Thursday, 31 July 2008

The Lisbon Factor

Seven weeks later, and the effects of Ireland's No vote are still being felt across Europe. Could one of its effects be to delay Gordon Brown's departure from Number 10?

Another coronation, of an as-yet-undetermined Labour front-bencher, would surely not be acceptable to the electorate. It should be out of the question.

But, however awful the alternative of almost 2 years more of Brown as PM might be, the possibility of a 2009 election may be too much for Labour, and perhaps paradoxically the Lib Dems, to bear - not just because the Conservatives would likely win by a landslide, but because the effects of said Conservative win could result in a fundamental shift in Britain's relationship with the EU.

David Cameron has promised the British people a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty should the process of making it law not be completed by the time the Tories gain power - which, barring some kind of miracle, will be by June 2010 at the latest. In the Sun in September 2007, he wrote:

Today, I will give this cast-iron guarantee: If I become PM a Conservative government will hold a referendum on any EU treaty that emerges from these negotiations.

Cynics dismiss this as so much hot air. I wouldn't be so sure. The pro-EU faction of the Conservative party has all but faded away, and both Cameron and his shadow foreign secretary, William Hague, have a strong EU-sceptic track record.

For our part, EU-sceptics both in the Tory party and outside will remind Cameron of his "cast-iron guarantee" at every opportunity should the Tories take power before Lisbon is fully ratified. The U-turn that it would require for the Tories to fail to give the promised referendum would hang like an albatross around Cameron's neck.

Call me an optimist, but I honestly believe that Iain Dale is right to say that an early election, or an election in Britain before the EU find a way to deal with the 'Irish problem', would mean death for the Lisbon Treaty.
What [Brussels] haven't bargained for is an election in the UK earlier than June 2010. They look on Gordon Brown's current difficulties with undisguised horror as they know what an early election would mean for the Lisbon Treaty. Death.

Will it be the 'Lisbon Factor' that keeps Gordon Brown in power over the coming year?


Damian Hockney said...

When this specific issue was being discussed by the French, Germans and British in the immediate aftermath of the Irish vote, a contact in the European Parliament was told that Gordon Brown had assured the German Chancellor that whatever happened, Labour would not hold the General Election until 2010 for this specific reason. Obviously barring some unexpected situation. It might appear strange that politicians of all parties appear prepared to basically twist and turn in every way to comply with EU demands or needs (John Major was a classic)...but it simply proves that that is where power, influence and money lie...and no longer with the democratic institutions that these politicians in the executive were elected to serve.

TBRRob said...

Interesting -- hadn't thought about that.