David Cameron’s bid to go it alone could open up the debate on the UK’s future on the EU

NOW this is interesting. James Kirkup at the Telegraph broke the news last night that as well as having its manifesto writen by five old Etonians (and one former pupil of St Pauls, and I don’t mean the one in Beechmount!), the Tories will be going into the next election determined not go into coalition.

Bold move by the Cameroons. Though as Mike from Political Betting notes, it is one that could swing both ways.

It would certainly clear the decks for a big fat fight over Europe in the next General election. In which case, part of the gamble would entail betting that Labour as a largely passive fan of Europe has little or no appetite for opening up a strong debate on continued membership of EU.

From an Irish point of view, the real anxiety in the Republic has always been the potential for the UK as a whole to decide to up and leave the EU.

It would harden Ireland’s land border in a way we haven’t since since Maastricht, and in the process it complicate an already difficult problem for constitutional nationalist politicians pre-occupied, to one degree or another, with finding ways to pull the island together.

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  • Naughton

    There are strange parallels between the Scottish Nationalists and the Conservatives over membership of the UK and EU. It could be argued that each union, while uncomfortable, has huge economic benefits and that they are so closely integrated into the UK and EU that actual separation isn’t a realistic option.

    Instead anger and prejudice overrule a dispationate appraisials of the benefits and weaknesses. In both cases it is likely to end up in resentful acceptance of the status quo.

  • iluvni

    Given the Conservatives, Labour and Libs are all on the same page over remaining within the EU, where’s the fight?

    The Tory ‘eurosceptics’ put their careers above principle and will remain within the fold, hiding being the renegotiation deceit.

  • Charles_Gould

    Tories haven’t won an election since 1992. They’re taking a gamble.

  • Gopher

    Objectively speaking it makes perfect sense, the Conservatives have so far been proved right on the economy much to the chagrin of every other political party and it could be argued their coalition partners have been a brake on measures that would have made the recovery stronger. The liberal refusal to enact electoral reform hurts the conservatives. Strike while the iron is hot and keep striking.

    As for Europe if the rest of the nations dont want a counterweight to Germany don’t enact reform. Life is about choices they have one.

  • Count Eric Bisto von Granules

    The eurosceptic english centre withdrawing from the eu will only push the pro euro celtic fringe further away, leading to the complete breakup of the UK as fiscal realities will allow less transfers from the centre thus widening the wealth differences.

    On our own island, the unionists will need to decide the point where the EU benefits outweigh their commitment to London. If the Scottish referendum is a no and the tories bring the UK out of the EU, you will see a rerun within 10 years with a yes vote.

    From the republics point of view, there is much gnashing of teeth about a UK withdrawal but it is likely this will be offset by bilateral trade agreeements with both the UK and EU acting as equal counter balances and as pointed out above is likely to push northern ireland more towards the republic rather than harden the borders. The genie is out of the bottle and internationalism and the people will not allow borders to affect their lives.

  • megatron

    I just dont see a hardening of the land border being realistic (as someone who crosses it twice a day maybe I am being too optimistic).

    In my experience rules are always changed if neccessary. Special exceptions etc. I am not worried (plus they cant start blowing up / blocking all the back roads again – can they!?)

  • IJP


    Nail hit on head there.

    In fact, my theory is that about half of those who vote Conservative in England are, in effect, English Nationalists.

    That this half is not available in Scotland and Wales explains why they only get the “pure Conservative” vote there: noting that some Scottish Nationalists are actually centre-right by any reasonable definition.

    Thus the overall UK Conservative approach to Europe is a tangle between the more business-minded (frankly sensible) approach on one hand, and the more English-Nationalist approach on the other.

  • Charles_Gould

    Labour – originally the anti-EU party – must be careful not to be pro-EU by default.

    The rules of the EU are very capitalist. Labour has good reason to want powers back too. To protect workers rights, and promote state interventions (often illegal under EU law).

  • socaire

    I see that our southern 26 counties are panicking slightly about the new £10 tax on heavy lorries which enter UK landspace and which is due to come in in April. Will affect Donegall hauliers. Also, off piste. A new Homebrew shop has been opened in New Smithfield. You know! The recession and all.

  • OneNI

    Sinn Fein’s Barry McElduff actually said the following about the Truck levy:
    “As with airport tax and corporation tax, this is just another revenue raising measure for the British Exchequer that gives no return or benefit to the economy of the north of Ireland – in fact they inhibit growth and investment.”

    Complete economic illiterate.
    Or are SF standing on a ticket of Abolishing Corporation Tax!!

  • Gopher

    You have to praise the courage of Cameron’s conviction that he is prepared to go into coalition rather than sit hamstrung in coalition. The contrast with our seventies politburo is striking. Stormont needs reform whether it’s 2/3 seats to form a government or mandatory coalition between the two largest parties the voters need to be able to exercise the right of voting people out. This death spiral in this absence of turnout just suits the cult and the fundies.

  • Charles_Gould


    Can the legislation for powersharing/opposition be changed at Stormont, or does it require Westminster?

  • OneNI

    Likewise you have to praise Cameron for having the courage of his convictions over Scotland – because if he loses the next General it will be because of the number of Labour seats in Scotland. Scottish independance would be to Cameron’s personal advantage

  • Gopher

    Charles I have no idea how it can be changed but the farce has to stop the assembly has to be made accountable to the electorate. It’s no use waiting for the SDLP, UUP and Alliance to grow a set

    Scotland are 1/5 on to remain in the union that’s better than you get in the bank and safer too!