News from British and Canadian Conservatives

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Clegg's constitutional calamity

Oh dear, yet another gaff by the new Lib Dem leader and wonderboy, Nick Clegg. Once again, he has managed to get himself into a mess over Europe - the treaty formerly known as a Constitution.

The Lib Dems pledges a referendum on the constitution at the last election but have been frantically back peddling ever since it has become clear that they would lose. Now, they argue, the revised text is not worth having a referendum about. In trying to make the bizarre u-turn make sense on 5 Live yesterday, he upheld the work of Unlock Democracy, which is a group working on definitions of what does and does not need a referendum. He seems to have missed one minor detail though - on Tuesday, Unlock Democracy said that the Lib Dems "should back down and support the Conservative amendment."

Not everything they had to say was so critical of the Lib Dems, and there is plenty in the statement with which I would disagree. However, the fact that the treaty "has clear constitutional implications for the UK’s uncodified constitution and the EU as a whole." seems sufficient to merit a referendum to me.

The move follows a silly spat in the Commons on Wednesday, when the Deputy Speaker again refused to accept the Lib Dems' amendment calling for a referendum on EU membership, which is not considered to be relevant to the debate in hand. Ed Davey, the Lib Dem spokesman, threw a tantrum on the floor of the house, and was ejected from the house. The remainder of the Lib Dem group walked out in protest. Subsequently, the Conservatives have accused the Lib Dems of pre-planning the walk-out to avoid airing their divisions in public.

Hat-tip: Guido.

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