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"The Tory leadership will hate all of this. William Hague is known to regard the European issue as a ticking bomb at the heart of the party. "

The problem with leaving a ticking bomb is that eventually it will stop ticking and then ...

Tick tock,when a general election is moved so will the bomb------to the marginals...unless...

What should the Tories do next on Europe?


Debate over.

What would have happened in the EU debate if there had been no whips?
A long time ago, constitiuencies sent MPs to Parliament to represent the view of constituencies there. Why not revert to that; instead of having national referendums, why not send MPs back to their constituencies to take soundings and then vote accordingly in the House?

If they can connect the European Union to crime committed in the UK by EU citizens and the lack of controls for immigration, people will start understanding why Europe is at the heart of crime and immigration - which are number one and two in the list of issues that voters care about.

Perversely, by playing the issue solely for political gain rather than focusing on the substance of the treaty the leadership have got less political gain than if they had attacked the government for the content of the treaty as well as the broken promise.

The reason why 'Europe' as an issue rates so low is because it is not widely known amongst the political class, let alone among the general public, just how pervasive the EU is. It affects almost every aspect of domestic policy and is increasingly intruding on foreign affairs as well.

What the leadership has to do is explain sensibly and moderately how the EU blocks us from doing what we want to do and how, after the next election, we will negotiate an agreement whereby those countries who want to carry on with integration can without the Uk acting as a constant drag, while we regain sovereignty over key areas.

As Richard says above, ticking bombs eventually go off. Unless the leadership has the courage to really think about and address this issue BEFORE the next General Election then the bomb will go off within a year of a new Tory government. The resulting carnage will make Maastricht look like a picnic.

The leadership has to grasp the nettle, if they do they will find the sting isn't nearly as bad as they fear and that the public will respond to a positive campaign about creating a relationship with our EU partners which is in our and their best interests.

Bad though it is – We should never give in !
What we opponents of the EU Superstate concept have failed to do is to get across to Joe Public how the EU affects all the day to day, bread and butter issues that he cares about. That includes Local Government. The May elections should be used to connect local labour candidates with the Labour MP's ( plus Lib Dem and Tory) in their areas who have betrayed democracy. Names, dates and culpability. Local council candidates should be pressed on where they stand on either a Referendum or a Renegotiation. There are several issues that chime locally - and that are EU driven:
• Post Office closures are made inevitable because of EU regulation
• Drain on local services caused by unfettered EU Immigration.
• Over complicated Waste and Recycling methods caused by EU targets
• Ever increasing size of lorries on our roads caused by EU Transport Policy
And many, many, more.

With a co-ordinated campaign the up coming Local Elections could be forced to focus on the negative overall impact of EU membership as it works currently and increase the understanding of a need for a fundamental restructure.
This argument will only be won if it focuses on EU impact at the local level.

If it is a ticking time bomb all that has to happen is for UKIP to get their act together and it will explode - assuming DC and Hague just leave it sitting in the Shadow Cabinet room.

The reason "Europe" rates low in voters' concerns is simply that the EU dimension in many of what they dislike is never pointed out, (eg a letter today urges the removal of VAT from some worthy cause. We can't - the EU - - -Closing post offices - EU regulations. immigration, deportations - EU rules us)
The party - largely eurosceptic - has not fought a good battle but it can be rectified if Cameron now adequately lives up to his phrase "We will not let it rest there."

He must promise a referendum on reforms to our membership of the EU which he can brandish in Brussels with specific demands - "OR ELSE - - -"

There is actually a bigger issue here altogether. The public are tired of power being drawn away from their communities and feel. In fact politicians across the divide share the same frustrations about getting things done locally. The system is breaking and the public are getting restless. The fcous of the media on some of the MPs that ahev abused their exepenses has fed this unrest. We as a party need to look hard at how democracy should be run so at empower the people. The EU is the antipathy of that approach and we need to build this into a bigger argument that will resonate with the public. If we beleive in localism and people do warm to that, then our relationship with the EU has to be renegotiated alongside changes to our own system.

Cameron needs to stand in front of the cameras today and say:

"Yesterday the house of commons voted against granting the people a referendum on the EU Treaty. Polls suggest that almost 90% of the voting population wanted that referendum. Today I commit the Conservative party to fulfilling the nations’ wishes by promising a referendum when we form the next government."

It will be messy, but it is what the people want. It will also guarantee election victory.

"At the moment the bomb is stable, his thinking goes, and so long as he and Cameron don't move the bomb it is unlikely to go off."

If the Tory leadership takes this line, why should I not go and vote and campaign for UKIP?

Editor, I disagree, Brown does not "wakes up to terrible headlines" in the Daily Mail.

The Mail does not attack him by name, it actually attacks the Tories, which is unbelieveable but true.

Brown's image has not been damaged by the Mail.

Dacre's staff have pulled a fast one.

