Cameron will not be holding a referendum on Lisbon after all…

(Poster is courtesy of DizzyThinks) With the ratification of Lisbon by Ireland, Poland and the Czech Republic, frankly there is no point. The deal was done when the Irish people kicked the idea of further resistance firmly into touch last month. Most of the rest has been spin. And the pretension that the UK can ‘repatriate’ powers ceded under this and/or other treaties is just that, a pretension. Unless, as Dizzythinks (one of the few Tory inclined blogs to cover itself in glory at this time – everyone else – including my mate Dan – has hit the bunker/donned the blinkers), Cameron was prepared to up the ante and threaten a referendum on UK withdrawal:

…there is an option available on Lisbon that would allow for its “unratification” by Britain. There is withdrawal clause in the Treaty. The Treaty states anyone can leave, but in order to do so you have to tell the European Council and then negotiate your exit. From a pure bargaining position, what would the Eurocrats reaction would be to the opening of withdrawal negotiation? They’d be facing the potential of Britain’s EU budget contribution disappearing. I think they’d panic.

I suspect Dizzy’s right. But I also suspect 5/6 of the British Establishment would go into a blind panic too. Cameron has rather un-adeptly painted himself into a corner is now exiting the eurosceptic room by the quickest and most direct route possible: straight across the still wet and tacky floor.

In big ticket diplomatic terms it matters not, now Lisbon is dead as a containable issue (from a British point of view). If the UK had said No to Lisbon after an Irish No, then the political effluent would have flowed just one way, and Cameron would have been behind the eight ball.

If the UK were then to say No (and newly crowned PM Cameron would find it hard to lead a Yes campaign) now Ireland has said Yes, all the brown sludgey stuff can only flow back towards Blighty. Before, it was Lisbon: yes or no? Now it would resile to the Lib Dems preferred terms: EU: Yes or No? As a pragmatic politician Cameron is probably right to try to extricate himself from this messy situation.

Although it might have been less difficult for him with his own team if he’d not promised Eurosceptic opinion in his own party. I suspect it will do him little harm with that great swathe of liberal middle England that once voted so stubbornly for Tony Blair. Though it’s evidence of a degree of political incontinence when it comes to matters of Foreign Affairs. And – unlike Blair – a tendency to choose a path in the first instance which offers least resistance from his fundamentalist base, only to be forced to let them down at some point thereafter.

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  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    The hard line Eurosceptics will not moved by any legal and constitutional difficulties that Britain might experience as a reuslt of trying to extract itself from Lisbon – this is politics at its most visceral and yes (the T word) tribal.

    What a delicous irony that Ireland should have landed the Tories in this dillemma by voting Yes* and that having recently lectured the native Irish about the need to move away from our tribal politics – the Tories will be right, slap bang in the middle of their own tribal mess. And if UKIP can stave of bankrupty will they have the Westminster wherewithal, having come second in the Euros, to put the frightners on them? Maybe, just maybe, with a large does of wishful thinking El Gordo may have a sniff. Lets the tribal hostilities commence.

    *Ireland the land of democracy, we get to vote twice and the British dont get to vote all – surely enough reason for Britian to have a written constitution?

  • fair_deal

    “there is no point”

    Frankly there is a point, its called handing over significant national powers. There is also the point that Cameron gave a “cast-iron guarantee” of a referendum on Lisbon – so show’s how much his word is worth.

    This was the first test of Cameron’s political mettle and he has completely flunked it.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Can we have a referendum on the Treaty of Versaille? or Vienna? or Limerick? once it is ratified you can only renage on it (and thats what a no referenedum would mean now) replace it with a new treaty (as the GFA replaced the Anglo Irish agreement) operate it to the best of your advantage, by operating it under duress DC can probably control the worst excesses of Lisbon.
    I guess they didnt expect Gordo to survive this long!

