Coffee House

‘Where’s my letter?’ MP demands Cameron reply to Europe demands

5 September 2012

One issue that the reshuffle makes no difference to at all is the Conservative party’s Europe problem. If the Prime Minister managed to forget about the pressure from his own party for an EU referendum over the summer, he’s about to be reminded of it.

In late June, Tory MP John Baron handed a letter to David Cameron signed by over 100 of his backbench colleagues calling for the government to introduce legislation now for a referendum on European Union membership in the next parliament. He has still not received a response, even though the Prime Minister said he would write back. Last week, Baron pestered Cameron’s office, and this week, he has tabled a parliamentary question which must receive a response within five days. The question demands an answer from Cameron, saying:

To ask the Prime Minister, when he plans to respond to a) the letter of 27 June 2012 from the hon. member for Basildon and Billericay signed by a further 100 hon. Members on a referendum on the EU and b) the subsequent e-mail of 30 August 2012 from the hon. member for Basildon and Billericay.

Baron also tells me he is setting up an all-party parliamentary group for an EU referendum in the coming weeks, which he hopes will be made up not just of his eurosceptic friends on the Tory benches, but also of pro-European MPs who also want to give the public a vote on Britain’s membership. This will not be a poorly-attended obscure group by any means, and will certainly add to the Prime Minister’s discomfort. Not only does he have over 100 members of his own party waiting – now rather impatiently – for him to send a letter back to the one they wrote just under three months ago, but he will also hear MPs from across the House saying a great deal more about the need for a referendum.

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Show comments
  • Wessex Man

    It’s never going to happen while “call me Dave” is in office but then again we can only hope he doesn’t last much longer.
    If the Scots can have a referendum on leaving a Union, why on earth can we have one? Second class subjects again!

  • Malfleur

    If Mr. Cameron does decide to answer his mail, I hope that he will also find time to respond to this open letter from Paul Weston:

  • Macky Dee

    David Cameron should just serve the people. Give them a referendum NOT after some renegotiations with EU but BEFORE. and the question should be… Which, if any of the following do you most agree with… Withdrawing from the European Union or Re-negotiating our membership terms to try and see what we can get?

    • Michael990

      But that is not a straight in out question. It provides for the lazy answer of the second choice where people would say ‘well, you never know, it might come out ok’. The wool pulled once more…

  • Andrew Paul Shakespeare

    The only issue that David “They don’t get much more eurosceptic than me” Cameron ever seems to show any backbone on is his support for our membership of the EU. He’ll flip-flop on anything else, but not that.

    I laughed aloud last night watching an interview with Corby’s Conservative candidate, saying “We are the eurosceptic party”. If we could just see some shred of genuine, incontrovertible euroscepticism in the party’s policies, UKIP wouldn’t be enjoying half the success it has now!

    • Charlie the Chump

      Very true but maybe time – and his support – may be running out . . .

  • J A Jones

    WE want a referendum on the E U now. We are sick of being ignored by an arrogant government who are too wet to say boo to the EU. The little darlings want to be on the Gravy train, diddums, boo-hoo!

    • Publius

      I think Iain Martin is right. Unless ‘we’ are very careful, the forces marshalled in favour of a yes vote – big business, the BBC, the political establishment, the civil service – will ensure that so much terror is aroused in the hearts of the voters that they will vote to stay in.

      The voters were duped before. They will be duped again.

      • james102

        The general public no longer believes anything these
        organisations say.

        What is the alternative, remain a province of the
        Franco-German federation?

        • Publius

          “What is the alternative, remain a province of the
          Franco-German federation?”

          No, James, certainly not. But much as I wish it otherwise, I do think that the concerted efforts of the estabishment that I mentioned will scare the bejeesus out of the electorate – deliberately.

          My point, which was also Iain Martin’s point, is that those who would like to see a no vote had better not just take it for granted that this is what they’ll get.

          • james102

            We get that or we get nothing.

            Carry on and we will be like the Maoris in New Zealand.

            The campaign itself will raise national awareness and air
            the myths we have had to endure. Why think a “Stay in” vote will be any more
            permanent than the No votes recorded in referenda in Ireland? Referenda can
            only bind a generation at most, you can’t commit your children and
            grandchildren to contracts so why think you can bind them by referenda?

            • Publius

              James, you seem to be talking as if I had said there should be no referendum. I did not say that.

      • Fergus Pickering

        So if the voters vote your way they are fine upstanding citizens, but if they vote the other way the have been duped and ought to be ignored. Is that what you are saying?

        • chudsmania

          Think 1975 , remind us who was lied to and duped then ?

        • Publius

          No, Fergus, that is not what I am saying.

          How much faith do you have in an electorate that apparently decided, pre-election, that Clegg was more popular than Churchill? Vox populi is not vox dei.

          • james102

            If our political class believed they would win a referendum
            we would have had a couple by now.

            • Publius

              Perhaps. But then I suppose the corollary of this is that, if a referendum is ever granted, then our political class believe they will win it, no?

              • Douglas Carter

                I think that more or less nails it. (AV Referendum 2011 notwithstanding – it was held for reasons specific to the coalition, naturally).
                Classically, a Referendum ought to be held where the Government have advised Parliament that the final say should be taken by the public, and that Parliament will respect that decision as binding.
                However – the long-promised-never-held single currency referendum being a good point – the Parties are cynically using the totem of the Referendum to variously ‘park’ or comprehensively avoid publically committing to postures on matters they are aware are politically unpopular. Hence (as Keith Vaz has been fairly candid about) you can be pretty sure the public will never be presented with a chance to make that decision without the Political tribe having first pre-rigged and guaranteed the preferred result.

  • Coffeehousewall

    What does Isabel Hardman think of the views of the electorate regarding an EU referendum? Is that of interest in the Westminster bubble?

    • Andrew Paul Shakespeare

      Numerous polls have indicated a strong desire for one, and that around 50 percent of the country would vote “Out” — that’s before any campaign has even started.

      • Macky Dee

        Unfortunately, there won’t be an In / Out question.

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