS and the question was: Is the NHS an asset to the UK? Yes or NO? The answer would be of course a resounding Yes vote a white wash no less. It would and you know it would. How then would the fantasists then try to undermine this vote. Have a think.

    • Edward 2
      Posted July 6, 2013 at 9:14 am | Permalink

      Maybe Baz, if you told them that many other nations also now have State run health systems which perform much better and cost much less they wouldn’t be so blindly devoted to our NHS.

      • Jerry
        Posted July 6, 2013 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

        @Edward2: But those countries still have NHS like system, the problem with the NHS is not its day-facto existence but its miss-management – which has got worse over the last 30 years, not better. Give me Beveridge’s original idea and Labours original implementation of it any day and I bet if the people of the UK were asked by a referendum if to keep today’s version of the NHS or return to that of the 1948 version they would resoundingly vote for the latter.

        • Edward2
          Posted July 7, 2013 at 11:01 am | Permalink

          Indeed Jerry I agree.
          The point which Baz will never get is that the NHS is an asset to our nation, but it is declining in relation to other systems of providing good health care and the first step towards making it the best is to be able to criticise its current performance.

      • Bazman
        Posted July 6, 2013 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

        The referendum was worded as said. Not your weasel words..Ram it.

        • Edward2
          Posted July 7, 2013 at 10:50 am | Permalink

          You set up the argument as you see it Baz, then you then demand replies and then you lambast anyone with the temerity to actually reply.
          This illustrates the normal method of the left to close down debate by indulging in personal attacks in order to avoid a failing argument.
          I don’t suppose you’ve ever considered that your views might not always be right?

          • Jerry
            Posted July 7, 2013 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

            @Edward2: I’ve come across quite a few on the right who act in the same way, this trait of Bazman’s (to be try and close down debate) is not solely of those on the left…

          • Bazman
            Posted July 7, 2013 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

            Unfortunately for you the question stills stands.

          • Jerry
            Posted July 8, 2013 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

            @Bazman: “Unfortunately for [“Edward2”] the question stills stands.

            No doubt, in your mind, and no doubt it will be asked again and again by you in the best EU traditions until you get the correct answer (that is, the one you want)…

          • Bazman
            Posted July 9, 2013 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

            Is it an asset or a liability? Which do you think? You are afraid to say like many others as you know you will be in for a verbal kicking. Talk about lack of conviction. Like employment laws you cannot justify your right wing nonsense.
            Asset or liability?

          • Edward2
            Posted July 9, 2013 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

            I would simply re-quote myself from July 7th at 11.01
            “the NHS is an asset to our nation, but it is declining in relation to other systems of providing good health care”.
            What is “right wing nonsense” about this statement or is it now a heresy to even dare to begin to criticise the NHS?

          • Bazman
            Posted July 13, 2013 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

            Have a think why its declining.

    • bluedog
      Posted July 6, 2013 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

      The NHS is an asset? Seriously? If the NHS was rated objectively in terms of cost, patient care and outcomes it would almost certainly rank at the bottom of any league table of private sector service providers on any metric. You never see headlines about private sector healthcare the way you see truly shocking headlines about the NHS, Mid Staffs for example. It’s third world stuff. Typically private sector healthcare delivers superior outcomes at 50% of the cost of state-owned monoliths such as the NHS.

      • sjb
        Posted July 7, 2013 at 9:24 am | Permalink

        bluedog wrote: You never see headlines about private sector healthcare the way you see truly shocking headlines about the NHS […]

        Sadly, the following is not uncommon. You would hear about even more cases if the CQC wasn’t such a piss-poor regulator.

        “[…] care home residents […] soaked to the chest in urine […] bed linen was heavily soiled in faeces, with a [full] catheter bag […] high dependency [pts] who should have been moved were not moved for hours and were not given enough fluids […] chronic renal failure [pt], who should have been on restricted fluid intake, was given twice as much as was needed.”

      • Jerry
        Posted July 7, 2013 at 9:24 am | Permalink

        @bluedog: Well yes, because the NHS lives in a glass house, patient care and outcomes are clearly visible, for example just how many health related deaths are there in the USA due to the lack of patient care or treatment because of a lack of health care insurance funding – is your comment not simply a case of of an argument built on a set known knowns (of the NHS) whilst ignoring the unknown unknowns (of some other, apparently better, health care system)?

      • uanime5
        Posted July 7, 2013 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

        What about all the scandals involving private care homes? What about all the women who had breast implants containing unsafe silicon from private clinics? They’re a clear example of how bad the private sector can be.

  14. Mike Wilson
    Posted July 6, 2013 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    ‘ … Democracy is vital, and every MP should be upholding it….’

    I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Democracy! What democracy? Our ‘democracy’ has been hi-jacked. We have two main parties – one funded by the unions – the other funded by ‘business’. Why do people fund political parties? Obviously, because they want to influence the way we are governed.

    Take you Mr. Redwood. Assuming you stand for ‘election’ in 2015, could you find me a bookmaker – anywhere – who would offer me odds on you winning? Even, say, 1-1000 on you winning? The answer, of course, is ‘no’. Because your election is a foregone conclusion. You could put a donkey up as the candidate in Wokingham and, as long as it is the Conservative party candidate, it would get elected. (I make no innuendo regarding your performance as an MP.)

    And the same is true throughout the country. The vast majority of seats are a foregone conclusion. The Conservative and Labour parties have a stranglehold on our democracy. You need a lot of money to run a national political party – and, once you have such parties, it is very difficult for anyone else to replace them.

