Its not the government who’re behaving like cowards here – they’ve taken the decision to rule out a referendum and that it will be for parliament to decide on the ratification of the treaty – and it will be for the electorate to judge them according on that decision and the extent to which it influences their choice of who to vote for when their is a general election.
Rather its the Tories who are still running scared of the propensity for Europe to open up divisions in their own party, divisions that would be all the more damaging to Cameron as they would come from pro-European Tories most closely associated with the very centre-ground that Cameron purports to be trying to capture and, therefore, cast doubts on his credibility as a ‘centrist’.
That’s why the Tory’s only substantive policy on Europe is to demand a referendum – because the only thing they have on the menu is Chicken Cameron.
The shadow foreign secretary, William Hague, is battling to stop a Conservative backbench revolt by Eurosceptic MPs who are demanding a referendum on the new EU treaty, even if parliament ratifies it in the next few months.
Mr Hague wants to keep his options open and fears a referendum could further damage his party’s relations with France and Germany. Forty Eurosceptics, including former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, John Redwood, and former shadow Europe minister Graham Brady, are demanding that Mr Hague back the call to commit his party to a post-ratification referendum….
Mr Hague, speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme yesterday, dodged calls from his backbenchers for a referendum even if the treaty became law.
He said: “We don’t rule out a referendum in the future, and our discussions will take place against a background that this treaty, if passed without a referendum, will lack democratic legitimacy.”
Can’t wait to see what DK makes of Hague’s vacillations and dissembling…