This battle is lost ... but not the war

The Lords may still vote in favour of a referendum. Key will be the 197 Crossbench Lords. Why not write a letter to one or several or all of them?
The list of crossbench MPs can be found at http://www.parliament.uk/directories/house_of_lords_information_office/crossbench_members.cfm
The address to wrtie to is House of Lords, London SW1A 0PW
You can find out how to address them at http://www.parliament.uk/about/how/members/lords_contact/address.cfm
JP Floru

Change the MP in charge of candidate selection!

A two question referendum on (1) EU membership, and (2) substantial repatriation of powers, including a reserved powers constitution that guarantees these powers as British in perpetuity.

Powers that should be returned exclusively to the UK must include:

Immigration and Asylum
Workers' rights.

We'd also want legislation to tightly regulate and specifically limit the EU's ability to interfere in:

Foreign and security policy
Justice and home affairs.

Defence should remain with NATO.

Ideally, we'd also campaign to have the commission abolished, and for the council to take over its day-to-day activities.

HF @ 0953

I agree the Mail doesn't really attack Brown (Clegg gets the biggest kicking), but I just read it and I couldn't see any attacks on the Conservatives. Although it's disappointing that they don't give us the credit we deserve for being the only party to stick to our promise.

@JP Floru

Hooray! I know somebody to vote for on my Party List ballot.

Leave to PPP and sack the MEP's who are UK sceptic ( ie pro-EU super state ).

Of course Gordon Brown is playing politics with this and will try to scare people about leaving the EU, but that's the sort of moral coward he is. We need courage.

John Maples MP, in charge of Candiadtes, failed to vote, i.e. abstained with Ian Taylor, for the main Conservative amendment proposing a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. See http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2008/03/06/neuvote506.xml&page=3.

Maples has declared that supporting Better Off Out is incompatible with being a Conservative candidate because it is not party policy. Yet Maples failed to support the party's key policy on Europe. He should resign or be sacked immediately. His hypocrisy is nauseating.

A "hare" approach is needed on this. As apparently only 1% of the electorate rate the EU as an important issue there will be no downside to having withdrawal as party policy. A simple step which will, finally, allow our party to put Ted Heath's malign legacy behind us.

The ordinary person in the street may not know the difference between the rejected constitution and the Treaty. To be honest I have to confess that I don’t. I am educated enough to research and find out the difference, but a mixture of apathy and ambivalence means that I probably won’t. So along with the rest of the public at large I have something in common.

I suspect the other thing that I have in common with other ordinary members of the public is the absolute feeling of helplessness in the face of such abuses of power by our political elite. There is something very profound happening here. As members of the public we have been denied a voice for years so what happened last night was just an extension of that process and really shouldn’t have surprised us. But maybe this is an issue that will get people thinking not so much about Europe, but about the process of how we are now governed in general.

As each year goes by we see more of our rights, freedoms and customs stripped away by an out of control government who worship at the alter of political correctness, and blame others when things go wrong. What I want to see is the Conservative Party standing up for the little guy against bullying, intimidating politicians. If somehow the leadership could isolate the process from the issue and connect with voters in that way then they would have cracked it.

But, Paul Oakley, wouldbe used by the Labour party to make us look reactionary, unpredictable and extreme - something which I am sure features fairly high up any list of voters' important "negatives".

In any event, the impact on free trade and free movement of withdrawal would be fairly large. Okay, it would be far from a doomsday scenario, but it would still be a retrogressive step. Think about all our financial services businesses which may have to consider visas to allow their workers to move to/stay in Paris or Frankfurt for any period.

The sensible thing is to push for a new but positive view of Britain's role and a key renegotiation which says whilst we don't want to go home we have gone beyond our destination on this "train" and at least want to get off and change platforms.

I would like to see more debate about "in Europe, but run by Europe" really means, rather than knee jeek? In my view the Conservatives are the only game in town if we are to avoid this dangerous drift of losss of democratic control of power, so its vital to have a clearer understanding of the issues.

I think it boils dowm to the a trade off judgement in the cost benefits of a good relationship with the Franco-German axis and how far we we can push them? We won't actually know the answer to this until we have tried, but also are a lot clearer on what we actually want/really matters and what is actually possible within the existing EU framework. I don't think good relations with the Franco-German axis is woth that much to us, so we have a strong bargaining position. When pushed I suspect the core EU will concede a multi-tier construct - de facto already but only so far conceded as temporary.

While EU membership enables/facilitates what most of us think are bad policies here in Britain, I'm not convinced its the fundamental driver. A lot of these policies are made in Britain by the Nulab/Lib Dem political class who see the EU as their vehicle/political cover for implementation. I still think its in our power to stop them if we really want to - from metric matyr prosecutions, to effective border controls, to rubbish collection and so on. These are problems ultimately made in Britain because there isn't (or wasn't) domestic political consensus on them/within the conservatives/progressive right -and there still isn't on for example the whole global warming issue.

At heart the Brussels brigade is more interested in "gloire" money and status (see the drivel on their "think tanks") than substance and delivery. Their ritual is an end in itself for them - irritating though that is. For example, as Stuart and Cash argue, I think it would be perfectly possible to block the ECJ by primacy laws. The EU would probably also concede net budget payments and we could start withholding those too if not signed off by the auditors, and so on.

