02 October 2009

Europe: The Times, Tony and what Dave has to say

Before turning our eyes towards a far away country of which we know little, we need to pay a little attention to that once mighty paper of record, The Times.

Yesterday, this once-upon-a-time must read newspaper reported that there was a cunning plan to keep Blair from becoming the first President of Europe, while The Sun, the present-day agenda setting paper, said the exact opposite.

Today, when there are much more important matters to report, The Times performs a U-turn and now says that Blair will be the man that wins the prize, although the details of article indicate that it is not in the bag.

Having corrected the record, we move on from what may happen if the treaty is ratified to what will happen this weekend.  The result of Irish referendum and all matters Cameron.

For the Tories, “Operation Seal the Deal” is a two-part process over the next week.  Part One commences as soon as the result is announced on Saturday with Part Two opens on Monday in Manchester.

As John Rentoul was saying, “the real story of the week is Ireland not Brighton” (he was spot) and Cameron “faces a critical test”.  Indeed he does and Martin Kettle adds to this today.

On the assumption that Ireland vote yes:

It is no exaggeration to say that Cameron's assiduously cultivated and hard-won credibility as a pragmatic one-nation centrist, as a liberal Tory and as a Tory progressive – hugely important assets that are at the heart of his march towards No 10 – will all hinge on how he responds to how Ireland votes.

So here is the choice for Cameron ahead of Conservative conference week. Does he respond to an Irish yes by actively urging the remaining European non-signers – Poland and the Czech Republic – to hold out until the general election? To do so would allow a Tory government to call a quick referendum on Lisbon next summer which, with the guarantee of full-throated assistance from Cameron's new best friend Rupert Murdoch, would surely kill the treaty. Or, on the other hand, does he treat the issue pragmatically and accept that, if the hold-outs fall into line before the British election, the treaty will be a fact of life? His responses this weekend will matter.

Kettle’s article also raises a bucket full of issues for Cameron that are vital, but these needn't detain us here.  What matters is how Cameron responds this weekend.  Back to Rentoul:

He has to say that a Conservative government would accept the Lisbon Treaty now that it is likely to be ratified before the election. And he should say it within minutes of the result of the Irish vote becoming known. Waiting until his conference speech the following Thursday is the sort of thing that Gordon Brown would try to do.

Then the deadly sentence:

But does he have the political courage to tell the rest of his party what it is so unwilling to hear?

If the Irish vote yes, Cameron has got to live with Lisbon as do the rest of us, whether we like it or not.  Seven months out from an election he has to tell the Tebbits of this world to get lost.

The purpose of “Operation Seal the Deal” is for Cameron to demonstrate that he is the Prime Minister-in-waiting.  This is his acid test.  His Clause Four moment has arrived.

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  1. If the Irish vote yes, Cameron has got to live with Lisbon as do the rest of us, whether we like it or not.

    No he doesn't and nor do we!

    Britain is still a democracy - we shouldn't allow our sovereignty to be decided by the Irish or the Czech's.

    Whatever the Irish result we need a Referendum and if Cameron isn't going to give us one - I know a man who can!!!

  2. You're right, it's intolerable. This will push some people to declare UDI.