[Re: Tories have lost control on Europe but the debate could still be won, yesterday]
James Frayne’s article is interesting, but it misses the most important point – the EU does not give up control of anything. The public is right to distrust David Cameron’s demand for renegotiation. We’ve seen similar promises before and they failed to materialise. The only way the UK can change its relationship is to announce our departure and to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty that requires the UK to negotiate exit terms. There’ll be two years to complete the negotiation, or all treaties that bind us lapse. Given the volume of trade we conduct with the EU, others states will be keen to put in place trade agreements before we exit.
The Tories can’t even agree on which issues are important with regard to the EU policing and justice directive, let alone Britain’s broader relationship with the Union. The whole party is split from top to bottom, making any unified message virtually impossible. The fact that so many are flirting with the idea of running as joint candidates with Ukip (while others like planning minister Nick Boles float the possibility of running as joint candidates with the Lib Dems) just proves this point. The Tories are too tainted and too split on Europe to make renegotiation in any way meaningful. If we’re to see any progress on the issue, it will involve convincing Labour that a better EU relationship is in its political interests.
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