Leaving aside the intellectual insufferability of the europhile people, practically I think there are only two fundamental EU problems we can't deal with, provided we know what we actually want, there is internal British political will, and we are prepared to face down the Franco-German axis. - These are (1) the whole construct of VAT which is a very inefficient tax and leads to mass fraud/criminality (2) the size of the net budget contribution.

Why bother the BOO people might say - answer practical policies. Votes can be lost if people believe the scare tactics of lost jobs. But how many votes will be lost on a platform of withholding budget contributions without proper audit?

The bomb will go off at Birmingham in October. The referendum campaign will be dead and the Conservatives will be faced with a choice of supporting the EU with its constitution or getting out. Members will also realise that they are stuck with EUphile MEPs like James Elles and candidates like Claire Whelan. That will be John Maple's true legacy as Vice-Chairman for Candidates.

The Conservatives need to identify the powers given over to the EU which blocks them from doing things for the electorate. The refrain should be, 'Yes we would like to do that , but Labour and the Libdems have signed that power to Brussels and unfortunately we can't currently do anything in response to these demands'.

In addition the Conservatives need to identify a specific policy area to repatriate, like fishing policy, and run a very propagandist policy to do that, and when they have repatriated that policy, go onto the next area, and like the way the EU project has been built, the Conservatives need to unpick it, salami slice by salami slice.

Edward - you are certainly correct to assume that there would be some name-calling if withdrawal was party policy. This has been the typical two-fold approach of the federasts over the last 15 years or so: a) insult the opponent; b) insult their intelligence by saying that they do not understand the project.

I also agree with your second point about the large impact on free trade and free movement. On balance, this would be heavily to our benefit as a trading nation within the EEA and the world at large as the Cardiff Business School study showed. You may be right on visas but this is de minimis.

Finally, (re)negotiation was mooted before in 1970-72 and 1974-75. It failed. John Major's Maastricht opt-outs have disappeared (and please - don't mention the Euro. We are still required to comply with the EMC convergence criteria). Blair gave away our rebate. Brown's "red lines" will be overturned by the ECJ. The only real options are enthusiast involvement or Better Off Out.

We would need a new Treaty to repatriate powers. Only one country needs to oppose it, even as small as Malta, and that the Treaty would be dead.

The choice is either IN the EU Super-State or OUT. That is the question that Con Homers should be put to Euro-candidates before they fill in their ballot papers.

I'm not sure that I agree with the statement that only 1% of the electorate think EU matters are important. Firstly, I don't think the pollsters are asking the right questions; and secondly I get the feeling that there is a rising tide of awareness and therefore scepticism about the EU within the general public. Ask any small business person what they think, and you get a very strong reaction indeed.

But, in any case, David Cameron should not be developing policy solely on those matters which have penetrated the consciousness of most voters, but those matters which are genuinely of vital importance to the long term democracy and prosperity of this country - and then raising awareness of those issues in the minds of the electorate.

He should not be sitting and waiting for focus groups to concentrate their minds, because this leads to anodyne politics and peicemeal destruction of our democracy. In any case, he has access to a large and intelligent focus group, with ideas of their own and who are not going to be pushed around by moderators who are receiving instructions from higher authority. That focus group is called the Conservative Party. Time he started to listen to it.

Yesterday's vote on the Lisbon Treaty was important because it showed that only three Conservative MPs voted against having a referendum. At long last, Ken Clarke is begining to sound isolated on this issue. With every week that passes, more and more bad press about the corruption and undemocratic processes of the EU is leaking into the general public consciousness. Splitting the party on this issue is going to become less likely with time. Indeed, there is a risk that Ken Clarke and John Gummer actually lose their seats at the next election because of their current stance. Certainly, their majorities would be reduced.

So, it really is time that DC got his act together and set up another policy study and attacked this issue properly. That policy study should be headed by William Hague.

The Constitution/Lisbon could still fail in the Lords, and Stuart Wheeler's legal challenge may yet bear fruit. The fat lady is still in the green room.

"The choice is either IN the EU Super-State or OUT."


You must understand that you hurt your own cause when you say that.

We have to establish what the british people want and then let them decide.

Do they want us to control our own boarders? Yes? Not possible in the EU.

Do they want free trade? Yes? That is possible outside the eu.

Do they want to drive with headlights on? Do they want everyone under 30 to sit in a booster seat?
Do they want a european foreign policy?
Do they want harmonisation of justice, policing and home affairs?

If you ask these questions then the people understand and you get the answer you want.

When you say SUPERSTATE this, BETTER OFF OUT that you look like fruitcakes and get the answer we don't want.

I know I'm being cynical about politics but if memory serves, UKIP did a poll showing a majority would vote to leave the eu if it meant taking control of immigration. How many other polls have shown a majority in favour of succession? NONE. Why? Because people are unaware what power the eu has and what would change if we left.

