Joined: 03 Jun 2005
|Posted: Sat Oct 22, 2011 9:08 am Post subject: THE THREE MAIN PARTIES WILL NOT GIVE BRITISH VOTE ON THE EU
|Why won't Dave give the British people a vote on Europe?
By Simon Heffer
Last updated at 1:24 AM on 22nd October 2011
Whatever contortions the Conservative Party has performed in the past 50 years, at least it has been magnificently consistent in one respect: it has never been straight with the public about Europe.
This shabby tradition continues. On Monday, MPs will vote on whether there should be a referendum to decide if Britain should stay in the EU, get out or re-negotiate our membership.
David Cameron has ordered every Tory MP to vote against a referendum because, he says, it would be ‘a distraction’.
Horrified: Cameron fears a referendum might reveal the true depth of anti-EU sentiment in the nation
It is completely beyond me how he can describe as a ‘distraction’ an issue that is so huge that it affects the way we govern ourselves as a country and the way we spend our own money.
The truth is Mr Cameron is horrified by the prospect of a referendum because, as a committed pro-European, he fears the result might reveal the true depth of anti-EU feeling in the country.
Once more, we see the prejudices of the governing class over-riding the democratic feelings of the people.
More from Simon Heffer... The NHS must learn that 'profit' isn't a dirty word 14/10/11 Why Liam Fox always had to go 14/10/11 'If it ain't broke...' Without the Act of Succession, we'd be ruled by Germany 13/10/11 I admire him, but I'm afraid Fox must resign 12/10/11 After 52 years, Lord Hesketh explains why he's turned his back on the Tories 10/10/11 The 54 trillion dollar question: Is Obama on his way out? 07/10/11 We need disposable income to fund economic recovery, but Cameron must realise this can only come from tax cuts 05/10/11 SIMON HEFFER: Forget the conference smiles. The Tories are deeply split 30/09/11 VIEW FULL ARCHIVE The Prime Minister is not alone in this arrogance. The two other main party leaders have instructed their MPs to oppose a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU — despite all parties promising one in their manifestos.
Mr Cameron, though, faces the most serious problem — and one that is purely the result of his own mishandling of the issue. His track record on Europe is a stark reminder of the double-dealing and broken promises of previous Tory prime ministers, such as Macmillan, Heath and Major.
Shamefully, the man who in opposition once yelled from the rooftops about his belief in a referendum — during negotiations over the Treaty of Lisbon, which vastly increased the power of Brussels — has lost all interest in one.
This is not Mr Cameron’s first U-turn on Europe. In 1992, as a young special adviser, he complained to me about my criticism of his then boss, Chancellor Norman Lamont, for keeping Britain as a member of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM).
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However, when sterling was humiliatingly ejected from the ERM on Black Wednesday, Mr Cameron represented it, incredibly, as the outcome that he and his boss had sought all along.
Similarly, in 2005, when seeking to become party leader, he persuaded at least 25 Right-wing MPs to support him because he promised to remove Tory MEPs from the ultra-federalist European People’s Party (the alliance of mainstream Centre-Right parties at Brussels).
But rather than severing the relationship immediately, it took the best part of four years.
Three line whip: Tory Chief Whip Patrick McLoughlin (far left) will instruct MPs to vote against a referendum on EU membership
Then Mr Cameron made a major stand over the Treaty of Lisbon. If it was not ratified by the time he became prime minister, he pledged repeatedly, he would hold a referendum on it.
However, he reneged on that promise after the Foreign Office argued that a referendum could not be held on the Treaty of Lisbon because it was merely an amendment to the Treaty of Rome —which had set up the EU — and any vote would mean deciding on membership of the EU itself.
These serial swerves and evasions have exasperated a hardcore of Tory MPs. Mr Cameron’s frequent U-turns and recantations have also given him a reputation as a Europhile.
This is particularly dangerous for him. Europe as an issue has become a focal point for those Tory MPs who don’t like the Coalition and who are dismayed by the Left-ward, Lib Dem-inspired drift of government policy.
Their determined mobilisation of support for a referendum — around 60 Tory MPs have so far signed the motion supporting the idea — is a bold assertion of their independence from the Coalition line.
Mr Cameron’s friends say the debate was brought forward by three days so he can take part before travelling to a summit in Australia — thus showing ‘leadership’ on the question.
