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David Davis urges Cameron to hold referendum on Europe within three months of coming to power

DDavisReferendumUp until now no big beast within the Conservative Party had stood up to demand some sort of new referendum pledge from David Cameron. That changes this morning with David Davis calling on the Tory leadership to hold a 'mandate referendum' even though the former Shadow Home Secretary agrees with Mr Cameron that there's no point in having a vote on the now ratified Lisbon Treaty.

Mr Davis - the man most trusted by the Tory grassroots to lead Britain's negotiations in Europe - makes his case in the Daily Mail:

"Referendums terrify the European Commission and the political elites who run Europe. They are clear statements of the popular will. They force issues to be stated in clear and unambiguous terms. They are impossible to ignore. That is why the European reaction to referendums is to make concessions. Look at the history. After Ireland's first rejection of the Lisbon Treaty, the European Council conceded legally binding protocols pledging to keep the treaty out of taxation policy, family and social issues (such as the right to life, abortion and euthanasia), and Ireland's traditional military neutrality. Denmark has obtained similar opt-outs after a referendum, and the defeat in the French and Dutch referendums led to the rewrite of the original European Constitution."

Mr Davis then goes on to list the range of powers that should be restored to Britain:

"The sort of things we might include are: recovering control over our criminal justice, asylum and immigration policies; a robust opt-out of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights; serious exemptions to the seemingly endless flood of European regulations which cost the UK economy billions of pounds each year; a recovery of our rights to negotiate on trade; exemption from European interference into trade in services and foreign direct investment rules; and an exemption from any restrictions on our foreign policy."

He calls for this 'mandate-to-negotiate referendum' to be "the first piece of legislation in the new parliament, and should be held within three months of the election."

ConHome's poll of grassroots members shows that most agree with David Davis. We found that two-thirds of Tory members want some sort of referendum.

Tim Montgomerie


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