Remember back in 2009 when we still had some hope about being offered a referendum in Britain on the EU?
Here’s the David Cameron we used to like. He told us that if we wanted a referendum we should vote Conservative in the European elections that year:
Now as Prime Minister two and a half years later, Cameron tells us that a referendum is unnecessary:
Janet Daley writes (emphases mine):
David Cameron seems to have made his decision. Judging by the way he openly repudiated Iain Duncan Smith’s statement at the weekend that a referendum would be required for Britain’s agreement to any treaty change in the EU – even if it did not affect our membership directly – the Prime Minister is prepared to defy not just what the BBC calls “the Right wing of his party”, but the majority of public opinion. So why is Mr Cameron so determined not to yield, on what must appear to most people the technical and (on past experience) unreliable point that such a treaty would not specifically involve this country handing more power to Brussels? Surely he cannot see this as simply a power struggle with the people John Major used to call “the bastards” – the diehard Eurosceptics of the Tory Right – since the desire for the electorate to have a say in Britain’s relationship with the EU has now become mainstream.
Daley allows for the possibilities that there are wheels within wheels here which proscribe certain events for Cameron, one of which would include a resounding no to the EU should he give the British people a referendum. He — and we — would be viewed by the rest of the Eurozone as bringing the whole thing down. Would that it were so. For us, it would have no negative personal impact. For him, however, it would be a specific, history-changing event with his name attached to it. He couldn’t bear that.
Daley sums up the crux of the matter in this sentence:
He has discovered the age-old joys of being part of a world power elite: he is now a member of the international diplomatic club whose priorities and etiquette must be respected if one is not to be regarded as a rogue figure.
Cameron must also be thinking long-term about his post-political career. Whatever he chooses to do years from now will no doubt require support from the same world power elite.
Would that he were bold instead: give us the referendum, honour a result to get us out of the EU, then retire quietly and comfortably near the end of the decade. That’s what I would do. But, then, who am I? Just another Nobody.
And that’s the whole point. Once you become a Somebody, then you’re in a different league entirely.
Disappointing times for all of us who want out of the EU.