Whilst many of you have been praising Mr Carswell for switching parties and getting himself back into Parliament and condemning me for not doing the same, I have been working with like minded Conservative colleagues to get major changes of policy and approach within the Conservative party.
People often ask me now what kind of renegotiation does Mr Cameron have in mind? They accept that we have changed Conservative policy in three fundamental ways. It is now official policy to say the current EU relationship does not work in the UK’s interests. It is policy to see if we can negotiate a relationship that would be in the UK’s interests. It is also policy to give voters the choice of whether to stay in or leave. I regard these as crucial changes which means we now have a Conservative European policy I support. This was the policy which Mr Carswell welcomed strongly when he heard the speech.
UKIP critics argue that all this is not good enough. Some even say we will not get a referendum. That simply is untrue. If Conservatives win a majority of seats next time we will ensure there is a referendum.
They say it is not possible to negotiate a new satisfactory relationship. Let us suppose that counsel of despair is true. Then we will simply vote to leave, as the British people will sensibly conclude the current arrangements or something like them are not what we want.
They say the negotiating demands have not been spelt out and the Prime Minister will settle for not very much and present it as a triumph. Those who say that have either not read the Bloomberg speech or do not understand it.
Bloomberg makes clear the Prime Minister wants nothing less than the restoration of Parliamentary sovereignty. He said : “A new settlement subject to democratic legitimacy and accountability of national parliaments where member states combine in flexible co-operation, respecting national differences, not always trying to eliminate them”. In other words if the UK Parliament wishes to impose border controls or make its own decisions about welfare payments it should be free to do so.