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Will the draft EU referendum bill calm Tory tensions?

14 May 2013

8:18 PM

14 May 2013

8:18 PM

The last few days have seen the Tory party losing its collective head. Number 10 hopes that the publication of a draft referendum bill will begin to restore order.

If this bill had been published by the leadership a week ago, it would have looked like a bold move. Today, it appeared panicky. But it is now out there, and any Tory backbencher who comes high up in the private members bill ballot on Thursday has a chance of guiding it through. I suspect if a vote could be won on second reading, the parliamentary dynamics of this debate would change yet again.


What’ll be intriguing is to see how much the Tories campaign on this. David Cameron has already sent out an email to party supporters. But will the Tories try and campaign in individual Lib Dem seats attacking the MP’s opposition to it? Such a move might inflame coalition tensions but would cheer up Tory MPs.

I understand that there was a tetchy meeting of the various Tory Eurosceptic factions this morning. Of the eight representatives there, three favoured welcoming Cameron’s efforts but five wanted to carry on pressing him. So, there’ll be more trouble ahead.

But most Tories I’ve spoken to today are content with what has happened if not how it is happened. They are desperate to see the spotlight swung back onto Labour and the Liberal Democrats. Intriguingly, the Tory leadership also seems keen to up the pressure on their coalition partners. Nick Clegg is standing in at PMQs tomorrow and I suspect there’ll be lots of fire coming from the benches directly behind him, and none of it friendly.

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Show comments
  • Boo80

    I get the feeling that some Tory MPs would only be happy with Cameron if he walked up to Van Rompuy and punched him in the face then walked off taking the UK out of the EU.

    Then again they would probably complain that he didn’t kick him while he was down.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      Well, there’s a fantasy we’re certainly never going to see… Dave’s a metrosexual dweeb.

  • Russell

    Please stop calling this draft opinion poll a referendum Bill. There is no requirement for a government to act on the result of it. Cameron fails again, vote UKIP if you want out or even a real binding referendum.

    • Tom Tom

      True. The Referendum is advisory because Parliament claims it is sovereign which is the moot point because it is not against EU legislation. If the People is not sovereign then the EU is

  • Daniel Maris

    Magnolia is right. This is a loaded – almost vaccuous – question.

    “Do you think that the United Kingdom should remain a member of the European Union?”

    I think a much more reasonable question would be:

    “Do you consider that the Government should negotiate the withdrawal of the UK from the EU and the establishment of new free trade arrangements with the EU?”. There would then be a further referendum on the results of the negotiations.

  • Hexhamgeezer

    ‘The last few days have seen the Tory party losing its collective head’

    No, only dave’s pro-Euro loons.

  • Jim_Watford
  • Magnolia

    The Question isn’t neutral.
    It asks if one wants to carry on with the status quo.
    There is nothing about any action to follow.
    I don’t feel calmed by it.
    Regardless of the Tory disarray, the Conservatives poll rating will go up.

    Reality is dawning except in the minds of the left who are stuck in Euroland fantasy mode.

    • global city

      Spot on. It is also worded to make it much harder to gain a point to leave, rather than stay in the EU.

      Alex Salmond is much clever than the Eurosceptics who have accepted this loaded and weak question.

      • Andy

        Do you seriously think that ANY Government could ignore a ‘Lets Leave’ vote ?

  • andagain

    The last few days have seen the Tory party losing its collective head. Number 10 hopes that the publication of a draft referendum bill will begin to restore order.

    Perhaps they should hope for a perpetual motion machine as well. It as about as likely.

  • alabenn

    Tory party losing its collective head.
    James no it is not, it is starting to use its head, it cannot be wrong for the party to start to do what political parties are supposed to do, represent the people.
    It might have looked better to the media if it had happened last week, in time the majority of people will come to a position on this referendum debate and none will think Cameron was late or forced into this, they will just think the Tories want a referendum and the rest do not.

