Matthew d’Ancona, writing in his usual Sunday Telegraph piece today:
“When Cameron warned his party to stop “banging on about Europe” in 2006, he was making a point about tone, not content. The Tories could no longer afford to seem shrill or behave like a single-issue pressure group: they needed to remind the voters of what they had to say about health, education and other public services. But Cameron’s Euroscepticism was undimmed. Consistently, throughout his leadership, he has believed that an opportunity would come to seek the repatriation from Brussels of key powers and to challenge Lord Denning’s sonorous opinion that European law “is like an incoming tide. It flows into the estuaries and up the rivers. It cannot be held back.” (Emphasis mine)
It was also clear that the matter would have to be settled by referendum. Though not a man given to introspection, Cameron does privately regret not making clear in his Sun article in September 2007 that his “cast-iron guarantee” of a vote on the Lisbon Treaty held good only until the agreement was fully ratified.”
Compare the emphasised four words with Cameron’s statement, in his speech, on the subject of securing an agreement which would include the repatriation of some powers – quote: “And when the referendum comes let me say now that if we can negotiate such an arrangement, I will campaign for it with all my heart and soul”. Where both d’Ancona and Cameron are concerned, one is reminded of Humpty Dumpty in “Through The Looking Glass”: “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”
On the point mentioned in the second paragraph of the above extract, the statement that Cameron regrets not putting the caveat about ratification of the Lisbon Treaty in his cast-iron article, this point was picked up by Andrew Neil during his “Sunday Politics“* interview with David Lidington today. The latter was forced to concede that no caveat had been included but maintained that both Cameron and Hague had made the point elsewhere. Andrew Neil then confronted Lidington (at 13:03) with the news that the BBC had trawled all the “clippings” and nowhere had any evidence of Lidington’s claim been found. In rebuttal Liddington was adamant that both had but did not proffer any time, date or place – which would lead one to draw but one conclusion, no such caveat had ever been made.
One other point is worth noting and it is that Lidington repeated the oft-made claim that matters EU ranks way below subjects like jobs, the economy, immigration where the public are concerned – as did Rachael Reeves at the beginning of the programme when Neil quizzed here on Labour’s lack of clarity on the subject of granting a referendum. And those subjects are in no way related to the UK’s membership of the EU? Sheesh, politicians really do take for us for fools!
* At the time of writing the repeat is not yet available.