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[email protected] with respect your last sentence talking about selling your soul and birthright rather proves my point about some opponents to the European Union wallowing in sloppy sentimentality.
[email protected] - the trouble with holding a referendum on this sort of thing is that the campaign will be impossibly taken over by emotional blackmail by the UKIP clowns running round making a disproportionate amount of noise and the proper arguments - from both sides - will inevitably get distorted and misrepresented. With the whole future of the country and Europe at risk it is too important to allow that to happen. By all means have a debate but let it be an intelligent one and not sidelined by a lot of dated jingoistic spouting. To be specific do you really want Britain to end up an insignificant off-shore island in thrall to an increasingly dominant America
or wouldn't you rather have us as a leading and dynamic member of a thriving Union with real influence. Things can only be changed from the vinside and by consent.

Yes, Yes, Yes - I'll have what he's having ...

Or something like that. On things democratic I haven't heard one good thing from Cameron until today. I don't care what has forced Cameron into getting behind a referendum, I just appreciate it. I wish he wasn't so mealy mouthed about it and actually said that we would be campaigning for a No-vote and repealing all related legislation if the nation agrees. Furthermore, the rebate will be re-instated until the CAP is reviewed or scrapped and that in any rate, all further contributions will be withheld until the EU books are audited.

Then I'd like to see him talk some sense about English Devolution and a complete clean out of parliamentary democracy (a joke if ever I heard one) starting with a written constitution with the common man as its beneficiary.

... but Rome wasn't built in a day.

@Tapestry @14:45

Not so! According to Labour party polling reported yesterday in NOTW - yes, page 2 of NOTW, the public rate their interest in the various issues as:- MP's expenses, Brown's leadership, the economy, McBride. No mention of the EU, or the rotten Lisbon treaty.

David Cameron's plans are focused, and will be effective - UKIP and BOO rants aren't - they just alienate the voters. I must emphasise that I am as eurosceptic as you, but frankly I am fed up with the reaction any time something linked to the EU appears on this site!

And, by the way, DC's Cheltenham speech was much better than Super Dan's! Dan won't get any promotion because of that silly video on the NHS! If you are a front rank politician you've got to know WHEN to keep your mouth firmly shut!

@All

Please will you also note that this site is CONSERVATIVEHOME, not, I repeat, NOT, Ukip Corner!

David Bouvier ref. Vienna Convention.

From wiki :

"The scope of the Convention is limited. It applies only to treaties concluded between states, so it does not cover agreements between states and international organizations "

Even if this is not the case, given the will, you could find a multitude of ways out.

""You cannot withdraw ratification once the treaty is in force"

Obviously incorrect. If that were true, there would have been no point holding the 1975 referendum, which was a retrospective referendum.

If the answer to that had been "no", the UK would have withdrawn its ratification of the accession treaty, even though that treaty had been in force for over two years"

The option for the referendum in 1975 was to withdraw from the EEC completely - in other words to repudiate the Treaty of Rome - that is different and has different consequences from what is proposed by those who want a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty 'come what may'.

"They aren't saying that they'd campaign for a No vote. They have never said that.

To be fair, Cameron has very clearly said that he will campaign for a 'no' vote and it is clearly detailed on the policy page on conservatives.com:

"we would put the Treaty to a referendum of the British people, recommending a 'no' vote.

There is a lot to criticise in Cameron's lack of an EU policy, but it helps to keep it factual.

Denis Cooper,
You are right, of course, as you usually are over EU technicalities, about the LT being an Amending (indeed self amending!)Treaty, rejection of which would not relieve us of our obligations under the other existing treaties.

However, the point which I was making, perhaps not very clearly,was that rejection of the LT, on its own, would achieve very little and we would continue to be sucked into the EU vortex, unless we also opted to renounce our membership.