    Our political system is utterly undemocratic – please stop referring to our ‘democracy’. My vote does not count and, in fact, has never counted. I have never voted for anyone who subsequently won that election.

    And, it is a fact that our current political system has created a situation where many people vote on the basis of who they don’t want. Look at the current situation – endless Tories warning ‘a vote for UKIP means a Labour government – so, you’d ‘BETTER VOTE FOR US – or ELSE!’

    Never any suggestion of a better voting system. Oh no! That might expose the fact that most people do NOT WANT a Tory or Labour government. I read the other day UKIP will have to garner nearly 30% of the vote to get 78 seats. Whereas Labour only need 36% of the vote for a huge majority. Sorry, but IS THIS YOUR IDEA OF A DEMOCRACY?

    It certainly isn’t my idea of a democracy. In a democracy everyone’s vote has an equal weight.

    Reply I do not agree that a donkey could win Wokingham. Seats with past voting similar to Wokingham have been lot by the Conservatives e.g. Newbury went LIberal Democrat for bit, Enfield Southgate went Labour. Voters do have choice.

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted July 6, 2013 at 9:03 am | Permalink

      It would be a cold day in hell before Wokingham votes for anyone other than conservative.

      And as for your assertion ‘voters do have a choice’ – with the greatest respect – in the majority of constituencies in this country – in practical, realistic terms – that is utterly untrue.

      The only defence of our political system is, possibly, that it produces ‘effective’ government – rather than an endless stream of coalitions etc. that PR might produce. If you used that defence, you would at least have an argument. To argue that our current system is democratic is just nonsensical. We have had continuous minority governments since the end of the war. Labour only have to get 40% of the vote to have a massive majority – over 150 seats – in parliament – allowing them to strut around as if they have a massive and overwhelming mandate!

      And, look at the end result. One minority government after another and a state that has grown and grown and grown – to the point where it now requires 120 thousand, million pounds to be borrowed each year to sustain it.

      Our political system is self evidently a chronic failure. I do wish people would acknowledge it and start thinking seriously about improving it.

      Reply As I have set out in detail before, the so-called safe Conservative seats of Reading East, Reading West and Newbury in 1980s Berkshire all went to other parties later.

    • alan jutson
      Posted July 6, 2013 at 10:20 am | Permalink


      With regard to your comments:
      It matters not who represents a political Party in what is regarded as a safe seat for them (any Party)

      That is because people tend to vote for a Party rather than the person.

      If JR (who I do vote for) was replaced with a pro EU, no tax cut Conservative candidate, then I would vote for the UKIP representitive IF SUITABLE.
      Because I vote for the person, not the Party.

      Thus a donkey would not get my vote, or that of my wife she tells me.

      • Jerry
        Posted July 6, 2013 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

        @alan jutson: But what is more important, getting out of the EU or having tax cuts, in the scenario you pained would you ever consider voting for a left-wing candidate who wanted out of the EU but did not consider tax cuts warranted other than to lift the lower paid out of tax?

        Back in 1975 we had the, until then, unlikely scene of the hard right (in the shape of Powell) and the hard left (in the shape of Benn and Foot) campaigning on the same anti EEC platforms, might we need to cut some slack and see such a political occurrence again…

        • alan jutson
          Posted July 7, 2013 at 11:27 am | Permalink


          I would vote for any candidate that supported most of my ideals, (I spoke of only two above) thus if a candidate belonged to Labour, Lib Dem or any other acceptable (to me) political Party, then I have no problem with voting for them.

          So to answer your question, yes I would vote for a candidate the outline of which you describe, as long as the baggage which came with it in the form of other policy thinking ideas, was equally appealing.

          As for the Left wing politics as you describe, I have seen such in action as a past Union shop steward (40 years ago), you only have to go to a few Branch meetings to see the way these people tend to operate, to understand how things work.
          Recent press reports of the present day situation is simply history repeating itself.

          I remember well the days of Red Robbo and his like, beware, because it may be making a comeback , albeit in a slightly different format.!

        • Lindsay McDougall
          Posted July 7, 2013 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

          The fact that Right and Left combined to recommend a No vote in 1975 was magnificent, but some voters thought the alliance lacked credibility. I’m not sure which was more incongruous, Enoch Powell and Barbara Castle sharing a platform, or Tony Benn refusing to share a platform with Enoch. At any rate, when people asked ‘What is your alternative?’, it was difficult to obtain a coherent answer. Enoch’s answer was something like “All sorts and conditions of men and women can object to the disappearance of their country”.

          It is going to be more credible this time round if the OUT vote is led by the Right, but there are MPs inside the Labour Party whom we should support and encourage, among them Frank Field, Graham Stringer and Kate Hoey. We may need their votes.

          • Jerry
            Posted July 8, 2013 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

            @Lindsay McDougall: Sorry but the eurosceptic/phobic campaign need to be lead ideally by a non political person or group, if a politician does front the campaign then it needs to be someone who can obtain support from a wide cross section of the political spectrum, as soon as the “Right” is seen to lead many centrist and left-wing floating votes could will be lost.

            I’m not sure if she would want to front such a campaign but if she was then might I be bold and suggest the Labour MP for Vauxhall, whilst of the left she often appears more conservative than many a Tory (!) and was one of the few Labour MPs who argued for a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.