There is a slender possibility that the referendum defeat will be reversed by the Lords, in which case it would be interesting to see whether Brown would risk using the Parliament Act. To do so would cause enormous public anger and probably rule out any (remaining) chance of a Labour victory at the next general election.

Whilst the overwhelming majority of the general public believe that there should have been a referendum and that the Government has behaved shabbily and dishonestly,the current anger and resentment of many will eventually cool.
It is therefore now time to move on and to concentrate on the details and effects of the Lisbon Treaty itself.

So far, both Cameron and Hague have been noticably reluctant to engage, with either the opposition or the public, upon the nitty gritty of the real implications of this treaty. Consequently, the likes of Miliband and MacShane have been allowed free reign to spread lies and disinformation, and many of the people are confused.

Certainly, the Treaty is complicated, indeed, deliberately so. However, it should not be beyond the ability of a competent opposition to highlight the most important details and to refute the Government's deliberate deceptions.

If Cameron and Hague are not prepared to oppose the Con/Treaty unreservedly, as a key plank of Conservative policy, in the hope of sidelining Europe as an electoral issue, then not only will they lose the next election, but deserve to do so.

Paul: where we disagree is on whether renegotiation would actually work. You say it's been mooted before, but that's not an actual renegotiation. I say we don't know till we try, and it's pointless throwing away the possibility until we are sure it will fail.

The key is how hardball will we play (asking to discuss renegotiation and withholding payments/refusing to enact certain EU legislation if we don't get it?), and how much would the country take if we were in power.

Ah. Of course. We need to get in power first.

...and Dale, you're spot on.

"They look at polls showing that Europe is the most important issue to only 1% of voters and wish the issue would go away."

If that be right, how come some 36% of those on the public electoral register took the trouble to return their ballots in the IWAR referenda in ten constituencies across the land?

Why should that turnout have been radically different if the exercise had been conducted nationally?

It clearly mattered enough to them. In the light of that evidence, it would seem arrogant in the extreme to dismiss its importance to the electorate.

"If the Eurosceptics are to succeed they need to connect the European issue with the bread and butter issues of economic competitiveness, immigration and crime that matter most to the British people. Until that happens Britain will continue to see a drift of powers across the English Channel."

That is entirely right, as far as it goes, but the Brussels Diktat reaches deep into areas of British life far more extensive than "economic competitiveness, immigration and crime" over which which our government and Parliament will have no say or influence to speak of.

The EU will soon start to exercise the vast powers which this Treaty has allowed it to accrete and we shall then see just how impotent the occupants of the Palace of Westminster have become. Then such as EU Referendum and those of us who follow in Richard North's wake will continue to point out the extent to which we are both 'in Europe and run by Europe'.

Europe surely is a timebomb ticking away, not because Eurosceptics make it so but because of what the EU is about to become relative to the UK, thanks to the likes of Blair, Brown and Clegg.

As the issue will not go away, the leadership must address it, however much they hate it. And to duck the issue of the inimical nature of the Treaty of Lisbon and the position of primacy over the UK that the EU will then occupy when they have a chance to do something about it (whether that be to commence a renegotiation of our relationship with the EU or to hold a post-ratification referendum) will be as dishonourable and as dishonest as anything done by Labour or the Lib 'Dems'.

So, we need to know, once the business of ratification is done, what was meant by the promise not to let matters rest there.

On a final note, does not the defiance of both the party leadership and of the sentiment of the party as a whole reveal just how bizarre was the notion that Ken Clarke could ever have been the leader of the conservative party?

Only the politically naive would hold that the policy should be to have a referendum on a two year old treaty. So it's not surprising to see this site push for it.

If you'd read what we had actually written David we said that we largely agreed with Andrew Lilico's blog that a post-ratification referendum on the Lisbon Treaty was not advisable but that a wider negotiation was probably needed.

Our policy should be to propose a Royal Commission on the future of Europe. This will satisfy the once bitten twice shy Mr. Hague. It will allow us to raise the profile of the EU and set out the case for BOO on which we can then have a referendum whilst we are in government.
We would go into the election in 2009 with a policy to consider the benefits of the EU which would satisfy even a europhobe like me and which properly handled provides a road map for withdrawal but which the federasts would have great difficulty attacking.

A Referendum on membership of the EU could be forced through parliament with Conservative backing, the DUP and UUP would vote for it, so would many Labour MPs and if they kept their commitment so would the Liberal Democrats - if they didn't then Nick Clegg would be finished and the Liberal Democrats would be virtually wiped out at the next General Election and in a straightforward referendum on EU membership the population would have a chance to reject the Maastricht Treaty, Amsterdam Treaty and Lisbon Treaty by coming out - I think there would be a good prospect of the population of the UK voting for withdrawal.

Excellent suggestion from Jonathan. Agree also with Dale's approach. The two can certainly operate in tandem very nicely

IMHO the probelm is not Europe per se, the free trade and freedom of movement is something I certainly appreciate and take advantage of. I can remember the hastle of having to get a French and German Visa to travel years ago.