If we did reject the LT and also decided to leave the EU this raises the interesting point that we would not be bound by the very open ended provisions (with unquantified penalties) in that treaty relating relating to withdrawal.This alone is a good reason for rejecting the LT since, so far, as its originators claim, from granting member nations a right to withdraw from the EU, it merely seeks to impose punitive terms and conditions upon a right which already exists under international law.

15:35 witteringsfromwitney -

Violating the law of treaties for this is a fantasy. If Lisbon is ratified any progress would be a negotiation not a flounce, whatever the goal is.

I am guessing that Dan knows more about the legalities of this than either of us. Do you want to reference something of his arguing that if Lisbon is ratified we can unratify it at a whim and should state that we will. I would be genuinely interested.

Evan Price

Evidently it would be different from 1975, because it's a different treaty, but nevertheless it's perfectly clear that ratification of a treaty can be revoked.

Personally I wouldn't ever suggest treating the other EU member states in an unnecessarily high-handed and contemptuous manner, as they are after all our allies and in any case we all have to get along together afterwards.

Which is why, if Cameron was a statesman, he would be making it very clear to them, now, that in his view this government's ratification of the Lisbon Treaty is devoid of any democratic legitimacy; that if he becomes Prime Minister he will definitely hold a referendum on it even if it has already come into force; and that in the meantime they would do well to regard the British ratification as no more than a provisional ratification.

I am personally in favour of a 1975 style, post ratification referendum (if it is post ratification) with the explicit intention of - after it is won by the "no" side - setting up a negotiation which would be carried out against the backdrop of the threat to leave.

The best way to secure this is to make sure those elected in the next general election hold this view.

Yes, I am on the Candidate's List!

L:an T:

I don't claim expertise - though I would imagine similar rules apply; it matters not anyway because (at least until Lisbon comes into force) the EU is created by multi-laterial treaty.

"The question of the Union's legal personality has essentially been raised in connection with international relations, especially the power to conclude treaties or accede to agreements or conventions. The Union does not have institutionalised treaty-making powers, i.e. international capacity to enter into agreements with non-member countries. However, it pursues its own objectives at international level, whether by concluding agreements through the Council of the European Union or by asserting its position on the international stage, especially in connection with CFSP."

http://europa.eu/scadplus/glossary/union_legal_personality_en.htm

As you say, there are lots of options, but this is a complex area of international law and negotiating strategy in uncertain times. So what would you propose is Cameron's slogan: perhaps something like it currently is perhaps.

Incidentally, the article to which Christina Speight referred earlier is in the Irish Independent today, here:

http://www.independent.ie/national-news/states-8364550000-media-blitz-to-focus-on-eu-membership-1720668.html

It reports that the Irish government will "spend €550,000 on a media blitz centred on Ireland's EU membership in the run-up to the second Lisbon referendum", which "is expected to be held in October", and that this "information drive" will run alongside a €1,880,000 campaign funded by the EU Commission.

Freddy

I beg to differ Dan's impassioned plea for democracy was wonderful.

We eurorealists are often pilloried here and accused of promoting UKIP when what we seek is democracy. Clearly the EUsoviet is not going to allow anything so mundane as democracy.

I think it was Dennis Cooper earlier who reminded us of DC's absolute undertaking, in the Sun, to hold a referendum. No one has ever (to my knowledge) repudiated that statement.

I remain of the opinion that an overwhelming Conservative vote in June is the most likely action to aid the cause for democracy.

David Bouvier " it matters not anyway because (at least until Lisbon comes into force) the EU is created by multi-laterial treaty"

OK - fair point.

What do I suggest ? How about a statement of the scope of the aspects of the treaty that are considered unacceptable. An assurance to the electorate that it will be substantial, not just some face-saving fig-leaves. As you say, whatever the legal complexities, this will be a negotiation. Defining the scope of the negotiation is not showing your hand. Your hand will be the actions you are prepared to take if the EU does not accept renegotiation.

An aside – the US is not a party to the Vienna Convention. Seems a good principle not to attempt to irrevocably tie the hands of future governments.

".....or wouldn't you rather have us as a leading and dynamic member of a thriving Union with real influence."