  15. Roger Farmer
    Posted July 6, 2013 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    John, a question, are any incoming government in 2015 committed to carry out the wishes of the present government even if the present bill passes through all it’s various stages. I suspect not, please confirm. In the current most unlikely election outcome of their being a conservative government after 2015, to what extent are they committed. Cameron has a history in this area, can we expect a repetition of it. If pushed he might agree to it , but it will be based on a so far none existent and ultimately I suspect at best a diluted re-negotiation.
    Were there any grain of sincerity in Cameron’s apparent desire for a referendum it would happen before the next election. There is absolutely no reason for delay apart from Cameron’s duplicity. On an out vote in such a referendum there should be an immediate invoking of article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. This is the only step that would impact on the mind set in Brussels. The EU could then become the trading partner and no more.
    I suspect that yesterdays debate in Parliament was a Cameron ploy to keep the lid on matters and at the same time to stop the tide towards UKIP. After his cast iron promise on Lisbon and his forked tongue approach to all matters EU ie. sounding Eurosceptic at home but strongly Europhile outside the UK, I do not expect many people to buy into a conservative renaissance. As a lifelong supporter I am saddened that the party has been moved so far from it’s core support.

    Reply A future Conservative government is pledged to stick with this Bill assuming it becomes an Act, or to put a similar one through if this has failed. The 2010 Conservative Manifesto did not promise a referendum. The 2015 one will. Part of the purpose of the Bill is to force Labour and Lib dems to state in the run up to the election whether they would repeal it or not in the event of them forming a government. This was not originally a Cameron proposal – it came from Conservative backbenchers who persuaded Mr Cameron.

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted July 6, 2013 at 8:56 am | Permalink

      Ha ha! You promised a referendum on the Lisbon treaty but wriggled out by saying that it was ratified. It was a golden opportunity, after 13 years of Labour government, to hold a post ratification referendum and then go back to the EU and tell them that the Labour party had no mandate for signing us up to Lisbon and the people have now voted ‘no’. You could then have entered meaningful negotiations.

      But no! Weasel words as always. We will not be given a referendum by the LibLabCon establishment. The only possible hope of a referendum means voting for UKIP.

      • Jerry
        Posted July 7, 2013 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

        Mike Wilson: “You [the Tory party] promised a referendum on the Lisbon treaty but wriggled out by saying that it was ratified.

        Hardly wriggling out, more like stating a legal fact. It doesn’t matter how many times the europhobic right repeat this lie it will remain a lie, and as such the only group being damaged are the europhobes…

        Cameron was quite clear when making the pledge, IF the Lisbon Treaty had not been ratified when the Tory party formed their next government there would be a referendum. He made no pledge about a holding a In/Out referendum – which would be the only way of un-ratifying the Lisbon Treaty because by 2010 it had become party of EU law.

        • sjb
          Posted July 7, 2013 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

          I remember Denis Cooper kept a copy of the text of an article by David Cameron, which had been published in The Sun, in which Denis said the ratification condition was not mentioned at all.

          [1] http://johnredwoodsdiary.com/2013/04/29/no-ukip-breakthrough-according-to-polls-and-press/
          April 30, 2013 at 3:20 pm post

          • Jerry
            Posted July 8, 2013 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

            @slb: You seem to be forgetting the little legality that by the time DC became PM there was no Treaty as such as it had been fully ratified and thus had become EU law, as I said, by June 2010 the only way of un-ratifying the Lisbon Treaty is to leave the EU.

            Trying to cite a speech/article from 2007 or even ’09 is as much use as Chamberlain citing his speech upon returning from Munich during the Norway debate, events and circumstances wait for no one…

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted July 8, 2013 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

            sjb –

            That is correct, and back in January Andrew Neil tore David Lidington to shreds over the false claim that it was always clear that the “cast-iron guarantee” would only apply until the treaty had come into force:


            Concluding with Andrew Neil saying:

            “No, we’ve been through the cuttings and nowhere did Mr Cameron make it clear that he was only talking about a situation where Lisbon hadn’t become law.”

            After a few weeks the pledge was diluted to “we would not let matters rest there” if the treaty had already come into force, and that line was repeated for the next two years and was for example included the Tory manifesto for the 2009 EU Parliament elections, until November 4th 2009 when Cameron announced that he would matters rest there after all.

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted July 8, 2013 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

            Jerry –

            Cameron peddled that nonsense, but there’s really no need for you to parrot it.

            At the Brussels end the Treaty of Lisbon still exists to this day as a treaty, a separate legal document, listed in the collection of treaties on the EU’s website:


            While at the London end, if as Cameron implied the Treaty of Lisbon ceased to exist at the instant it came into force – a very strange thing for a treaty to do – then what is the meaning of Section 2 of the European Union (Amendment) Act 2008:


            which purports to add that treaty to “the list of treaties in section 1(2) of the European Communities Act 1972”?

            I would be very happy if the Treaty of Lisbon had evaporated at the instant it came into force, so we were no longer bound by it, but unfortunately that is not the case and Cameron’s claim that it no longer existed was complete nonsense.

            Reply Once a new Treaty is ratified by all member states the opportunity for any one state to detach from it has gone. The state then has to attempt to renegotiate the consolidated treaties, or leave.

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted July 9, 2013 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

            JR, consolidation of the EU treaties is nothing more than a matter of convenience, without any legal effects.

            An analogy is the insertion of later amendments into an Act of Parliament as displayed on the official website. You can if you choose still look at the Act as originally passed, and you can if you know about them look at later amending Acts and work out how they changed the legal effects of the original Act, but it is more convenient to have the later amendments inserted and noted. Nonetheless, despite that process, which could also be called “consolidation”, it remains possible to repeal an amending Act without having to repeal the original Act and all previous amending Acts.

