Who deserves most credit for today's Cameron speech?
By Tim Montgomerie
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Who deserves most praise for achieving today's commitment to hold an In/Out referendum and for the party's new policy towards Europe? There are a good number of candidates.
- Top of my list would be the brave 81 rebels who, less than 18 months ago, voted for a referendum. Each one of them have been vindicated. Let's pay particular credit to David Nuttall MP who secured the debate in the first place and also Peter Bone and Philip Hollobone who from their position on the backbench business committee agreed to Nuttall's request.
- Let's acknowledge Dan Hannan and Douglas Carswell who for a good many years have been advocating an In/Out choice and through their involvement in the Peoples' Pledge helped to put the issue on the agenda.
- For the speeches by Liam Fox and David Davis and the interventions from Mark Pritchard, Owen Paterson and Michael Gove that put the idea of an In/Out vote and of even leaving the EU on to the Tory agenda.
- A special mention to Andrea Leadsom, Chris Heaton-Harris, George Eustice and all of the Fresh Start MPs who have worked so hard to set out the kind of thinking on renegotiations that mean the party leadership isn't starting with a blank sheet of paper.
- To Martin Callanan MEP and the ECR which have formed an alliance across Europe that will help deliver public and political support for Cameron's vision of Europe.
- The Express newspaper for petitioning on this issue and being the only national paper to consisently campaign for an In/out vote.
- And, finally, to Nigel Farage and UKIP. Cameron may not have acted today if they hadn't posed such a threat. Credit where credit's due but Mr Farage's reaction has been very disappointing today - if unsurprising. Why don't UKIP celebrate this commitment? They should certainly seek proper reassurances from Cameron on whether he's going to deliver an In/Out vote but it would be maddeningly counterproductive for him and UKIP to split Britain's pro-referendum vote at the next election and let the Anti Peoples' Pledge candidate - one Ed Miliband - into Number 10 by the back door.
Finally, of course, the PM himself. It's easy for backbenchers, pundits and bloggers to call for this, that and the other. In a brilliant post earlier Paul Goodman noted the risk-strewn path Mr Cameron has embarked upon. Cameron has now promised much more on Europe than any previous Tory leader. He now has to deliver. I'm sure he will.
I've undoubtedly forgotten key people but that's what the thread below is useful for...