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  Europe
Cameron under Pressure over Lisbon Treaty
By Shane Clarke
London Correspondent
David Cameron

London — David Cameron, political opportunist and leader of the UK’s Conservative Party, is on Nov. 3, 2009 under pressure from all sides over promises he made about a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.

The Lisbon Treaty creates the post of president of the EU Council, and a foreign minister for Europe. It is being hailed by the governing Labour party as “good for Britain,” but Eurosceptics and David Cameron disagree.

In a 2007 article for The Sun newspaper, Mr. Cameron said, “Today, I will give this cast-iron guarantee: If I become PM a Conservative government will hold a referendum on any EU treaty that emerges from these negotiations.”

He is now being accused of reneging on this promise. He hasn’t actually repeated it recently, instead saying that he would “not let matters rest” if the treaty were ratified by the time the Conservatives gained power.

The BBC’s political editor, Nick Robinson, has said Mr. Cameron “will insist that his ‘cast iron guarantee’ of a referendum lasted only as long as the Lisbon Treaty was not law.”

This latest accusation highlights the dangers of Mr Cameron’s policy of bandwagon politics. When you make the popular promises, you have to honour them, or expose yourself as a man of no substance.

He has reportedly angered EU leaders by writing a letter to Eurosceptic Czech President Vaclav Klaus, urging him not to sign the treaty. However, it has had no effect, and the Czech constitutional court has cleared the way for President Klaus to sign it.

Speaking on London radio station LBC, Mr. Cameron said he was “very disappointed” that the Czechs were likely going to ratify the treaty, allowing it to pass into law across Europe. When asked what he would do next, he replied, “We will have to address ourselves to it and I will be doing that later this week.”

If the Conservative Party gain power in the next election, they may be able to renegotiate some of the powers in the treaty, or demand certain powers back from Europe. Mr. Cameron can then promise to hold referendums on all future EU treaties.

For those pointing the finger at Mr. Cameron, this may not be good enough. They are calling for him to honour his “iron-clad” promise, and demanding that he hold a referendum no matter what.

“We need a full referendum on Lisbon as we were promised,” Bill Cash, the leading Conservative Eurosceptic told the Daily Telegraph. “No ifs no buts. This is about the government of the UK operating in line with the democratic wishes of the country.”

The question is – does David Cameron have the strength to live up to his promise?

Barry Legg, a former Conservative Party chief executive, now a member of Eurosceptic think-tank The Bruges Group, said, “How can David Cameron claim he’ll fight to repatriate powers from Brussels when he won’t even fight to implement his own words?”

President Klaus has said he will offer no further opposition to the Lisbon Treaty. This will clear the way for it to become law across the EU on Dec. 1, 2009. David Cameron must now make a decision – honour his “iron-clad” promise, or hope he loses the next general election and gets off the hook.



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Shane Clarke serves as London Correspondent for The Seoul Times. He has been involved in humanitarian work for numerous years. He’s also a freelance management consultant. Having completed an honors degree in Law at Wolverhampton University, he then moved on to an MBA at Warwick Business School. He’s heavily involved in the fight against international parental child abduction to Japan.

 

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