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Sunday, 21 June 2009

Dan Hannan on the election the UK isn't allowed to have.

See the whole thing, but let me just highlight this section (my bold):
The best course for Labour MPs would be to despatch their leader with the cold efficiency of so many abattoir workers, replace him with someone presentable, hope for a honeymoon and flatter the electorate with an early poll. Mandy, of all people, knows this perfectly well. So what the devil is he playing at? Viewed from the Westminster lobby, it seems an impenetrable mystery. From the perspective of Brussels, though, the answer is obvious. European Commissioners are obsessed with the need to keep David Cameron at bay until the Lisbon Treaty is ratified.
You see, the Conservative leader has promised a referendum on Lisbon – and, unlike the other two party leaders, he means it. He has even instructed his lawyers to draw up the Bill in advance, so that he could introduce it on his first day in office. Eurocrats are understandably determined to keep the Tory leader out until after the second Irish referendum in October. (There is a universal, if somewhat insulting, assumption in Brussels that the Irish will roll over this time.) Mandelson is their agent, their man in Westminster.
He may be a Minister of the Crown these days, but his heart is plainly in his last job. He likes to boast of his proximity to EU leaders, and recently floated the idea that Britain might join the euro. If keeping Lisbon on track means condemning his grandfather's party, he will do the necessary.
If my theory strikes you as fanciful, recall Mandelson's interview in The Daily Telegraph last week, in which he spoke of the likelihood of a new challenge to Gordon Brown in the autumn. Why, having seen the rebels off a few weeks ago, should he positively invite them to have another go after the recess? Because it won't matter by then. The Euro-constitution will be in force.
Quite. The only thing Dan Hannan's not said - being a maverick can only go so far after all - is that Cameron's proposed referendum is conditional on the Irish referendum. That hands Mandlesnake and the EU plotters an enormous weapon, and it's the very thing that Dan Hannan write about in fact. Cameron could disarm them easily simply by saying that there will be a referendum on Europe when the Tories take office - if the Irish have not yet had their say had another chance to vote the way they were supposed to the first time then the Tories could hold the planned referendum for the UK. But if the Irish have voted and capitulated then the referendum the new Tory government would hold would address British membership of the EU itself.

Raise the stakes, Dave. You're being bluffed and if only you looked at your cards you might see that you're holding pocket aces. Faced with an almost certain Labour defeat to the Tories and one of two guaranteed referendums on Europe Mandlesnake and the EU will take the hit on the Constitreaty over a possible vote by the British to leave the Union altogether. The EU would be badly damaged (probably not fatally though) by the exit of one of the largest economies within it, even if it merely joins EFTA instead. Oh, they won't be happy. They'll be fucking livid I expect. But they'll lose the Constitreaty over a major member any day of the week and twice on Sundays, and I'd bet that something will happen - another scandal, another couple of cabinet resignations, some last straw that Gordon won't be allowed to survive this time - and there'd be an election in a couple of months.

So the question for Cameron, and for Dan Hannan as well really, is why doesn't he do this? Cameron threatened the Constitreaty but they've outmaneuvered him on that and he must surely know it. Is it possible that Dave really lacks the sense (or perhaps the balls) to raise? Or is he actually playing another game entirely, one in which he's content to be a PM on Europe's leash and to have lost on purpose the opportunity to scupper the treaty he claims to oppose?
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