Let the people speak!

In 2007, David Cameron gave what he called “a cast-iron commitment” that if he became Prime Minister, he would hold a referendum on Lisbon.  No ifs.  No buts.  No conditionality.
 
More recently, the condition “if not fully ratified” has crept in, with the rider that if the Treaty is ratified “We will not let matters rest”.
 
Today, William Hague has confirmed that there will be no post-ratification referendum.  The Party will make a full statement tomorrow.
 
I disagree with those who say that there is no sense in a post-ratification referendum.  For a start, we should simply be keeping our word, which is a great place to start.  In addition, we should be drawing attention to the enormity of Labour’s great betrayal.  With a clear manifesto commitment to a referendum, they have driven through this miserable Treaty without giving the people a say.  But most important, a NO vote in a Lisbon referendum would give an in-coming Conservative government the most powerful mandate for renegotiation that they could possibly have.
 
In today’s Daily Telegraph, Damian Chalmers, Professor of European Union Law at LSE, argues that a ratified treaty cannot be renegotiated, and that therefore a Lisbon referendum would in effect be a referendum on “In or Out”.  This is a typically narrow lawyer’s interpretation.  In the EU, realpolitik always trumps the letter of the treaty.  De Facto beats De Jure.  Cameron says he wants to stay in the EU.  Our partners in the EU will want to keep us in one way or the other, and they will negotiate — but only if we have a strong negotiating mandate, only if they think that a failed negotiation could indeed lead to the In/Out question being put.
 
I have even heard it argued that once ratified, Lisbon is no longer a treaty, but “part of EU law”, and therefore that there is nothing to have a referendum about.  This is playing with words.  We all know what the Treaty of Rome is, and the Maastricht Treaty.  No one pretends that they no longer exist.  Indeed the whole “body of EU law” is made up of successive treaties, and accretions around them.
 
To argue that once ratified, the Lisbon Treaty is no longer the Lisbon Treaty, is as disingenuous and self-serving as Labour’s argument that the Lisbon Treaty is not the same thing as the failed European Constitution, despite the fact that 99% of the text is the same.
 
I was born in England in the closing years of the Second World War.  My birthright was to be a free-born Englishman, a subject of the British Crown, and to live in a free and democratic country, governed by laws made by those I and other English folk had elected to parliament.  Freedom, independence, democracy, self-determination are the birthright now being taken from us.  That is why my business card says “Working to reclaim the independence and self-government of our country”.  That is why I am not prepared to end my days as a “European Citizen” in a remote offshore province of a new country called Europe.
 
The last referendum on the EU was in 1975 — more than a generation ago.  No one under 50 has had an opportunity to pass judgement on the European project, which is a world away today from the Common Market on which we voted in 1975.  We in the Conservative Party solemnly promised the British people that opportunity, in our last general election manifesto, and again and again afterwards.
 
It may be that if we have a hang-up on a post-ratification referendum, then we could offer the British people an EU referendum with slightly different wording (perhaps about the terms of renegotiation).  But what we cannot and must not do is to go back to our Party members, and to the voters of Britain, and say “Tough luck, lads.  We promised you that you could have a say on the EU, but we’ve changed our mind”.

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21 Responses to Let the people speak!

  1. Malcolm Edward says:

    Our sovereignty is not for negotiation. David Cameron, if he is to retrain any trust and credibility must offer a referendum, whether it be on Lisbon or on all the treaties. A government cannot bind its successors. A treaty ratified can be unratified. Any problems that unratifying treaties may create for the EU, are the EU’s problems and not ours.
    I want to see a conservative leadership that shows resolve, starting now, by putting the interests of the UK centre stage rather than pander to the sensibilities of Brussels.

  2. Alfred says:

    What a very black day. The 3rd of November should be recognised in history as the day that the UK was taken over by a foreign power, after 300 years of fighting against such an event. My Grandfather died fighting against such an event and my father was injured fighting. Lisbon now makes us little more than a vassal state, and the Conservatives back out of this promise? You have a massive, maybe unsurmountable PR problem.

    Malcolm, when you say: “Our sovereignty is not for negotiation.” I’m sorry, but it has already been given away – just read the Lisbon Treaty. Klaus’s signing of it today, completes the wholescale treason started so many years ago.

  3. Daniel1979 says:

    I am sorry Roger but the way I, and I think many others view it, your party is not working to help you achieve your aim of not ending up a European Citizen.