            So for example it would be possible to repeal the European Union (Amendment) Act 2008 without having to repeal the whole of the original European Communities Act 1972 and all subsequent amending Acts; it would only mean that this new paragraph which was inserted into Section 1(2) through the 2008 Act:


            “s) the Treaty of Lisbon Amending the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty Establishing the European Community signed at Lisbon on 13th December 2007 (together with its Annex and protocols), excluding any provision that relates to, or in so far as it relates to or could be applied in relation to, the Common Foreign and Security Policy”

            would be removed, so cancelling Parliamentary approval of the Treaty of Lisbon.

            Likewise consolidation of the EU treaties for convenience has in no way affected the continuing existence of the amending Treaty of Lisbon as a separate legal document, as indeed is shown on the EU website, and with a separate instrument of ratification deposited by the UK, an instrument of ratification just of that Lisbon Treaty which could be revoked by the UK government without it being necessary to revoke all the other instruments of ratification for the previous treaties.

            Therefore it would have been legally possible to pass an Act to disapply just the Lisbon Treaty, not all the earlier EU treaties; and it would have been legally possible to specify that the Act would only come into force once it had been approved in a referendum; and if that happened then it would have been legally possible for the UK to revoke just its instrument of ratification for the Lisbon Treaty, not for the other treaties.

            Cameron chose to falsely plead legal impossibility as a much easier option than facing the political ructions which would have ensued from him taking a stand against the imposition of a treaty without the promised referendum, that’s all.

            Reply It is not possible to repeal part of a complex web of Treaties that have all come into effect. You either need to leave the EU or to negotiate your way out of the bits of the Treaties you do not like.

    • Jerry
      Posted July 6, 2013 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

      @JR reply: “Part of the purpose of the Bill is to force Labour and Lib dems to state in the run up to the election whether they would repeal it or not in the event of them forming a government.

      That is a very dangerous ploy to play… If Labour [1] do happen to state in their manifesto that they will repeal this Act (assuming it get that far) -thus making EU membership an election issue- and they get returned to government with a clear and stomping majority could they not use that as a electoral mandate for our EU membership and perhaps take us even further into a Federal EU without any further referendum?

      [1] or indeed the LibDems, and perhaps more so in their case, such would the shift in electoral support have been

  16. JimS
    Posted July 6, 2013 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    I don’t understand the argument that the EU is changing – ‘ever closer union’ and ‘pooling of sovereignty’ were quite clearly stated aims in the Heath government’s white paper.

    The EU is a dead end. It started as a grouping of developed nations with mature economies and with no particular need to trade between each other – why should the French or Germans buy a British car when they make their own etc. Expansion has essentially just added more regions that require ‘development’ funding. How would the UK be improved if it gained extra Welsh valleys or de-industralised North East, yet that is effectively what we have bought into. The only difference is that the young people of these ‘development regions’ are prepared to move to the ‘hot spots’. I’m not sure that is good for the regions or the over-heated hot spots.

    As an aside how come UK GDP is stagnant yet the population must have increased by 20% in as many years? Could it be that there is a black economy that is siphoning our ‘growth’ back to the new EU?

    • Jerry
      Posted July 6, 2013 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

      @JimF: It is the speed and degrees of change, in the last ten years more change has taken place than in the last forty. Oh and the logical final shape of the EU (the formation of a Federal USoE comprising the nation states of the EU) is no more of a “dead end” as was the formation of the USA, far from a dead end it was the start of “The American Dream” and those who support such European Federalism would no doubt suggest the same.

      • JimS
        Posted July 6, 2013 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

        The destination of the EU has never been in doubt, arguing about the speed of change is for the inner Euro-elite circle only, not the plebs that pay for it. If the water is heated too fast the frogs will jump out of the pan but that the intention is to boil the frogs is not in doubt.

        There can be no American Dream in Europe because that is a dream of people who leave their roots to move to somewhere better. That dream can only exist in the minds of poor people external to Europe such as those from Sudan. Europe isn’t a virgin continent needing dreamers to ‘open it up’ for development, it is a crowded place of people with distinct historic and cultural traditions.

        Because of that it is a ‘dead end’. “Go West young man” was a call to go to places and do things where nothing had been done before (from a European viewpoint0. That is why the Americas were the ‘new’ world and Europe the ‘old’. The equivalent call now would be to “Go East”, to China and India, countries in need of development.

        If the future for Europe is a dead end, (and it is), what is the advantage to us of becoming a cheer leader for the race into the cul-de-sac?

        • Jerry
          Posted July 7, 2013 at 9:51 am | Permalink

          @JimS: Sorry but you talk bunkum, indeed there can be no American Dream in Europe because the dream is not the same, but there can be the European Dream. Anyway the “American Dream” doesn’t actually apply to the vast majority of average Joe’s (the equivalent to our Plebs) either, although they fund it for those who do live it, for most people their lives are not much different to those found in the UK or indeed Europe, people get up, go to work, pay their taxes, struggle to pay the mortgage etc…

          Oh and as for the “Go East young man”, that only exists because the west (mostly the European west) are buying from the BRICS, if we bought more on worth than price the BRICS “Dream” would dry up over night and indeed that is happening in some sectors as companies move their manufacturing back to Europe as the cost of labour in the BRICS rises.

