The speech delivered by David Cameron today marked a fundamental change in the debate surrounding our membership of the European Union. This was a speech Cameron never wanted to give: he is passionate about our continued membership of the EU, and to risk the Eurosceptic British public putting a spanner in the works is something he would have avoided if possible.
Cast Iron Dave
But the growing tide of support for Ukip’s message led the Prime Minister to make a statement which in the end sounded like it had been taken from the “Yes” campaign of the 1970s. His support and commitment to the single market came shining through. It will be used, just as the term “Common Market” was in the 1970s, as an innocuous and cuddly phrase to lure people into supporting what is a political movement but disguised as a friendly trade organisation.
But all this will come after the next Parliament if, and it’s an unlikely if, Mr Cameron is re-elected. And it will come after attempts at negotiations which senior European figures have already started, are not welcome and unlikely to succeed. They may throw some cosmetic changes the Prime Minister’s way to aid his campaign for this country to remain bound in political union. But being able to fish for herring in the Solent or a few extra hours’ flexibility in the Working Time Directive won’t cut it.
David Cameron is right that the British people are upset at continually being refused a referendum. But Cast Iron Dave is the politician most guilty of that. His failure not only to grant us a vote on the Lisbon Treaty but the three-line whip on Tory MPs against a referendum in 2011 will remain in people’s minds.
In a mere 15 months, the Prime Minister has done a complete U-turn from the shambles of that October to now telling the people that he is the man to deliver their wishes for a change in our relationship with the EU. Why should we believe him, especially when he has the power to offer an In/Out referendum in this parliament?
There are claims that the Prime Minister has shot Ukip’s fox. From the reaction we have had, quite the opposite is true. We even have a new councillor who has defected from the Tories on the back of this speech. The very fact that a referendum on Britain’s membership is being talked about is Ukip’s biggest victory to date. But the battle has only just begun. With Conservatives, Labour and Lib Dems clear in their determination for Brussels to dominate how we live our lives, it is Ukip which will be leading the campaign for independence.
We have been fighting for years to get this subject on to the agenda and now we will be pushing our positive message of a UK free from Brussels’ regulation and able to retake our place on the world stage.Reuse content