What is the problem is government by edict from a bunch of unelected, failed and tainted ex parliamentarians, all of whom has some questions about their failings before being given a sincecure in Brussels.

The question should be

Are you in Favor of continuing as part of an ever increasingly federalist Europe?

Are you in Favor of Leaving the EU but remaining a part of the EFTA (ie like some of the scandanavian countries and Switzerland)

Would you prefer to Leave Europe alltogether.

So, it's clear to me that, at the very least, this party is united behind the need for large-scale repatriation of powers, the reaffirmation of parliamentary sovereignty, and the retention of a withdrawal "nuclear option" to force the EU's hand.

Obtaining those repatriations is left as an exercise to the reader.

As apparently only 1% of the electorate rate the EU as an important issue there will be no downside to having withdrawal as party policy.

I think you'll find Labour tried that in 1983 and lost rather heavily.

Did anyone on here take the opportunity to get out of Europe and vote Labour in 1983?

No? I thought not. Well, you had your chance. After that drubbing, no serious political party in this country is going to offer withdrawal.

What should the Tories do next on Europe? Lie down in a dark room, calm down and shut up about it for a bit might be best all round.

We need to turn next year's elections into a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.

The Lib Dems probably have not thought this through, but the challlenge they are looking at next year is that they will have to both defend the institutions of the EU whilst saying that they want to given the people the opportunity get out - which implicitly accepts the criticisms made of the EU.

By chasing those flaky ex Lib Dems who've gone UKIP in madness and despair the Lib Dems have become an even more incoherent shambles.

Our course as Conservatives is set towards greater rights for individual states within the EU - a looser confederation not far removed from a free trade area with some common rules for fair play. By pulling out the EPP and setting up shop elsewhere that is our pitch.

We need to define this in greater and more convincing detail to defuse that bomb of Mr Hagues. Bill Cash and Ken Clarke could yet come to agree if we set our minds to the task. But if they don't, will it really matter? They are both over the hill.

One thing the Conservatives must do is question the value of anything Labour say from here on, in doing so remind people of their broken promise to hold a referendum.

Eg Jacqui Smith today is giving undertakings about their ID Cards, so the first things the Conservatives should say is.... 'In light of their broken promise , what guarantees is the Minister giving to make us believe she will hold to her word?’.

Just as sleaze was the slow death of Major's Government, the Conservatives can make this the albatross around Labour's neck, questioning their integrity in everything they do and say, and as I say remind people of their broken promise.

Have Cameron or Hague made a statement yet?

Iain,I think you're right.Every single opportunity we have we should question the integrity of the Lib Dems and Labour.I don't think many people will be suprised by the dishonesty of most Labour MPs,they did after all generally supinely support Blair for many years but the Lib Dems who are after erroniously seen as a nice party should be made to suffer.

Am I missing something here. Why would it cause problems for us to hold a post-ratification treaty? Because it'll get in the way of the plans of the other countries? Huh? What? So? Since when have we decided the agenda of this country based on how happy it leaves the French and Italian political establishment?

In any case, I agree with Andrew Lillico that Lisbon is not the main issue. What we need is a major renegotiation of our relationship with Brussels, to truly fit in with the avowed EU principle of subsidiarity. Devolution of power to counties, communities, families and individuals is the way forward: centralisation of power in Whitehall, let alone Brussels, is returning to a flawed past.

If all Tories are Eurosceptic,why isn't it Tory Party policy to withdraw from Europe? Why are 4 out of 5 CEO's of FTSE 250 companies very keen on staying in? Would it change anybody here's mind if Norway and Switzerland joined the EU (as they are very likely to do within the next 5-10 years)?
Does the fact that the US is very keen that we stay in, and that our value to the US as an ally would plummet if we left have any bearing on your thinking on the matter? Could it be that the sort of Tories who write entries in Blogs have a very diferent perspective to the Tories who have to take the major decisions in the real world?

I'm not being akward, I'm genuinely curious.

Dear Violet Elizabeth Bott, I wouldn't worry you little head about serious questions like this.Stick to playing with your dolls.
Where did you read about Norway and Switzerland? Every poll I've seen on the subject suggests precisely the opposite.

Well I know what I am going to go, I'm going to find that ticking bomb and hit it with a shovel.

It will be creative destruction after all...

Oh I know the current polls. I also know that the political class in both countries is pretty determined to get their nations to join. The medium-term perspective, as they put it.

Anyway, would it affect your view if they DID join? And as such an authority on serious questions, perhaps you could answer the ones I've put.

Posted by: Malcolm Dunn | March 06, 2008 at 17:44:
Dear Violet Elizabeth Bott, I wouldn't worry you little head about serious questions like this.Stick to playing with your dolls.

Editor - is this the level of debate we've descended to?


A couple of points raised here that could do with replies.

