Tuesday, 6 October 2009
There is no doubt that during the 90s the Conservative Party were split over Europe and during this weeks party conference both opposition parties and the mainstream media have more than hinted that a similar problem could plague a future David Cameron led government.
The party policy towards the Lisbon Reform Treaty seems prima facie consistent with all major figures showing scepticism towards the rehashed Constitution Treaty that was rejected by both the French and Dutch voters. Certainly, if the LRT is not in force before a Tory election victory, the British public would be given a chance to have their say. Furthermore, it looks like Britain would vote 'No' to Lisbon despite the frankly ridiculous attacks by foreign minister David Milliband accusing the anti-federalist stance of the party as "embarassing".
The supposed problems for Cameron are apparently going to arise if the LRT has been passed by all 27 member states of the EU as the Conservative leader has not announced if there will be a referendum in this case. The question has come to light again this week, unfortunately coinsciding with the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, as the Irish electorate resoundingly approved the treaty, making the passing of the LRT more imminent.
There are many sensible reasons for not announcing the Tory position just yet, the first being that it would be unfair to interfere in the debate that Poland and the Czech Republic (the two countries yet to ratify the LRT) are having in their respective countries. The second reason is that it is most likely going to be 8 months before the Cameron family move into Downing Street and it is anyone's guess as to what shape the treaty will be in at that point. If it is still in it's infancy then it may well be worth having referendum but it would also be understandable not to if the LRT is, by then, operating with full force.
The fear that Britain will lose face with the EU and farther afield if it regails on it's ratification is a petty one. I would rather the government did what the voters wanted rather than keeping up appearances abroad if that was deemed to be the best step forward for the UK.