Tory smears and double dealing on EU Referendum Bill

by Leon Duveen on 30 October, 2014

The Tories are in a bind over Europe. Instead of talking up the benefits of our relationship with the EU they have let UKIP set the agenda.

Instead of exposing Nigel Farage’s troupe as a one-issue party – with nothing to say on the economy, NHS or environment – they have ratcheted up their anti-Brussels rhetoric.

They are so worried about haemorrhaging votes and losing defecting MPs to UKIP they have started talking tough on immigration, all while offering no solutions.

The Conservatives are in such disarray they have even sacrificed a chance for an EU In-Out referendum in the next parliament.

This week David Cameron pulled the plug on his own bill despite being handed the opportunity by the Liberal Democrats to take it further in the political process.

Instead of allowing both our bill to fix the bedroom tax and their bill for a referendum to continue their journeys they spiked both.

It is clear the Tories are more concerned about maintaining the bedroom tax than their flagship referendum pledge.

The truth is they have folded like a cheap deck chair and are trying to make us take the blame for the bill’s failure.

But why would the Conservatives sabotage a chance to legislate now for an EU Referendum?

The answer is cynical electioneering. The Tories simply don’t want to enshrine an In-Out referendum in law before the General Election.

If they did David Cameron would be forced to reveal his hand by either backing calls to leave Europe or fight the pro-EU case.

The PM simply can’t make the sensible case for Europe and keep UKIP voters and his frothing-at-the-mouth Eurosceptic backbench MPs happy.

The Lib Dems back an EU referendum and we want Britain to stay in because that is how we keep our country strong, prosperous, safe and green.

It isn’t perfect but Europe is vital to our economic recovery and we can only make it better if we stay in a position of influence at the centre.

David Cameron owes it to the country to come clean and finally set out his position on Europe and his party’s red-lines. After all, the General Election is just six months away.

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