Coffee House

Exclusive: David Cameron meets eurosceptic backbenchers ahead of speech

16 January 2013

The Prime Minister met a group of Tory backbenchers in Downing Street this afternoon to discuss Friday’s Europe speech. I have spoken to the group’s ringleader, John Baron, who has stressed the confidential manner of the discussion, but has given Coffee House readers some exclusive details of what went on.

John Baron, Peter Bone, Edward Leigh, Mark Reckless, Philip Davies and Steve Baker attended the meeting. They were representing the 100 Conservative backbenchers who had signed the original letter in June calling for legislation in this Parliament for a referendum in the next.


The meeting, which had a good atmosphere, lasted 20-25 minutes, and Baron and colleagues reiterated to the Prime Minister the letter’s two demands. First, the British people needed to be given a clear commitment – preferably for a referendum – which was believable, because there had been too many broken promises in the past. This is why the group is calling for legislation in this Parliament for a referendum in the next. Second, a referendum has to be credible and therefore include an ‘out’ option – the ‘in’ option presumably being the Prime Minister’s renegotiated position.

Baron wants to keep the Prime Minister’s responses confidential, but adds:

‘I do not believe that a referendum should be held soon: the Prime Minister does need time for a renegotiation, and we all accept that. I do not think that it would be difficult to get legislation on this through Parliament: after all, it was a Liberal policy and it does not have to be a long bill. It can be a one-sided bill.’

More Spectator for less. Subscribe and receive 12 issues delivered for just £12, with full web and app access. Join us now.

  • John McClane

    Cameron & Baron are following Wilson’s 1975 strategy., Went to Brussels with 5 points to be renegotiated, Came back with one success. Put this to the people in a referendum as a new relationship with Europe. We were fooled then. It’s now either In or Out. If they want us in they’ll tell us what they can offer. If they want us out they’ll tell us what they can offer. We can negotiate.

  • John McClane

    It’s either in or out. If the EU wants us in they’ll tell us what they can offer. If they want us out they’ll tell us what they can offer. We’ll negotiate on that. In the meantime Cameron is (along with Baron) is following Wilson’s 1975 strategy.

  • Roy

    Everything is being done to make sure the people do not have a say or a sniff of a suggestion to their long term demise.

  • williamblakesghost

    Its all too little too late. Cameron’s kicking it into the long grass again banking on the likelihood that he will be expelled from Downing Street by the electorate in 2015 will ensure the Tories will continue to fulfil the 2nd rule of politics:

    You can’t trust the Tories over Europe.

  • francbanc

    EU Treaty changes can take as long as 5 years according to Barroso, so what makes people think the British public will want a referendum before they can see what they can get back, if that’s what people are being told? The Tory and Lib Dem position is to hold a referendum when our relationship has fundamentally changed, and that’s been clear from the off.

    • fubarroso

      Thing is the only way our relationship can fundamentally change is by invoking Article 50 TEU, in other words give notice that we are leaving. Otherwise there is a little matter of acquis communautaire that says we ain’t going to get any powers back let alone fundamentally change the relationship.


    I don’t support these MPs at all. Anyone who can say that they don’t believe a referendum should be held soon doesn’t really want a referendum at all and knows that in the next Parliament it will not take place or will take place under very restricted circumstances that ensure a No vote practically equals a Yes vote.

    • blingmun

      I agree. The lies and deception are driving many law abiding middle class people in this country towards revolutionary fervour. The fundamental principle of democracy is that we should be governed only with our consent. If we are denied any say on how we are governed, we must ultimately use force.

  • Remittance Man

    I see from the Telegraph that Cameron is now criticising the euro-sceptics for being “too hung up on the process”. IMHO that is a very revealing statement.

    Given his past record and attempts to weasel out of “cast iron” commitments I too want to hear exactly how and when he will begin this much touted “process” of negotiating reform. Without a roadmap it will be impossible for us to hold the bugger to account and all to easy for him to excuse inaction on the grounds that “the time isn’t right” or “one doesn’t kick a man when he’s down” and all the other bollox he’s spouted in the past.

    • ArchiePonsonby

      Wavy Davy isn’t a failed PR man for nothing. He’s still honing his skills, trying to get it right!

  • Julian Kavanagh

    Why don’t these professional nutjobs concentrate on something that really matters. Like the fact that of the pay-rise I was given yesterday (lucky me), the state takes 55% despite not being liable for any PAYE in the 50% bracket. And this is a Conservative-lead government?

    • an ex-tory voter

      Correction, this is not a “Conservative led” government. In any case, much of the “governance” we suffer eminates from Brussels and not from the increasingly irrelevant Palace of Westminster.