    I never really thought that the Conservatives would get to power before Lisbon was rammed through, and I never believed that Cameron’s statement provided for a referendum in this situation.

    If you want the Conservative Party to stand for the same aims you have worked so hard for then you and your like-minded colleagues need to speak up, very loudly on this. There is an unshakeable presence at the head of the Conservative Party that is ideologically very much for the EU, and more EU and Lisbon suits them perfectly, and as long as they are running the show, the Conservatives EU policy will not match the position of so many people that have and would like to support the Party.

    You are going to lose votes over this, and if enough people turn to UKIP or other Parties there is a chance you could lose the next election.

  4. Thanks Daniel. Not sure how I can speak out any louder than I have. I was all over the media yesterday demanding a referendum.

  5. Daniel1979 says:

    Roger,

    I know; though I did not see you on the TV I know how hard you work, and your not even my MEP. Perhaps your colleagues need to make their voices a little louder.

  6. FaustiesBlog says:

    This is the most sensible post-ratification posting I’ve seen so far. It makes perfect sense.

    Malcolm Edward took the words out of my mouth! We, the people, did not agree to these vast constitutional/sovereignty changes and for that reason alone, we should have a referendum, the current government’s ratification regarded as an illegal act.

    (Assuming, of course, that Labour hasn’t written this aspect out of our current constitution the way the French government changed theirs, just prior to ratification of Lisbon).

    Surely, Hague knew months ago that there was a possibility that the Treaty would be ratified prior to the general election. Assuming that, why is the Conservative Party line so different this week from what it was last week? Semantics is a political fudging game we’re all heartily sick of. We’re not fooled and we’re not amused. Cameron would do well to bear that in mind.

    Totally agree, Daniel.

  7. Alfred says:

    by FaustiesBlog “Semantics is a political fudging game we’re all heartily sick of. We’re not fooled and we’re not amused.”

    Why oh why is that a lesson that the political elite find so difficult.

    “We’re not fooled and we’re not amused.”
    No, we’re angry, very angry.

  8. P says:

    If you believe this strongly in this (and fair play to you), then isn’t it time to put your money where your mouth is and leave the Tories for UKIP?

  9. Backbench Warrior says:

    Roger, lets not forget what you wrote on this blog before:

    “I personally regard our commitment not to accept the Lisbon Treaty as the heart of the Manifesto on which I was elected two weeks ago, and I should regard any retreat from it as a betrayal of our supporters, and of the British people. This is not the way to restore trust in politics. I am confident that the Party will indeed do what it says it will do — if I were not, I should not have stood as a Conservative. If however I am wrong, and at some future stage it becomes clear that it would not, that the Conservative Party intended to resile from the referendum promise, then I for one should have to consider my position very carefully.”

    I hope you stand by your words. We’re not getting the referendum. Maybe it’s time for you to finally realise the Tory Party has left you.

  10. I think that the message for David Cameron must be that we have lost the battle so let’s get down and win the war! Have a referendum on all those problems which have infected us from EU such as their human rights dogma, Health and Safety which has now become laughable and political correctness!

  11. Richard says:

    I am so defeated for words for this comment box.
    The arrogance of our UNELECTED prime minister (‘p’ & ‘m’ deliberately lower case)just beggars belief!
    Bit by bit by bit blair and brown have destroyed our Country, relentlessly passing more and more control to FOREIGN Governments. Why have both these reprobates not been indicted for TREASON!!!!
    I was born and bred in Northern Ireland and lived there all through the 70’s and 80’s and even though the loyalist community didn’t like the Anglo-Irish Agreement we knew, deep down that it would possibly sow the seeds for peace AND at the same time would maintain our position and role with the United Kingdom and keep us as British Citizens.
    Groups were formed (legal and illegal) dedicated to that fight (which thankfully never came)
    Margaret Thatcher and John Major with their dogged determination kept at it and renegotiated with anybody that would help ensure the final outcome. Couple those achievements with Margaret Thatcher’s role (along with Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev) in helping ensure the collapse of communism and you see a fearless leader who would do what it took to ensure Britain’s security and standing on the World stage.
    Fast forward 20 years and we now have leaders aplenty who are willing to see our Nation belittled and trodden on by 26 FOREIGN governments. It is akin to being bullied.
    Let the Franco-Germans get on with it. Europe does indeed need a nuclear power (France), it doesn’t need 2.
    We should have a referendum on our future within the European framework. We need to stand on our own 2 feet and rear up against these bullies. We occupy a fantastic position on this planet and would be a perfect ‘windbreak’ between America and Europe. We can not occupy that position from within the confines of being tied to the other 26 countries. Sooner or later we would be TOLD that we must side with Europe.
    This is far right stuff I know…..
    1. Withdraw completely from Europe
    2. Indict Blair for war crimes and treason
    3. Indict Brown for Treason.

