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EU: If DC were PM

Nick Robinson | 13:11 UK time, Thursday, 17 September 2009

Eurostar to Brussels: En route to tonight's EU leaders' dinner, my mind turns to what it would be like if David Cameron were prime minister. I am not the only one thinking about this.

David Cameron outside No 10 Downing StAcross Europe, they will have noticed that yesterday the Tory leader dodged a question on what he would do if the Irish vote Yes in their referendum on the Lisbon Treaty - putting what was once called the EU constitution back on track.

David Cameron is committed to holding a referendum on the treaty and campaigning for a No vote. His problem will come if the Treaty is law and European leaders and Eurosceptics alike demand to know what he means by saying he will "not let the matter rest".

Cameron said he did not want to comment before ratification was complete in all countries. Some Tories are hoping that their old ally Vaclav Klaus, the Czech president, may drag out his country's ratification process until after the election so that Cameron - if he's PM by then - can still hold his referendum.

What, though, if he can't? Would the Tory leader prefer to see his first few months in office occupied by a battle with the EU or with Eurosceptics in his own party?

Comments

Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    I doubt if he'd prefer either, but I suspect he'll get both.

  • Comment number 2.

    So Cameron avoided answering a question.

    Well, that's one up on Brown. When Brown should be avoiding answering a question, he can't help himself.

    He simply lies.

  • Comment number 3.

    Keep an eye on Gordon for us will you Nick! You know what he's like.

  • Comment number 4.

    Hopefully the Irish will do the right thing, vote the proposal down and make the whole deal irrelevant. If not then hopefully Cameron will tell Europe where to stick their constitution when he wins the election, and if necessary pull us out of the EU, they need us considerably more than we need them.

  • Comment number 5.

    Sounds like Camerons's bandwago jumping has caught up with him.

    His original plan was to play on the fact that through ignorance, most british people seem to believe that this referendum is about whether or not to remain in the EU, which of course it never was.

    Its always been a referendum, which if passed will result in much needed changes to role of the EU and hopefully make it exponentially more efficient & relevant.

    Its difficult to see how critics of Europe can be against such reform.

    So if Cameron was to campaign for a 'no' vote , he'd actually be supporting the EU to continue in its present form, which pretty much everyone agrees would not be good thing.

  • Comment number 6.

    lmao

    As per my last comment on the prvious thread, I was wondering what your next topic would be Nick. Surprise, surprise it's about the tories and combined with their most divisive subject - Europe.

    Just so the mods realise that I'm on topic... For what it's worth I still want the referendum I was promised by EVERY party, since Labour broke that promise (who'd have thought it!) I hold out hope that the Tories wont. I dont care how many countries ratify this treaty the British public MUST be consulted before our sovereign powers are given away, this is not something a government of any political stripe should have the authority to do.

  • Comment number 7.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 8.

    There is no point in Cameron showing his hand before it is necessary. I would like to think he has a plan which ever way the ratification by other countries pan out.
    Having said that, Cameron would be a hero to most of Europe if he stopped the Euro juggernaut in it tracks. Everytime a nation has had the chance to vote on the Lisbon Treaty/Constitution, they have rejected it but the European elite refuse to take no for an answer.
    If Cameron choose to reject the treaty he would have President Obama in his corner as he confirmed his view on the sovereignty of nation states.
    “America’s interest in an international system that advances cooperation while respecting the sovereignty of all nations. State sovereignty must be a cornerstone of international order. Just as all states should have the right to choose their leaders, states must have the right to borders that are secure, and to their own foreign policies. That is true for Russia, just as it is true for the United States. Any system that cedes those rights will lead to anarchy.”

    Barack Obama, New Economic School, Moscow, Russia, July 2009.

    No better endorsement than that!

  • Comment number 9.

    Nick, you say "my mind turns to what it would be like if David Cameron were prime minister. I am not the only one thinking about this."

    Perhaps another way of looking at this would be to ask what it would be like if, after the next election, Gordon Brown were still prime minister?

  • Comment number 10.

    Iam sure he will have some sound advice from other members of the party if and when elected into office, As a new broom will always sweep clean and attempt to keep electorate happy as iam sure he is capable if given a chance, After all he can't do any more damage than has all ready been inflicted can he? Quote things can only get better.

  • Comment number 11.

    My understanding is that once the Lisbon treaty/EU constitution has been ratified by all member states then it cannot be revoked by one member unilaterally.

    If true, it would be pointless for Cameron to call a referendum but perfectly reasonable for him to use the call for the right to opt out of unwanted clauses as a negotiating tool in future discussions.

    To answer your final question, he can do both and I doubt that many diehard tory eurosceptics would be daft enough to rock the boat so soon after being in opposition for 13 years. Don't forget that if the tories do get in the majority of the MPs will be newcomers or those who weren't part of the 90's infighting.

  • Comment number 12.

    When push comes to shove, the Irish will vote "no" again (hooray).
    More Euro-sceptical groups will also put the pressure on too, so the Czech's will also end up rejecting the treaty.
    And Cameron will let the UK have a vote, so that we can vote "no" too.

    With a bit of luck we can get the Dutch to hold another "confirmation referendum" where they will reject it like they did the first time.

    Then the EU fanatics can chuck the treaty in the bin, and let the EU remain what it always should be... en economic-union.

    Nothing more.

    See, it really can have a happy ending.

  • Comment number 13.

    Either way he's going to be in a battle with the Eurosceptics it doesnt matter what the Irish vote is, people are still going to cause problems when this topic comes up. The best he can hope is that he can divert it into a skirmish rather than letting it become the main issue of the day.

  • Comment number 14.

    An interesting question, for sure, but it's hardly the biggest political story of the day, is it?

  • Comment number 15.

