The outcome of last Monday’s parliamentary vote on an EU referendum was a foregone conclusion long before the votes were counted. At no stage in the process was the end result going to be any different: there was no way that a referendum on Europe was going to be held.

Fundamentally, the result would not have been binding anyway – a back door was always available to Cameron. That 81 Tory MPs rebelled against the government and ignored the three-line whip imposed on them is a fascinating subplot in the long running soap opera that is Britain’s attitude towards the European Union.

…this vote should have been fair and legitimate.

Is the Referendum a knife in the leaders side?

It highlights the lack of unity within the Conservative party, and Cameron’s inability to find a solution to an issue that was always going to be a huge thorn in his side. But it also emphasizes the chasm that has long been running in British politics between idealistic backbenchers and the realistic cabinet. Or perhaps this chasm would better be described as integrity versus disloyalty?

The motion was prompted by a petition signed by more than 100,000 people. Regardless of whether a referendum would be right or not, this vote should have been fair and legitimate. Democracy was not served to the British public on Monday. That is a farce.

…he realizes how fragile the Eurozone crisis is.

But in preventing free speech, was the cynicism of Cameron, Clegg and Miliband in fact for the greater public good? There is no doubt that with the rescue deals being hastily thrown together on the continent, a proverbial shake of the boat in the form of a referendum from Britain could have disastrous effects on market confidence and the strength of the Euro. Britain’s economic growth would most definitely be affected.

This is Cameron’s argument and it is a fair point, he realizes how fragile the Eurozone crisis is. He does not want his legacy to include the responsibility for plunging all of Europe into Greece-like conditions and worse.

 The problem is Cameron understands how and why Britain loses out…

One irony of the whole issue is that China, a country (along with the other BRIC nations) that many rebel MPs argue Britain should be aligning themselves with, is now being asked to help in the rescue package: a kind of reverse imperialism – changing times.

But this is not the end; our politicians have to address the EU issue properly at some stage. Nick Clegg, an enthusiastic endorser of the EU, argues “you reform and change Europe by leading it, not leaving it.” That is hardly a statement you would hear coming from the prime minister. The problem is Cameron understands how and why Britain loses out in being part of the EU. If he was head of the opposition it is highly likely his whips would be urging Tory MPs to vote against the government and in doing so pile pressure on the hypothetical Labour government, forcing them to make a decision in the face of public scrutiny. All Miliband could muster was a tame comment that the prime minister had been humiliated by the dissent of the backbenchers, a humiliation that his party prevented from escalating by voting with the government, effectively bringing them victory.

…let us hope for democracy.

Let us hope a solution presents itself, let us hope that we have a credible opposition that can contribute to this solution and let us hope for democracy. 

Images courtesy of the EU and David Cameron

 

About The Author

History undergraduate at King's College London. Main interests in diplomacy and international relations but also enjoy writing about home affairs.

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