EURef Round-up: It’s on for 23 June…

Cameron’s renegotiation package is clearly the current referendum news story.  There will be much analysis over coming days and many people (particularly Conservative MPs) who have sat on the fence will have to make their minds up.

The Liberal Democrat position is clear:

We think being in Europe is good for Britain.  We continue to think that after Cameron’s proposed reforms.

One of the proposals is a Red Card whereby 55% of member states’ national parliaments (i.e. 15 out of 28) can block proposed EU law.  This is a reform Liberal Democrats should welcome as supporters of parliamentary scrutiny.

The “proposed UK-EU settlement” will be published ,so we can all read it, then it will be debated by governments on 18-19 February. (BBC)

The City has given the proposals, as reported so far, a cautious welcome (FT £)

The Guardian reports that a short campaign with voting on 23 June is now very likely.

The UK Labour Party is backing the June date even though Welsh Labour is not (BBC).

VIDEO INTERVIEW: Cameron says he is “delivering substantial change” (MSN)


Example of an MP collecting voter data

Bath was Liberal Democrat from 1992 to 2015 and will likely be a Liberal Democrat target in 2020.  The Tory MP has launched a survey, reported in the local paper, with a link to it.

No doubt he is interested in his local residents’ views but the survey will also produce data that he will find useful in any number of ways.

It has been widely reported that collection of vast amounts of data used to target and individualise communications was the heart of the Conservatives’ general election campaign this year.


Risks of Brexit

Major investement firm First State says that house prices in the UK will be hit in the event of Brexit, reports Fund Strategy.

Jeremy Warner in the Telegraph considers how Brexit would damage the EU and how that would be very bad for Britain’s own interests:

…the EU would survive, albeit in bruised, battered and defensive form, and that without the influence of Britain to fly the free market flag, the very worst of its corporatist, statist and protectionist instincts would come to the fore. The European hegemon Britain has spent the best part of five centuries trying to thwart would finally have arrived. These are dangerous enough times as it is without wishing to make them worse.


Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland is an excellent example of how you can have functional government without coalition parties having to pretend to agree on everything.  NI Agriculture Minister Michelle O’ Neill (Sinn Fein) has said that Brexit would be a disaster for farmers.  EU support for farmers, which would be lost, may not be replaced by the UK government – which is a real risk much reported in the Farming Press.  The pro-Brexit DUP, coalition partners of Sinn Fein, don’t agree – (Belfast Telegraph).


British Voters Living Elsewhere in Europe

Dutch News reports that the UK government is making an effort to ensure British citizens living in the Netherlands are registered to vote for the referendum.

* Antony Hook was #2 on the South East European list in 2014, is the English Party's representative on the Federal Executive and produces this sites EU Referendum Roundup.

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  • I cannot understand why the Liberal Democrats are not opposed to the TTIP as it is currently. Clearly the ISDS (Investor state dispute settlement) is undemocratic as it could overrule democratically elected chambers in the interests of US backed large corporations. The French senate has already opposed ISDS.
    The Welsh parliament is basically in favour of remaining in the EU but is opposed to TTIP and ISDS, but clearly as the UK regime still overrules Cardiff on this issue it is becoming clear that ordinary Welsh people may be forced to use the EU referendum to oppose TTIP provision: That will be a shame as Wales is basically for remaining in the EU!
    Can Liberal Democrat MP/MEPs separate the issue of TTIP from the referendum debate by getting the UK to hold a separate referendum on the TTIP as this will be a fundamental change to the EU treaty?
    The issue of EU adoption of TTIP is persuading many to consider to want to leave the EU altogether.

  • Antony Hook Antony Hook 3rd Feb '16 - 3:01pm

    Hi Ernest,

    I agree with you that the issues of the referendum and TTIP should be considered totally separately.

    If we stay in the EU it does not mean TTIP will pass in a certain form. If we leave the EU there will be a push for a US-UK free trade agreement which may be less good than an EU-US one, which is at least.