    Nick Robinson:

    I would like to also, know what David Cameron thoughts are on his thoughts regarding the future of United Kingdom in the European Union....

    =Dennis Junior=

  • Comment number 16.

    Nick Robinson:

    What, though, if he can't? (Yes, he can; He will time to make out all of the arrangements)

    Would the Tory leader prefer to see his first few months in office occupied by a battle with the EU or with Eurosceptics in his own party? I think that is what the Tory Leader is on the working thread wants to do is...Wait and see than having a battle with either EU and/or Euroskeptics...

    =Dennis Junior=

  • Comment number 17.

    I wonder if DC will be as tough on employing illegal workers as Labour promised to be. In December 2007, Immigration Minister Liam Byrne said:

    "Illegal working attracts illegal migrants and undercuts British wages. That's why we're determined to shut it down.

    "The message is clear for employers - we will not tolerate illegal working.

    "[A planned] highly visible marketing campaign will ensure employers have no excuse for breaking the rules."

    Perhaps, Nick, you could bring this point up with Mr Brown or maybe even the current Attorney General and former Minister at the Home Office, Baroness Scotland. Certainly Jacqui Smith saad that the rules they introduced in 2007 would deter "slipshod recruitment methods".

  • Comment number 18.

    "En route to tonight's EU leaders' dinner, my mind turns to what it would be like if David Cameron were prime minister."

    Yeah, I bet that made for a few collywobbles before the waitress came round with the champagne in Leisure Select, didnt it?

    Trying out the seats on Eurostar for size Nick, just in case of NL imploding next spring?

    "Last one out of Wood Lane, please turn off the lights"?

    Watch out for that Irish pub in Schuman behind the EU building. 5 Euro's for Guinness for heavens sake. Its a rip off.

  • Comment number 19.

    Sorry Nick,

    Did you have to squeeze past the 'elephant in the room' to get to this topic!

    So, DC is playing his cards close on this one, we know his view, but declaring his 'what if' strategy to the world is not tactically very wise at this stage, is it?

    Now, back to the 'elephant'and what should happen to Gordon now he has been caught out over the treasury leak!

  • Comment number 20.

    Amazing that that democracy in this country is dependent on so many "if's". Why can't Brown simply be honourable and democratic rather than dishonest & autocratic?


  • Comment number 21.

    Look, the crux of the matter is that most laypeople such as myself, do not actually know what the Lisbon Treaty is. Apparently it is lengthy and complicated.

    I suggest somebody does a precised down "idiots' guide" to it, endorsed by the legal beagles. Put it online, we can read it, and be a lot clearer on what we want or don't want.

    Simple really.

    DC is committed to pleasing the people - he's seen and is seeing their wrath, ire and angst against Brown et al. No way will he want to go to the place THEY are in.

    We all hopeful that DC will be da man. I am sure he will.

  • Comment number 22.

    All three parties promised us a referendum on the revised European arrangements when they wanted our votes at the last election. We have been cheated out of it by the present government. An incoming government should not ratify this cheating. It should hold the promised referendum.
    The arguments for and against Lisbon are far from all one way. A debate about the merits would be helpful and whatever the outcome of the vote, having one should settle the position of the UK in Europe for some time to come. Until we have the referendum, our relationship with Europe will be a running sore- hardly a desirable state of affairs.

  • Comment number 23.

    What has this peice go to do with Eu "Leaders" meeting.

    Or do you now accept that Cameron is going to be our next leader.

    In which case can you ask the irrelevant current encumbant when he will do us all a favour and leave!

  • Comment number 24.

    Hope you have a nice day out there Nick, is Baroness Scotland going too?

    Who asked the czech's to come into the EU?

    Could they still be our saviours unless Ireland does the right thing?

    I can't see Ireland helping us out though because the credit crunch has shown that the celtic tiger economy was based on less than solid foundations. Hopefully the Irish people will see that those poor structures were put there because they were members of the EU.

  • Comment number 25.

    As a majority of the UK population would almost certainly vote 'NO" to the constitutuion and possibly also to our complete withdrawal from Europe, this is going to be a tricky one for Cameron. As a staunch EU supporter himself, he will have to put his personal prejudices aside.
    If the treaty is not ratified by the time he gets into power (assuming he does) then a referendum needs to be held as soon as possible.
    Should the treaty have been ratified before the election, a poll still needs to be held to assess the feeling of the British people.
    The problem with the whole EU question is that it appears to be another level of bureaucracy that is devoted to making incomprehensible laws that do nothing for the ordinary citizen.
    The whole wheelie-bin/recycling farce started in Europe as did the document that says criminals must get better treatment than victims called the Human Rights Act.
    Still, fingers crossed, Ireland could yet vote no again which will give us another year before they're forced to vote again.

  • Comment number 26.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 27.

    Must be a slow day in Westminster, guess I must have dreamt the reports of a senior minister hiring an illegal immigrant, Harriet Harman trying to airbrush Margaret Thatcher out of a history of women in power (the first woman councillor gets named but not the first woman party leader/Prime Minister?) and Gordon Brown getting caught out regarding cuts.

  • Comment number 28.

    This is a bit of a no brainer really.
    Cameron isn't PM & he won't be able to change the Lisbon treaty retrospectively if he does get into No 10 after it has been ratified.
    Comparisons with Brown are not valid because Brown is in power, promised us a referendum & let us down like he has so many times before.
    Cameron may have to write this one off & put it down to experience.
    There is little more he can do.

  • Comment number 29.

    The foundations of the EU are based in banking and currency exchanges. It favors big business and banking interest. They have done so much for everyone over the past couple of years we would certainly want to continue their agenda. Greater efforts to move the governments further away from the people for the benefit of business. The development of a system to use public funds to promote private sector ventures that result in a greater concentration of wealth. Throw back to the Holy Roman Empire, and like that, nothing Holy about it.