  12. Mandy says:

    You stood by your beliefs and resigned. Well done Roger. If only the conservative party and other parties had less career politicians and more real patriots like you. I listened to Hague this morning and was truly disgusted, but not surprised. Originally, I like many, thought he would be good for Britain when he was leader, but he has fallen into line with Cameron in the face of federalism. It doesn’t matter how much they deny it, the results are self evident – and about to become moreso as time goes by. They still don’t get it, but we do: telling us that all will be well, after the horse has not only bolted, but has been gelded and installed in a new stable, owned by a new master. Their assertions are no way to address the issue of the great injustice done to the British people, not just by Blair and Brown, but the conservative leadership. Wresting power back under their potential stewardship! Do they think we all believe in fairy tales? If they treated the public as intelligent and worthy of respect, they would never have become so ham-fisted and delusional in their approach. Their arrogance in the face of this massive own goal must have the europhiles rolling in the aisles. No point in voting on anything again until we have a party worthy of representing us. I hope you stay in politics Roger, perhaps you can offer us a new solution? Always intersted to hear your ideas.

  13. Alfred says:

    Richard while I agree with almost all you say, we are already being “TOLD that we must side with Europe” in a number of areas where EU competencies conflict with USA policy, trade, human rights, agriculture etc etc, with defence policy on the horizon. Those areas will just increase now that the Council of Ministers is just a legal unit of the EU and therefore must bow to the EU mantras.

  14. eric goodyer says:

    It is rare that I have to praise Roger, but resignation from the front bench was the only honourable course left to him. I hope that he now follows his conscience out of the Tory Party; who have always been wholly committed to Britain staying in the EU.

    I welcome the Lisbon Treaty, as it will streamline the EU, reduce the number of commissioners by 1/3, take power away from the unelected and give it to the elected EU Parliament and back to member states. It also ensures that a single intransigent state cannot block badly needed reforms, such as abolition of the CAP, by using a national veto. It will give us EU fit for the 21st C. I am sure we can argue this last paragraph, but we are not going to agree so on to this >>>

    If you want to leave the EU then wake up and support UKIP not David Cameron. Euroscepticism has always been a Tory sham to hide their Pro-EU policies; the issue is In or Out not varying shades of In.

  15. eric goodyer says:

    p.s you do say ‘straight talking’ !

  16. Alfred says:

    Eric Goodyer, I understand what you are saying and that these reforms are needed. However, I am doubtful about two things.

    1) That even with more power, the EU Parliament can bring a semblance of democracy to the EU, which to a large extent, is run by the Directors General whose accounting of tax payers money worries me greatly (to be kind). It is unlikely, IMO, that the parliament will change this state of affairs as no one has been able to do so up until now.

    2) That “a single intransigent state cannot block badly needed reforms, such as abolition of the CAP, by using a national veto”. On past experience, abolition of the CAP will not get off the starting grid because of a “single intransigent state” but let me be proved wrong.

    Eric, surely the real issue is whether we need to give up our sovereignty to achieve all this and whether we couldn’t have achieved so much through international agreements.

    At some time, we might have good reason to appear intransigent, on an issue, because that is in our national interest. As a sovereign nation we should be allowed to make that decision having judged its international impact, and not have that decision forced upon us, as is done to a mere vassal state. That is the real issue behind all of this.