    As a Liberal Democrat I am opposed to ISDS. Disputed should be resolved by courts of law practising open justice, like our High Court, the ECJ or the US courts. It should not be devolved to private tribunals.

    That is not to say that we cannot have a good TTIP that creates jobs and prosperity if it does not have ISDS.

  • Richard Underhill 3rd Feb '16 - 3:42pm

    Ernest 3rd Feb ’16 – 2:46pm Catherine Bearder MEP has given her views on a key aspect of TTIP. Please refer.
    The Europe debate in the Commons on 3/2/2016 included contributions from Tom Brake and Greg Mulholland as per Hansard.
    Tory MP Rees-Mogg seemed to be threatening David Cameron with a stalking horse leadership election, with a two week deadline, asking for more negotiations prior to the European Council at which EU Heads of Government meet.
    Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed, as in other complex negotiations such as the Belfast Agreement, but it is not clear whether the 27 other member states need to consult their national parliaments. It is clear that the European Parliament is part of the process.
    An SNP MP quoted a legal decision in Scotland, that sovreignty lies with the people, which is a reality in a democracy such as ours, especially when there is a referendum.
    On the Daily Politics a pro-European Labour MP, Chris Bryant, said that what Nigel Farage had just said was “a lie”. The brevity of this unparliamentary language achieves impact. The UKIP leader had been repeating his view about promises made before the 1975 referendum. Ted Heath and Harold Wilson are both dead, but Harold MacMillan’s Lord Chancellor told parliament what the situation would be, quoted in “This Blessed Plot” by Hugo Young ISBN 0 333 75411 5. Nigel Farage should be ashamed of himself.

  • Richard Underhill 3rd Feb '16 - 3:54pm

    Labour’s Alan Johnson referred to Boris Johnson’s father and brother. Speaker Bercow invited Boris J. to reply, Boris had not stood up to indicate a desire to do so. David Cameron added to the fun by mentioning columnist Rachel Johnson. (Sorry about the homophone, she is not a communist).

  • Is there a Lib Dems for Exit Group?

  • @crewegwyn
    There is a Lib Dems For Leave group on twitter

  • Richard Underhill 4th Feb '16 - 10:19am

    Ernest 3rd Feb ’16 – 2:46pm The situation on TTIP changes all the time.
    Please bear in mind that On 3/2/2016 the Labour leader ended a long speech in the Commons, including criticism of TTIP, by stating in the clearest of terms that Labour will campaign to remain in the EU and that the date of the poll should be 23/6/2015 (despite the opinion of Labour’s leader in Wales).
    Please bear in mind that the USA has other deals. There was a USA-Canada trade deal superseded by the North American Free Trade Association including Mexico, negotiated by President George Bush senior and ratified by President Bill Clinton.
    President Obama has the Trans Pacific partnership, one of the biggest multinational trade deals ever, recently signed by the ministers of its 12 member states in New Zealand, albeit subject to ratification by their parliaments over the next 2 years. China is not in the TTP.
    The USA is looking to trade with the fast growing markets in Asia. THE EU already has a trade deal with Canada. Both TTP and TTIP are moving targets, but overlap includes USA and Canada. Let’s put this politely. There may be opportunities for arbitrage.
    Please also note that the large number of member states in the former General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and the current World Trade Organisation made negotiations lengthy, difficult and subject to repeated failure. If it is suggested that the UK should leave the EU to rejoin the WTO we should point to the negotiating record of the WTO.

  • On TTIP – I find Caroline Lucas very persuasive :

    According to Caroline, “TTIP transfers power from people to corporations. It vastly reduces the accountability of big businesses, but places our public services – and whole Governments – at their mercy. It could allow them to sue governments, in secret tribunals, for passing laws or regulations in the public interest, if that might dent their profits. Among other things, it could impact the NHS, education policy, workers’ rights, food safety standards, animal welfare and environmental protection.

    The Government assures us our NHS is immune. The British Medical Association disagrees – and continues to lobby for health to be exempted in its entirety, a mark of the dangers posed by TTIP. For obvious reasons, the Government’s been reluctant to talk about it.”

