Europe Proves Tricky Again for Cameron

Last week the coalition government’s Europe Bill was voted through the first stage of the parliamentary process.  The bill is the result of Cameron’s promise to the eurosceptic wing of his party to hold a referendum in the instance of any further treaty changes and to ‘enshrine the primacy of parliamentary sovereignty’.

I have followed the progress of this particular policy with interest as it seems an area where the Tory party and coalition government are liable to run in to difficulties.  And I was proved right when the eurosceptic wing, whom the bill was trying to appease, stated loudly and clearly that the bill did not go far enough.

In the end the rebellion was neither strong enough nor large enough to defeat the bill, but I doubt very much that this is the last of Cameron and Hagues’ problems.  The most vocal of the rebels, Bill Cash MP, is unlikely to ever be truly satisfied unless we have a retrospective referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, which is impossible, or withdraw from the EU altogether.

It is worth noting that the Lib Dems, a broadly pro-EU party, also voted for the bill.  This is almost certainly because they recognised it as largely meaningless.  It is unlikely to have any real effect the UK’s relationship with EU.  I guess that means that in a way I agree with Bill Cash and his ilk, not something you’re going to hear me say very often.

2 Comments

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2 responses to “Europe Proves Tricky Again for Cameron

  1. Daniel Oxley

    Tories like Bill Cash are not Eurosceptics (EUsceptics is a more useful description in my view but lets not cloud the issue). If they were Eurosceptics they would not belong to the Conservative Party – the Party of Europe, the one which took us in to the EU (disguised at the time as the Common Market) and have since then, always caved in to Brussels, signed up to everything in the end and have advocated EU membership even when the Labour Party was against it.

    MPs like Mr. Cash advance the cause of ‘ever closer union’. They do this by pretending that the EU is capable of reform and by hinting that leaving the EU is a possibility under a Conservative administration. For as long as they spout all this nonsense, the Tory faithful can delude themselves that if the EU gets any worse people like Bill Cash will make a big fuss and then Cast Iron Dave will have to sort things out.

    The nearest the Conservative’s have to a Eurosceptic is Norman Tebbitt. He goes around with a UKIP badge on his lapel, he votes for UKIP, he encourages others to vote for UKIP, he advocates leaving the EU but he is not, in my view, a Eurosceptic because he is still a Tory and this vestigial loyalty still gives comfort to Tories who want the EU to be about trade and cooperation rather than oppression.

  2. Mary,

    Why did you put ‘enshrine the primacy of parliamentary sovereignty’ in inverted commas as if its something ugly or distasteful? It used to be true & seems to me to be wholly laudable. Unfortunately we are now a “member state” (something genuinely distasteful) with in excess of 10% of our laws passed down to us from Brussels. I wonder how many people in the UK are really happy with that situation?

    Why is a retrospective referundum on the Lisbon Constitution impossible? We are still an independent country & if the Coalition had the balls that Brown sadly lacked we could put it to a popular vote. Care to bet who would win? What would the EU do then? Chuck us out?

    regards
    geoff