  • Comment number 30.

    Cameron is right to keep his powder dry on the Lisbon Treaty.

    Everyone already knows that nothing can be said or done until the treaty is ratified or not. Brown has already committed the UK without the referendum we were promised so we are left in limbo.

    That leaves those of us totally against a federal Europe spitting blood especially having seen the nincompoop Berossa re-elected for another five years.

    Whether the treaty is ratified or not I suspect Cameron will have enough on his plate prioritising our own country first. Any further arguments on Europe can be put on the back burner until normal service is resumed.

  • Comment number 31.

    Nick

    Ponder this - the PM is waiting for the Irish vote before he calls an election. That is the only reason that they have to wait right now. All economic indicators show we are broke, the Irish vote will at least get the final part of what Labour can do to destroy this country ratified by accepting Lisbon, so Cameron can do very little if it is ratified.

    The battle needs to be had with Europe about many many things. It will keep you busy for many years to come. The whole experiment has gone far too far and Blair and Brown gave away for nothing the last negotiating chip Britain had. It is going to take massive commitment, leadership and courage to stand against the EU but it needs to happen. Tragically most in this country are completely ignorant to what is going on and what potentially can happen.

  • Comment number 32.

    Interesting picture at the top.

    I wonder, is it real or has it been photoshopped?

  • Comment number 33.

    I am largely confused as to why this is a story and would be grateful if somebody could help with this.

    Surely DC has stated and restated that he is committed to holding a referendum on the treaty. If there had been, or was due to be a general election before the 2nd October (I think that’s the date for the Irish ref) then I would see the story. Either DC would be in power, and we would be waiting to see if his word was worth anything, or he wouldn’t be and the point would be irrelevant.

    As it stands the GE will not be till next year and as such DC is powerless to effect any change. Surely Nick these are questions that should wait till after the 2nd when they will have more relevance. There must be more pressing issues at present that merit discussion, or maybe I am just a confused and misguided soul.

  • Comment number 34.

    "Would the Tory leader prefer to see his first few months in office occupied by a battle with the EU or with Eurosceptics in his own party?"

    Nick,

    The first few months of whoever-is-PM's time will be entirely focused on trying to work out how to manage the economic crisis.

    Cameron could simply pull UK representation at Council of Ministers - which would block most action - until the EU seriously re-examines the Common Agricultural Policy.
    That was promised when Blair reduced the UK "rebate" and thus increased our net contributions.
    Not too much activity so far.

    The EU needs the UK more than v.v. We are massively in balance of trade deficit with the bloc, so nobody would be keen to see that threatened.

    (Oh, and we tend to implement EU regulations more rapidly and far more rigorously than most!)

    Not sure this was a "hot topic" for your blog. I'd have thought some stuff about:
    "How hard will it be for small businesses to manage illegal immigrant employment, if even the government's senior law officer can't do it?"

    or

    "Would Cameron take seriously Duncan Smith's report about reforming credit and benefit rules, to try and help the poorer population? And would anyone in Labour "think the unthinkable", without being sacked for doing so?"

    But, a bit of speculation about a non-issue is probably best...

  • Comment number 35.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 36.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 37.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 38.

    I suppose we can wait and see, if Labour nick the idea of a Referendum as they have down with GPs.

    Oh, they were going to do it anyway, were they?

  • Comment number 39.

  • Comment number 40.

    Why can't Cameron hold a refendum whatever the status of the treaty/constitution ? and then act on the wishes of the public.

  • Comment number 41.

    one can only hope the irish people see the light and vote it down.
    so DC avoided a question well to be honest if he had answered either way he would have caused a greater argument.
    sadly in todays politics you are damned if you do and damned if you dont, so no matter what DC did would open the gates for other parties to attack.
    it shows how flawed the system is when parties are so involved in themselves they nit pick each other just to obtain popular votes.
    this country needs and requires better.

  • Comment number 42.

    I'm not a tory (or a member of any political party) but it seems strange to me that this should be the subject of today's blog, the day after we have been presented with clear evidence that the Prime Minister has attempted to mislead Parliament (I say "attempted" because I don't think anyone believed him anyway) and his repeated denials of cuts under Labour have been shown to be false. Are things now so bad that the dishonesty of the PM is no longer an issue?

  • Comment number 43.

    Nick, after what has gone on over the past couple of days with Mr Brown
    having to admit that cuts will take place and then caught out with Labours own figures to which nobody in the Labour party will own up to, why have you gone in a different direction? would it not be better trying to get a straight answer out of Browns lips before moving on to Cameron? or have you been warned off by the dark lord?????

  • Comment number 44.

    What! Nothing to say about Baroness Scotland? Or Mr 9.3%'s terminological inexactitudes?

    Surely the manner in which our current government conducts itself now is of more relevance than what David Cameron and the Conservatives might do about Europe in certain future circumstances? Does that make me off topic? Or Mr Robinson?

  • Comment number 45.

    Nick

    It is not quite as simple as it appears depending on whether the Scots/ SNP get the vote for Independence and if they do would Scotland automatically become a member of the EU/NATO when they are opposed to the UK's existing defence arrangements?

    A British PM would have to consider the prospect of a Scottish anomoly on its actual border and all of the issues and implications this raises.

    A British PM would also need/have to consider all of these aspects and which may require major UK/EU constitutional amendment - that would logically be the critical point and would need a lot of input by the British PM for the security and defence of the 'UK'.

    However, being as Scotland is 'subsidised', the Scots may yet prefer to vote with their wallets (Surprise! Surprise!).