  • dub


    Your lovestruck awe towards Cameron seems to be increasingly depriving you of any critical faculties. This euro sceptic stuff with Cameron is all spin. He never intented having a referendum on Lisbon and was praying that Ireland would vote yes and that this would happen before the next British general election. His prayers have been answered. Now he has to deal with his backwoodsmen and UKIP. Problem but nothing like the problem he would have faced if Ireland had voted no. He is just using hard line rhetoric about Europe to make sure he gets the wogs begin at Calais vote. Just like he is playing with anti-agreement, anti “Dublin interference” Unionism in this country. The difference being that in this country such crass opportunism has led in the past to blood on the streets. But no matter. To think that such a figure can elicit admiration is genuinely shocking.

    On another note your tolerance of real nasty ad hominem vitriol towards Sammy by a certain poster shows that your ability to moderate this site in a neutral fashion has gone completely out the window. Your banning of Sean in this context is frankly disturbing. When will you let us know the rationale bahind these decisions?

  • Mick Fealty


    You might try letting me know where this ad hominem attack has taken place before jumping to unwarrented conclusions? Check out the commenting policy. We don’t pre-moderate. And I depend on red

    As for being a love struck Cameroon, have you read even a single word of the post I’ve written above?

  • Brit

    Since when did the UK hold referenda on Treaties? We live in a representative democracy and if you dont like the EU vote UKIP.

    And “Fair Deal” tell me what significant powers you contend are being/have been handed over under the Treay?

  • fin

    “They’d be facing the potential of Britain’s EU budget contribution disappearing. I think they’d panic.”

    I think they’d be more confused than anything.

    Is the suggestion to leave the EU altogether?

    Exiting Lisbon wouldn’t mean an end to contributions would it?

    No-one mentioned the possibility of Ireland taking back the fishing rights to the Irish box (worth an awful lot more than the UKs contribution) after the first No vote.

    I think if the UK left the EU, it would result in more amusement and business opportunities for Europeans than panic. How long would a battered Sterling last standing alone?

    If the Tories back off on a vote on Lisbon the UUP should be nervous, the Tory position on Lisbon has been very public while promises to unionists have been whispered quietly, if they welsh on a public promise, what chance for the UUP to get delivery on say the promised ‘enterprise zone’ for the North with a greatly reduced corporate tax to compete with the South. There is going to be an enterprise zone isn’t there?

  • fin

    re abusive posters, yeap some are annoying, worth remembering its Micks site, you can’t go into someones house and tell them how to arrange the furniture, there’s always for those who can’t filter out the trolls

  • 6countyprod

    If this piece in today’s Wall Street Journal is accurate then we are all being a little bit presumptous in assuming that Cameron will indeed be the next British PM having to make such weighty decisions.

    Apparently, the European Commission said ‘it expects U.K. GDP to expand 0.9% in 2010 and 1.9% in 2011, outpacing the 16-member euro-zone’s growth of 0.7% next year and 1.5% in 2011.

    The commission also tipped the U.K. economy to emerge from recession in the fourth quarter, when GDP is forecast to expand 0.4% …’

    The feel-good factor is always good to take into consideration when elections are taking place. If the perception among the electorate is that Brown has brought the UK out of recession ahead of Europe, it will be a nice little feather in his cap.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    “There is going to be an enterprise zone isn’t there? ”

    There is a thriving enterprise zone all along the border already fueled by the receipts of the partition tax/smuggling.

  • fair_deal


    “once it is ratified you can only renage on it (and thats what a no referenedum would mean now)”

    Incorrect. The Lisbon Treaty has an unratification clause.


    “tell me what significant powers you contend are being/have been handed over under the Treay?”

    The Open Europe website has a detailed documents on the Lisbon treaty outlining in full the powers that will be handed over and the weakness of the UK opt-outs – “A guide to the constitutional treaty”. Sorry I can’t post a direct link but the new comment system blocks the message. Happy reading.

  • Brit

    Open Europe the eurosceptic organisation strongly opposed to the Treaty. Hardly an objective source of information?

  • fair_deal


    “an objective source of information?”

    Have you bothered to read it or just dismissed it on spec?

  • fin

    Sammy, the partition tax only fuels (pardon the pun) minimum wage retail jobs, the billion pound spending figures are deceptive Mr Tesco is the real winner.

    As for the less legitimate enterprise zone that will only be resolved with an end to partition, so roll on 2016

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    many established stalwarts of the of the Irish (Southern Territories) economy got their initial investment money from the partition tax – far easier than going before a funny TV panel.

