Coffee House

The EU Referendum Bill won’t appear in Parliament any time soon

2 May 2013

2:08 PM

2 May 2013

2:08 PM

Some Tories are all aquiver today after the Prime Minister’s radio hint yesterday that he might be prepared to introduce an EU referendum bill in this parliament after all. Here are David Cameron’s words on yesterday’s World at One that are supposed to set your heart pounding:

‘I think we need to demonstrate absolutely that we are serious about this referendum; we’ve said we’re going to hold it, we’ve said it’s going to be an in-out referendum, we’ve set a date by which it must be held. I look forward to publishing a bill, to getting support for it, to doing everything I can to show to people at the next election there will be a real choice: if you want a party that’s going to reform the European Union and Britain’s place in it, and then give you a proper in-out choice, there only is one option – that is the Conservative party. So anything we can do to strengthen that offer, as it were, I’m prepared to consider. I think the most important thing is just to go around explaining to people this very carefully thought through and absolutely right for Britain, right for Europe, policy.’

Given the 100 backbenchers who signed John Baron’s recent letter calling for legislation had timed their missive so that it landed on the PM’s doormat in plenty of time before the Queen’s Speech negotiations, some are excitedly wondering whether this means Her Majesty will announce this Bill next week when she opens Parliament.


But speaking to Downing Street sources today, I gather that this isn’t any more of a push towards legislation than the hint the PM offered his party when it met recently. Those noises he made then about the benefits of legislation were no different, I’m told, from the radio noises he made yesterday. And while there is an appreciation in Downing Street of the argument that losing the vote on the bill would be of enormous benefit to the Conservatives, the chances of that bill ever making it as far as a vote are made considerably slimmer by the reality of Coalition. A source close to the Prime Minister tells me:

‘He doesn’t object in principle, but there is a large practical obstacle, and we have this pledge now for an In/Out referendum if David Cameron is re-elected, which is something we should be selling on the doorstep.’

The problem is that the Tories worry that even before a dramatic Commons face-off, the Lib Dems wouldn’t sign off on such a bill. They’re right: Lib Dem sources tell me they wouldn’t allow the legislation through the backroom negotiations, although they appreciate that this is what one calls ‘tummy-tickling’ by the Prime Minister. And they don’t think there’s a way of introducing legislation that part of the government has refused to sign up to, unless this has already been set in stone by the Coalition Agreement. A Lib Dem source says to me:

‘If you are going to start saying well the different parties in the Coalition can now bring forward any bills they like, then enjoy the mansion tax and 50p votes. That sort of thing would be of no benefit to either party in the Coalition or to the government.’

If there is a way to get the legislation into Parliament, then there might be a chance the Tories would try to support it by trying to give it time, although my sources from both parties wouldn’t comment on hypothetical situations like this.

But this isn’t all that hypothetical when John Baron has already told Coffee House that if he and colleagues have no success through official routes, they will be ‘looking for all opportunities to raise this on the floor of the House’. And the Prime Minister might have been trying to tickle them a little with his radio interview, but he hasn’t responded to their letter yet, and the meeting that Baron is trying to arrange hasn’t happened yet, either. So Tory backbenchers might feel that if they hear no more than the same noises from the Prime Minister in the next few weeks, they’ll do their own thing, possibly using a Private Member’s Bill, or backbench business debates, or amendments to existing legislation. But the legendary EU referendum bill isn’t on its way into Parliament any time soon.

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Show comments
  • CaptainDallas

    Every utterance out of Cameron’s mouth is a lie. He will do anything to avoid a referendum – and we all know it.

  • echo34

    The problem is there is no choice,

    liblabcon – all of them are so light on policy, all lie, all politically corrupt, Whoever’s in charge will be just as inept, arrogant and out of touch as those they follow.

    The political establishment is dead. Awash with political clones feeding like maggots on the rotting flesh..

    There is no reason not to try UKIP?

    • Makroon

      Another “UK uncut/juvenile anarchist” posing as a UKIPper I presume ?

      • echo34

        Another i cannot think for myself or outside the box devotee?

  • Denis_Cooper

    “If there is a way to get the legislation into Parliament, then there might be a chance the Tories would try to support it by trying to give it time, although my sources from both parties wouldn’t comment on hypothetical situations like this.”

    For goodness sake, John Baron introduced just such a Bill on February 6th, initially its second reading in the Commons was set for March 1st, then that was quietly changed to April 26th when the House would not be sitting, and it was allowed to die the death on April 25th when Parliament was prorogued.

