.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Have the Tories started to unravel over Europe already?

David Cameron's slim majority may well be enough to see him through the next five years, but it is doubtful that the path will be a smooth one.

Many Tories remember vividly the internecine fighting and plotting that marred the John Major government. The odds are that this new Conservative administration, elected with a clear manifesto pledge to hold an in-out referendum on Europe could go the same way.

Indeed, the Guardian is already publishing articles warning that Cameron could lose Cabinet members during the referendum campaign. They say that government sources believe Cameron would need to devise a mechanism to deal with highly Eurosceptic ministers if he wants to avoid a damaging split. That may involve allowing cabinet members to follow their conscience and campaign for a no vote in the EU referendum:

There are increasing suspicions among Eurosceptics that the prime minister is determined to keep Britain in the EU – and some cabinet figures are suggesting that he could allow ministers to resign from the government for the duration of the referendum.

This would give ministers the chance to campaign for a no vote but would allow the prime minister to say he was acting differently to Harold Wilson, who avoided a split in the Labour party by allowing ministers to campaign on either side in the 1975 EEC referendum.

One cabinet source said: “The party will obviously be split. Some will try and influence the negotiations; others will just wait for the referendum and be ready for the no campaign.”

It does not bode well for party management when the Prime Minister cannot rely on his cabinet colleagues to back him in his position on a key area of policy. No wonder Cameron was reluctant to serve a third term. He may be lucky to survive his second.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?