    • ian wragg
      Posted July 6, 2013 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

      Not really, we are all poorer. The cake is the same but there are more mouths to feed. This of course will get worse. Yesterday that (man ed) Clegg on Jeremy Vine could not acknowledge that the figure “net Immigration” is bogus when rich or educated people are leaving Britain and being replaced (by poorer migrants ed).
      Then that (woman ed) Abbott said it was racist to refuse anyone from around the world NHS treatment.
      She is funded by the taxpayer, MY TAXES, but has no conscience as to how they are spent.

  17. Acorn
    Posted July 6, 2013 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    While our so called parliament is debating a nonsense Bill that is the European Union (Referendum) Bill 2013-14; can I get another clause of nonsense added to it by un-whipped lobby fodder.

    The Easter Act 1928, a prescient piece of legislation [HT Guardian] which is already on the statute book, ready and waiting for a government brave enough to issue the commencement order. The act sets down that Easter Sunday must fall on a fixed day. Time to press the start button.

    There must be loads of other bits of stupid legislation that could have dates for a commencement scheduled in this decade or the next, why not put them all in this stupid Bill. Then we can re-name the Bill “The European Union (Referendum and Commencement of all non-Commenced Legislation) (Lots of Terms and Conditions Apply) Bill 2013-14”.

    The General election will give voters more options. If you want out, vote UKIP. If you want in, vote for any other party.

  18. JoolsB
    Posted July 6, 2013 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    What a shame these same politicians don’t feel as passionate about democracy for England. When are they going to demand England gets it’s first referendum (Scotland and Wales have already had two or three) on how they wish to be governed and ask them if they would like to see an end to 117 unelected and unaccountable Celtic MPs voting on all matters which only affect England.

    They know what the answer will be which is why they choose not to ask it. After all if England had it’s own self determining legislature the same as the rest of the UK enjoys, the majority of UK MPs would be redundant just as Scottish and Welsh MPs are 80% redundant when it comes to legislating for their own constituents.

    Tory MPs have no right to feel smug about getting their referendum on Europe when they blatantly choose to ignore the English Question.

  19. Leslie Singleton
    Posted July 6, 2013 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    What an indictment of our system of governance–both other parties told not to vote–and their supine MP’s going along with this. Personally I don’t care whether MP’s vote to allow us a referendum. I cannot see how it has anything to do with them. Surely it is about money. Never understood why those of us (millions I should say) who want a referendum cannot throw in a fiver each or whatever is needed and just go ahead on our own. Or perhaps we need a referendum on whether we want a referendum. The idea of re-negotiating first followed by a final referendum is not as silly as a lot of what one hears these days but why cannot we have a referendum on whether people want to go that particular route? The idea that MP’s and our wonderful coalition have all the brains is a joke. One doesn’t get elected on the basis of intelligence. Even if the people are “wrong” they have the right to be so if they wish. And why all the pained references to the various Treaties? Were they not according to Labour (Peter Hain in particular on Lisbon) just tidying up exercises?

  20. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted July 6, 2013 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    If the LibDems and Labour succeed in talking out this private member’s bill, we will have to introduce one early in the next parliament. I am assuming a Conservative victory in the next election, with enough MPs to govern on their own. The referendum policy will certainly help; trust in the Conservatives is low but trust in the LibDems and Labour is non-existent. The next election might be tight and we would do well to play the Orange card, firstly by encouraging the DUP and UUP to co-operate with each other, secondly by trying to pick up the Glasgow Rangers vote in Glasgow.

    We now move to the question of what are the red lines in negotiating a new relationship with the EU. If the words in the Prime Minister’s Bloomberg Speech mean what most people assume them to mean, then we do not want a federal relationship. The Maastricht, Amsterdam, Nice and Lisbon Treaties are unmistakably federal treaties, so we should repeal our Acts of Accession to them. The thing about red lines is that we may as well implement them on day one of taking office, without waiting for a referendum. Nothing bad will happen to us and the repeals will help to define the scope of the remaining renegotiations.

    Repeal of these Acts of Accession will mean that three quarters of the areas and items where the EU has competence will revert to our national parliament. EU directives that owe their legitimacy to these treaties will become null and void, the extent to which European courts are superior to our own courts will be vastly reduced, as will QMV.

    What is going to be a lot more difficult is negotiating / withdrawing from the CAP and CFP, both of which will involve loss of income by Club Med and poorer Member States. Since they were part of our original signing of the Treaty of Rome, and because they were very much part of the Heath/Pompidou rapprochement, France will object strenuously to our leaving the CAP and CFP.

  21. Ken Adams
    Posted July 6, 2013 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    There is a serious question about Cameron – should he be reflected – actually meeting his deadline, the House of Commons Research Paper, number 13/42, said if we were to leave, two years might not be enough time to negotiate, yet Cameron would be committed to a referendum with no way of actually starting negotiations against the wishes of the others, with a two year deadline to start and complete negotiations and offer his recommendations to the country for debate, before the referendum. Article 50 cannot be used, it is intended to be used if leaving the EU, it is not a method of renegotiation.

    Anything he does manage to get from the negotiations would require treaty chance, otherwise it would not be worth having, that means the treaty changes would have to be ratified by every other member states parliament. That would be impossible in the time allowed, therefore we would be asked to vote on a settlement that could well not be ratified by the other parliaments, where would that leave us in the event we voted for Cameron recommendations. As he would have no way of delivering that which he promised, would he then recommend leaving the EU, I think he has already made it clear he would not and of course we would have already voted to stay in.