Summit: The euro crisis is so bad that Nicolas Sarkozy had to leave the bedside of his wife when she gave birth on Wednesday
However, he is going to have to tread very carefully in the debate because a genuine crisis in Britain’s relationship with Europe may be only weeks away.
A summit meeting in Brussels this weekend is seeking to lay the foundations of a plan to save the euro. It seems set to fail.
Things are so bad that President Nicolas Sarkozy of France had to remain in talks with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel rather than be at the bedside of his wife when she gave birth on Wednesday.
Germany is being asked to guarantee a huge line of credit to the failing eurozone countries, notably Greece. Mrs Merkel is, apparently, deeply concerned that the burden would be unacceptable for her country’s taxpayers. Meanwhile, France is impotent without Germany’s help. ‘France on its own cannot cope,’ bleated Mr Sarkozy this week. France’s credit rating is threatened. In Paris, panic is starting.
Mr Sarkozy's recent comments have been apocalyptic. He said: ‘Allowing the destruction of the euro is to take the risk of the destruction of Europe.
‘Those who destroy Europe and the euro will bear responsibility for the resurgence of conflict and division on our continent.’
Though no one else is talking about the possibility of war, others share Mr Sarkozy’s view that the EU cannot go on without the euro. There will be huge pressure for Germany to come to the rescue.
The price Germany will undoubtedly exact as the EU’s saviour is fiscal union — a tax and spending regime common to every country that wishes to remain in the eurozone. Whether this would work is debatable. Given the national strike in Greece, the promise of one in Portugal, and unrest in Spain, France and Italy at the prospect of more austerity measures, the chances are not good.
Moreover, any attempt to introduce a fiscal union would require a new EU treaty signed by every member country.
At this juncture, the Right of the Tory party would see any inter-governmental conference that had to negotiate such a treaty as the perfect opportunity to demand the repatriation of a host of powers to London from Brussels.
Under attack: Chancellor George Osborne has been criticised for supporting the notion of fiscal union
The European Union Act 2011 stipulates that a referendum must be held in Britain ‘on any proposed EU treaty or treaty change which would transfer powers from the UK to the EU’. However, this would not cover a treaty that merely formed a fiscal union in the eurozone, because that would not ‘transfer’ any powers.
So Mr Cameron could quite legitimately duck the issue again by refusing to hold a referendum on any new treaty that only involves the establishment of fiscal union.
Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London and a possible future rival to Mr Cameron, has already attacked Chancellor George Osborne for supporting the notion of fiscal union. Mr Johnson believes it would not work in the long term.
He is almost certainly right. Indeed, given the demands that would be placed on debtor nations, it would be unlikely to work in the short-term either.
The current financial crisis is so grave that the idea of saving the euro is almost certainly a fantasy, but one that will stubbornly be persisted with — even to the extent of attempting a new treaty.
Mr Cameron should learn at least one lesson from his years of vacillation over Europe.
Denying the British public the chance to vote in a referendum on an issue that would directly affect their lives — even though this country is not in the euro — would be politically extremely dangerous for him.
That is why, if he speaks during Monday’s Commons debate, he must choose his words carefully.
He certainly must not commit himself against a referendum knowing that circumstances could soon change and he might be forced to climb down if a new and highly contentious European treaty has to be negotiated.
How disgusting is it, that in an alleged 'democracy', we, the populace aren't allowed to voice our concerns and opinions, especially about how we were lied to about the terms for joining the EU, and particualrly, the political dimension ? We simply MUST arrange to limit our membership entirely to trading, as we originally voted to do, and then to cease our net subsidy to the EU, mainly due to the hopelessly corrupt CAP, and various others. We survived as a world trading entity long before the advent of the EU, and the imbalance of trade in THEIR favour means they need us far more than we need them.
IF WE ARE NOT ALLOWED TO HAVE A SAY IN EUROPE WE NEED TO GET RID OF THE GOVERNMENT, AN ARAB STYLE SPRING UPRISING WOULD FOCUS OUR LORDS AND MASTERS ON WHAT THE PEOPLED DEMAND, CAMERLOON REMEMBER WHAT HAPPENED TO GADDAFI, IF WILL BE YOU NEXT TIME.