  • Nigel Jones

    Any Conservative MP who isn’t working night and day to depose David Cameron isn’t worth a pitcher of warm spit. Where’s Airey Neave when you need him : he would have already organised the plot to get rid of Dave.
    Its quite clear by now that Cameron is engaged in transparent deception designed to stop the flow of votes to UKIP and he will neither call a referendum nor engage in any serious negotiation since he has already been told the EU never repatriates powers.
    UKIP is the only party that is honest about what the EU really wants.
    The Cameron Conservatives clearly have a death wish: let them have it.

    • David Lindsay

      Whom would you have instead, and why?

  • Rhoda Klapp

    Bubble story. Same ground gone over many times. Time for the Spect to face facts?

  • UKIP for change

    Eurosceptic backbenchers? Most tory Mp’s who claim to be eurosceptic are really just trying to save their own necks.Others are hand in glove with Number 10.Manufactured arguments to make it look like eurosceptics have a voice.Take David Davis,he wants a referendum,to get permission to have a referendum.Gibberish!

    Too late,i have had enough of false promises.In opposition for 13 yrs the tories could play that game,and boy did they play it.UKIP will continue to get my vote.

  • ben corde

    Th EU will give nothing up. Cameron cannot renegotiate anything. It is all a smokescreen to try and recover lost ground from UKIP. Everyone can see through the deceit and ambiguity. Every time articles like this are tweeted the outrage grows and so does UKIP membership. I’ve just put my own money where my mouth is. Tories won’t be around after 2015.

    • telemachus

      It is all to no avail as you will have seen at PMQ’s
      Cameron is trounced week on week
      When we get to 2015 he will be used to it

      • John McClane

        Telemachus. You live in a fantasy world. Seriously.


          No he doesn’t. He is just a troll, deliberately trying to prevent conservative discussion, and he is paid to do so.

          • Radford_NG

            With the Moscow Gold?[Originaly supplied by Lenin;coming down via Marxism Today.]

            • David Lindsay

              Quite so. Listen to this, broadcast this morning. It is only half an hour long, but it packs an awful lot in.

              Devastating. Absolutely devastating.

              Some of us always knew this. But we never expected to hear it from the horses’ mouths on Radio Four.

              (in all parties) is not only the intellectual heir of Eurocommunism,
              but also the actual, monetary heir of the Moscow Gold: the Communist
              Party became Democratic Left, which became the New Politics Network,
              which became and remains Unlock Democracy. Legally and financially.
              Directed by a Lib Dem, Unlock Democracy is still occupying the same
              premises, which were bought with money from the sale of property that had in turn been bought with money given by Lenin.

              Tony Blair wrote
              for Marxism Today, setting out his whole agenda in black and white as
              early as 1991. Yes, you read aright. Before the 1992 Election.

              Corrigan, husband of Hilary Armstrong and architect of Blair’s
              marketisation of the NHS which is now being completed by Cameron, speaks
              frankly of having been a Communist Party parliamentary candidate in a
              Labour seat in 1979, and of the Eurocommunist roots of the whole idea of
              foundation hospitals among other aspects of the Blairite doctrinaire
              anti-statism that is still in power and which Charles Leadbetter defines
              as the Communism to which he has always adhered, right up to the
              present day.

              Corrigan confirms that “I am still a Marxist” who
              understands the world in terms of dialectical materialism. Thus speaks
              the man who designed Blair’s health policy, and whose wife was Blair’s
              Chief Whip, including at the time of the vote on the Iraq War.

              whole idea that there was even any need for a New Labour was
              effectively dreamt up by Eric Hobsbawm. Demos was founded out of the
              ruins of the Communist Party and of Marxism Today, with Tony Blair as
              the only politician at its first meeting. Even I did not know that last
              one. Keep reading it over until it has properly sunk in.

              Devastating. Absolutely devastating.

              • telemachus

                Just what is wrong with Corrigans caring view of “to each according to their needs”
                Sounds like you adhere to Social Darwinism”

          • telemachus

            I believe very seriously in balanced views and decry censorship

            • Colonel Mustard

              Which is the usual hypocritical rubbish because in another thread you advocated the state indoctrination of children with UKIP leaning parents. What you mean by “balanced views” is in fact socialist bigotry and propaganda.

    • David Lindsay

      After Thatcher’s Single European Act, there was barely any power left to sign away to what, in actual fact, has always been the EU.