As someone who works extensively in Europe both inside and outside the EU I have to say that membership of the EU makes absolutely no difference to ease of travel. As has been pointed out, Norway is not in the EU and as a Briton I spend more than half the year working there. As a result I have a residents permit which took one photograph and half an hour at a police station to sort out. Not exactly onerous and it cost nothing.

What Norway does insist on (and what I think is a very good idea) is that if you intend living there you have to take 300 hours of compulsory Norwegian language lessons. A policy that would greatly benefit the UK but which would be forbidden due to our membership of the EU.

Secondly, there is absolutely no prospect of Norway joining the EU in the forseeable future. Opposition has hardened dramatically over the last few years and there are plenty of people helping to remind the Norwegians of exactly how damaging membership would be for them. No parties in Norway currently have any plans for proposing a referendum whoever is in power. The most Europhile of the parties (Ap) recently said that there was no prospect of even proposing a referendum in this Parliament or the next.

VE Bott, 4 out 5 CEOS of FTSE 250 companies are keen on staying in partly because EU regulations and directives are a boon to big companies - at the expense of smaller competitors. The cost of compliance with all manner of directives and regulations gives a competitive boost to large corporations, because they are the only ones who can comfortably afford the costs of compliance and still have revenue left over for advertising and business expansion.

The EU is the most heavily regulated economic zone in the world. Courtesy of Booker & North, the Commissions own 2004 annual report on ‘Competitiveness’ blamed ‘red-tape’ for much of Europe’s recent “sub-optimal economic performance.” The report claimed that by adopting a lighter regulatory regime as practiced in the U.S. the EU could raise its overall GDP by a staggering 12 percent. (http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/enterprise_policy/competitiveness/doc/comprep_2004_en.pdf).

The affects on the British economy as a whole (not just the wealthiest 250 companies in the country) is immense; more needs to be done to publicise such figures - figures courtesy of the Commission itself - and to challenge the unquestioned assumption that EU membership is great for the British economy.

Quite how the leader of the Conservative party can order colleagues not to support a resolution asserting the supremacy of Parliament amazes me.

If we do not stand for the supremacy of parliament what is the point of the party.

We must connect the bread and butter issues as they are intimately connected.

Post Office closures result from decisions taken in Brussels.
The health service directive(s) have been "parked" in Brussels so as to ease ratification.
Hidden in the Lisbon Constitution are movbes to harmonise taxation - This is an area where our allies in Ireland ought to be able to make huge capital.
Also hidden are policies to harmonise futher social policies.
On some interpretations (with which I concur) there are powers that will force the UK into the euro.

Surely there is enough there for skilled orators (we certainly have one in W Hague - but does he have the committment?) to make a conclusive case against the eu.

As a party we are fortunate that UKIP is bloody useless and some of its MEPs a drunken disgrace while others have been caught with their hands in the till. The sheer incompetence of UKIP has kept a lot of people with us.

If we can can give a firm undertaking on ID Cards as D Davis did today then we can give Brussels a firm undertaking that we will hold the referendum that D Cameron promised in the Sun in September.

However what we must do first is to call in whatever favours we have with the Lords and attempt to both delay the Constitution and obtain a referendum now.

There is a constructive path toward a referendum but our frontbench have to start making it clearly and comprehensively now. If we lose one or two old stagers like Clarke and Curry then so be it.

One of the reasons we are not 15/20 points ahead in the polls is because we have not found a way to excite and inspire the electorate. Lets demonstrate what we can do if the shackles of Brussels can be thrown off and some real dynamism returned to the UK and the economy.

Time bomb indeed.

Personally, I don't care much about whether the "Blues" or the "Greens" hold the top government jobs -- however much I may have more sociological affiliation with one of the teams.

The point is not 'jobs for the boys', but what the boys plan to do once in the job.

Europe is at the heart of things. Do we actually care about liberty, the British way of politics, accountability of the government to the people, democracy....or is it just talk?

If the Conservatives DON'T care about these issues, I don't care much about whether they are elected or not.

If they DO care, they must make Europe a fundamental issue.

What Norway does insist on (and what I think is a very good idea) is that if you intend living there you have to take 300 hours of compulsory Norwegian language lessons. A policy that would greatly benefit the UK but which would be forbidden due to our membership of the EU.

That sounds like a good idea but is it really true that the EU would forbid this? On what basis? I thought some mainland EU countries were contemplating this kind of thing (?)

The German state of Hesse proposed testing immigrants on their knowledge of German and Germany before they'd be granted a residence permit... which leads me to think that perhaps we have more in common with the Germans (at least with their right-wingers) than we'd care to admit :-) If they can do it why can't we?

Let's be honest. The party is going to do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING on 'Europe'. A bit of sceptic rhetoric when it seems electorally advantageous, but that's it. And that's why UKIP staggers on.


I cannot see how, under the rules as they stand now, the EU could allow any member state to prevent right of habitation based on language ability. There are, as far as I am aware, few or no exceptions to the freedom of movement rules for EU 'citizens'.

If we can't kick EU citizens out because they are murderers and rapists then I can't see how they will let us do it because they don't speak our language.

