Monday, October 19, 2009

Lisbon Treaty amendments

Now the Slovaks have joined the Czechs in asking for an amendment to the Lisbon treaty. Both are concerned that the treaty as it stands might open them to claims from ethnic Germans evicted after the second world war. In both cases they are a bit late, but the row is delaying ratification much to the consternation of the European establishment. This can only be a good thing, and it raises the very faint hope that the argument will stretch until the UK general election, which might see a Conservative government. That would mean the referendum on the treaty that we were promised by Labour, a promise they ratted on without even bothering to make up a plausible excuse.

An interesting question is what the effect on the general election would be if a referendum on the treaty was a live issue? That would present the Conservatives with a bit of a dilemma, as it would certainly be a good campaign theme, but would risk over-shadowing other policy areas. David Cameron's greatest achievement has been to stop the monomania on Europe and so there would be a careful balancing act required to manage the prospect of a real referendum on Lisbon during an election campaign. Having said that, a problem for the Conservatives is a nightmare for Labour and the Liberal Democrats, who would find themselves on the wrong side of the argument and having to explain why they weren't in favour a referendum to a largely eurosceptic public.

Of course, the best case scenario is that this is exactly what happens and that we finally get a referendum on Lisbon from a Conservative government. I am pretty sure what the result would be of that.

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