    “United Kingdom Membership of the European Union (Referendum) Bill”

    “A Bill to make provision for a referendum in the next Parliament on the question of
    whether the United Kingdom should remain a member of the European Union; and for connected purposes.”

    “The Bill failed to complete its passage through Parliament before the end of the session. This means the Bill will make no further progress.”

    Cameron could have tried to give that Bill time to progress; almost certainly he didn’t, but if he did try then he failed so why should it be any different with another such Bill?

  • Ron Todd

    Day before local election Cameron hints we might have chance of referendum. What will it be the day after the local election?

    ‘Ah yes but what I really meant was…’

  • Curnonsky

    Another steaming pile of cast iron.

  • Tom Tom

    The EU Referendum Bill won’t appear in Parliament any time soon………No ? Didn’t think so !

  • UKIP_Bill

    It’s interesting that the blog post listing page shows 85 comments on this thread. But only 12 are appearing. It would seem that the rest have all been moderated and/or blocked for some reason?

  • Slim Jim

    It’s all hot air. The entire political class have signed us up to a monstrous deal, lacking democratic legitimacy and the means to extricate this county’s economy from the mire of mass consumerism. I put two fingers up to the lot of them today by voting UKIP. It may not change anything, but the political class don’t like it up ’em, no sir!

    • Makroon

      14 votes for “the end to mass consumerism” ?
      UKIP attracting some very rum indeed supporters, or is “the end to mass consumerism” also now a UKIP policy ?

  • Colonel Mustard

    If only he were as committed to pushing an EU referendum through parliament as he is to censoring our internet browsing, building houses for the Rumanian influx next year and radicalising the whole basis of holy matrimony on behalf of a noisy minority. What a complete and utter waste of space this man is as a “conservative” Prime Minister. Useless, wet and 100% unreliable.

  • foxoles

    A ‘hint’ that he ‘might’.

    Nudge, nudge – wink, wink.


  • the viceroy’s gin

    Poor Dave, he hasn’t the slightest ounce of political nous.

    It’s not about the EU, in the end. That Coalition is ultimately what will destroy the Cameroons electorally. It is the talisman and totem for the LibLabCon monolith, which is cruisin’ for a bruisin’ in 2015. Only the terminally thick could miss this. Elections often turn on the negative, and LibLabCon are viewed as a collective negative.

    But if Dave functionally destroys that Coalition, and separates himself from that collective negative, it could very well be the thing that saves him. Yes, the EUcrats are of prime concern, but the entire domestic situation will come into play in 2015, not just Brussels affairs. Smart politics says you must play the hand you’re dealt, and not the hand your PR geeks tell you might be dealt. And LibLabCon ain’t trump.

    Dave has a cobbled majority, and there is little chance the LD’s will clamor for an election, as it would likely destroy their position. So Dave could do whatever he wanted to them, and a resourceful and cunning politician would do so. There is no downside, and there is a potential upside, as in it might keep Dave’s head off that spike 24 months from now.

    But as I say, Dave has no political nous, and doesn’t have a clue how to execute a proper exercise of political power.

    • Archimedes

      “Elections often turn on the negative, and LibLabCon are viewed as a collective negative.”

      That “collective negative” still attracts 81% of the vote. In the mid-term. When two of those parties are in government.

      I’ve seen these tactics of yours before. Laurie Penny and Owen Jones spring to mind.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        …have you ever seen the tactic of an incompetent premier’s head being mounted on a spike?

        • Archimedes

          Spike. Spike. Spike. Spike. Head. Spike. Spike. Head. Head. Spike.

          And for good measure:

          “Death to the infidels!”

          • the viceroy’s gin

            Yes, you Cameroons are sorta partial to islamofascist elements, we notice.

            More grist for the mill, or heads for the spike (to return to more appropriate imagery).

            • Archimedes

              It’s so sexy when you get angry. Punish me! Punish me!

              • the viceroy’s gin

                You Cameroons are also big on the homoerotica, I notice.

                Hmmmmm, and so are the islamofascists, now that I think of it.

                You don’t suppose….?

                • Archimedes

                  Well. There it is.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  No, it isn’t there yet. That’ll be 24 months from now. 😉

              • Wessex Man

                OK I know your past comments that you are a little to the left of Michael Foot and you have never had a life.

                • Archimedes

                  No, I’m not. What it is, is that you’re so fanatical and obsessive that you have lost perspective entirely. You fit alongside socialists, communists, fascists and Eurocrats with your dogmatic ideologies.

                  You think that because you manage to poll around about 12/13% that you’re part of some wider movement? You’re not.

                  You think you’re part of some silent majority that gives you the right to dictate the terms of debate, and how the country should be governed? You’re not, you’re just the recipients of a cyclical dissatisfaction, obsessed by singular goals and fully prepared to destroy everything else in your wake to achieve those goals.

