Fraser Nelson

Time to start banging on about Europe

Time to start banging on about Europe
Text settings

It’s not yet official, but everyone is couning on a big “yes” from Ireland – to the tune of about 64% says The Guardian. I say in my News of the World column tomorrow that this is far from a disaster for the Conservatives. It works well for them, in fact: it isn't nerds who want a UK referendum but any fair-minded person who has just witnessed the way Brussels bullies, bribes and cajoles to get its way. Tony Blair was the one who reneged on his promise of a rederendum – something which, in my opinion, should be a criminal act (but, as Stuart Wheeler tested, is not technically breach of contract). And who is to be EU President? Blair himself.

It will be dawning on Cameron, fairly soon, why Europe is important. He fought a Prime Minister Brown only to deal with a President Blair? The whole shebang is an outrage, the Conservatives can be outraged and with only a third of Britain saying EU membership is “a good thing” the outrage will be shared in the nation. Where is the problem for the Conservatives? If I were Cameron, I’d get my anger decanted tonight. It is, to use his words, finally time to start “banging on about Europe”.

PS. James says below that Cameron will have enough battles and will want to avoid Europe. I don’t doubt it. But as I also say in my NOTW column tomorrow, this doesn’t matter much. To paraphrase Trotsky, he may not be interested in a battle with the Europe Union, but Europe will be interested in a battle with him. And it starts now: they want to seal the deal with the Czechs and Poiles before the British public can have their say. Note: it’s not the Tories that are the threat to Lisbon but the British people who would express their view in a referendum. All the Tories are doing this time is saying “we’d let the people decide”. The party, itself, would not veto. It’s hilarious hearing the lefties avoid this point, as they like to think anti-Lisbon sentiment is shared by John Redwood and his mates when in fact it’s the majority of the public.

Cameron will soon find the extent to which the EU ties the hands of a PM. Four examples. Cameron wants the UK out of the social chapter: he won't be able to, post-Lisbon. He has pledged a VAT holiday for certain businesses: that's against EU law. He wants to abolish expulsion tribunals in school – that’s against the right to a fair trial in ECHR (which he would NOT overturn with his decoy Bill of Rights). Finally President Blair’s voice will try to drown out that of Britain in the world stage, as the vainglorious ginning charlatan tries to position himself as a European Obama. What’s not to fight? If the EU realises Cameron is taking the path of least resistance, they’ll make a power grab. Cameron will have to fight them if he wants to govern properly.