Pardon me for being thick, but – ever since Prime Minister David Cameron hatched his strategic plan of renegotiating the UK’s relationship with the EU and then putting the result to the electorate in a referendum – I’ve considered the wheeze ridiculous, borderline crackers.
Never mind Mr Cameron’s motives, whether they be grounded in righteous principle combined with a desire to improve the UK’s terms in any event, or just a knee-jerk reaction to try and head off the chances of UKIP stealing enough Tory votes to let Labour into power via the back door at the 2015 General Election.
From my perspective the bottom line is that David Cameron is a pro-European Tory, not a Little Englander one.
My strong suspicion therefore is that – whatever ‘improvements’ the new Tory government now manages to wrestle out of the EU power-brokers [even, dare I say it, if they amount to little or nothing at all] – the Prime Minister will go into the subsequent referendum campaign seeking to hail them as sufficient to allow him to recommend ‘staying in’ to the UK electorate.
Should Mr Cameron attempt to deny the above proposition, I’d ask him (or his supporters in the Establishment) to set out the ‘red line’ improvements to the UK’s relationship with the EU which amount to the absolute minimum the Tory government would regard as necessary to ‘retrieve’ and/or gain in order for them to recommend staying in the EU at referendum-time.
I’ll bet he (and they) would bluster away and refuse to do it.
Well, it would have nothing at all to do with not wishing to give a hostage to fortune – as they might claim – as they enter a difficult and complicated ‘re-negotiation’.
It would be all to do with the fact that Mr Cameron and the Tory government have no ‘absolute minimum’ requirements.
Why? Because they’re going to recommend staying in, come what may – i.e. even if they get no ‘improvements’ at all by their much-trumpeted ‘renegotiation’.
To put my point another way:
Would Mr Cameron please set out for us the terms and conditions (or if you like, the circumstances) in which the Tory government would go into an EU referendum campaign recommending a UK exit from the EU?
He – and they – will not do it, because they cannot do it.
Because there aren’t any.