    Added to which the vote was a total waste of time because no government can tie the hands of a succeeding parliament in this way. I have some sympathy with those who say this is nothing but a cynical ploy to spike UKIPs guns.

    Reply Of course if the public vote for a Labour government next time they could simply repeal any referendum Act. The aim is to have it ready for an incoming Copnservative government if that’s what people want.

  22. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted July 6, 2013 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    I have not seen any of this debate, but anyway, why not look ahead a little bit?
    Now is not the right time for the pro-EU side to flex its musscles yet. After all, there may not be a new Tory government or coalition in 2015. Also it is not in your national interest to claim you always will remain EU member, whatever the outcome of these negotiations. But if this referendum will come, it will most likely be won for the pro-EU side. Then, an interesting option will present itself:
    Does the UK want to remain on the fringe, or will it realise that full participation as real Europeans will be a better option, in the face of this realisation, that centuries of “keep the continent divided” policies haven’t worked out.

    • Jerry
      Posted July 6, 2013 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

      @PvR: The Pro-EU side can’t flex their muscles any time yet, because the EU ‘project’ is on the brink and they know it, their beloved and required Euro currency is still in crisis and on a cliff edge, political change in Germany could cause problems (the ECB can only “do what ever it takes” to protect the EZ and Euro with the permission of Germany [1]) could cause the EZ to topple off , if Spain, Italy or both (!) need to be bailed out then that could could cause the EZ to topple off.

      My point, by 2015/16/17 this debate and any referendum could well be irrelevant…

      [1] whilst the ECB’s talk the other day of negative interest rates will have no doubt spooked savers and speculators alike anyway

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted July 7, 2013 at 8:34 am | Permalink

        @Jerry: May I view this as your statement of faith?
        Keep the faith Jerry! 🙂
        Although I respect your faith I have to confess that I cannot remember many eurosceptic prophesies ever happening.

    • Mark B
      Posted July 6, 2013 at 8:02 pm | Permalink


      The idea is to kick the whole EU debate into touch. So when the next treaty comes around, say 2020, there will be no opposition to it, as they can say that we have had our say, and the matter has been settled.

      They will then sign the new treaty and give away all our so called opt-outs (actually they are opt-ins but never mind) and we will at some stage join the Eurozone and be part of a Federal Europe.

      One can really see the end game.

    • Martyn G
      Posted July 6, 2013 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

      ‘real Europeans?’ Who are they? The Greeks, perhaps? The Spaniards, the French, the Portugese perhaps? The English, whose nation has been removed from the map of Europe but nonetheless still exist?
      All governed by what amounts to a benign, remote dictatorship backed by a fig leaf Parliament where members are by and large, with some exceptions told how to vote? Where individual national governments have lost their soveriegn authority to decide things for themselves?
      Pull the other leg, you will hear it it go ‘ding, ding, ding’……..

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted July 7, 2013 at 8:58 am | Permalink

        @Martyn G: the term “real Europeans” may be confusing indeed. I meant those who wholeheartedly identify with Europe. Judging from your reaction, you’re not one of them (yet), because then you wouldn’t see the EU as “remote” nor a “dictatorship”, nor talk about a “fig-leaf” parliament. European parties don’t even have whips to my knowledge. I don’t think that either Merkel or Cameron view the European Parliament as fig-leaf at all, but rather as a directly elected democratic institution with co-decision powers on almost every piece of legislation, that is, more powerful than the parliaments to have to confront at home. Of course, as it should be, the UK doesn’t automatically command a majority in the EP. 1922, the time that the UK parliament still held power over policies for a quarter of the world isn’t likely to return any time soon, in spite of how many nostalgic tears may be shed.

  23. Neil Craig
    Posted July 6, 2013 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    I should presume that all those putting the “we should spend our time concentrating on the economy” complainants are on record as having opposed gay marriage on those grounds, where it does not involve pretending that fixing the EU problem has nothing to do with the economy.

    I say “should presume” because that is what they would say if honest. In reality I presume the exact opposite.

    Also, is there not something dishonourable about speaking against a bill and then refusing to vote against it? They should at least have the courage of their convictions, however wrong.

  24. uanime5
    Posted July 6, 2013 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    These MPs declined to understand that we buy more from them than we sell to them

    As the UK imports more from the EU than it exports to the EU this makes the UK more dependent on the EU than the EU is dependent on the UK. So if trade was to cease it will harm the UK more than the EU.

    that the Germans have said they will want to carry on trading with us, and no-one serious in the UK is suggesting disrupting our trade. Our trade is anyway governed by international rules today, so the EU will need to abide by them come what may.

    Given that the UK has put import tax on any imports from outside the EU worth more than £15 if the UK left the EU and this tariff was extended to anything from outside the UK it would have a major effect on the UK’s trade. It also shows that international rules don’t prevent tariffs.

    They also argued that a referendum would create uncertainty for business. A good answer was that on such an argument we should not hold General Elections either, as they create uncertainties for business.

    You’re not really comparing like with like. General elections are unlikely to have the same impact on trade as leaving the EU.

    It was a good first day for the Bill. The Commons expressed a strong wish to see this Bill to the Statute book.

    As I understand it the first reading usually passes as MPs are effectively voting on the bill based on it’s name. It’s not until the second reading that MPs examine it in more detail.

    The Lords would be well advised to understand the strength of feeling in the Commons that the UK voters need a say on this vital issue.

    I’m guessing that if the Lords veto this bill it’s unlikely to be reintroduced next year and forced through using the Parliament Act.