What makes you think the EU is thriving? You should take a quick foray through the German press. And quite what influence does the EU have?

[email protected] - rather more influence that Britain by itself I think !!
- and yes I do read the German press. The leading European states are weathering the current economic difficulties rather better than the UK.

I'm not sure what all the handwringing is all about. Just ignore the voters on the EU, you know it makes sense.

The EU is possibly the one topic that the voters know exactly what they want.

The EU is toxic and undemocratic and the voters knows it.

The voters also know that the Lib/Lab/Con will fight tooth and nail to stop the voters having a democratic referendum.

So what's the poster all about. Its probably in response to the considerable opposition to the status quo on the referendum issue, that swamps any debate on blogs like this when the EU is the topic. The problem is the party doesn't have a clue what to expect in June and are simply trying to rally support without committing to anything.
Its a strategy I suppose but why worry you might say, after all once the vote is over in June, the parties can ignore the result and get back to good old fashioned first past the post, where instead of ignoring the voters some of the time, they can return to ignoring them all of the time.

@John Broughton

I strongly agree with your last paragraph. An overwhelming Conservative win in the euros in June would cause real trouble in the Labour party. My hunch is that Brown would do a U turn and decide to hold a referendum. After all he has just done a U turn on MPs attendance allowance.

This is why I think that the poster is so good - it encourages those who don't like the EU to vote Tory. The result of any UK referendum is certain and would be a tremendous blow for the federalists - that's what we want isn't it?

I listened to Dan's speech and it was good - he is very promising - pity about his views on the NHS though. Those views are likely to prevent his promotion.

DC's speech on the otherhand, for the first time, was the speech of a PM! As I own a narrowboat, I particularly liked the bit about British Waterways salaries!

Given that there are many local government elections on the same day as the European elections, there is the option to vote Conservative in council elections giving them some good publicity in the run up to the General Election. And, at the same time, you can vote UKIP in the European elections giving the future Conservative government a message that people feel strongly about Europe and want a more clear Eurosceptic position from them.

"Evidently it would be different from 1975, because it's a different treaty, but nevertheless it's perfectly clear that ratification of a treaty can be revoked."

I don't see, as a matter of law, how that would work. Until revocation, the EU would be operating under a whole new system as established by the Lisbon Treaty - the 75 referendum was an in/out referendum and, presumably, if the 'No' campaign had won, we would simply have withdrawn from the EEC - we couldn't simply withdraw from the effects of the Lisbon Treaty as, if the treaty was in force, it would have been brought into effect and the processes and procedures of the EU would have carried on for a period prior to the referendum in the UK.

This is lovely hypothetical legal stuff (I am a lawyer after all) but does it not make it clearer that the position adopted by the Conservatives makes sense ...

"Which is why, if Cameron was a statesman, he would be making it very clear to them, now, that in his view this government's ratification of the Lisbon Treaty is devoid of any democratic legitimacy; "

If you look at what is being said by William Hague, David Cameron and others, you may notice that this is precisely what is being said.

And as a candidate, I said precisely this to a journalist today.

If the Irish vote NO the treaty will be abandoned,so no referendum.If they vote yes the treaty will be ratified ahead of the next GE.Cameron will never deliver upon his promise of a referendum.

Those who consider themselves "sceptic" or believe that the LT is reversible do not understand the underlying ethos of the EU.

Speak to anyone Pro or Anti EU who has read the treaties and mention the words "Ever closer union" and you will get an answer that will lead you to make a decision on which side of the fence you have to be.

Christina Speight - don't you know about the problem with Irish opinion polls?

Each respondent gives an average of three different answers to each question.

So which answer do they choose?

The one they're being paid to find, stupid.

Evan Price

Hypothetically it would mostly work in the much same way as it works now, when a state has a formal opt-out from certain provisions of the treaties.

The first point is that the Lisbon Treaty would leave most of the provisions of the present EU treaties unchanged - a point which was repeatedly, and fairly, made by advocates of the previous Constitutional Treaty, which embodied a very similar package of detailed legal changes.