  17. eric goodyer says:

    Dear Alfred
    Thank you for this – it is a real pleasure to be able to debate EU policy issues, and how to move forward, rather than the stale In or Out position. Though I doubt if Roger’s site is the correct platform. I do not believe that the EU can ever become a supra-national state so I have no fears about loss of sovereignty; it simpler is not that sort of organisation. What did concern me was the lack of democratic accountability of the ‘executive’ in the form of the the Commission. The EU is a structure in which we agree to pool sovereignty for the common good, and the consequential decisions that arise from that co-operation have to be open to challenge by the directly elected EU Parliament and National Parliaments. Lisbon does this dramatically, and thus returns centralised power from the unelected to the elected representatives and nation states. I would like the process to go further with perhaps the select committee concept or similar that is able to scrutinise EU budgets and expenditure on our behalf. What I want to move away from is a Commission that is made up off ‘ambassadors’ from each member state who inevitably are only interested in their national needs – the EU is a club we were should work together not compete. I chose CAP as an obvious example – it was established for the sole purpose of ensuring that Europe was self-sufficient in food after the horrors of WW2 – job done and time to move on. National Vetos could allow a single state (I will not name it) preventing reform – that is why Qualified Majority Voting is a progressive step. Finally, we are not a vassal state, we are members of a club. If we do not like then we can leave.

  18. Mike Hanlon says:

    Roger, you may be interested to read the Democracy Movement’s analysis. It points to a couple of flaws / contradictions in Cameron’s approach – one on the referendum, and one on criminal justice. Plus you get a mention! See:
    http://democracymovementblog.blogspot.com
    all the best,

  19. Alfred says:

    Eric, You are right. All this has been discussed elsewhere, extensively. If anyone holds on to the idea that we have retained sovereignty, I suggest three things.

    One. The actual rules Read the Treaties as amended by Lisbon and see the actual powers given to the government of the EU. Not shared, or pooled, but given away.

    Two. The rules applied Look at the actions of the EU over the past few years and see the many examples where the EU has told countries what to do against their will. A sovereign nation can agree. A vassal state is told what to do.

    Three. The so called parliament Visit the EU parliament, or if you cannot, take a close interest in what it does. Watch some “debates”. Look at the voting for, say, the budget and be horrified. You will find an almost powerless rubber stamping organisation with no teeth that is about to get one milk tooth.

    There so many examples showing that we are not a sovereign nation, even before the last vestiges of sovereignty are given away in the self amending Lisbon treaty.

    Can a sovereign nation decide its own tax rates? Of course. Can we reduce VAT below 15%? Brown asked to do so and was sent away with a flee in his ear.

    Can a sovereign nation decide who fishes in its waters and take ecological control over its fish stocks? Iceland and Canada do. Ask a UK fisherman, if you can find one and then read up on the ecological disaster called the north sea and note that we have NO control over who fishes and how. While you are about it ask a farmer if we have sovereignty over our farming policy.

    Let’s be trite. Can we decide which TV channel has rights for showing football? We thought we could allow Sky those rights, but the EU told us, no we cannot.

    and so on and so on into all the many many areas where the EU has power over us.

    You cannot pool sovereignty – you have it or you don’t.

    I think you might want to look at the early history of the CAP and read some of De Gaul’s actual quotes as to its origins and its purpose. It had very little to do with “ensuring that Europe was self-sufficient in food after the horrors of WW2″.

    A member of a club can leave. We cannot leave for two years, unless we agree to whatever terms are decided by others, with us out of the room when those terms are decided. A sovereign nation could leave a “club” anytime it decided.

    I understand those who want to be part of a larger super-state, but I think history shows that they are woefully misguided. Let’s be honest.

    • richard says:

      Well done Roger for showing us how honorable a politician can be. It is a breath of fresh air.
      I wish you well in all your future endeavors.

      What needs to happen is for someone to go into the House of Commons and go against protocol, and, live ‘on air’ call the prime minister a liar and a traitor and ask for the sergeant at arms to arrest him!!!
      GOD!!!! I would pay big money to see that!

      Question. If The President of Europe (possibly that treacherous scumbag blair) TOLD the United Kingdom that our commitment to NATO was not acceptable and we would HAVE to join the European Defense Force. What would the answer of the 3 major parties be?
      How could we possibly extricate ourselves from that when all they (USofE)will do is keep asking the same question with sentences rearranged to make it look like a different question; and go on; and go on; and go on until they get the answer THEY want!

      I personally (this time anyway)will be voting for UKIP. I dont want to, but feel it is the only way I can look my children and grandchildren in the eye when they ask “What did you do daddy to save our country from undemocratic tyrants?”
      Poor old Cameron has failed tragically in his first big decision as PM in waiting. The question to be asked NOW is simply
      IN OR OUT OF EUROPE?

  20. Pingback: Little Man in a Toque » Blog Archive » Roger the Dodger

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