As my colleague Lee Rotherham documents, the prospect of a new IGC on the Lisbon Treaty offer David Cameron a potentially game-changing opportunity, to move the polls from hung Parliament territory towards a clear Conservative majority.
Due to various procedural changes, the Lisbon Treaty is going to have to be ratified by Parliament yet again after the General Election. David Cameron has always been explicit that had he been Prime Minister when the Treaty came forward for ratification, he would have held a referendum. Until now that has simply been a hypothetical situation – but now it is set to become a reality.
If, as the EU Commission intends, an Inter-Governmental Conference on 17th/18th June agrees a new version of the Lisbon Treaty, it will have to be put before Parliament. Will David Cameron remain true to his pledges on the topic and seize this opportunity by pledging to hold a referendum in that circumstance?
As well as being the right thing to do, a referendum pledge now could be dynamite in the last few days of the election. Clegg and Brown would be put on the spot, challenged to make such a pledge themselves. If they did, then it would be good for Britain, we’d get the Lisbon referendum we were all promised and Cameron would have shown himself to be a leader. If they did not, then Cameron would be able to head into the election as only man willing to trust the people by holding the long-desired referendum.
This is a golden opportunity for the Conservatives to do the right thing by Britain and to do themselves a favour. David Cameron should grab it with both hands.