The second point is that, for a treaty which is subject to ratification, that is the step by which each state expresses its consent to be bound by the treaty.

So if the UK revoked its ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, it would be telling the other EU member states that the UK no longer consented to be bound by the treaty changes contained in the Lisbon Treaty - in effect, the UK would be unilaterally claiming a comprehensive opt-out from all those changes.

It follows that if a proposed EU measure had no legal basis in the present treaties, but depended on a new legal basis provided through the Lisbon Treaty, then the UK government would have to decide whether to accept or reject that measure - just as a member state with a formal opt-out has to decide whether to accept or reject a new measure falling within the scope of that opt-out.

It would be an additional mess on top of the existing mess, but it would be an additional mess created not by Cameron, but by those who deliberately chose to devise an anti-democratic, and arguably fraudulent, procedure to impose treaty changes on the peoples of Europe - above all, Angela Merkel.

As far as I am concerned, there is little to be gained in the long run by the Conservative Party promising to hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. I personally do not believe this is the referendum that is required.

I think the European Union has moved on substantially since the UK joined it. It is not the same organisation that the UK signed up to all those years ago. The real debate should therefore be on whether we wish to remain part of the EU or not. Messing around with debating the Lisbon Treaty really does not address the real issue at stake here.

And before anybody accuses me of being some kind of UKIP nut, I am a Conservative Party voter who would consider himself a One-Nation Conservative and generally supportive of the EU.

The whole European project has become too complicated. The European constitution / LT is aprox 500 pages???!! Do the European nations agree on enough stuff to fill even five pages let alone 500?!

The treaty is an self indulgent, over complicated piece of work by lawyers to make work for other lawyers to serve the needs of the political elite at the expense of the European people.

Just look at the debate on this site. A whole bunch of lawyers disagreeing with each other as to what ratification means. In these hard times we need political systems and national agreements that help us work together on the important things. All the trivia and even a lot of important stuff can remain national. Yes, come together in a federal forum to exchange ideas and best practice but limit treaty agreements to those issues where we all agree - and that means relatively few like trade, and cross border cooperation.

With so little to legislate at European level we don't need dedicated representatives, or dedicated courts. Our national MPs can attend Europe on some sort of round robin basis (cf jury service) and our own courts can interpret EU conventions to which we are signatories. Cut costs at a stroke and give clear inspiration to our people not expensive, divisive legalese.

"Hypothetically it would mostly work in the much same way as it works now, when a state has a formal opt-out from certain provisions of the treaties.

The first point is that the Lisbon Treaty would leave most of the provisions of the present EU treaties unchanged - a point which was repeatedly, and fairly, made by advocates of the previous Constitutional Treaty, which embodied a very similar package of detailed legal changes."

Sorry, Dennis, I disagree with you. The effect of the treaty on the Commission, the Council, the Parliament and the procedures is such that once the Lisbon Treaty comes into force, it has fundamental effects on the way in which the EU operates at every level. For example, the creation of a permanent President of the Council, the provisions expanding the competences of the EU into the other 2 pillars of the existing EU and the expanded powers of the Parliament. We couldn't simply say we regard ourselves bound only by the previous systems and the whole EU will, by then, have moved on to operating under the new systems. I simply don't agree that it would be possible to treat these sorts of reforms as being opted out from ex post facto.

Personally, I am utterly opposed to the integration that is integral to the process of the Lisbon Treaty. I find the budgeted expenditure on bringing into effect those changes in advance of ratification by all member states offensive.

That is why it would be a matter for negotiations - and very serious negotiations at that.

Just noticed. Blog post omitted to mention the rather key fact that Germany has not ratified. The President has withheld his signature while the case is heard before the Supreme Court that Lisbon is unconstitutional.

If Lisbon is not unanimous it lacks the force of law throughout the EU. Poland is sticking as is Czech Republic and Ireland, but the big fish not yet caught is undoubtedly Germany.