  • Greenflag

    ‘Though it’s evidence of a degree of political incontinence when it comes to matters of Foreign Affairs’s

    A degree ? Have we so soon forgotten David Cameron’s choice of Polish and Czech allies in the EU parliament? Remember those gobshites sitting over there on the very far right past the Christian Democrats and just to the right of Attila the Hun 🙁

    And this is the party and leader that the UUP have vested their future in ?

    As always a wise choice eh ;)?

    It’s not over until it’s over .

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    just imagine what the Plain People of Poland (generally papishes) are saying about the Tories in bed with UUP/Orange Order?

  • All true. All very, very true.

    I just can’t stop hugging myself watching the Tories trying to unimpale their auto-shafting on this one. Particularly so, if Peter Oborne (what’s a nice boy like you doing in a place like this?) had it to rights in last Sunday’s Observer:

    It was David Cameron, in so many ways a pragmatist, who reopened the European wounds. In the late summer of 2005, his campaign for the Tory leadership was faltering. He could gather very little support and the contest looked like turning into a run-off between the two ambitious right-wingers, Liam Fox and David Davis. Suddenly, in a daring move, brilliantly advised by his ally Michael Grove, Cameron outflanked them both by making a promise his rivals felt unable to make… Had Cameron not formed this alliance with Tory Eurosceptics, he would never have become leader.

    My reading of that caused me to wonder:

    1. If any senior politico since Harold Wilson would have been happy to be described a “pragmatist”? Has this been rehabilitated as an acceptable term? What’s the difference between “pragmatism” and a U-turn?
    2. How much irony did Oborne invest in “daring move” and “brilliantly advised”?

  • Slugger O’Toole Admin


    Oborne has it in one.


    Thanks for that. You do have to wonder. Johnson the genuine non liberal showed a remarkable disdain for the chattering classes when he sacked Prof Nutt. Labour needs a lot more of where that came from just to make up the yawning PR gap with the Tories never mind pull back the polling figures.

    I’ve seen the campaigns on the ground. Tories have had money, and time off the ball to consdier where and how to spend it… They are targeting the key demographics they think will win them the vote (grey savers mostly at the moment).

    This is undoubtedly uncomfortable for the Tories, but if Martin has a thousand yard stare, Cameron’s got an old Etonian one to match his.

  • Slugger O’Toole Admin @ 08:07 PM:

    Wow! Recognition indeed!.

    I, too, was taken by the thoughts put up by 6countyprod @ 12:45 PM (I think I know his type, by the way). I didn’t ignore them, but — after a week denied Broadband — am a bit out-of-practice.

    One thing I feel in my water: the difference between the two main parties next May will not be the 13%/74 seat Tory majority that ConHome today claims was somehow hidden in the reporting of the latest YouGov/Torygraph poll.

    At some point the Great British Public will come to realise that:

    * the Treasury (Prop: A. Darling) has played a blinder this last twelvemonth. Moreover, for all the froth, the recent statistics of “negative growth” were an estimate, and recent experience is that all these “estimates” are revised favourably when all figures become available: however, that will no longer be “news”. Arguments about national debt have never caused widespread breaking of sweat — at least in the UK.
    * Tory quibbles about the NHS management disguise a wish to undermine the thing (Cf: Daniel Hannan et al.). Anybody who uses the NHS, with rare exceptions, is more than anxious to defend it against all alternatives.
    * the EU thing will not go away – and that’s more threatening to the Tories than anyone else: after all, on the whole, it’s not a good idea for the main plank of a Party’s economic and foreign policy to be driven by visceral fear of UKIP;
    * unemployment will be a “lagging” indicator, probably well into the middle of the next Parliament (if we’re lucky). However, the under-class don’t vote. The middle-class vote for stability (cue Christopher Logue’s 1966 poem, which I can be persuaded to quote at length on any occasion).
    * the other shoe hasn’t dropped all the way to the floor on MPs’ expenses: mortgage claims are more damaging to Tories than anyone else.
    * if, as my free-sheet keeps telling me, the housing market is reviving, by next Spring the bourgeois may be felling more chirpy.
    * since the main swathe of English local authorities are now Tory-controlled, that identifies where the scandals and revenue-raising wheezes will be. Fancy paying to have your bin emptied?
    * “Lord” Ashcroft;
    * and so much more.

