Conservative Diary

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There are very good reasons to vote Conservative (but Europe isn't such a good one anymore)

Picture 7 I can't pretend I'm enthusiastic about what David Cameron has announced this afternoon. No referendum of any kind. Given that Lisbon is a self-amending Treaty, full of ratchet clauses, the promise of future referenda on transfers of power is a bit like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted. There were no meaningful threats to Europe if there is no serious willingness from other EU leaders to renegotiate. If David Cameron had put a big Eurosceptic beast in charge of renegotiations - someone like John Redwood or David Davis - I would have been more reassured. But that did not happen either.

David Cameron gives every impression of wanting to kick the European issue into the long grass so that he can get on with other things. Those other things are incredibly important. They include Michael Gove's revolutionary schools reforms. Iain Duncan Smith's compassionate conservatism. Andrew Mitchell's reforms to overseas aid. George Osborne's ambition to cut corporation tax. Chris Grayling's plans to elect police chiefs. Dominic Grieve's mission to restore Britain's civil liberties. And, of course, the number one priority to reduce Gordon Brown's budget deficit. There is enough in all of the Conservative programme to make me enthusiastic about David Cameron becoming Prime Minister.  After today, however, I am far from convinced that Britain's relationship with Europe will be fundamentally different after five years of a Conservative government.

I've written a lot more along these lines at Comment is free.

Disappointed as I am, I'm going to take a vow of silence on Europe for the next few weeks. Getting rid of Labour and implementing all those other worthwhile policies must now take absolute precedence.

Tim Montgomerie

6.15pm: The Spectator's Fraser Nelson has reached similar conclusions: "The package [Cameron] laid out today will scare precisely no one in Brussels. William Hague’s ‘European Policy Committee’ sounds like the sound of an issue being kicked into the long grass."


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