James Forsyth

Commons Clerks stymie Lib Dem plans

Commons Clerks stymie Lib Dem plans
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The Lib Dems are deeply split on the question of whether there should be a referendum on the European Constitution, as they promised in their manifesto. As Fraser explains in this week’s magazine, Ming Campbelll came to a compromise with the pro-referendum forces in the party where the Lib Dems committed themselves to a referendum but not on the constitution, or as we are now meant to call it the Lisbon Treaty, but the whole question of whether or not Britain should stay in the EU.

Nick Clegg has decided to stick with this position as he has no desire to disturb the uneasy calm in the Parliamentary party over the deal. But the clerks in the Commons have thrown a major spanner in the work. They have apparently told the Lib Dems that they can not put down an amendment to the European Union (Ammendment) Bill demanding a referendum on EU membership because it is nothing to do with the Lisbon Treaty. This blows apart the Lib Dem plan to have it both ways and spend the debate demanding a referendum but not on the Treaty itself.  

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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