                  It’s obsession, it’s fanaticism and Britain is not so stupid.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  Fortunately, these miserable oiks have you Cameroons to show them the proper path.

                • Archimedes

                  What marvellous camaraderie you have between yourselves. They used to have that in the upper echelons of the Soviet Union, too — or, at least, they pretended they did, to sort of rally the people, you know. They revolutionaries in France in the 18th century, too. When it came down to it, neither really cared about the people they claimed to be fighting for, of course — because it was just an obsession, and obsession quickly forgets the little people.

                  “Do you hear the people sing, singing the so…” — no, not really.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  …so they didn’t care about the people they claimed to be fighting for, you say? So they’re similar to you Cameroons, then. I mean, those people are just miserable oiks, as you say.

                • Archimedes

                  “Will you join in our crusade, Who will be strong and stand with me…”

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  “I will”, says Dave. “And that’s a cast iron guarantee.” 😉

          • HookesLaw

            All the Speccy is good for is as a repository for nutjobs.

            • Colonel Mustard

              Well, we need somewhere to go. None of the main parties represent us now. They represent all the people who in my youth were called nutjobs and who we now have to respect, appease and kowtow to.

            • Hexhamgeezer

              Welcome to the party. Welcome anyone who reads ‘ if you want a party that’s going to reform the European Union’ and either wets themselves laughing or spews.

            • echo34

              We now know why you are here.

        • ArchiePonsonby

          The unlamented Gordon Brown springs to mind!

  • Smithersjones2013

    Cameron’s like a frigid Victorian old maid who every now and again flashes a bit of ankle to drum up some attention now there is little or no natural popularity anymore. Of course the ‘old maid’ has no intent of actually ‘putting out’ and as a result over time it becomes common knowledge thats she’s actually the worst sort of tease and increasingly everyone ignores her…….

    • GUBU

      What a very strange analogy…

      • Smithersjones2013

        Having read some of your previous posts I must thank you for the compliment and the vote of confidence. If its strange to you then it must be alright…….

      • ArchiePonsonby

        But apt!

  • peterbuss

    I very much agree with your take on it Isobel.I listened to the PM’s interview yesterday and in no way at all did he promise anything other than what he has already done so ie an in/out refrendum in the next Parliament.It is true he said he will look at anything which might strengthen “that offer” but people, even respected journo’son the TV and Pres shave jumped on that as Cam saying he will publish a bill this side of 2015.What he said was fair and reasonable and BTW can anybody actually show me how publishing a bill which is then going to be voted down actually strengthens anything?I can’t see it. The only way to strengthen the offer is to vote Conservative in 2015.

    • Colonel Mustard

      I don’t think I’ll be voting Conservative. I did that in 2010 full of hope that he might mean what he said and would “sweep away” New Labour’s nanny state. He hasn’t and his government, with nannies like May, Miller and that awful woman Perry wanting to treat us all like five year olds.

      • dalai guevara

        Could not agree more, but then you stop short listing the underperformers.

        I take to hand a copy of King James to calm my outrage, and am immediately irked by the tooled-in inscription reminding everyone of who must undoubtedly be one of the top scorers on that list, only outflanked perhaps by the underestimated determination of a quiet man to fail yet again.

    • Russell

      If you can’t see how labour and the LibDems voting down a Bill to give the electorate an EU referendum (which a majority are screaming for), you really must be a labour supporter.

      • Andy

        I agree. If I was Cameron I would scheme and plot to get a Private Members Bill laid for an EU Referendum. Then I would scheme and plot to give it parliamentary time and a fair wind. It wouldn’t make the statute book, but the mileage in watching Labour and LibDem MPs lining up to vote it down would be great. And next General Election you could ram home the point.

      • Makroon

        I agree with your point but “a majority are screaming for”, may be putting it a tad OTT.

        • Colonel Mustard

          It’s a silent scream because all the noise is being made by Europhile lefties and assorted marxist and Common Purpose fellow travellers.

      • peterbuss

        I’m certainly not a Labour supporter but if you can’t see how UKIP will simply dismiss any bill as just a publicity stunt then I feel sorry for you. I rather think the public will as well. The PM has got a perfectly statesmanlike anmd sane policy on the EU and a reefrendum and he should stick with it and in no way bend towards appeasing UKIP.

        • Colonel Mustard

          You don’t face down tyranny with a statesmanlike and sane policy. That is Chamberlain. We need Churchill.

  • Austin Barry

    A deadman’s gambit.

  • UKIP_Bill