      What little there was, was almost entirely signed away by Major at Maastricht, when William Hague was a Minister and when David Cameron was having the first of his two goes, to date, at ruining the economy.

      Cameron really has lost the plot with his suggestion today that Labour wants to join the euro. Ed Balls is second only to Ed Miliband’s mentor, Gordon Brown, in having kept Britain out of the euro.

      In any case, no party now wants to join the euro. Not even the Lib Dems, as their Deputy Leader, the veteran Maastricht abstainer Simon Hughes, told the Any Questions audience on Friday evening.

      • francbanc

        Ed Miliband refused to rule out joining the Euro. I wouldn’t trust him as far as I would back myself against him in a game of Dungeons and Dragons.

        • David Lindsay

          He did no such thing, and it’s a non-issue. There is absolutely no suggestion that the United Kingdom could ever join the euro. There hasn’t been since the 1997 Election removed Ken Clarke, now apparently back in the Cabinet until he dies even if he has no official job in it because he is so important within the Conservative Party, from the position of Chancellor of the Exchequer, and replaced him with Ed Miliband’s and Ed Balls’s political godfather, the man who kept the United Kingdom out of the euro.

          • Radford_NG

            It was Jimmy Goldsmith creating the Referendum Party(the Ref. to be held before joining the single currency) that kept us out of the €uro;forcing a desperate Major ,then Blair,to offer same to the electorate;although Brown then instituted his 5 conditions before calling a referendum.

            • David Lindsay

              Rubbish. Part of the usual writing of the political history of Britain as though the only people in it were only the Tories. Including the Referendum Party, a complete irrelevance as things turned out, a social rather than a political organisation, a toffs’ drinking club.

              And now also including UKIP, which despised Goldsmith at the time (perhaps because he was a genuinely interesting paleocon thinker in his way, even if his British electoral vehicle was preposterous), which is likewise never going to win a seat, and which now openly yearns for the lifeline of a electoral pact with Labour. It won’t get one, though. Labour doesn’t need it, just as the Conservative Party doesn’t want it.

          • francbanc

            “He did no such thing”

            Yes he did. He simply refused to rule it out and also said that the EU didn’t have too much power. Here’s a video


            • David Lindsay

              That’s not what he’s saying (joining the euro is a non-question, anyway), and in any case he’s not there to answer.

      • John McClane

        “After Thatcher’s Single European Act, there was barely any power left to
        sign away to what, in actual fact, has always been the EU”

        It hasn’t always been the EU. It was at one point the ECSC, then it became the EEC aka the Common Market then it became the EU. Maastricht was minor compared to Lisbon. Mission creep writ large.

        • David Lindsay

          No one who knows the first thing would make that last statement. Wanting something to be true does not make it so. Thatcher’s Single European Act towers over everything else, followed by Maastricht, and then by the Treaty of Rome that Britain signed while Thatcher was in the Cabinet. All else is window dressing. And what has Cameron done about Lisbon, anyway?

          It was really always the EU. There has never been an organisation called “the Common Market”, and even the ECSC was dismissed by Attlee as “the blueprint for a federal state”; the answer to that was, “Well, yes, of course.” Bevin wrote across the front of the document that, “the Durham miners would never wear it.” So that was just that. 25 years before we went in, and nearly 30 years before the 1975 referendum.

          Do not try and absolve yourself of having voted Yes in 1975. Or of having voted Tory in 1970. Or of having voted Tory in 1974 (either time), and thus against the possibility of a referendum. Or of having voted Tory in 1983, when there was a Labour commitment to withdrawal even without a referendum. Or of having voted Tory in 1997, and thus to keep supporters of joining the euro as Chancellor and as Deputy Prime Minister rather than replace them both with opponents of it, as happened once the results were in. You knew what you were doing.

          • Colonel Mustard

            I didn’t. I was a boobie.

            • David Lindsay

              At least you admit it.

              • Radford_NG

                In 1983 the issue we voted on was unilateral disarmament and cruise missiles:not `europe` but Finlandization.

                • David Lindsay

                  It was the only occasion on which either major party was committed to withdrawal. Clearly, you made your choice.

                  And absolutely everyone now accepts that the Soviet military threat never existed. Exactly as Enoch Powell always said that it didn’t.

                  A relationship to the United States comparable to that between Finland and the USSR might as well have been called Britainisation. The difference is that it still could be.

                • Curnonsky

                  The only basis for the fantasy that “the Soviet military threat never existed ” would be that with much of the Labour Party and TUC leadership on their payroll the Soviets came close to a bloodless takeover.

                • Colonel Mustard

                  Excellent. And the full story of that sordid relationship has never been told. The Comintern never went away. It just re-invented itself.