    We obviously need a UK PM that we can trust with this extremely worrying situation - I just don't think that 'the penny has dropped' yet as to how serious this situation is for the 'UK'.

  • Comment number 46.

    If the European issue eventually gives David Cameron grief he won't be the first Conservative leader to be so afflicted. He always has the option of a referendum and I suspect that when push comes to shove, he'll have to hold one. Because even if a number of Conservatives like Ken Clarke might hold pro-Treaty views, there's no evidence that the broad electorate does. Also Cameron needs an issue to be definitive about after he and George Osborne continue to be vague about public spending. Caledonian Comment

  • Comment number 47.

    hello Nick,

    my mind turns to what it would be like if David Cameron were prime minister. I am not the only one thinking about this

    you certainly aren't, babe, I think about it quite a lot - main thing is to keep a very careful count of the tablets while you're doing it, and also make sure you have your Mother and a couple of close friends on speed dial

  • Comment number 48.

    Nick,

    No mention of Brown lying to Parliament or the nation about spending, but you are willing to ask Cameron tricky questions over Europe. Brown should resign for lying to us.

  • Comment number 49.

    With all the political stories around today is this really all you can come up with?
    With regards to David Cameron and the EU I would like to hope that if the czech and Ireland do vote yes then he will still give us the referendum we were promised and another to see if we still actually want to still be part of the EU but in reallity I don't expect that much would actually be done or could be done.

  • Comment number 50.

    If the vast majority of British people were not sure to have rejected ratfying this EU treaty in all but name. Gordon Brown would have been pleased to have honoured his Party's never ending election pledges to hold such a referendum.

    What kind of a guy would deny his whole counrty this fundermental right just so his worst enemy (Blair)could become the First President of the EU?

    With a friend like Brown neither Blair nor the British people need enemies!

    The only reason David Cameron would allow the British people a say in this momentous decision and give us a referedum! Is he puts his country before his enemies!

  • Comment number 51.

    Hardly the biggest issue facing you today, was it?

    What about Baroness Scotland and her less than scrupulous employment policies? Surely the fact that the Attorney General now needs to fine herself £10,000 because she 'unwittingly' broke migrant employment laws she herself helped to draw up is a bigger story?

    What about the leaked Labour documents revealing the lies and deceit emanating from No 10, that show the hypocrisy of our unelected PM, who spent the last 6 months deceiving the house and the public about his party's planned public spending cuts? Surely the fact we have such a man as Prime Minister is a bigger story?

    With regard to EU treaty/constitution and a referendum, there's no doubt who the majority of the public prefer to believe. That would be the party leader who has NOT broken promises, lied, and deceived Parliament and the british people. Hint: his initials are certainly NOT G.B.

  • Comment number 52.

    Nice newlabour defering tactic to ask a question with ten million hypotheticals.

    Who knows what DC would say but I'd porefer him to get into a scrap with the EU than roll over like a dead parrot as this useless government has done.

    Call an election for heaven's sake

    And sack the attorney general.

  • Comment number 53.

    #21. At 2:29pm on 17 Sep 2009, flamepatricia wrote:
    "Look, the crux of the matter is that most laypeople such as myself, do not actually know what the Lisbon Treaty is. Apparently it is lengthy and complicated."

    flamep,

    Being a European by geographical accident (just as I'm a Brit - or English if people want to get picky) and with a French wife and having been engaged in business in most EU countries, I did try to read the Treaty. (I read the Constitution, but gave up with the replacement document in disgust.)

    It is deliberately complicated.

    The original Constitution was realatively easy reading. Giscard d'Estang and the Commission troops took out a few bits, but then re-wrote the Treaty of Lisbon in a cross referencing sort of way. In other words, new words to replace, augment or modify existing, referenced treaty texts.

    The intention was very clearly to produce 95percent of the Constitution but mainly in the form of amendments. Deliberately to make it harder to read and understand. A point that was admitted by several governments.

    It's true that the EU needs to be more efficient. Even so, many of the proposals from the Treaty of Lisbon have already been introduced - despite the fact that the Treaty is not legally enforceable until ratified by every member state. But, heck, why should a bunch of bureaucrats worry about anything as insignificant as "political accountability"?

    By the way, is Peter Mandelson still receiving "adaptation payments" that seem to be given to ex-Commissioners who leave post, to allow them to settle into their post-luxury lives?

    Funny if we're paying for him twice over!!!


  • Comment number 54.

    I can't see it being an issue; the treaty wont get ratified before the election. Cameron knows this and isn't stupid enough to give a divisive answer to a problem he's unlikely to face.

    To be honest I'm content that the Tories seem to be sticking to their referendum stance.

    As with other posters above I am confused as to why the Nick's blog has picked up on this relatively minor issue. Surely the story about Brown misleading parliament and getting caught is more relevant?

  • Comment number 55.

    #34. fairlyopenminded
    "(Oh, and we tend to implement EU regulations more rapidly and far more rigorously than most!)"

    This is a myth, when it comes to implementing EU directives UK is lagging behind compared to most of Europe.

  • Comment number 56.

    @ sonofthedesert, post #42;

    "...it seems strange to me that this should be the subject of today's blog, the day after we have been presented with clear evidence that the Prime Minister has attempted to mislead Parliament... Are things now so bad that the dishonesty of the PM is no longer an issue?"

    Hmmm... is there something wrong with your mouse-wheel, my friend? You can click the side-bar on the right-hand side of your window to scroll down, if so. The debate on Gordon Brown lying about cuts is still going, right below this one on Mr Robinson's Main Blog Page.

    Are Tory supporters that un-confident of their chosen messiah's abilities that they're scared to see any stories about David Cameron on the BBC...?

  • Comment number 57.

