Fraser Nelson

Straight talk on Lisbon?

Straight talk on Lisbon?
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I have just been on a phone-in with Five Live, and heard Greg Clark getting into a fix over Europe. “Are you going to do some straight talking with us tonight?” asked Steven Nolan. Yes, he replied. What will the Tories say if Lisbon is ratified, then? Wriggle wriggle wriggle. “We don’t deal in hypotheticals” Clark said – the worst possible answer in my view. Any question starting in the word “if” is a hypothetical, and politicians answer them all the time. To claim otherwise insults the intelligence of listeners. But what other option did Clark have? I can’t understand why the Cameroons don’t say that there is no point in a post-ratification referendum. Who would they be upsetting? The Eurosceptic British public are intelligent enough to grasp the situation. Nolan asked Clark this about seven times – because it is a metaphor for the Tories not really having much of a clue. In my view, a needless self-inflicted wound. The Tories have a good story to tell on Europe: only they would offer a referendum if the Czechs and Poles manage to hold out. This is the firm will of the public. Every time the media try to make this an issue about mad Eurosceptic right wingers, the likes of Clark can say “actually it’s the British public who want a vote, and who will say ‘no’. This is about basic democracy, not Tory factions. We’re not proposing to block anything, just give them he choice. And yes, if it is ratified, then a referendum would be pointless. It would be a democratic outrage. But you can bet that a Tory government would battle for Britain – whereas this Labour government has demonstrated that its agenda is to hand over our sovereignty and our rebate to try to win friends in Brussels.” But to dodge the question, as poor Greg Clark had to do, makes the Tories look needlessly evasive.

Written byFraser Nelson

Fraser Nelson is the editor of The Spectator. He is also a columnist with The Daily Telegraph, a member of the advisory board of the Centre for Social Justice and the Centre for Policy Studies.

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