Wednesday, 4 November 2009

On Lisbon, referendums and UKIP

I think we should have a referendum on the EU - in fact an in/out one. I'd rather see us in a trading agreement, since that's a more suitable way of doing things for Britain; the British political and economic model is not the same as the EU/continental one. Can we hold a referendum on Lisbon? Not really - it's been ratified by all member states. I suppose we could hold one before it comes into practice on the 1st December, but that's not going to happen.

I think the current situation is disappointing, and I'm not completely thrilled with Cameron's speech, but it'll do. Having reflected on it a bit, I think it sets the right tone - power from the EU to Britain. But will that happen? It'll take strength on Cameron's part. The best he can do is argue that Britain will be a 'better' member of the EU if it has an arrangement with it that suits Britain, i.e. the free trade agreement as I said earlier - that's just the way Britain is, a freedom-loving country. The possible second term referendum if negotiation doesn't go the right way will hopefully scare Brussels, but I still think Cameron needs to be stronger on that one. Some bits are meaningless, like the legal guarantee to future referendums (Lisbon is self-amending). But I think it's generally the right direction to be going.

On the referendum - Cameron has not reneged on anything. He made the commitment (cast-iron guarantee) in 2007, on the eve of a potential snap election. That didn't happen, and the Conservatives supported a Lisbon referendum when it came to Parliament. Promise kept. Labour and the Lib Dems reneged on a manifesto pledge (as opposed to something in the Sun) when it was possible to hold the referendum. Now it isn't possible, this is a new position - Lisbon is in place, and a referendum would be meaningless. I understand the view that it would be a strong mandate on renegotiation, but a Lisbon referendum? No - a referendum on renegotiation specifically - I like what David Davis said about a double-referendum to give the mandate, and approve the plan. As well as this, how hypocritical for Labour to claim that the Conservatives are reneging on their promises? They reneged on the referendum when it was actually possible.

People might tell me to go off and vote UKIP; after all I disagree with party policy on Europe. In fact I disagree with party policy on many things, but I will not join a single-issue party that will not gain power and in fact may stop a party that holds similar principles to it gaining power. They say they want to stop 50 or 60 Conservative MPs winning seats - so they want a Europhilic Labour government instead of a not-quite-as-Eurosceptic-as-them Conservative government? The Conservative Party shares my conservative principles, and since it's the best way to get the principles into government, I'll support the Party. Voting UKIP will do nothing except let a Labour government in that will sell us out to the EU even more. Conservative MPs are generally Eurosceptic, Labour MPs aren't.

You go and support UKIP if you want, but they won't gain MPs, you'll just let Europhile Labour back in.

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