We are just 24 hours from a pivotal speech from David Cameron, mooted to outline what his vision is in terms of the UK's ongoing relationship with the European Union.
Many speculate that rather than a referendum promise that much of the electorate are hoping for, the prime minister will outline his view that renegotiation of our position in the EU is the best option for this country.
Although Mr Cameron may believe that renegotiation is a possibility, those who work within the walls of Brussels have thrown cold water onto the whole idea.
At a press conference in the European Parliament in Strasbourg last week, president Martin Schulz delivered a crushing blow to British prime minister David Cameron's planned renegotiation of the United Kingdom's relationship with the European Union. Asked by a BBC journalist if he had any advice for Cameron in advance of his much vaunted speech on the EU, and if renegotiation were possible, Schulz replied: "Nein." No renegotiation of the treaties would be possible, he stated. You can view the video online here.
The idea of the other 26 member states all agreeing to Britain's demands for treaty changes in the council - because unanimity would be required - is preposterous. We must remember that we are but one voice, and the other 26 member states, soon to be 27 when Croatia joins, all buy into the federalist vision of the EU in one form or another.
One has to wonder what his advisers are telling him. Or is this what politicos would call 'symbolic policy', intended as a statement but without any realistic expectation of implementation? I suspect that this may well be the case. One of Cameron's predecessors John Major once returned from an EU summit claiming to have negotiated significant concessions. At the same time the French press ran the headline: "Britain Caves In." Perhaps Cameron is hoping to pull the same trick? The electorate will remember well his 'cast iron guarantee' of a referendum on ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, which he subsequently back-tracked on. Surely nobody can trust him on Europe after that?
This is not a question of being pro-European or even Eurosceptic. This is simply about democracy. The people of this great nation have not had a say on Europe since 1975. Indeed, in 1975 we were given a retrospective referendum on our membership to the EEC.
On the same day as president Schulz ruled against a renegotiation with the way things stand, an internal poll in the parliament revealed that two-thirds of eurocrats believe that Britain must now make up its mind - stay or go. Our present position, one foot in and one foot out, is bad for us and it is bad for the EU, and patience is wearing thin. Renegotiation is simply not possible. The idea of the other 26 member states all agreeing to Britain's demands for treaty changes in the council - because unanimity would be required - is preposterous. We must remember that we are but one voice, and the other 26 member states, soon to be 27 when Croatia joins, all buy into the federalist vision of the EU in one form or another.
Much will be written about David Cameron's speech tomorrow, and many headlines will claim a victory for Mr Cameron. When the prime minister exercised his veto during EU budget talks, the media talked of a victory for the prime minister. The reality, which was largely ignored, was that the EU budget rises as a default if no agreement can be made between member states. So much for a veto!
It is time for the arguments to end. Now we must look towards laying down the gauntlet for a real debate on Europe. Indeed, the party that I now represent (the We Demand a Referendum Party) has called for a Royal Commission to establish the facts surrounding EU membership. An honest and open debate is essential before a referendum - we are already beginning to see the fruition of scaremonger propaganda. If this is how the electorate is going to be bombarded before a referendum date is even set, then imagine how it would be if Mr Cameron did take the decision to give the electorate the power to say 'In or Out'.
The question must be put to the people through a binding 'in or out' referendum and it must be done soon. Cameron is playing party games with the future of our country, and this matter is too important for that. Give us a referendum and let the people decide.
Nikki Sinclaire MEP launched the We Demand a Referendum party in the United Kingdom -
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