    How about commenting on the fact that the Irish have already voted but because they came up with the "wrong" result they had to vote again?
    And didn't Gordon promise a vote on the Constitution; oh yes I forgot this isn't the "Constitution" is it?

    If it quacks it's a duck if it lies it's .... well lets not go that way.

  • Comment number 58.

    35. At 2:51pm on 17 Sep 2009, you wrote:
    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    You what ....... Run the rules by me again , because your deletion doesn't break any of the rules you have printed

  • Comment number 59.

    21 At 2:29pm on 17 Sep 2009, flamepatricia wrote:
    Look, the crux of the matter is that most laypeople such as myself, do not actually know what the Lisbon Treaty is. Apparently it is lengthy and complicated.

    I suggest somebody does a precised down "idiots' guide" to it, endorsed by the legal beagles. Put it online, we can read it, and be a lot clearer on what we want or don't want.

    Simple really......

    ===

    It must be. Caroline Flint, when Minister for Europe, confirmed that she had not read it.

    Says it all, really!

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/5084584/Caroline-Flint-Europe-minister-hasnt-read-Lisbon-Treaty.html

  • Comment number 60.

    @42

    "Are things now so bad that the dishonesty of the PM is no longer an issue?"

    Sadly it seems so, and thats one of the sorriest sentences I think I've ever heard.

  • Comment number 61.

    #40 dotsanddashes

    "Why can't Cameron hold a refendum whatever the status of the treaty/constitution ? and then act on the wishes of the public".

    You ask a good question, but the problem is this. Once the constitutional treaty has been ratified by all members states, it then comes into force. Once that happens, so the theory goes, it cannot be un-ratified.

    The fact that a future elected government could have its hands tied in this way in perpetuity, actually tells you all you need to know about why it should be rejected.

    David Cameron should be unequivocal and say that he will hold a referendum come what may, whatever the state of play in other member states.

    Brown's decision to sign without holding a referendum should be declared legally null and void because he exceeded his authority. Labour was elected on a manifesto that promised a referendum on and their change of mind amounts to a breach of 'contract' and 'electoral trust'. It was the expectation of the people that a change to our constitution would not rest on the whim of one man.

    I believe that a new law should be brought in regarding this. Where prospective MPs publish a manifesto and are elected as a result of those pledges, they should face legal proceedings if it is found they have broken their promise. With the exception of genuine cases beyond anyone's control, if an MP is found guilty of breaking a manifesto pledge, they should be barred for life for holding any sort of public office. I dare say that would focus the minds of a few of these career politicians.


  • Comment number 62.

    Come on now Nick this is a contrived Story and you know it we know it and you know we know it.

    There are much other factual storys than a "What if" to have a pop at the Tories.
    They have all been mentioned above so I will spare myself the bother of typing.

    But come on now get some self respect and cover these bigger more serious and grave issues.

  • Comment number 63.

    My personal view is that Cameron is mad. The next election is one that no one wants to win, surely? I'd like to see Brown stay in power merely for his nose to be rubbed in the mess he made. Anyway, Brown's conduct over signing the Treaty suggests he doesn't want it either but daren't stand up to another about face.

  • Comment number 64.

    I think that we overdo the EU issue. Europe needs us and we need Europe. Therefore somewhere along the way any issues around the Treaty will get sorted. Pragmatism will hold sway. I am not sure why the political focus has swung away from the UK economy where we have problems aplenty.

  • Comment number 65.

    #59 yellowbelly1959

    The link you give is a timely reminder that this constitutional treaty has been pushed through without proper scrutiny, or the opportunity for the voters to have any say as they were promised. For these reasons, Brown's 'ratification' should be declared legally invalid.

    The fact that Caroline Flint, Minister for Europe, hadn't even read the treaty should come as no surprise. As she herself claimed, many women ministers were only there as window dressing. Clearly as a minister who couldn't be bothered to read important documents, she should know!

  • Comment number 66.

    Nick
    T'would be interesting to know what subjects are up for discussion at this EU leaders meeting. Don't suppose law breaking ministers or less than truthful leaders is on the agenda are they?

  • Comment number 67.

    61. At 4:52pm on 17 Sep 2009, DistantTraveller wrote:

    ...Brown's decision to sign without holding a referendum should be declared legally null and void because he exceeded his authority. Labour was elected on a manifesto that promised a referendum on and their change of mind amounts to a breach of 'contract' and 'electoral trust'. It was the expectation of the people that a change to our constitution would not rest on the whim of one man.....

    ===

    Indeed, a decision he was so proud of that he did not attend the official photocall for the signing, but instead slunk in after everybody else, and especially the media, had left.

    https://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2007/dec/12/uk.eu

  • Comment number 68.

    I doubt that there will be a referendum. The Irish will vote yes, and before you can say 'Blair for President' it will be ratified. And nothing the Tories can do will reverse that.
    Brown will then resign but first he helps to vote in President Blair.

    Was this the deal that Brown/Blair agreed to when he took over ?
    Remember the 'New World Order' speech by Brown. He hasn't mentioned that for a while, but I doubt it has gone away.
    Brown goes on despite constant vilification. Why is that ? Is he on a bigger mission ?
    Mad conspiracy theory ? Maybe, only time will tell.

  • Comment number 69.

    It's not a story is it Nick.

    But lets be frank about this by saying that if the Lisbon treaty is ratified and Brown wins the election (god forbid) then UK MP's become irrelevant and our freedom and what happens here will be determined by politicians who are unaccountable to us.
    More taxpayers money siphoned off into the bent Euro MP's pockets.

    Unions will become stronger as they were in the 70's making it less attractive to businesses coming to invest in the UK.

    I think there will be a few extra plane seats needed out of the UK if Brown gets his way as this country will be finished inside a Euro super state.

  • Comment number 70.

