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If a referendum on the Lords, why not one on the EU?

By Paul Goodman
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Nick Clegg may be less opposed to a referendum on the future of the Lords than he's letting on, because it's possible - even probable - that any such poll would support a part or wholly elected upper chamber.  But he has to be seen to be arguing his corner.

David Cameron clearly wants the whole business to go away, suspects that it won't, and didn't rule a referendum out this morning because he wants to keep his options open.

But with a referendum on AV having already taken place and a series of polls on City Mayors about to do so - and don't forget the looming decision on Scotland's future - the concession of yet another one would raise once again a referendum on our relationship with the EU.

The Prime Minister won't want one, not least because it would divide his party.  Ed Miliband could thus put him on the spot by supporting an in-out poll, as Allegra Stratton has hinted.

It wouldn't be an easy decision for Miliband, since his party's older Euro-enthusiasts might denounce the move.  But I think we are inching nearer a referendum of some kind, given the Euro-crisis, the consequent drive for further EU integration - and the hostile reaction of Conservative MPs to both.

The pressure for a commitment to a referendum of some kind in the next Conservative manifesto will grow during this Parliament - especially if the People's Pledge polls keep achieving respectable turnouts.


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