A Sorry Day for Britain, Democracy and the Tories; Comment

Daily Mail (London), November 5, 2009 | Go to article overview

A Sorry Day for Britain, Democracy and the Tories; Comment


THIS is a desperately sad moment for British democracy and sovereignty -- a moment when the great majority of voters have been disenfranchised and left with no serious political party to represent their views.

The implications of David Cameron's retreat over Europe are as simple and devastating as that.

The fact that he has behaved as cynically as New Labour on one of the great issues of today is a bitter disappointment to his admirers, including the Mail.

It is an ineluctable fact: poll after poll has shown that most Britons are strongly against the expansion of the EU's power -- and an even greater majority demand the referendum promised by all three main parties in their manifestos at the last General Election.

Of course, it goes without saying that the true scoundrels in this debacle are New Labour. Once safely re-elected, they chose to ignore their unequivocal commitment to the electorate, hiding behind the lie that the Lisbon Treaty was substantially different from the EU constitution that Tony Blair had promised to put to voters. Mr Brown, to his eternal shame, also reneged on his promise of a referendum.

Then at 3pm this Tuesday, when Czech president Vaclav Klaus gave up his lonely resistance and added the final signature to the treaty, the betrayal was complete.

After eight years of anti-democratic plotting and bribery, the empirebuilders of Europe had finally got their way. The European superstate was born, with all the trappings of an imperial power, from a president and a foreign minister to a defence policy of its own.

Only one hope remained that the voice of the British people would be heard -- and that the EU might yet be forced to repatriate some of the powers that Gordon Brown had signed away.

Hadn't David Cameron offered us his solemn promise that he would give us that referendum we demanded? To quote his very words, which he wrote in the Sun newspaper in September 2007: '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.' Not much room for doubt there, was there? But yesterday, the Tory leader's 'cast-iron guarantee' melted away like wax. True, a referendum after the treaty has come into force would present certain practical difficulties of wording. And no doubt Mr Cameron feared that a referendum campaign would distract him from the pressing crisis in the public finances. …

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