    If Labour is serious about wanting to win in 2015 they will need to rethink their policy and welcome the idea of renegotiation and a referendum.

    Strictly speaking they only need to offer renegotiation or a referendum if that’s what Labour voters want.

    The recession in Euroland is holding back the UK.

    Won’t this recession in Euroland still exist and hold back the UK even if the UK leaves the EU?

    We need to fix the EU relationship I n order to generate more jobs – how else, for example, do we get the cheap energy our business and consumers need?

    But energy prices are high due to a lack of competition among foreign owned energy companies and UK laws on energy generation that are more strict than EU laws. So leaving the EU will have little to no effect on energy prices.

    Reply More inaccurate nonsense – e.g. We have just approved the Second Reading following extensive debate of the principles and purposes of the Bill!

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted July 7, 2013 at 10:15 am | Permalink

      “As the UK imports more from the EU than it exports to the EU this makes the UK more dependent on the EU than the EU is dependent on the UK.”

      What twaddle – if necessary we could source almost all of our imports from outside the EU, we are certainly not “dependent” on the EU in that way.

      • uanime5
        Posted July 7, 2013 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

        Firstly many items that the UK imports from the EU can’t be imported from outside the EU. Examples would be brand name products, and anything that has a low retail value but high shipping costs.

        Secondly even if an item can be obtained from outside the EU there’s no guarantee that it will be equal quality or as cheap as its EU equivalent.

        So to a degree the UK is dependent on the EU.

        • Edward2
          Posted July 7, 2013 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

          And therefore the EU is dependent on the UK to a certain extent too Uni

        • James Matthews
          Posted July 8, 2013 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

          This really is a silly (or desperate) argument. We are dependent on the EU for nothing that is essential. If it didn’t’ want to continue sell us inessential products we would have to conclude that it is run by idiots. Others would happily fill any gaps.

        • APL
          Posted July 12, 2013 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

          uanime5: “Firstly many items that the UK imports from the EU can’t be imported from outside the EU.”

          What company that produces a thing in the EU would refuse to sell to the UK because we leave, but continue to sell to the US or Canada or China – which are outside the EU?.

          You always try cast your argument in a confrontational frame. A company in the rump EU would still want to trade with an independent UK regardless what the politicians get up to.

  25. forthurst
    Posted July 6, 2013 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

    This whole exercise has been completely fatuous other than as yet another one of political theatre. There is absolutely no track record of a parliament doing what the people want as against what it wants and JR knows that perfectly well. Only a Eurosceptic parliament could deliver the English people from the EU.

  26. Mark B
    Posted July 6, 2013 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

    Well for my money, the only person who was talking any sense, was the Liberal Democrat (spit). As someone once said, “its the economy, stupid.” And he won two elections without the need to form a coalition in either.

    The thing is, the political class along with I suspect the MSM, have purposely kept the British people in the dark on matters EU and have withheld the true nature of the project right from its inception. This is now coming back to haunt you. People do not know or cannot clearly understand the level and extent of how much the EU runs our lives, and dictates Government policy in many areas. HS2 being a prime example.

    The reason I suspect that the other political parties did not vote in this sham, is because that is all that it is – a sham !

    Why do I think it is a sham ? Simple. You have not decided or explained what a ‘New relationship’ means or entails. You say that we must take powers back from Brussels, but do not say which ones or mention the fact that, once a power is seeded to the EU, it can NEVER be returned. You are deliberately creating FALSE hope for no other reason than to seek an electoral gain over your opponents.

    Even IF we were ever to be allowed a referendum, on what terms will it be held on ? A straight IN/OUT ? Will foreign nationals be allowed to vote, as they will be in Scotland’s referendum ?

    You have not discussed or shown any plans by which way we might leave the EU. This strongly suggests that you are confident of an IN result and have no need for such a procedure to be discussed or considered.

    And remember this. Even if 100% of the electorate voted in an referendum and, say they ALL voted to leave the EU. There is nothing in the British constitution which compels a Government to carry out the wishes of the electorate.

    I think it fair to say, that I hold this Bill in utter contempt, and those who think it will fool many, fools themselves.

    Reply We are about to take back around 100 plus powers on criminal justice. As I have made clear, I wishto see us have a relationship outside the current federalising treaties.

  27. Pleb
    Posted July 6, 2013 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

    “It is a concern that Cameron has told an interviewer from the Spanish paper El Pais that if the referendum vote is ‘no’ he will do everything he can to oppose the will of the people”

    This is why Im still voting UKIP.

    Reply He said No such thing. He said he was confident he could get a new relationship he would support. If you are trying to negotiate something you can hardly say you are goign to fail before you begin

    • James Matthews
      Posted July 7, 2013 at 10:05 am | Permalink


      “Mr Cameron also insisted that remaining part of the EU is vital to Britain being able to compete in the world” Daily Mail 10th June 2013.

      Not really likely to convince our European Partners (AKA competitors and rivals) that he is prepared to plat hard ball is it John, or is the Mail report inaccurate?

    • Neil Craig
      Posted July 7, 2013 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

      John you appear to be wrong here. “In an interview with the Spanish El Pais he said “The best solution for the UK is to stay in a reformed EU”

      He was asked the following (via Google translate):
      In case of a Yes victory in the referendum that you will organize on leaving the EU, would you be willing to withdraw from the Union?

      And Cameron’s response:

      “I would not.” (No me gustaría)

      That Cameron makes such an admission – of wilfully ignoring a referendum vote – in a foreign newspaper is revealing. Truly he’s the child of Europe, his hero evidently instead is Barroso (EU Commission President) who said of the Irish
      “They must go on voting until they get it right.”