    So far as our party is concerned, most support for it seems to come from the Orange Book stable.

  • So democratic that Cameron is threatening the rebels with the border changes. Telling MPS to ignore their constituencies is not democratic but we have career politicians who would sell their children let alone their Granny. The MEPS will veto any of these so called reforms after the referendum. Are the British public that gullible? I hope not. At this time there is a lot of anger against Cameron fuelled even by the Daily Mail.

  • Antony Hook Antony Hook 4th Feb '16 - 1:23pm


    Everything Caroline Luxas says there is alarming but speculative. She doesn’t know the proposed Treaty to say x or y because it is still being drafted.

    When it is drafted and published we can read it and decide whether it is good or bad.

    My experience of debating with Green candidates is the European Election is they are against TTIP even if the NHS is protected because they are against free trade per se. They don’t want Europeans to be able to choose to buy American goods or vice versa. It’s just the same as the voted with UKIP against abolition of roaming charges because they want consumers to be charged more to discourage travel.

  • Re TTIP: the reliably excellent Elizabeth Warren shreds it in this YouTube clip. It’s about TTIP’s Pacific twin, the TPP, but they are both cut from the same cloth.


    Those in the party who are promoting it have fallen for the ‘dog whistle’ appeal of the claim it’s about “free trade” when in fact it’s the exact opposite. It’s about protectionism for a very large, primarily US-based corporations – including protection against the laws of countries where they operate and against actual or potential commercial challenges – e.g. via much enhanced copyright and patent protection clearly designed to create monopoly/oligopoly markets and hence enhanced economic rent for multinationals at the expense of the public. It claims to be about trade but, by design, excludes China (what clearer tell could there be?) and even studies commissioned by its supporters show negligible benefits despite using econometric models based on wildly optimistic assumptions. Garbage In Garbage Out.

    It’s close enough in approach to NAFTA that we know how this movie ends and it’s horrific – unless, of course, you happen to be in the 1% plus care nothing for the your fellow citizens, the environment or morality.

    Antony Hook is quite wrong to suppose (2nd comment, last paragraph) that it can be done without ISDS. The whole point of TTIP and TPP is to achieve an end-run around any and every law or regulation that might interfere with the ‘divine right to profit’ no matter what. ISDS is the supranational enforcement mechanism for corporate behaviour that would never be acceptable in a democracy. So it is democracy that its backers must dispense with – hence the extra-legal and unconstitutional provisions of ISDS.

    In a larger sense it’s a plan by the powerful vested interests that effectively control the US government to leverage that power to recreate the world into a US hegemony and hence a playground for their convenience and profit. Liberals used to worry about undue concentrations of power; now some welcome unaccountable power with open arms. What happened?

  • Nick Hopkinson 4th Feb '16 - 7:40pm

    Dear All, Could we please note that ISDS provisions have been dropped from the TTIP proposals? With its removal, I trust we can now get behind TTIP.

  • Nick Hopkinson – ISDS provisions have NOT been dropped from TTIP – only renamed and rebranded slightly.

    That aside, why would you want to get behind a system that is protectionist to its core, only accessible to a privileged few and is not democratically accountable to Parliament?

  • RE: TPP – What I find of concern, and so should others is that as Richard, notes above, ALL of the leaders of the various parties involved have signed it, excluding the US. Obama, is on record as saying he will sign it some months back, but there has been no announcement.

    Now given this round of trade treaties has been initiated by the US, I find it a little surprising that the US is reticent to sign-up to something of it’s own creation (I would be interested to see what the actual status of the other trade treaties is). But we’ve beenhere before with the UK-US extradition treaty, where our government like a bunch of idiots signed up to it without ensuring the US also signed up; and the rest is history…

    In some respects, lets hope Obama leaves office before the TTIP negotiations complete, as it is reported there is little appetite outside of the Whitehouse for this treaty.

  • Can we have a LD Voice poll on what we think of Cameron’s deal and other Referendum Qs?

  • Antony Hook Antony Hook 5th Feb '16 - 2:15pm


    No one has signed TTIP. It is still being drafted.

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