Violet Elizabeth Bott, the political classes of both Switzerland and Norway are not in favour of joining the EU unless everything I've ever read on the subject is wrong . I suggest your questions are as false as your name.
PS I assume ToryJim, you are not familiar with Richmal Crompton's 'Just William' stories and the antics of a certain VE Bott?

Once Cameron has wriggled out of a post-ratification referendum (most likely following the kind of approach Andrew Lilico detailed over on C-R.com), that would seem the perfect time for the emergence of a single-issue Referendum Party Mark II, whose members pledge to resign the day after the referendum.

Then it will be possible to capitalise the current momentum that the Tories are likely to discard, without hampering it with UKIP's baggage. Effectively the political wing of IWAR.

Because no matter how you try to explain it, the Tories have been demanding a referendum for so long, the public will feel robbed if they are not given one, irrespective of the complexities.

the EU could allow any member state to prevent right of habitation based on language ability. There are, as far as I am aware, few or no exceptions to the freedom of movement rules for EU 'citizens'.

I thought you were talking about kicking out the asylum seekers... who aren't from the EU (or they wouldn't have to claim asylum).

If, as a British Citizen, you decide to go and live in Germany, the German authorities ask to see evidence of whether you'll be working, and if not, how you intend to support yourself. If you can't provide this, you don't get a residence permit.

Again, if they can do this, why can't we? Perhaps we *do* need to introduce ID cards and residence permits - if only to let us catch and weed out the undesirables :-)

If we can't kick EU citizens out because they are murderers and rapists

If a Scot commits a murder in London we don't deport him/her back 'home', we try them, convict them, and send them to prison. Do you think deportation is now the right answer? I get the feeling I'm missing your point (sorry) ...

Posted by: Malcolm Dunn | March 06, 2008 at 21:21:
the political classes of both Switzerland and Norway are not in favour of joining the EU unless everything I've ever read on the subject is wrong

...not sure I agree. In 2005, Switzerland held a referendum on whether to join the Schengen and Dublin agreements, and the result was a 'Yes' (by 55% to 45%).

I recently flew from Germany to Switzerland and my passport was not checked either leaving Germany or entering Switzerland.

The Swiss have therefore relaxed their border controls "EU-style" even though they're not actually EU members.

Switzerland will not join the EU-accordin to the current Swiss ambassador-the joining of Schengen is because it is massively advantageous to Switzerland which is surrounded by the EU and therefore can return all it s illegal immigrants to the EU

Switzerland will not join the EU-accordin to the current Swiss ambassador-the joining of Schengen is because it is massively advantageous to Switzerland which is surrounded by the EU and therefore can return all it s illegal immigrants to the EU

Are you in Favor of Leaving the EU but remaining a part of the EFTA (ie like some of the scandanavian countries and Switzerland)

Would you prefer to Leave Europe alltogether.
The UK can't remain a part of EFTA because it isn't part now and leaving Europe is too vague.

For example the UK could leave the EU, European Court of Human Rights and European Court of Justice and not join EFTA, instead negociating a treaty with the EU directly, or even joining another trade body such as NAFTA or strengthening Commonwealth Links and perhaps having a treaty between the Commonwealth and EU.

But there are other bodies that are not about Trade - The European Space Agency for example (The UK should have it's own space programme, but co-operating with other countries on space research and use of space for communications and studying the earth are useful), Interpol, The Particle Accelerator Project at CERN and many other organisations many of which do excellent jobs, NATO - the UK is not leaving Europe in abandoning the EU and other socio-economic and political bodies of Europe, maybe many more people would support withdrawal if they realised that it wasn't about trying to totally disengage with the rest of Europe.


what I am refering to is a number of incidents recently where, upon finishing their sentances for a crime, EU citizens were able to stay in the UK in spite of the desire on the part of the Home Secretary to kick them out. It is notable that every rule that is brought in to control immigration refers to 'non EU members'. Or rather is reported that way.

I make no mention of asylum seekers. They are not part of this debate.

As a nation we should have the right to remove non nationals from our territory when deemed necessary and set requirements on those who remain. Your comparison with Scotland is invalid as it is part of the same state.

There will be no referendum of any kind on the EU, and no chance that the Tories will offer a post-ratification referendum on Europe.

Really, you are all wasting your breath. 1% of people care about Europe as in issue, and most of them are on ConservativeHome. I'll be very pleased in a couple of years' time when your silly referendum schemes are dead and gone.

"1% of people care about Europe as in issue"

FANTASTIC, when you have lost the argument, result to lies and misquotation. I have heard 'passing leftie' spout some crap over the months that I have read conservative home but this is a pathetic lie that even (s)he cannot beleive.

Either (s)he is a lyer, an idiot or suffering from a severe case of dislexia/myopia.

1% beleive it to be THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE. Even I don't consider it the most important issue affecting the country. Just because you don't beleive it to be the most important issue doesn't mean tyou don't care.

