Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Cameron must clarify referendum pledge

The fate of the EU's Lisbon Treaty is set to come to a head in just a few weeks time.

A repeat Irish referendum is due on
2 October and ratification by Germany is expected shortly afterwards.

EU pressure will then fall on Czech President Vaclav Klaus, who has indicated that he will hold out as long as he can before signing the treaty into law.

Here, continued vague statements from the Conservative party on whether they will hold the referendum promised for the Lisbon treaty or give people a say on an alternative don't lend credence to the party's idea of being seen as the next government.

So DM campaign director Marc Glendening has this week written to Conservative leader David Cameron, asking for clarity.


Dear Mr Cameron,

I am writing to you to try and ascertain what exactly is the current position of the Conservative party in relation to a referendum on the Lisbon treaty.

The consensus of opinion in the media and political worlds is that if, by the time the Conservatives form the next government the treaty has been ratified in all the other EU member states, you will drop the Lisbon referendum pledge.

Ken Clarke, appearing on the BBC's Politics Show on June 14, said that: "If the Irish eferendum endorses the treaty and ratification comes into effect, then our settled olicy is quite clear that the treaty will not be reopened."

A Tory Central Office spokesman was quoted as saying in response to Mr Clarke's that "There is no change to Conservative policy. As Ken Clarke explained, if the Lisbon Treaty is ratified and in force across the EU by the time of the election of a Conservative government, we have always made clear that we would not let matters rest there." This seems to implicitly confirm what Ken Clarke said.

When William Hague was challenged on Newsnight by Jeremy Paxman during the recent European parliamentary election campaign to say one way or the other whether the party would still adhere to the referendum pledge following a possible 'yes' vote in the second Irish referendum, and ratification in the other countries that have not yet done so, he refused to answer the question. He too fell back on the "we will not let matters rest" mantra.

However, in contrast, Dan Hannan MEP has said recently that he remains convinced that you are still committed to consulting the British people directly in a post-ratification referendum on the treaty.

The Democracy Movement is Britain's largest non-party pressure group campaigning against today's EU. We are increasingly being appoached by our supporters and members of the public, some of whom are supporters of your party, trying to ascertain what is now the party's true position on the Lisbon Treaty and referendum, due to its pivotal bearing on how they will vote at the next general election.

As things stand, we can only tell them that it looks as if, like Labour and the Liberal Democrats, you too will abandon your manifesto promise of a referendum. Beyond that, it is impossible for us to give a meaningful response to these enquiries, as the Conservative party is refusing to state a clear position.

Why not now end the damaging speculation that you are planning to drop the referendum commitment and state unequivocally that - regardless of whether or not the Lisbon treaty has come into legal force by the time you become prime minister, and in accordance with the "cast iron guarantee" to hold a referendum you wrote of in The Sun (26 Sept 07) - you will call a referendum within a specified period of coming into office?

Unless you are able to do this, the Democracy Movement and others will be forced to assume that Ken Clarke's above-mentioned endorsement of the status quo should Lisbon be ratified is the settled position of the Conservative party.

I look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely,

Marc Glendening
Campaign director

Please join in this quest for clarity from the party that looks likely to be our next government, by sending a version of this letter to your own Conservative MP or, especially, candidate hopeful of being elected. We would be very interested to see a copy of any reply you receive.

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