Sunday, 8 July 2012
Eu Referendum to come?
Large swathes of the Old guard, behind the Middle and Young guard marching with the deep pounding of the kettle drums. A vast sea of blue under the blue, white and red banners chanting the same drone over and over again...
This is not, however, the French Imperial Guard coming up to Maitland's position at Waterloo, rather the Eurosceptic echelons of the Conservative party.
Yet another blue storm is erupting over Europe with the Euro sceptic MPs writing to Mr Cameron and now Dr Fox is similiarly positioning himself in the same wing and applying pressure.
So what do they want now?
Nothing that's unreasonable. They simply ant legislation put into place to ensure that there will be a public referendum regarding the EU This is not by a small group of malcontents but 100 of them, about 1 in 3!
John Barron MP said that:
The heart and soul of the Conservative parliamentary party, and the country wants and needs a referendum.
Many are feeling that they are chasing phantoms, even Peter Bone asked at PMQs the other week;
When are we going to do what the Libdems promised?
Mark Pritchard has said; Once again when it comes to Europe, it is always 'Jam tomorrow' but tomorrow never comes.
I share a certain amount of empathy with them. As a Liberal and a student of History I know how important Lords reform is for our party (indeed democracy in general) and how long we've waited for this chance to finally finish the work of Asquith.
It has been less of a wait but yes, the Tories have been itching for this for years, and it is no longer just Their issue. It is an issue we've all promised to look at as the nature of the EU has changed so dramatically over the years.
Now Doctor Fox and others are pushing so that a mechanism that will force an election by the next Parliament will come into force. This is not the first time, nor likely to be the last time, it was one of the many issues that caught them out in '97. Although Cameron has the ability to blame us for being nice to the EU and working with them.
In a way, the referendum would be a good thing. The British people have not been asked about membership since Edward Heath and the EU has massively evolved since then and treaties have been signed left right and centre. It is fair, and democratic that they are asked. I agree with Mary Dejevsky's comment in the I on 6th July, Europe is the one political problem that is on everyone's lips, after the cuts obviously. We all knew the banks were crooked, that MPs diddled their expenses; nothing new and nothing that will change. Europe is the debate they all want, the debate that could see real change and the people get their own way on something.
My major concern over it, and this is more a personal point rather than a party political one. The British people have always been slightly xenophobic, especially with Europe. I fear that Euro sceptics and those who want to break the Union will focus on this rather than engage in a real debate in which Europe's good points are taken into account.
There is also the European leaders who know that Britain has this massive reserve about the EU and this sense of Grand separation from the Union or sense of "Otherness" and have to constantly pander to Britain and keep them on side in case they throw their toys out of the pram. If we're going to go lets just get it over with. If the public return with a "Yes" vote then we can stop debating it in Parliament. Everyone will be stronger for a referendum one way or the other.
There is also the theory that this recent announcement and vocal noise comes from a would be resurgent Conservative party that wants to differentiate itself from the Coalition and the Liberal Democrats in the same way that there have been announcements about "entitlement" and cutting housing benefit to under 25s. Are they looking at 2015 and thinking laying the ground work now? Who can say.
Ultimately, I think that the Government should grant the Euro sceptics their wish and gift them the mechanism to enforce a referendum in 2015 or later OR when there is a shift of sovereign powers. It is the right thing for the population, whether it is right for the country - well that's for the people to decide.