The Irish decision to accept the Lisbon Treaty in a referendum by a two to one margin has once more thrown the spotlight on the likely stance of a future British Conservative Party government on the issue. Whilst the Poles and Czechs have yet to ratify Lisbon, it is anticipated that all EU member countries will have completed the process by Christmas. As a British general election approaches the faultlines in the Conservative Party -on Europe- have once more begun to reopen.The Conservatives-if elected to government- have promised to hold a referendum if the Treaty has not been brought into force. If as seems likely at this juncture, the treaty is in force before a British general election is held David Cameron faces a dilemma in any debate with Gordon Brown. The Tories have promised “not let the matter rest there” if presented with a fait accompli. This is a fudge designed to mollify the Euro sceptic wing of the party. Cameron has not promised to hold a referendum if the treaty is in place.
Unfortunately for him a formula of words may not paper over the cracks in his own party on the issue. This problem is best exemplified by the reaction of Boris Johnson-mayor of London- who is demanding a British referedum on the issue even if the Treaty is in force. Such a proposal is nonsensical. Cameron undoubtedly realises this. However he is walking on thin ice. Cameron must put flesh on the bones of his proposals if mavericks such as Johnston are to be sidelined. He will probably promise a tougher line with Europe on employment and social legislation. Of course this will damage British relations with Europe but it may keep most Tory eurosceptics quiet in the run in to a general election.
Flat earthers in the Conservative party would do well to swallow their pride. Britain is no longer a great power. The era of empire is long dead and gone. Britains future rests with Europe. Eurosceptics tore the Conservative party asunder in the 1990s. Surely they have learned the lessons of history .