Today we had David Cameron’s speech to the CBI, together with various articles suggesting that were his December European Council meeting to ‘go well’ it may be that the promised referendum could happen in June 2016; or at the latest in September.
June is ‘pie in the sky’ for one simple reason: did not the Electoral Commission state there should be a six-month period between the referendum being called and the actual vote? Then of course there are Scottish, Welsh, local and London Mayoral elections in May 2016; plus the EU referendum bill is still in the House of Lords and the matter of whether 16-17 year olds can vote has yet to be resolved. If the Lords gives the government another bloody nose, it is highly unlikely redrawing the electoral register to widen the franchise would be achieved by June.
Of course we can also forget September too: To change ‘Ever Closer Union’ and the ‘Four Freedoms’, for example, will require treaty change – a process that takes two years. Just where do these ‘all-knowing’ journalists come from? Ye Gods!
We also need to remember that the contents of Cameron’s infamous letter to Donald Tusk is due to be released tomorrow, no doubt preceded by the speech he is scheduled to give – probably a ‘padded-out’ version of the relevant section of that which he said to the CBI.
If we look at what Cameron has said on the subject of ‘renegotiation’ with regard to this country’s membership of the European Union – from ‘Bloomberg’ to today – it is obvious that his demands have become ‘watered-down’ by the day.
When we consider Cameron’s demands and his renegotiation process it is perhaps relevant to consider a section of the speech Winston Churchill gave, after dinner, at the Royal Society of St. George on 24th April 1933:
…….I have to speak to you about St. George and the Dragon. I have been wondering what would happen if that legend were repeated under modern conditions.
St. George would arrive in Cappadocia, accompanied not by a horse, but by a secretariat. He would be armed not with a lance, but with several fexible formulas. He would, of course, be welcomed by the local branch of the League of Nations Union. He would propose a conference with the dragon – a Round Table Conference, no doubt – that would be more convenient for the dragon’s tail. He would lend the dragon a lot of money for the Cappadocian taxpayers. The maiden’s release would be referred to Geneva, the dragon reserving all his rights meanwhile. Finally, St. George would be photogaphed with the dragon (inset: the maiden).
On Churchill’s part, a rather good prophesy of the charade we are about to see unfold.