    • R2-D2

      But will that help the Tories? According to Ipsos MORI, only 1% of voters think Europe is the most important issue at the moment.

      • global city

        Rather stupid point. Should the government not bother with anything other than the economy, as this is top of the list of concerns.

        Also, when people are asked specifically about the EU then people have firm views.

        I believe it has a higher priority than gay marraige amongst the population.

        • Russell

          And our membership of the EU affects No.1 on the list the economy, as well as No.2 on the list immigration and No.3., Justice, No.4, Taxes No;5 etc.
          So really our membership of the EU affects all our most important issues.

          • global city

            and that is how it must be outlined every time a Eurosceptic is questioned about ‘priorities’ on TV.

            I have grave concerns that the Eurosceptics, especially the UK Independence party, are letting the ball drop on these fundamentals, as they go politicking about immigrants.

        • R2-D2

          Actually, it is very much like gay marriage: People have strong views but most of them don’t think it is urgent. Of course the government must deal with less urgent matters, too, but just don’t think Ed Miliband is going to lose any sleep over this. The next election will be about the economy, and now that it is starting to improve, Ed is quite happy if the Tories are banging on about secondary issues like Europe.

          • Russell

            The EU is not a secondary issue as you wrongly put it, and our membership of the EU has the biggest impact on the economy of the UK.

      • Russell

        This same ‘line’ is pushed by the BBC, Labour and almost every journalist even though blatantly untrue. The only reason polls indicate this , is due to the framing of the question.
        It is like the old ‘have you stopped beating your wife’ (answer yes or no) question.

      • Tom Tom

        According to Ipsos-Mori EE customers are happy to have their mobile phone records sold to the Met, but i was never asked

  • ButcombeMan

    No it will not.

    What it shows is that Cameron is not leading he is following. He is responding to events and is way behind the curve of public and Tory opinion.

    Doubters will remain unconvinced. Cameron is just not believable because he is being dragged by the nose and reluctantly, into giving the British people a real choice.

    He is self evidently spinning his activity to present it in the best possible light. it fools no one.

    He wants to “re-negotiate” but will not spell out exactly what he wants to negotiate on. Why not? What has he got to hide? He is making everyone suspicious, friend or foe.

    He is frustrating the British people and also frustrating those in Brussels and the EU he supposedly wants to “renegotiate” with.

    Instead of his “review” slowly picking its way, in far too detailed a manner for any conceivable negotiation, what is needed is a grand piece of real leadership, leading the debate across Europe as to how Europe should or could develop to satisfy those who want to remain in the Euro, those who do not and those who want to remain in a trading only, outer circle..

    Cameron should be bold, the UK does not want an unpicking stitch by stitch it wants and needs, a broad sweep of repatriated powers.

    He should draft it, present it publicly and sit back. other countries can also think about their positions.

    Everything is proceeding far too slowly. Vision is needed and lacking. It does not need to take years and years. Please let us have some focus and urgency

    And Cameron should remind people like Soames and Clarke, that every time they open their mouths, they turn the public off their positions. They make it worse for Cameron.

    • colliemum

      Cameron has picked up a hint from Obama, during his visit. Like Obama, he’s now ‘leading from behind’.

      • Archimedes

        On the political chess board the Prime Minister is King. He can move anywhere, but very slowly. You want him to make his way out into the middle of the battlefield, unable to withdraw at any pace, with his army back in the distance?

        Your opponents are watching, thinking to themselves “What the h*ll is he doing? I mean, really — is he going to make it that easy?”

        It is the King that the other pieces are supposed to protect.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          What a facile nothingness, that whimsy.

          After “King Dave” gets his head mounted on a spike, you may want to reassess your whims.

          • telemachus

            Shame really that Tyburn is no longer
            You could hang him from Marble Arch
            I personally would like to see Farage and his lieutenant Baron strung up there

            • Andy

              I agree: you should be executed at Tyburn. A traitor’s death.