    64. At 5:05pm on 17 Sep 2009, ARHReading wrote:
    I think that we overdo the EU issue. Europe needs us and we need Europe.
    -------------------------------------------------------------
    A sweeping statement that just ain't true. Countries such as Norway and Switzerland are doing very nicely outside of the EU.
    At most the UK should be part of the EEA which is something akin to what most of us believed we originally joined - a trading bloc.

  • Comment number 71.

    Khrystalar Post 56.

    If you took the time to actually read what I said you would have noted I am not a tory. I have no problem with the policies and actions of all parties being open to scrutiny.
    Whilst the debate on Nick Robinson's previous blog re cuts may be ongoing the blog itself was posted prior to the discosure of the Treasury figures which called into question the PM's honesty. Surely this is an important development deserving of some comment from Nick himself, not just contributors to his previous post.
    There are two distinct issues to be addressed - (1)cuts to public services and (2) whether the PM tried to mislead Parliament and the country regarding proposals for cuts. I happen to think the 2nd issue is just as important as the 1st and is certainly more relevant at the moment than hypothetical conjecture about situations in Europe over which the Tories currently have no control.

  • Comment number 72.

    I expect Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne will be good Tories and
    1) refuse to use trains to Brussels and instead go by boat (maybe loaned by Mr Osborne's friends)
    2) Not talk to anyone except fringe parties from countries including one that a that a former Conservative Prime minister helped dismember!

    Yes we will have endless spats with Brussels (a bit like Mr Salmond has with Westminster).

  • Comment number 73.

    #53 fairlyopenmind

    Hope this helps. I posted this comment at the time.


    Here is what some people across Europe said about the constitution/treaty;

    The substance of the Constitution is preserved. That is a fact.
    Angela Merkel, German Chancellor

    A great part of the content of the European Constitution is captured in the new treaties.
    Jose Zapatero, Spanish Prime Minister

    The good thing is that all the symbolic elements are gone, and that which really matters the core is left.
    Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Danish Prime Minister

    They haven’t changed the substance - 90 per cent of it is still there.
    Bertie Ahern, Irish Taoiseach

    It’s essentially the same proposal as the old Constitution.
    Margot Wallstrom, European Commissioner

    Only cosmetic changes have been made and the basic document remains the same.
    Vaclav Klaus, Czech President

    There’s nothing from the original institutional package that has been changed.
    Astrid Thors, Finnish Europe Minister

    This text is, in fact, a rerun of a great part of the substance of the Constitutional Treaty.
    Valery Giscard d’Estaing, Author of the European Constitution

    Public opinion will be led to adopt, without knowing it, the proposals that we dare not present to them directly. All the earlier proposals will be in the new text, but will be hidden and disguised in some way.
    Valery Giscard d’Estaing, Author of the European Constitution

    They decided that the document should be unreadable. If it is unreadable, it is not constitutional, that was the sort of perception. Should you succeed in understanding it at first sight there might be some reason for a referendum, because it would mean that there is something new.
    Giuliano Amato, Italian Interior Minister

    The aim of the Constitutional Treaty was to be more readable; the aim of this treaty is to be unreadable. The Constitution aimed to be clear, whereas this treaty had to be unclear.
    It is a success.
    Karel de Gucht, Belgian Foreign Minister

    Britain is different. Of course there will be transfers of sovereignty. But would I be intelligent to draw the attention of public opinion to this fact?
    Jean Claude Juncker, Prime Minister of Luxembourg

    The good thing about not calling it a Constitution is that no one can ask for a referendum on it.
    Giuliano Amato, Italian Interior Minister

    The manifesto is what we put to the public. We’ve got to honour that manifesto. That is an issue of trust for me with the electorate.
    Gordon Brown, 24 June 2007

    The Constitutional Treaty has been abandoned.”
    David Miliband, Foreign Secretary

  • Comment number 74.

    I always find it strange that this is such a big issue.

    Why, oh why, do the the Conservatives and so many of the British public resent being told what to do by Europe when they're quite happy to do exactly what an Australian American media owner wants them to do? Puzzling.

    Anyway, back to Cameron and Europe. Well, thus far, he's managed to make a complete mess of everything and alienate himself from potential European allies who mean something so no doubt he'll make even more of a dog's dinner of things when he obtains power.

    Generally, Cameron tends not to have a clue when it comes to issues abroad unless it comes booking holidays.

    Thanks Nick for making your blog about anything other than cuts and the failure of the public sector (when the failure was in the private sector... remember the banking bailouts).

  • Comment number 75.

    Caroline Flint along with many other MPs did not need to read the treaty.They were told how to vote by the party whips so no knowledge of what they were voting for was required.
    Further reinforcement of my contention that Parliament today exists only to serve itself not the public it is meant to represent.

  • Comment number 76.

    every single person who's captain keen on having this referendum on Lisbon is planning to vote "NO" - why is that? - is it the old thing whereby certain people only want to play a game if they think they're bound to win? - you know the type, right? ... "yes, that is my ball ... must have got a lucky kick out of the trees! ... just a wedge from here, I'd have thought"

    and Nick can you PLEASE change the photo at the top of this blog, it's giving me the willies

  • Comment number 77.

    #67 yelloebelly1959

    "instead slunk in after everybody else, and especially the media, had left"

    Yes, what an embarrassment. To paraphrase Sybil in the Fawlty Towers episode The Psychiatrist, "If you're going to sign a treaty, have the courage to be in same room as the other signatories when you're doing it"

    But as for Labour's deception and non-delivery of the referendum as promised by their own manifesto, I believe the ratification should be considered invalid. If a party makes a firm promise, but then once elected wilfully breaks that promise, this amounts to an election fraud.

  • Comment number 78.

