Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Pressure mounts on Cameron over Lisbon

It's finally happened then. President Klaus of the Czech Republic has signed the Lisbon Reform Treaty bringing it into law. Once the Czech Supreme Court looked like it was going to declare this effectively constitutional treaty, well....constitutional there was always going to be a huge amount of pressure on Klaus from the other 26 countries to sign and this has happened in the last hour or so.

This brings bad news for two sorts of people euro-sceptics and EU Law students and unfortunately I fall into both categories. However, as David Cameron will now be realising at Conservative HQ there is little me or him can do about it and we've just got to deal with the Treaty as it comes.

Cameron is probably under a lot more pressure than my good self though. I have to learn a few new names and Article numbers but Cameron faces something of a no-win situation. On the one hand he has promised the British public a referendum on the Treaty but now Lisbon is in force, to reject the Treaty now would lose Britian a lot of face on the world stage. The flipside of this is to accept the Treaty though this would undoubtedly upset the strongly Euro-sceptic wing of his party; especially considering their new Euro grouping.

A policy announcement is due tomorrow and many will wonder which way Cameron will go with the definite possibility that either way will cost votes at next years general election.

Both Labour and the Lib Dems are enjoying this Tory discomfort but there may still be a way out. In my opinion Cameron is in a strong position in relation to Europe with the threat of a referendum. This can be used to ensure various opt-outs and concessions for Britain and it is at this stage that Cameron can either choose to campaign for a 'Yes' vote in a referendum (as happened in Ireland) or to promise the British public that no referendum is now needed that important opt-oputs have been negotiated whilst getting even the likes of Bill Cash MP to support this position.

In any circumstance, Cameron will be under great pressure over the forthcoming weeks and months. The best thing Conservatives can truly hope for is damage limitation.