Unless I've missed something..........

I certainly agree with Alastair Thomas. The US constitution is a masterpiece of good English and clarity, as are many British constitutional documents.

The reason that the EU "constitution" runs to 500 pages of rambling authotitarian twaddle is that it is trying to weld 27 nations together when the pieces do not fit.

A treaty between nations not to go to war on eachother is a simple concept and can be expressed in a simple treaty. Setting up a trade agreement may lead to a more complex, but still relatively simple treaty. However, the LT is trying to enshrine the legalities of reconstructing Humpty Dumpty and is therefore hugely complex.

The LT treaty therefore reflects the absurdity of what it trying to create. Regrettably it also assumes that the only institution with sufficient understanding of broken eggs is Brussels.

As a practical point, if the LT has to be negotiated on behalf of the UK, 500 pages of Eurospeak should leave us plenty of loopholes for smart lawyers to find and exploit.

Watching the Daniel Hannan video yesterday persuaded me to vote Conservative in June after all. Now Cameron's careful hedging of his bets re the referendum makes me think I'll have to vote UKIP in the end!

But the excellent Daniel Hannan is at the top of the list of Tory candidates for the South East England euro-region, and therefore he's certain to be re-elected.

If you live in Daniel's constituency and you vote Conservative, your vote won't be needed to ensure Daniel's re-election, but it may well help to elect a candidate lower down the list whose views are diammetrically opposed to Daniel's.

Specifically, the crypto-federalist James Elles MEP, wangled into the fourth position on the list by Francis Maude's manipulation of the selection process.

If I could vote for Daniel as a named individual candidate, I would; and if I could vote for Nirj Deva MEP as a named individual candidate, I would; but I would never, under any circumstances, vote for James Elles, and therefore I won't be able to vote Conservative.

This is one consequence of the iniquitous closed list system imposed by Blair, which Cameron should promise to change to an open list system.

Evan Price

Yes, that's why I said "mostly", and I still believe that it's "mostly".

The trickiest element is the change from a six month rotating Presidency, to a semi-permanent President, for the European Council. It's also one element which cannot be surreptitiously introduced without the Lisbon Treaty coming into force, because it's clearly incompatible with the system laid down in the present treaties.

There could be a very delicate question of timing about that, because as I read the relevant part of Annex I to the Presidency Conclusions issued after the EU summit meeting last December, on pdf page 14 here:

http://register.consilium.europa.eu/pdf/en/08/st17/st17271-re01.en08.pdf

"Declaration of the European Council"

"Treaty of Lisbon – Transitional measures concerning the Presidency of the European Council and the Presidency of the Foreign Affairs Council"

if the treaty came into force on or before January 1st 2010, then the Spanish Presidency would "be in charge of taking the necessary specific measures relating to the organisational and material aspects of the Presidency of the European Council ... " during its six months running up to June 30th, but if the treaty came into force after January 1st 2010 then that process would be deferred to the Belgian Presidency starting on July 1st.

Either way, it's not impossible that Cameron would become Prime Minister before the first semi-permanent President had been installed.

He'll put his shirt on the winner as long as he knows the result in advance.

Freddy

I hope you are not suggesting I am currently a member of UKIP or in some way sympathetic to UKIP. I am, in your view, a disloyal Conservative....in that I don't hold my tongue. Sorry about that.

But please don't doubt that my vote will be cast Conservative whenever I cast one. In that sense I'm just as blue as you, and in my opinion, bluer than you, because I am loyal only to the principles I believe in.

If Cameron and Hague cannot punch Lisbon to the floor, then I am not likely to wish to keep them in the leadership. My loyalty to Cameron is conditional, but to the Party not so (since I returned in 2001) as only the Conservatives can finally rid us of the mistake made by joining the EU in 1973.

The price Britain has paid for this error has been truly awful. We are a lost society, with no ability to run an economy, a hospital, a police force, a school, an army or anything else. Please don't object if I put these issues ahead of loyalty to David Cameron. He will not be able to put Britain back together inside the EU and any honest person knows that to be true.