    Since we are day-dreaming, how would the Brussels majority (all those who like their very comfortable life) feel about Nick Clegg as PM or Deputy PM? Clegg is serious about refoming the EU and he knows what he is talking about.

  • Comment number 79.

    #55. At 4:23pm on 17 Sep 2009, Gunota wrote:
    "34. fairlyopenminded
    "(Oh, and we tend to implement EU regulations more rapidly and far more rigorously than most!)"

    This is a myth, when it comes to implementing EU directives UK is lagging behind compared to most of Europe."

    Gunota,

    I can only work on what I read in the press and find on EU sites. Maybe you can point me to a EU site that shows the timing of passing of laws/directives and their entry into local governments legislative status.

    I also mentionede he rigour of application. France, Italy and Greece all made what should have been declared illegal payments to bail out their national airlines. I don't find that a "rigorous" application of rules. Do you? And I can't find evidence of financial sanctions. Can you?

    I seem to recall that quite recently, the UK were sanctioned because a completely useless Ministry responsible for distributing CAP money didn't get its finger out, so the money flowed like glue. And I seem to recall that this government said the costs would have to be accepted by the ministry, rather than going to Brussels, banging on the table and telling 'em to "soldier off".

    If Brussels is going to fine a country because it's got bad administration, we're all in the brown stuff.

  • Comment number 80.

    #73 Roll_On

    Thank you for this reminder.

    This is a huge fraud being perpetrated against all the peoples of Europe, not just the British. Let's not forget that as well as the Irish, the French and the Dutch also said 'no'.

    In fact, whenever the public have been asked, it got a resounding 'no'. The European Superstate now being created is not merely undemocratic, it is anti-democratic.

    Our so-called 'ratification' was an act of treason.

  • Comment number 81.

    Yes - The topic may be impertinent in context of the nation's problems as Brown is otherwise getting his usual media bashing which leaves the BBC thinking it is itself open to criticism.

    However, the country is in crisis but surprisingly neither Nick Clegg or David Cameron invite/request Parliament to be recalled for a special sitting.

    There is more than enough problems stacked against Brown/NL to get him/them all impeached in most countries in the world but it just shows how weak is the UK constitution and as open to abuse.

    Nixon was impeached in the US for lying over a burglary but we have no similar constitutional device to hold Brown/Blair/Mandelson to account when Brown does not even have an electoral mandate to govern.

    The only logical conclusion is that Brown's opponents see Brown as so weak that they do not even need to campaign with Brown at the helm - and wish to keep him there for the present.

    Does anyone think that the status quo is in the nation's interests?

  • Comment number 82.

    #59. At 4:33pm on 17 Sep 2009, yellowbelly1959 wrote:
    "21 At 2:29pm on 17 Sep 2009, flamepatricia wrote:
    Look, the crux of the matter is that most laypeople such as myself, do not actually know what the Lisbon Treaty is. Apparently it is lengthy and complicated....
    ===

    It must be. Caroline Flint, when Minister for Europe, confirmed that she had not read it.
    Says it all, really!"


    Sad thing is, folks, that I fear that few of the laws trotted through the house are studied in great detail by the Ministers responsible. Those who bother to read them quite often don't understand them.

    Not long back, Alan Johnson got up n the HoC and effectively said "Hey, I'm a bog-standard politician, you can't expect me to challenge whatever it was that the guys in the Ministry told me to say". And he was Home Secretary! Potential Leader? Oh dear.

    Flint complained of being treated like "female window dressing". Well, well. If you can't be ..... to read the stuff that YOU of all people, as the Europe Minister, were expected to explain and defend, how do you really expect to be treated?

  • Comment number 83.

    DC ought to fight for a more harmonised Europe, not cave into the europhobic Redwood backwoodsmen.

    I have said this a thousand times on this blog, but I shall again:

    The Lisbon Treaty would increase the powers of the parliament in Brussels. Most importantly it will create a more workable framework of internal institutions, vital given the recent EU expansions to the east.

    I fail to understand the hysteria concerning this Lisbon Treaty.

    For example the treaty would establish an EU foreign issues commissioner, not an EU foriegn minister. (despite what sordid little rags like the Mail say)

    And the Commission would have the ability to modify, redraft existing bills without trying to get unilateral agreement from all 27 member-states (which is currently proving to be unworkable).

    Put simply, there is a lot of nonsense talked about Lisbon, and for all of its failings, it is still comprehensively beneficial to the EU. It increases democracy, and modernises legislative patterns.

  • Comment number 84.

    The fact that so much obfuscation and chicanery has had to take place to get the treaty this far should really give everybody a clue to what it really is.
    Add to this the fact that Governments were scared to go to their electorates with referenda and one does have to seriously wonder what 'nasties' are contained in this document.

  • Comment number 85.

    The problem for any Government, whatever party that may be, is that in the background of any dealings with the EU, there is the knowledge that as much as 75% of the population are against our involvement in Europe and whatever is being negotiated is not supported by the electorate.
    Not just a UK thing either.

  • Comment number 86.

    76 sagamix

    "every single person who's captain keen on having this referendum on Lisbon is planning to vote "NO" - why is that? - is it the old thing whereby certain people only want to play a game if they think they're bound to win? - you know the type, right? ... "yes, that is my ball ... must have got a lucky kick out of the trees! ... just a wedge from here, I'd have thought"

    ===================================

    You mean like just Gordon Brown and the general election !!!! We know the type only too well unfortunately ....

  • Comment number 87.

    I distinctly remember Thatcher ‘handbagging’ the EU and got a significant reduction in our contribution. Blair gave that away on the condition that the CAP would be reformed.

    That has not happened but our contribution will increase by 60%.

    River and sold down spring to mind.

