Ed Davey on Ming’s Euro referendum proposal

by Stephen Tall on September 15, 2007

Ed Davey MP, Ming Campbell’s chief of staff, has posted a comment to Lib Dem Voice setting out why he thinks the Lib Dem leader is right to reject a referendum on the EU reform treaty, but to call for a vote on the UK’s continuing membership of the European Union. Here’s an extract:

For the record, Ming has been thinking about this idea for some time, and, not surprisingly you might say, I think it is a bold and astute move – and I’d like to set out the full argument, including why the *draft* Reform Treaty doesn’t appear to warrant a referendum – but also why Ming is right to call for the REAL referendum people want. …

The question of Britain’s place in the European Union has poisoned our national politics for decades. As a nation, we need to lance this boil and decide once and for all if we want to be a part of this European Union or not. This is the big question, whether we like it ask it or not. This is the question that we should face.

My answer is would be an unequivocal yes. I would relish the opportunity to get out their and campaign – to take on those who would have us out – to banish the myths and have the argument on the big issues.

You can read Ed’s response in full here.

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Davey is right. This is by far and away the best analysis (for the Lib Dems) that can be put onto this sequence of events. But if so the presentation of this idea has been absolutely minging.

What WMC is calling for is however very unlikely to occur as this would be a rather uncontrollable hostage to fortune. Easy enough for oppositionists to call for but hard for incumbent to progress.

Not even sure how it is good for Lib Dems on the ground. While the party is historically very Europhile this is rarely campaigned on at any level. Because it’s too much like a conviction that others may disagree with.

So instead it’s promoting misery and running exaggerations, hoaxes and para hoaxes, and trying to be all things to all people.

by Chris Paul on September 15, 2007 at 11:40 pm. Reply #

still don’t see why this means we shouldn’t also be calling for a referendum on the EU treaty

by a radical writes on September 15, 2007 at 11:47 pm. Reply #

Me neither.

by Toby Philpott on September 16, 2007 at 11:07 am. Reply #

Ming said that as we haven’t seen the actual text of the treaty yet, that he’s reserving judgement.

I’d like to see a referendum–I concur. We need a vote, put the issue to rest, and I think a vote on the overall membership issue would be a better plan.

I think this has been handled badly, but both basic policies are sound.

by MatGB on September 16, 2007 at 12:09 pm. Reply #

Because the Treaty is such a complex document that a referendum on it would become a surrogate campaign for our membership of the EC, and the vote would probably be no. A referendum on membership would be unequivocal and would be capable of being won.

by tony hill on September 16, 2007 at 5:45 pm. Reply #

I mentioned before that people are wanting a referendum on the treaty, not in or out. Now, it was suggested that we can’t do that as its not realistic. But actually it is. If it means the EU as a whole can’t go ahead with the treaty (am I right? pls correct if not) then so be it. After all, other referendums derailed the constitution.

We can’t go on simply accepting all that comes from Brussels. It will clash with our own values at some point.

e.g. What happens if the majority view in the EU is all states should have ID cards?

What then?

by Sid on September 16, 2007 at 8:58 pm. Reply #

And here’s a snippet from the 2005 Lib-dem manifesto that I voted on…

“We are therefore clear in our support for the constitution, which we believe is in Britain’s interest – but ratification
must be subject to a referendum of the British people.*”

So why is now deemed “unnecessary” now that the Treaty which is 95% from the Constitution?

by Dave Manuel on September 16, 2007 at 9:35 pm. Reply #

Maybe because we are retreating from a position that was populist rubbish. A referendum on the Euro – sure, that’s a simple yes/no proposition. A referendum on Maastricht/the Constitution/Treaty – playing politics.

by tony hill on September 16, 2007 at 9:48 pm. Reply #

“So why is now deemed “unnecessary” now that the Treaty which is 95% from the Constitution?”

Whilst I support a referendum on the Reform Treaty the 95% similarity really depends on what the 5% difference is.

Personally the fundamental charter of rights is still there and that’s enough to need a referendum.

by Hywel Morgan on September 16, 2007 at 9:49 pm. Reply #

“Personally the fundamental charter of rights is still there and that’s enough to need a referendum.”

But the Charter of Fundamental Rights is simply a codification of rights created by the ECJ – they are already the law of the European Union.

A referendum on the UK’s continued membership of the EU is justifiable because the 1975 referendum was conducted on a false prospectus – the assurances given by both Heath and Wilson governments that there would be no diminution of national sovereignty.

On the one hand, the EU respresents a single market that has brought unprecedented prosperity to Member States. On the other, we have a creeping bureaucracy that has extended its competence into areas that have nothing to do with a single market.

And there is a civilian court whose judges periodically rewrite the Treaty in a handful of paragraphs based on 20 minute submissions from counsel – and they are so bone idle it takes them over a year to do so. It wasn’t the Treaty of Rome, or the Commission, who launched the assault on sovereignty, it was the ECJ dispensing palm tree justice.

Are Costa v ENEL and Van Gend en Loos acceptable? And is a half-baked Napoleonic court acceptable?

Those are two questions the electorate should be given the opportunity to answer.

by Angus Huck on September 16, 2007 at 11:06 pm. Reply #

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