EU referendum bill is an empty gesture

The Conservatives are publishing a draft bill today for an EU referendum in 2017. David Cameron was telling us only last week that he was unable to introduce legislation for a referrendum because it wasn’t in the coalition agreement (just like same sex marriage) yet today they’re introducing a bill. How easily the lies trip off his tongue.

But regardless of Devious Dave’s habitual dishonesty, surely the bill is a good thing if it means we get a referendum? Well I’m afraid you’re going to me disappointed.

One of the most important principals of parliamentary sovereignty is that no parliament can bind its successor. That means that any law passed before the election can be repealed after it.

This draft bill is an empty gesture – it is for a referendum in 2017 and after the Tories lose the next election the next government can repeal it. The only way to guarantee a referendum on our membership of the EU is to pass a law for it now for it to happen before the next election.

Our resident “eurosceptic” MPs will no doubt claim this empty gesture as a victory and judging by the conversation I had with Daniel Kawczynski recently they’re probably ill-informed enough to believe it! Between now and the next election we will be reminding voters of David Cameron’s broken promises on the EU (remember his “Cast Iron Guarantee”?), that Labour went to court to have a judge rule that it was unreasonable to expect anyone to keep their manifesto promises and that UKIP is the only party committed to an in/out referendum on membership of the EU.

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