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Tory MP: The public will struggle to believe Cameron’s EU pledge

23 January 2013

4:28 PM

23 January 2013

4:28 PM

Six months ago, the word ‘referendum’ had not even passed David Cameron’s lips. The issue was not on the table. I would, therefore, like to thank the 100 Conservative Parliamentary colleagues who co-signed my letter in June, urging the Prime Minister to commit to a referendum. In a small way, I like to think our efforts helped to change his mind. We can now have a vigorous debate.

However, whilst not doubting the Prime Minister’s sincerity, I am concerned his pledge will not be believed by the public. Far too many promises have been broken in the past, such as Blair’s promise on the EU Constitution and the Liberal Democrats’ commitment at the last General Election. Cynicism is such that, unfairly, some even accuse the Prime Minister of breaking his promise on the Lisbon Treaty, even though the ink had dried before he came to office.


This public mistrust needs to be better addressed. Why not, therefore, bring the necessary legislation forward into this Parliament? I see no downside. After all, the Liberals promised a referendum. Legislation would also address the deficit of trust between the public and politicians. It would also force Labour to clarify its position. Should Labour and the Liberals oppose the legislation, and it had to be withdrawn, then their position would be laid bare for all to see.

For those of us who think this issue is more important than party politics, legislation now also should ensure a referendum takes place whatever the makeup of the next Government – any incoming Prime Minister would find it difficult to repeal popular legislation.

John Baron is Chairman of the All-Party Group for an EU Referendum.

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Show comments
  • CharlieleChump

    Totally agree, legislate now to lock in action later.

    • Gawain

      You can’t legislate if there is no majority in the Commons and with Labour the Liberals and all the nationalist parties (and some Tories) that love the EU voting against there is no likely majority in the Commons at the moment. So the idea is just meretricious.

  • Gawain

    You are absolutely right that voters don’t trust politicians and your post is a perfect example of why no one should. As you acknowledge, the prime minister has given you the pledge that you said you wanted but now, actually, you want more. Fred Kite style politics of that type leads this voter to suspect that you’re not very confident that your party can win the next election and that you’re not very confident people will support your view in a referendum.

  • peterbuss

    Oh cheers Mr Baron.This has been a very good day for the Party but it only needs an EU obsessive such as yourself with yet more impossible demands to stir up division to rain on the parade.David Cameron has made his speech – its been well received by all sections of the Party including europhiles like myself.It has the real prospect of bringing unity so if you can’t get behind our Leader ,why don’t you and your fellow tunnel vision anti EU fanatics just take a vow of silence and let the rest of us who want to win in 2015 get on with that task.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      …or perhaps, take this as the catalyst to begin planning a transition to UKIP.

    • CharlieleChump

      Ignore this whining, keep the pressure up Johnny boy!

  • ben corde

    Understatement of the year! My sub to UKIP looks even better value for money after this deceitful wishful thinking nonsense Cameron arrogantly assumes we’ll fall for.

  • ben corde

    “If Britain must choose between Europe and the open sea, she must always choose the open sea.”Winston Churchill, House of Commons, May 11, 1953.

    • dalai guevara

      Yes, a quote from 1953 is dug out to highlight the fact that we still have fully operational aircraft carriers, can afford Trident and that EFTA was the far superior club to be associated with…what will the oh so loyal 16 Commenwealth member states tell you when our Head of State ‘retires from duty’? That they agree with you?

  • Russell

    Exactly Mr Baron what I have been saying (and posting) for more than a year.

    • telemachus

      No not exactly
      Baron Reckless and gang are deluded and like thei leader will be toast after the election
      All talk of referenda will be seen as a trivial Tory party irrelevance akin to Westland

  • David Lindsay

    The John Baron Leadership Challenge?

    He wouldn’t win. (Or wouldn’t he?)

    But he would put Toryism back on the agenda.

    Challenging Labour in various ways, and especially helping to clear out the remaining Blairite enemies of One Nation.

    And setting the tone for at least one of the successor-parties to the Conservatives after their electoral nadir in 2015.

    How he was vilified for taking that view over Libya. But look at Mali and Algeria now.

  • SmithersJones2013

    Mr Barron do thank your leader for his ‘remoulded plastic uncertainty’ (to replace the ‘cast iron guarantee’). However, I suspect it will be surplus to requirements because of domestic issues like the formation of the Coalition, inflation, energy prices and so forth will likely see Cameron defeated in 2015 anyway.

    PS given Cameron’s kicked the EU into the long grass I suppose you expect us to all come running back to vote for you. No chance especially if like me your Tory minister MP has come out of the closet and declared his Europhilia for all to recognise.

    • 2trueblue

      Events within the EU over the next year might bring a surprise to us all, and I think this is what has made Cameron shift his view. He is already under pressure to set his stall out and this is part of it. I am interested now to see where he goes.

      • CharlieleChump

        Ignore the words, Watch the action

        • 2trueblue

          As I said, I am interested now to see where he goes, i.e. the action.

      • George_Arseborne

        Remember the cast iron guarantee? No one will trust him. Anyway he is aware that by 2017 he will no be in Number 10. His nervousness during the speech tells it all.

        • Colonel Mustard

          No-one trusts you, the imported Labour voter and activist.

        • 2trueblue

          13yrs under Liebore and their promise was never delivered, Brown slunk off in the last days and signed the Lisbon Treaty.