Please don't UKIP me again.

Dennis,

I understand that the declaration with regard to the timetable for the presidency of the Council may appear to constitute what could be a six-month delay to treaty coming into force - sadly that delay does not, it appears, affect other issues of centralisation as provided for in the treaty itself and we should not forget that the decision in December was largely a result of the process of obfuscation and dissembling that themselves resulted from the Irish 'No'.

I suspect that we will still be arguing about this when the next general election is called - and if that is the case, we will have the referendum that all parties promised and which Labour and the Liberal Democrats have resiled from.

Maybe; but what if - in the most extreme case - the treaty came into force on the same day as the UK general election, the day before Cameron was summoned to Buckingham Palace and asked to form a government?

Would he still say "Too late now; the treaty has already come into force"?

It's worth pointing out that, strictly speaking, any referendum within the UK is only a consultative referendum.

Even if the government says that it will treat the outcome as binding, and even if Parliament passes a law saying that it shall be binding, there's always the possibility that Parliament may afterwards pass another law to set its result aside.

It all comes down to trust between the people and the politicians.

Under some extraordinary but conceivable circumstances, the people might accept that Parliament had done the right thing by setting aside a referendum result, despite a previous promise that it would be binding; just as they might accept that the government had done the right thing by setting aside one of its manifesto promises.

Therefore, as a start Cameron could at this point make this unambiguous promise:

"Provided the Lisbon Treaty hadn't already been officially declared dead, we would put it to a consultative referendum in the UK, irrespective of what may happen in other EU member states.

Then, as events unfolded over the coming months, he could refine his plan of action in the likely event that the treaty was rejected.

This poster, and giving Dan Hannan his platform at Cheltenham – very good tactics by DC to win back some of the wavering Tories who were thinking of voting UKIP.

Both equally meaningless: Heseltine told the truth. Clarke is happy to keep quiet on Europe because he understands that the policy is "in Europe, not run by Europe". Which is, as any fule kno, absolutely meaningless, a transparent paradox. State it properly – "in the EU, not run by the EU", and you see what nonsense it is.

So fair play, Dave, nice work. You'll have bamboozled some of the faithful into not voting UKIP on 4 June - but how many?

Here's the thing: if the Conservatives do blindlingly well on June 4, and win, who will be surprised? They won last time anyway. Wasted vote - you just send more Tories to Brussels to whisper about not being federalists, when Pottering's not in earshot.

On the other hand, if UKIP - who came third, above the Lib-Dems, last time - gain 5.5% more of the vote, they overhaul Labour (whose vote will be collapsing anyway) and come second.

How long would Gordon Brown survive that humiliation?

No there's a way to really make your vote count.

Clever post, Steve - very clever...

"you just send more Tories to Brussels to whisper about not being federalists, when Pottering's not in earshot."

Why should Hans-Gert Poettering, the President of the Parliament care what Conservatives may or may not be whispering about? For that matter, Joseph Daul, the Leader of the EPP Group probably won't bother his head much either as the Conservatives will be part of a new Group!

Dennis - it would truly be unprecendented for a country to unilaterally withdraw from the effect of an international treaty once it is in force - looking at the text books, I can find no example whatever - and I don't think that legal problem can be ignored (whether the treaty has been in force for a day or a year if the Conservatives win the next general election). On the day the Conservatives are elected, if the treaty is not in force, they can, as I understand it and as a matter of international law, withdraw the instruments of ratification to allow the referendum.

That does not mean that a referendum ex post facto could not have political effect - and be used as one tool in negotiations if the Lisbon Treaty is already in force ...

Sadly, I forsee the real potential for problems - political as well as legal. I am not privy to the discussions that take place well above my pay-grade, and I am open to argument, but I am content, at the moment, with the decisions that have been taken and I am prepared to defend them as they are explicable - even if unpopular with some of our supporters.

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