David Cameron is coming under pressure from his own party to hold a referendum over the UK’s relationship with the European Union.
The secretary of the 1922 committee of Conservative MPs, Mark Pritchard, has called the EU an ‘occupying force’ in the Daily Telegraph and said that the ‘unquestioning support’ of Tory back-benchers can no longer be taken for granted over the issue.
He also said that the government should hold a referendum on EU membership next year to decide whether the UK should be part of a political union with the EU or just be a trading partner.
Mr Pritchard is backed by some 120 Tory MPs including William Hague and the former aide to David Cameron, George Eustace, says the Telegraph.
Up until now the PM has basically apologised for the powers given away before his time at Number Ten. He has also claimed that the ‘Referendum Lock’ is sufficient to protect UK democracy. The lock was put in place by the European Union Bill when he came to power and would trigger a referendum if ministers felt that any future change in legislation would involve a transfer of power from Westminster to the EU.
But the law is full of loopholes. It is up to ministers who want the law to go through to ‘decide’ on whether power would be transferred. A conflict of interest if there ever was one. Are they likely to put an obstacle as large as a UK wide referendum in the path of lawmaking?
And anyone who subsequently thinks that the ministers got it wrong would have to chance their arms by going for judicial review of the decision. Both lengthy and costly.
But the way we’re going as a country leaves us out on a limb. We are neither really committed to the EU nor are we abstainers.
Our politicians seem to want the best of both worlds. Be in the club but not have to abide by all the rules. Would you as a fully committed member want semi-members who could do what they liked swanning around your club house?
It’s no good our politicians saying that we need to be ‘in’ to have influence if it’s just going to cause friction with our trading partners in the long run.
The UK should be true to itself and hold a referendum. It should make the wholehearted decision of ‘in’ or ‘out’ and then get on with it. Sitting on the sidelines makes us as an aimless country.
If we vote for ‘in’ we need to immerse ourselves fully in the Union, currency, democratic deficiency and all.
If we vote for ‘out’ we live and die by our own mistakes.
But whichever it is we need to make the decision now so that we can build our future on whichever basis we choose, not just sit aimlessly on the sidelines.