        • telemachus

          Baron is moving in to checkmate

        • Tom Tom

          The Prime Minister is simply a Privy Councillor and accountable to The Crown. The Cabinet is a Committee of the Privy Council. It is the Privy Council that runs the country which is why The Opposition is a component of the Privy Council. The Prime Minister is only what his personality makes him, he has no special powers, he is not The Crown.

          • Andy

            The ‘office’ of Prime Minister was not even mentioned in State Papers until 1917. The ‘office’ derives its power from that of the Lord High Treasurer which was put into commission, hence the term ‘First Lord of the Treasury’. You are basically correct that the country is governed by the Privy Council because it is the Queen’s Government.

    • realfish

      ‘…Doubters will remain unconvinced. Cameron is just not believable because he is being dragged by the nose and reluctantly, into giving the British people a real choice…’

      No he’s not. Cameron is keeping the promises that he made before the election and in his January speech.

      And BTW, who are you to speak for the public and say what they want? There are too many walking opinion pollsters around at the moment.

      Cameron needs to be given the opportunity of re-setting Britain’s relationship with the EU trading bloc, as the inner circle of EU / Euro members form their Federal entity. Then we should all decide, democratically, whether it’s what we want and whether it is in our interests. And at that time I’ll make MY own decision BM – you will not make it for me.

      • peterbuss

        Thats exactly my postion as well .We need to see of this arrogant bluster from UKIP and keep calm while we are doing it.

        • Colonel Mustard

          I expect George III referred to those pesky American revolutionaries as being full of “arrogant bluster” too.

          • global city

            but then, they didn’t start waving their muskets about, aiming at redskins and muskrats just as the red coats came over the hill!

      • global city

        Eurosceptics say they only want to have a trade relationship with the EU, which is what the europhiles try to pretend that it is now.

        Something will have to give!

      • ButcombeMan

        You are a fool if you do not see what Cameron is about.

        In his wisdom (with experience of precisely nothing in his whole life except a little light hearted PR), he wants the UK to stay in the EU -almost at any cost.

        It will not wash. The EU project, in anything like its current form, is over.

        Sensible, grown up folk, in the UK or not, know that.

        Cameron should know that.

        Instead of reacting to events, he should lead events.

        He could go down in history if he did that.

        He lacks the intellectual equipment.

  • Rhoda Klapp5

    And the commitment that the will of the electorate will be carried out?

    • the viceroy’s gin

      The electorate’s will is being carried out. You’re getting the referendum that you wanted, you miserable oiks, so shut up already.

      And you better make sure to give the right answer, or you’ll be having referendums one after another, until you do.

      • Andy

        Wont. So there.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          We’ll just see about that. The EUSSR Supreme Soviet Central Committee Ruling Politburo will be discussing your obstinacy, comrade.

          • Andy

            Suppose I’ll be sent to the Gulag’s you have established in Scunthorpe.
            Is it true Telemachus is Commandant ?

            • the viceroy’s gin

              Telemucus hasn’t quite worked his way up to “useful idiot” in the party hierarchy, comrade. He’s just an idiot.

              • Andy

                Well yes this is true. But that wont be any help to him as a defence at the War Crimes Trials to be held in Bridlington. He will be hanged in Hornsey Prison.

  • toco10

    All very simple really-Cameron abides by democratic principles by allowing us a vote but Red Ed and Clegg think they know better than us little citizens.Ultimately come 2015 Cameron wins by a distance.

    • realfish

      Clegg agreed to abide by the democratic principle of all votes counting equally, but having no principles he reneged on that.
      Just as Gordon Brown reneged on a Lisbon referendum.

      It’s time that Labour and the Lib Dems were held to account for these things and the Tories stopped pointed pointing their guns at each other…unless of course, in true Trotskyist tradition, there are entryists in the Tory party stirring things up

  • Alexsandr

    surely 1 (4) renders the whole thing impotent. cos we cant have a referendum without the permission of parliament.

    so this guarantees nothing

    (4) An order under this section may not be made unless a draft of the order has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament.