Thursday 5 November 2009

Britain and EU: Cameron ditching the referendum

Yesterday Tory leader David Cameron ditched the doable, credible, deliverable referendum on UK membership in the European Union, the undoable referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, as well as the plebiscites he described as made-up and phoney.

If the Conservative Party forms the next government, it will be introduce national legislation to prevent the emergence of a democratic European Union. The government will initiate negotiations to repatriate EU powers, real or imaginary, to Britain. The government is in no haste, asking to be judged at the end of the next parliamentary term, i.e. five years.

After David Cameron’s speech, the anti-EU crowd has no hope of withdrawal through the Conservative Party. The United Kingdom has no intention of leaving the European Union, and Cameron has left the secessionists simmering on the back burner.

The member states and the citizens of the European Union are saddled with the prospects of continued British membership.


British press

Let us take a look at reports and reactions in the British press.

Nicolas Watt in The Guardian offers a summary of Cameron’s main points, in David Cameron ditches referendum and backs away from EU ‘bust-up’ (4 November 2009).

The Sun sports a letter by Cameron, where he explains his policy shift with pompous phrases on sovereign and independent nation.

In Mail Online, Edward Heathcoat Amory asks, Concessions? How can Cameron possibly win any at all? (5 November 2009). He sees the risk of a series of rows, in Brussels and in Westminster, running arguments over the EU throughout the next Parliament.

Cameron defies Eurosceptics by backing down from EU confrontation, say Francis Elliott and David Charter in Times Online (5 November 2009). They note that Cameron seems to have averted a backbench revolt.

In the Financial Times, Jean Eaglesham concluded that David Cameron successfully faced down hardline Tory Eurosceptics yesterday, setting out a very limited programme of European reform without provoking a significant backlash from his party.

On the contrary, in The Mirror, Jason Beattie sees that the Tories were plunged into turmoil yesterday over David Cameron’s new policies on Europe; in Flustered Cam’s new EU pledge (5 November 2009).

Patrick Wintour reports in The Guardian that Daniel Hannan quits as Tory spokesman over Cameron’s U-turn (5 November 2009).

Letters to The Telegraph reveal that many readers want a referendum on Britain’s relationship with Europe; under the headline No referendum on the Lisbon Treaty is possible, but the people demand a vote on rule from Brussels (5 November 2009).

The Independent’s leading article Fork-tongued Tories (5 November 2009) says that Cameron risks taking his party’s corrosive division over Europe into government – not just through the next Parliament, but beyond.


Cameron must have calculated that a 20-point lead in the polls is enough to win the general election, despite the improved prospects for UKIP and the BNP.

Some of the promises can be enacted domestically and the ones requiring unanimous EU agreement can drag on for five years of “patient” negotiations.

Ralf Grahn

P.S. Read the good, the better and the best Euroblogs on multilingual

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