                • David Lindsay

                  They weren’t. You are looking in the wrong place for that. There were any number of Soviet agents in Britain, but they weren’t where you think that they were.

                  The fact that they were where they were raises very serious questions about whether the USSR, as such, was ever really any threat to anything in Britain.

                  That the Soviet Union never had either the will or the means to invade Western Europe is now accepted axiomatically everywhere beyond the worst corners of the worst saloon bars.

  • EJ

    Let us hope that Messrs. Baron, Bone etc are men of firm principle who will put the concerns of their constituents and true Conservatives above being in Dave’s favour, stick to their convictions and continue to put extreme pressure on our Europhile PM to represent the British people, rather than the interests of those who, like himself and the yellow-bellied Clegg, stand to make an awful lot of money out of prolonging the failed and catastrophic EU experiment for as long as possible.

    • an ex-tory voter

      Too late, the UKIP horse has long since left the stable and is currently a racing certainty to deliver a defeat for the Conservatives in the forthcoming vote for MEPs and at the next GE. Dump Dave or die.

      • realfish

        Yes, good idea.Vote UKIP and get Miliband, someone who was at least honest enough to confirm today that Labour will not give people a say on Europe – not that they ever would (they are socialists after all), remember his brother signing the Lisbon treaty in defiance of Labour’s commitment to a referendum, and Brown creeping in to add his signature, like a thief in the night, long after the signing ceremony?
        But by all means sign up to the Homer Simpson school of political strategy – vote for less Europe and get more! Doh !!

        • fubarroso

          Unless I’m much mistaken the Lisbon Treaty has been the only EU Treaty that Labour have signed up to. The Eurosceptic Tories on the on the other hand have signed up to all the rest. Vote for less Europe? Don’t make me laugh!

          • David Lindsay

            Well said.

          • Guest

            Yep. But Gordon Brown crept in to sign late at night when nobody was watching.

            • David Lindsay

              Telling you everything about what he thought of Blair’s Treaty. He had inherited it and he was therefore stuck with it, but that was all.

          • Jen The Blue

            It makes sod all difference whether Cameron, Miliband or Clegg is in number 10 – more Europe is what we will get whether we like it or not.

            UKIP may not have much chance of success but they are our only chance.

        • an ex-tory voter

          It makes no difference which of the two main parties are voted for. In either case the result will be more socialism, a continuation of the overbearing and bloated state and more control by Brussels.
          Screw tactical voting, I will vote for the party which most closely represents my views. If David Cameron and his cronies want my vote they will have go go for Article 50, nothing else cuts it.
          Failing that, I will accept that fool Milliband as the next Prime Minister and watch the happily as the opposition to him and to the EU explodes during his premiership.

          • realfish

            You’d really be prepared to see the Marxist’s spawn (yet another Labour fantasist) as Britain’s PM? It’s just too much to contemplate.

            • ArchiePonsonby

              I’ll be damned if I’m going to vote for the Tories, with whose policies I am totally at odds, just to keep Labour out. What’s the difference anyway, or haven’t your owners explained that yet?

      • David Lindsay

        For the European Elections, the Conservatives and UKIP are statistically tied (well behind Labour). For the General Election, fought under First Past The Post, UKIP is literally nowhere. Where, exactly, is it going to win a seat? And why, exactly?

  • Colonel Mustard

    Ringleader? Why don’t those in favour of EU membership, uncontrolled immigration, climate change and gay marriage ever have “ringleaders”?

    • Tom Tom

      That’s because the EU Commission simply sends down its Educts to the Civil Service as Steve Hilton pointed out……anything else is Resistance and that needs “ringleaders”

      • John McClane

        You don’t need ringleaders if you run the media. You just need scapegoats.

    • telemachus

      Remember Baron’s expenses

      The first was for £87,000, the second for £34,035.

      Following the Legg Review Mr Baron had to pay back £8,800 to cover interest claimed for the rule-breaking £34,035.

      Yet he has been able to keep around £23,000 in respect of interest he has so far claimed on the £87,000 in 2003 – the Legg Review focused on MPs’ claims made between 2004 and 2009.

      Why are we held to ransome by such folk?

      • John McClane

        Why are we being held to ransom by Brown’s and Balls’es legacy?

    • ArchiePonsonby

      They have a ringleader. He’s called Cameron!

    • filthykafur

      Colonel Mustard..Why do you include Gay issues in your bigotry? Is it because you are aa hateful, narrow minded git or just an ignoramus?

Can't find your Web ID? Click here