by Stephen Tall on November 12, 2007
Last month, David Cameron went to great obfuscatory pains to refuse to give a straight answer to journalists asking if the Tory party would offer a post-ratification referendum on the EU Reform Treaty if they found themselves in government – a position not helped by a member of his shadow cabinet promising “absolutely” that the Tories would.
Now it’s Dave’s own shadow foreign secretary, William Hague, who’s broken ranks with his leader in today’s Commons debate on the Queen’s Speech – as the BBC’s Nick Robinson notes on his blog:
The Shadow Foreign Secretary went through the usual list of “ifs” implicit in that question – if there’s no referendum, if the treaty’s ratified elsewhere, if there’s an election after that process is over – before going on to say that if all those “ifs” came to pass “We could not let matters rest there”.
In other words Hague is saying that the Tories would not accept that ratification by the Commons and by all other EU nations put an end to the debate. They would insist, presumably, on either a post ratification referendum or, if that were not possible, a re-negotiation of Britain’s membership of the EU.
Messrs Cameron and Hague are, it seems, tying themselves in knots trying to maintain a sensible policy on Europe while appeasing their swivel-eyed Europhobic colleagues. Or perhaps they’re simply limbering up to accept the Lib Dem amendment proposing a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU?