Fraser Nelson

Will the broken referendum promise break the Lib Dems?

Will the broken referendum promise break the Lib Dems?
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At last, some life in the Lisbon Treaty debate – and from the least likely party. All LibDem MPs stood on a manifesto pledge to hold a referendum on the EU Constitution and quite a few (perhaps as many as half) believe they should not break this trust with the voters as Labour has done. Ergo much unhappiness about Clegg’s decision to play follow-my-leader with Brown, without any proper consultation or debate. Clegg has already admitted his party is split on the issue, and yellow brickbats are flying in the blogosphere. But, Clegg can tell his nervous party, no one cares. It’ll never break out of Westminster.

 

He can think again. I gather the ever-resourceful Open Europe will soon announce it will hold its own EU Treaty referendums in the most marginal LibDem constituencies to hammer home the point that the local MP has dishonoured a manifesto pledge. Remember, current polls suggest half Clegg’s party will lose their seats at the next election – so several of them will have survival, rather than loyalty, on their mind. Thus the true Maastricht-style misery may be inflicted on the LibDems, not the Tories. With LibDem meetings being held early next week, things may heat up quickly. Stay tuned.

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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