The flagrant consistency of the Lib Dems’ position on an in/out EU referendum

by Stephen Tall on January 20, 2013

EU flag - Some rights reserved by European ParliamentAs a follow-up to my post The surprising truth about that Lib Dem in/out EU referendum leaflet — and as a handy guide for journalists in the future — I thought I’d piece together the timeline of the recent history of the Lib Dems’ position on holding a referendum to give the British people a say on our future relationship with the European Union.

As you can see, it’s a picture of quite shocking, erm, consistency…

2007:

Lib Dems (under Ming Campbell) commit to an in/out referendum the next time a British government signs up for a fundamental change (the proposed EU constitution) in the relationship between the UK and the EU.

EU constitution rejected by voters in France and Holland, and is abandoned. No UK vote takes place.

2008:

Lib Dems (under Nick Clegg) commit to an in/out referendum the next time a British government signs up for a fundamental change in the relationship between the UK and the EU.

Government signs up to fundamental change: the Lisbon Treaty. Lib Dems push for in/out referendum in House of Commons.

2009:

Lib Dems remain committed to an in/out referendum with the British government signed up for a fundamental change (Lisbon Treaty) in the relationship between the UK and the EU.

Lib Dems commit to in/out referendum in Euro 2009 manifesto. Treaty ratified on 1 December, and Lib Dems confirm position remains: any EU referendum should be on the larger question of Britain’s relationship with the EU.

2010:

Lib Dems re-commit to an in/out referendum in 2010 general election manifesto the next time a British government signs up for a fundamental change in the relationship between the UK and the EU.

Coalition Government promises in 2011 to deliver referendum on any further EU treaty that transfers any powers from the UK government to the European Union.

* Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum, and also writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.

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