David Cameron says there will be EU referendum if...

David Cameron on BBC Radio 4's Today

You hear David Cameron saying on Today people feel increasingly left out of the debate, you hear him say he wants the country to give its full-hearted consent. Ha! You say, yes he's going to give us a referendum on Europe at last.

But just be a little careful - the prime minister has ruled out an in/out referendum now on Europe. In other words a choice now about whether we stay or go - he's ruled it out before the next election.

In other words, what we learned from the Today programme interview, which is a dramatic shift - we'd had hints and nudges before - is that he has set out how we might get that referendum on Europe after the next election, but there is a series of ifs:

  • If he wins the next election alone (in other words doesn't have to get this past Nick Clegg)
  • If he can persuade other European countries, particularly Germany that they need and want treaty change
  • If Britain can then get what it wants in negotiations
  • If he thinks he can then win a referendum

If all that happens, well then, yes, there will be a referendum which he thinks will approve a new better settlement for Europe.

But his difficulty in giving that big speech on Europe in about a week's time is what if he's wrong on any one of those ifs?

Because then the pressure will remain on him from within his party and from outside, not least the UK Independence Party, saying they are not willing to wait for those ifs, saying they are not willing to wait all that time, saying that they are not willing, in other words, to trust him.

Saying, in short, "we want our choice now".

But essentially, what has happened today is that the prime minister has shifted to say you WILL get a referendum one day - in certain circumstances.

Nick Robinson Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 457.

    The EU is a train wreck

    Spoke to someone just back from Dublin

    Beggars on the streets
    Rubbish not collected

    If you want business premises you can have it for free for 3 years
    providing you pay the buildings insurance

    Spain is what? 25% unemployment??
    Those are revolution inducing levels of social unemployment

    The EU?
    Na. No thanks

  • rate this

    Comment number 456.

    Four large "ifs".

    A PR guru colleague suggested PM media bluster about Europe is designed to distract attention from Fitch's statement on UK AAA rating. Both Downing St occupants have invested much capital therein; froth created elsewhere to drown Fitch comments out.


    If Fitch downgrade, then the PM may need to recite Kipling's poem as his EU speech.

  • rate this

    Comment number 455.

    The UK's policy towards European political & economic integration is usually:"Wait and See". Cameron's interview on the "Today" programme suggests just reiteration.

    Amid bluster, just shrewd PR; plucking pieces of diced red meat to toss to baying backbenchers, party political points & positioning pre-election; edging a sceptic gap with Lib Dems, & attempting to marginalise UKIP.

  • rate this

    Comment number 454.

    in other words- we wont get a vote. why oh why are we constantly being ignored on this? Its not what u mp's want- its what the majority of the country wants-we want out of europe, we want our laws back and we want our towns to be inhabited by english speaking people not full of everyone from every boltic state + every corner of the world. we want the money paid to europe spent on our needy first!

  • rate this

    Comment number 453.


    Nobody knows. The one thing I think we can be certain that would have been different is there wouldnt have been the failed tripartite regulatory model in place. Whilst Brown did not cause the crash, his actions both as chancellor and PM exacerbated the problem. Public Sector splurging didnt help, but isnt solely responsible. But I dont think it would have been significantly different, no.

  • rate this

    Comment number 452.

    No450 Steve,
    'bankrupt as you left the nation'
    No one can deny there were, and still are, serious problems.
    Do you think it was the collapse of the national and international financial system, or government spending that was most responsible for the 'Great Recession'?
    Would things have been different if 'Pasty George' had been in No11?

  • rate this

    Comment number 451.

    Does anybody know at which time Cameron is going to deliver his Amsterdam speech on Friday, 18th of January?

    Would like to see/hear it live.

  • rate this

    Comment number 450.


    In your dreams, comrade. Unless you lot start dancing a little more loudly and proudly to the Union paymaster's tune, you're going to be as bankrupt as you left the nation. Just as well you dumbed down the northern tribals to brain stem dead dole dependent stupidity or you'd get no votes at all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 449.

    Would the MEPs past and present like Clegg keep their pensions from the EU or would us UK taxpayers have to pay? We never seem to be told how much it would cost or save to leave the EU.

    Let an independent Scotland take the UKs place in the EU we won't ever be allowed a vote like the Scots will get.

  • rate this

    Comment number 448.

    Games, sophistry and out right deception - Heath signed a secret convention or deal or whatever you call it and it has been downhill ever since!

  • rate this

    Comment number 447.

    Referendum Hokey Cokey

    The Referendum's On
    The Referendum's Off
    On Off On Off
    The dutch will hear the toff
    You do the David Cameron
    You spin, and spin around
    That's what it's all about

  • rate this

    Comment number 446.

    its even more complicated than those two simple choices, even if you leave you can't help but be under the thumb in almost every respect of the huge federal entity being created on your doorstep with a population of 500million & a $15 trillion GDP. You can check out any time you like but can never leave - physically

  • rate this

    Comment number 445.

    The EU needs modernising and it is credit to Cameron that he is attempting to do this a..it could take a decade.

    It needs far more than modernising, it needs tio be fundamentally changed at almost every level & even if everyone agreed it would take a generation to achieve. Cameron is only interested in appeasing isolationist Tory voters threatening to defect to UKIP, not in real reform

  • rate this

    Comment number 444.

    The basic problem is that the arguments for being in the EU are mostly economics whilst the arguments against are mostly political. So it seems you can live well if you do as you are told by folk you cant remove or you live less well but can kick them out when you want. Take your pick.

  • rate this

    Comment number 443.

    The EU ministers that are harping on about it 'being bad for the UK' aren't saying it out of concern for the UK are they, they're worried about the effect it'll have on the poxy EU!

  • rate this

    Comment number 442.

    The EU needs modernising and it is credit to Cameron that he is attempting to do this albeit from a domestic point of view by repatriating some powers. If he can persuade Germany and others to agree to changes then it will a win win situtation. The problem is the time factor - how long will it take to agree any structural changes - it could take a decade.

  • rate this

    Comment number 441.

    Lucy J

    The counter argument is we are stronger inside the EU than out through inward investment and exports.

    No state is free to make their own decisions in an interdependent world both economically and militarily.Even N.Korea listens to China

    The argument over the EU is not either/or as Ukip pretend but the balance of advantage.A debate still to be had..

  • rate this

    Comment number 440.

    For those who think we have no option to staying 'in', what do they think's going to happen when the 'euroclub' members become a federal entity? I suppose the UK not being part of that club will still keep us at the heart of Europe will it? Will it b*llocks!

  • rate this

    Comment number 439.

    So the Tory Right topics of choice at the top of the political menu in early 2013:
    Fox hunting (for)
    Gay marriage (against)
    Europe (splutter, *!&&*£, red-face, goggle eyes)

    Thought it was UKIP who are meant to be odd?

  • rate this

    Comment number 438.

    There is a power struggle within the tories for a new leader. The right-wing formed a group called the Conservative Voice, led by Liam Fox (remember him) and David Davis. (source: The Telegraph, published online 11 September 2012).

    They are keeping their powder dry, but if Tories get in next time, you can't imagine what damage they will do compared to what the Coalition are doing at the moment


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