      Reply Mr Cameron’s position is very clear. He thinks he can negotiate a decent deal which he then will suport and wants the Uk to vote for. He has also said that he cannot accept our current position. Of course he would accept the verdict of the Uk voters in any referendum.

      • Ken Adams
        Posted July 7, 2013 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

        reply to reply: Perhaps in that case he will explain his answer and then offer us a “cast iron guarantee” that he would accept the verdict of the UK voters in any referendum.

      • Tim Almond
        Posted July 7, 2013 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

        It’s a very clear question “in the event of a yes vote in the referendum on the membership of the EU, would you be willing to leave the union?” To which he answered “I would not”.

        That seems to contradict your statement that he is clear about accepting the result of the referendum. Did El Pais misquote him? Was there a problem in translation? Please explain.

        Reply I can assure you he knows he will have to follow the results of the referendum – what’s the point of one if we don’t do that? I haev no idea what happened with a Spanish journalist and the translation.

      • APL
        Posted July 12, 2013 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

        JR: “He thinks he can negotiate a decent deal ”

        Then he is deluded.

        The only reason the EU would have to come and negotiate with the UK is if the UK government invoked article 50 of the Lisbon treaty.

        Personally, I’m happy to abrogate the treaties – after all our so called partners have already done so – Italy, Spain, Greece all lied about their deficit – that shows bad faith when undertaking a contract – grounds enough to dissolve the contract.

        There are numerous other areas where treaty (contract) non performance is egregious.

        But if our Pols haven’t the cojones to do that, then article 50 is will do just as well.

  28. Richard
    Posted July 7, 2013 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    It is easily understandable that big business (CBI) does not like the uncertainty of a referendum, and worse still, an exit from the EU. They like the certainty that the EU and the Euro brings when making investment decisions such as where to build their one new EU factory. However, we should not then jump to the conclusion that exiting the EU will mean less investment in the UK as the opposite may well happen.

    What is at first sight perplexing is why pro labour parties are so keen on belonging to the EU when the influx of cheap EU labour has so hurt their core voters. I can only think that the reason is because these parties are only interested in power and not the wellbeing of their supporters. I suppose they believe that increased numbers of poor will help them to achieve electoral success.

  29. Terry
    Posted July 7, 2013 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    “Before 2017”. Does that mean ‘no later than December 31st 2016’?

    What are the chances of the Tories achieving a referendum before that date? Surely, if they were to propose one, say, from the beginning of 2014 and the LibDems voted against such a proposal, it would put those wishywashies firmly on the anti-democratic side of the fence and against the wishes of the people? Not at all, a vote catcher.

    I don’t think it can be emphasised enough that any objection to a new EU referendum is a sinister and diabolical denial of the freedom of the British people to express their sentiments on a subject that affects their lives and the lives of all their off-spring. Even those, not yet born.

    There can be no sound argument against an open referendum, especially, since we have been in the EU for nearly 40 years and experienced the damage it wreaks and the recent collapse of the European economies, as a consequence.

    The last EU referendum, held in 1975, was based on the duplicitous pretence that we were voting for a common market.
    Now, we know different, we were conned then and it is right now that us gullible people and all those persons under the age of 56, who never had the opportunity to vote on their future, are able to do so very soon.

    I do not understand how the LibDem and Labour wasters can continue to support a regime with communist tendencies that removes the power from Westminster into Brussels, where none of the Commissioners have been elected by the British people and a into Parliament where they are responsible to no one but themselves. It’s crazy and insults the dead of the two World wars. No wonder the country is in dire straits.

    Reply We have just given Labour and Lib Dems the chabce to vote for a referendum and they declined. Earlier in the Parliament we tried for an immediate referendum and that was voted down.

    • Terry
      Posted July 7, 2013 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

      Sorry to say, John but I believe the Quad cabinet are not dynamic enough to press forward with this proposal.

      They should adopt the Teresa May (and Winston’s) approach to the problem. Never give up.

  30. Anne
    Posted July 9, 2013 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

    I doubt very much we shall have a REFERENDUM on and “IN” or “out” of the EU before the General Election, and I doubt very much the Conservatives will get into POWER again. However, as all three Major Political Parties want to remain in the EU, when the vast majority of people WANT OUT there is only one way to get us out, and that is by using the General Election in 2015 as the Referendum we have been denied.

    There is absolutely no point in voting for any of those three major Political Parties anyway because they want their money and vast expenses yet want foreigners to govern this Country-apparently FOREVER. We cannot allow that. So, we are going to use the General Election as the REFERENDUM we have been denied. We know exactly those back benchers that want out of the EU-hopefully those will be voted for-if the stand.

    It matters not if others have never been in Government or Parliament before-because all our MP’s have done since 1972/3 is obey EU Orders, more so NOW than in those early days. This is the one and only hope of setting us FREE from Foreign Rule, because leave it longer and there will be nothing left to claw back especially regarding the 2014 “opt ins” or “opt outs” . Allegedly, in one Government paper on the subject of Opt In’s to Justice and Home Affairs and Policing there is “no risk to our Common Law Constitution”. Well I can tell you -without doubt there is indeed the potential for undermining our (the UK’s) Common Law Constitution and sytems. (see to destroy our Constitution is an act of Treason) and that is on top of the solemn Oaths of Allegiance all MP’s make to the wearer of the British Crown before they may take up their seats even though some people may have voted for them.

  • 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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