The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

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Tory ‘renegotiation’ is a slogan not a policy

The Cameron approach does further damage to Britain’s ‘broken politics’

Gerald Frost 


David Cameron’s decision to renege on his “cast-iron” guarantee to hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty has evidently disappointed a great many people, but will have surprised relatively few.

While the Cameron volte face probably means that the European problem has been temporarily defused, his decision to backtrack will have a number of undesirable consequences: it will add to the public’s profound cynicism about politics – a subject which the Tory leader has repeatedly promised to address – and it will make the task of “renegotiation” considerably harder, perhaps even impossible, to achieve.

A referendum on the Lisbon Treaty would not have had the effect of exempting Britain from the treaty provisions but it would have served to strengthened the hands of the British negotiators in seeking to return powers from Brussels to Westminster; a referendum on specific proposals to renegotiate the terms of British membership would have a similar effect. Both courses of action would provide a stronger mandate made for renegotiation than a commitment made in a general election manifesto. In rejecting a referendum, Mr Cameron is perpetuating a style of politics which effectively disenfranchises the British people on EU and related issues; this will have effect of increasing the deep mood of public cynicism with politics generally. Until he, or some other political leader, can find away to reengage the electorate in the decisions over Britain’s political future and shapes policy accordingly, British politics will remain “broken.”

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