Dave is trying to push a firm line on Europe post Ireland’s likely ‘Yes’ vote. The Tories have just emailed out a message from Dave giving the line:
I want to make one thing clear: there will be no change in our policy on Europe and no new announcements at the Conference. There will be no change in Conservative policy as long as the Lisbon Treaty is still not in force. The Treaty has still not been ratified by the Czechs and the Poles. The Czech Prime Minister has said that the constitutional challenge before the Czech Constitutional Court could take 3-6 months to resolve.
I have said repeatedly that I want us to have a referendum. If the Treaty is not ratified in all Member States and not in force when the election is held, and if we are elected, then we will hold a referendum on it, we will name the date of the referendum in the election campaign, we will lead the campaign for a ‘No’ vote.
If the Treaty is ratified and in force in all Member States, we have repeatedly said we would not let matters rest there. But we have one policy at a time, and we will set out how we would proceed in those circumstances if, and only if, they happen.
Tory policy now depends on the success of Václav Klaus, the libertarian leaning President of the Czech Republic, challenging the constitutionality of the Treaty. Guido has met Václav Klaus, and he is a clear-sighted fighter, not a quitter. If he can hold off the EU-elite’s constitutional steam-roller until the British general election, all is not lost.
Holding a referendum is popular across party lines, if the general election becomes a referendum on Brown and Europe all the better. Ken Clarke may have a huff, but he is one of the few prominent Europhiles left in the Conservative Party…