Ken Clarke: If the Lisbon Treaty is ratified, we would indeed let matters rest there
When Andrew Lansley ‘clarified’ Conservative spending plans on the NHS and mooted a 10 per cent cut, he was reprimanded and allegedly threatened with dismissal. Conservatives who favour cuts in services are muted: one cannot have senior front benchers making explicit that which the ‘inner council’ has decreed shall be implicit, latent and concealed. Yet when the issue is European Union, it appears that Ken Clarke is free to speak because ‘everyone knows what his thoughts are on the matter’. And for him to equivocate would be an unacceptable act of gross hypocrisy. So he makes it clear that if, come the next general election, the Lisbon Treaty has been ratified by all member states, the Conservative Party would not seek to re-open the issue.
Hitherto, David Cameron and William Hague have promised that if they come to office to find the treaty in force, they would ‘not let matters rest there’. They have spoken of competences being repatriated and the invocation of the subsidiarity principle, but have never explained what or how. Without any unraveling of the Lisbon web, their objective would be unattainable. And here we have, for the first time, the express view that ‘we would not let matters rest there’ does not mean they would hold a post-ratification referendum. There would be no ‘solemn Treaty renegotiation’ – the Constitution for Europe, although unacceptable to the Party prior to ratification, would become acceptable unequivocally, simply by virtue of it having been ratified by all EU member states.
This is a very great pity.
Not to say a big disappointment.
What badness is it which is made good simply by virtue of unanimous ratification? How can something not be in the British national interest and then become so simply because 26 foreign states believe it to be in theirs?
But Cranmer is puzzled by something further. Mr Clarke said that he decided to re-join the Conservative front bench because the Party is ‘less Eurosceptic than it was’.
When? Under which leader?
It is the Conservative Party under David Cameron which is removing itself from the ‘ever-closer-union’ obsessions of the EPP. It is the Conservative Party under David Cameron which is, for the first time, forging a mainstream ‘opposition’ group in the European Parliament. It is the Conservative Party under David Cameron which has pledged ‘a massive, sweeping, radical redistribution of power’. This, he said, had to be ‘from the state to citizens; from the government to parliament; from Whitehall to communities. From Brussels to Britain; from judges to the people; from bureaucracy to democracy. Through decentralisation, transparency and accountability we must take power away from the political elite and hand it to the man and woman in the street.’
The Leader has said there will be a ‘massive, sweeping, radical redistribution of power...from the EU to Britain’.
Unless, of course, Ken Clarke knows something we don’t.