    There are so many reasons why the Labour machine has not yet run its bolt. So long as it’s not “New Labour”, please.

  • Elvis parker

    Does Darling’s ‘blinder’ include increasing govt debt by £4,000 per family just yesterday?

    ‘Anybody who uses the NHS, with rare exceptions, is more than anxious to defend it against all alternatives.’ What you mean if that they are eager to protect their own jobs/fiefdoms – which is not necessaryily the best for the NHS

    Thank God we’re not in the Euro – esp here in NI that has been very useful in softening the blow of Brown’s Recession

    Re;Unemployment I can only assume you are not in the UK or the Republic!!

    MP’s expenses hits DUP, Labour and Conservatives

    If you believe free sheets and estate agents you’ll believe anything

    Tories have controlled large number of councils for years – and deliver good service not scandals sorry

    Most people dont care what Ashcroft does with his money

  • Greenflag


    ‘just imagine what the Plain People of Poland (generally papishes) are saying about the Tories in bed with UUP/Orange Order? ‘

    I’d imagine the plain people of Poland in Poland would be dumbstruck i.e say nothing . The plain people of Poland in ROI or NI will just think that UCUNF does’nt look like an english word and no that’s not a polish joke .

  • Greenflag

    malcolm redfellow ,

    ‘Had Cameron not formed this alliance with Tory Eurosceptics, he would never have become leader.’

    Thanks for that interesting aside . So Fox won’t be Foreign Secretary 😉

    ‘If any senior politico since Harold Wilson would have been happy to be described a “pragmatist”?’

    I don’t believe so -not eh inspiring enough . Iron Lady yes , the Grey Major plausible , ‘New Labour ‘ a market winner but ‘pragmatic ‘ far too dull for those ‘exciting ‘ times .

    ‘Has this been rehabilitated as an acceptable term? ‘

    Could be the new trend . Obama is very into ‘practical ‘ at the nuts and bolts level . And I believe that’s how a plain spoken former East German physicist back in 1989 became the most ‘powerful ‘woman in the world since Maggie Thatcher’s day . The Germans don’t particularly like their politicians to have too much flair these days . They do not wish to be reminded of the time they fell prey to the charms of Herr Popular Charisma himself the one whose name results in being godwined on the net.

    Helmut Kohl the CDU leader whom Angela Merkel ‘knifed ‘ to climb into power used to call her his ‘little girl ‘ . He does’nt do that any more nor does anybody else in the German CDU/CSU least of aspiring contenders for the throne .

    ‘What’s the difference between “pragmatism” and a U-turn?’

    Pragmatism is when a change of mind or policy looks like being or is perceived as an electoral success .

    A U-turn is when politicians fear that a change will lead to the baby being thrown out with the bathwater , the cat being let out of the bag , the chaps no longer being nice to each other, and it all leading to a premature end for political career not to mention a bloody mess;).

    Last evening I reran that episode of Yes Minister -Series 3 iirc ‘A Conflict of Interest’ with Sir Nigel ‘appointing ‘ his Governor of the Bank of England . Some things never change as as we can see from today’s City happenings ?

  • I just wanted to pick up on Cameron’s statement on withdrawal from the EU (NB *not* “unratification” of Lisbon):

    “From a pure bargaining position, what would the Eurocrats reaction would be to the opening of withdrawal negotiation? They’d be facing the potential of Britain’s EU budget contribution disappearing. I think they’d panic.”

    He has his game theory and his theory of the EU completely wrong. If Britain starts threatening to withdraw if it doesn’t get its way, the rest of the EU will be sorry but also a little relieved to see the UK go. The budget contribution disappearing? One can always readjust budgets, and in the end it’s Britain’s money. The real British contribution is to the EU’s political culture; the relatively few British politicians who actually understand Europe consequently punch well above their weight.

  • Sorry, on rereading I realise that it is Dizzy’s plan, not Cameron’s.

  • greagoir o frainclin

    So it turns out to be a load of hot air blowing from Cameron as he egged on Ireland to vote NO. What an auld hypocrite.