"I'll be very pleased in a couple of years' time when your silly referendum schemes are dead and gone."

Keep saying that, maybe it will come true.

As much as we all appreciate your stunning contribution to the debate, don't you think people would take your more seriously if you used your real name.

When will 'passing leftie' actually pass?

That should be resort not result.


Sorry, I misread the Editor's words. The poll 1% actually said it was "the most important issue", joint last above all the other issues that people responded to as "most important." 3% mentioned it unprompted, that is, when asked "What do you see as other important issues affecting Britain today", 97% did not mention Europe. This data is broadly comparable to similar polls in over many years.

That really strengthens your case, doesn't it?

I'll give you this - if you ask people about Europe, they'll have strong opinions about Europe. But, the same applies to Marmite.

Time will tell if there is a referendum, but I bet you won't get odds on it. I'll post here in on this subject two years' time and you can eat your words, or I will.

Like many people on this site, I do not post under my own name, for my own good reasons. So, there is no good reason for specifically targetting me. If you have a problem with the policy, raise it with the Editor. If someone emails me they'll get an answer.

My views obviously irritate you, but really, you should have the emotional fortitude to deal with disagreement, particularly on a political site.

Passing Leftie, in the same poll fewer people mentioned Council Tax or Animal Welfare as the most important issue to name but two. Only 3% thought poverty the most important so that puts it in context.

"There will be no referendum of any kind on the EU, and no chance that the Tories will offer a post-ratification referendum on Europe"

Since you have nothing to do with the Conservative Party , you're in no position to know whether or not that will be the case. However, you seem to be tacitly accepting that the Conservatives will be able to offer the public a referendum - or not, as the case may be.

Since you have nothing to do with the Conservative Party , you're in no position to know whether or not that will be the case. However, you seem to be tacitly accepting that the Conservatives will be able to offer the public a referendum - or not, as the case may be.

I don't have to be a Tory to make predictions. I've made two predictions.

1. A post-ratification referendum will not be Tory policy.
2. There won't be a referendum on Europe.

These two statements taken together do not imply that I believe that the Tories will be in a position to offer a referendum. You've inferred it. But to be clear, no, I don't think the Tories will be in that position, but I am not nearly as sure about that.

What's your prediction?

Does anyone at all on this thread think the Tory party will offer a any kind of referendum on Europe in their next manifesto? Please do speak up if you think they will.

As to the Editor's point, what should the Tories do next on Europe? Keep quiet about it.

Passing Leftie, in the same poll fewer people mentioned Council Tax or Animal Welfare as the most important issue to name but two. Only 3% thought poverty the most important so that puts it in context.

A very good point. Three times as many people consider "poverty" the most important issue compared to "Europe". Perhaps something for the Editor to mull over when considering which topics to address.

If it wants to win the next election shut up about it and spend time on the issues people really care about.

1. win the next election.

2. propose a renegotiation.

3. put renegotiated terms to the public in a referendum, coupled with the alternative of leaving the EU.

Renegotiation is likely to be very difficult indeed looking at the Consolidated Treaties. Its all well and good saying "we will renegotiate" but unless theres a text that can realistically make it through the revision procedure, theres no point in wasting our time obsessing on it.

Strangely enough I agree with Jack Stone. The Tories have found themselves diverted from other issues which will make far more of an impact come election time than this. They need to get back on track with the social policy which I think is more important.

Jack and James

Do you really think that keeping quiet about the majority of our governance having passed to Brussels is either sane or intelligent?

If you actually read the lisbon constitution you will understand that we have no opt outs or red lines.

If we do not renegotiate and recover powers there will simply be no point in winning an election here.

John Broughton.What you seem to overlook like most on this site that unless you win the next election you will not be able to do anything about everything.


Your right about winning elections. However unless Cameron makes an absolute promise regarding the eu then democracy will cease to exist in this country.

Damned if he does damned if he doesn't.

A principled case can and must be made for at least a limited disengagement from the eu soviet. If it is not then the UK will no longer be a democracy.

Take your choice democracy or totalitarianism.

The article that appeared in Christopher Booker’s notebook this Sunday brought to everybody’s attention again how irrelevant our own Parliament actually is.
Proved beyond doubt by Bill Cash in his amendment for Politicians to reverse the treaty which gives the EU law primacy in every respect over Parliament
Christopher wrote the following

This was only one of thousands of new laws each year which have supposedly been "scrutinised" by MPs. Why should they notice the loopholes when they no longer have any power to change the laws? If Mr Miliband argues that this is what MPs are paid for, his own logic suggests that they should no longer be paid for a job they cannot do.

MPs conceded as much themselves on Thursday, when Bill Cash moved an amendment to reverse the provision of the treaty which gives EU law primacy in every respect over the will of Parliament. Only 50 MPs supported it, including 41 Tories - against the wishes of their party's leadership. The rest were happy to accept that the Parliament to which they belong should no longer rule this country.
Why when discussing Europe we never acknowledge this fact and why did the Conservatives not back Bill Cash?

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