Thursday, 25 October 2007

Conservative Referendum Pledge Needs Conviction and Permanence

After Conservative leader, David Cameron, revised his claim yesterday that the Conservative Party will hold a referendum “if we can”, whilst refusing to back the opportunity for a post-ratification referendum, the European Foundation argues that Cameron is right to continue pledging a referendum but needs to honour it with utter conviction and furthermore, promise a post-ratification referendum.

Ever since Bill Cash MP, “the leading Tory euro-sceptic in the Commons”, put down his Early Day Motion on 17 October, which has now gained strong support, the Conservative Party must pledge (as it states in the Motion), that Parliament “holds a Referendum before or after ratification.” In total, 44 MPs have now signed the Motion. [See The Independent today].

Now is also the time for Parliament, at the very least, to override the European Communities Act 1972 in order to guarantee the red lines, including the Charter of Fundamental Rights, during the passage of the Bill which will implement the Reform Treaty. This can be achieved by excluding their effect through the use of a statutory provision preceded by the words ‘Not withstanding the European Communities Act 1972’, as suggested in Bill Cash’s draft report (para.3), published alongside the European Scrutiny Committee's highly critical report on the EU Intergovernmental Conference.

James McConalogue of the European Foundation said:
“The Conservative Party must pledge a referendum on this Treaty even after ratification. It would not be unusual for the UK Parliament to do so. This is already precedented because Harold Wilson’s Labour Government did just this in 1975 under their Referendum Act.”

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