  • Comment number 88.

    55. At 4:23pm on 17 Sep 2009, Gunota wrote:
    #34. fairlyopenminded
    "(Oh, and we tend to implement EU regulations more rapidly and far more rigorously than most!)"

    This is a myth, when it comes to implementing EU directives UK is lagging behind compared to most of Europe.
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    During a recent holiday in in Spain I was surprised to find a number of bars and restaurants were people were still smoking. Out of curiousity I asked why the smoking ban (which is meant to be Europe wide) wasn't being enforced. The answer given by the bar owner was 'That is an EU rule not a Spanish one'
    A later conversation with a fellow traveller revealed that a similar attitude to some EU rules applies in Italy and Portugal too. Apparently they work on the principle of 'adopting' the rule but then cannot find legislative time to set up any mechanism to police or enforce it.

  • Comment number 89.

    #79. fairlyopenmind wrote

    "I can only work on what I read in the press and find on EU sites. Maybe you can point me to a EU site that shows the timing of passing of laws/directives and their entry into local governments legislative status."

    As you wish As you can see the UK is lagging behind when it comes to transposing (implementing) EU directives (laws) as I said it's not the worst on the list but it's position isn't exactly high either (below average at best) You can find a link to a detailed PDF here

    Mind you this is just the Internal Market laws (not all EU laws), but it does give you an interesting insight.

  • Comment number 90.

    Just back on-line after a lightning strike (no NOT Post Office - meteorological!)so ...

    Ref 23 Potkettle - Did you mean 'the irrelevant current Incumbent' (not 'encumbent') or ' the irrelevant current encumbrance'? The latter seems to fit! Either way I agree - he should go. Unless, of course, he changes his mind and lets us have a referendum before ratification!

  • Comment number 91.

    How much did the bank bailout cost the UK? £1,500,000,000,000

    Baillout as a % of GDP

    US = 25.8
    UK = 94.4

    Scary!

    Perhaps Duff should borrow more money to add to the “Children, Young People and Families Grant (CYPF) programme” to ensure that our children’s children can pay it off!

    Roll On 2010 - Nulabour are living on borrowed money and borrowed time.

  • Comment number 92.

    18. At 2:18pm on 17 Sep 2009, Fubar_Saunders wrote:
    ...........Watch out for that Irish pub in Schuman behind the EU building. 5 Euro's for Guinness for heavens sake. Its a rip off.
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - --
    If you're on an EU expense account who cares!!!

  • Comment number 93.

    The French said NO

    The Dutch said NO

    The Irish said NO

    When asked to respect those democratic decisions.....

    The EU said NO.

    They will have their Empire

    Ireland - tell them "NO means NO"

  • Comment number 94.

    56 Khrystlar

    asked
    "Are Tory supporters that un-confident of their chosen messiah's abilities that they're scared to see any stories about David Cameron on the BBC...?"

    Clearly a resounding Yes!!

    There's always the same outcry on this blog whenever a question on Tory Policy is posed, basically a mix of panic and synthetic outrage and demands for blogs only about Brown/Labour oh and not forgetting it proves beyond doubt that the BBC is biassed.

    It seems a strange double standard that one thing the Tory Junta Flag wavers on here hate most is Labour evasiveness on answering questions but the same said people feel totally at ease with the same evasiveness from "Trust me Dave".

    And its not just Dave of course....lest we forget his "deputy leader".

    https://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/newsnight/8080379.stm

    You have to laugh I suppose.

    What was it Dave said yesterday...something on the lines of (and I paraphrase) "What the Country needs now is openness and honesty...its called leadership"

    errrmmm quite Dave



  • Comment number 95.

    83 Deanthe tory.

    Has there been an invasion of the Body Snatchers at your house????

    Credit where its due Dean... a good post IMO.

  • Comment number 96.

    Nick writes:

    "En route to tonight's EU leaders' dinner, my mind turns to what it would be like if David Cameron were prime minister.

    I am not the only one thinking about this".....

    ======

    .....because whilst I was sitting next to Lord Meddlesome sucking my pencil, he gave me a nudge and suggested we go off topic with a topical topic about Europe.

    Pity I gave in because it seemed to me that leaked documents and Baroness Scotland were the order of the day.

    Oh well, can't complain; we're all together on the same gravy train.

    PS Serious question to Moderator: Is there a news blackout on the leaked budget documents? The reason I ask is becuase it's not being covered on any of the BBC media outlets.

  • Comment number 97.


    The European Court of Auditors has, for the 14th year running,refused to give a clean bill of health to the EU's spending.

    Sounds like everything is tiketyboo in the EU.

  • Comment number 98.

    Yawn, yawn, yawnity, yawn.

    Hey Dave (in my world DC is David Coulthard), it would seem that the country is coming out of recession and while I loathe the man I admire the way that the PM has dealt with the recession.

    When I put my cross on the ballot paper next year it will be put against the candidate for the party that I believe will make the best job of sustaining that recovery.

    I doubt that I will pick the party that seems to prefer bickering over Europe to one that has its eyes firmly on the economy.

  • Comment number 99.

    Under Brish parlimentry law NO GOVERNMENT CAN TIE THE HAND OF ITS SUCESSOR. so no excuses a referendum it is then.

  • Comment number 100.


    Nick, have I missed something here? Why are you talking about the Opposition Leader and the EU the day after we found out our PM and his Government (that's right - the one's in power at the moment!) misled Parliament and misled the country with his investment vs cuts mantra. What about Baroness Scotland and her illegal housekeeper, we could discuss that, given that she is likely to get off scot free when the ordinary small employer would probably go to jail.

    You are a Political Editor at the BBC, you do not work for the Government, you work for us - the people who pay your wages through the licence fee.

 

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