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.