Today, as I predicted recently, push finally came to shove over in the Czech Republic. The country’s Constitutional Court ruled that the Lisbon Treaty was in accordance with the Republic’s constitution, and soon afterwards, President Vaclav Klaus signed. Thus the Treaty has now been ratified by all 27 EU member states and will come into force within weeks.
For UK Eurosceptics, this shifts the focus back home, and on to Young Dave, who as I mentioned yesterday, gave his “cast iron commitment” to a referendum back in 2007, only to give the appearance last week that he is now refining his stance. The idea that a referendum would no longer be necessary, having been spun shamelessly by a variety of obedient Tory propagandists, has been greeted with horror by the party’s awkward squad, typified by Bill Cash, quoted by the Maily Telegraph as saying that the country needs “a full referendum on Lisbon as ... promised. No ifs or buts”. Barry Legg, former Tory MP now with the Bruges Group, asserts that Cameron has “broken his word”.
And now we hear that the most ardent Eurosceptic Tory, shadow Foreign Secretary William ‘Ague, has had to break the news to the world that his party will not be offering the electorate a referendum on Lisbon. Master ‘Ague has conceded, as I noted yesterday, that Lisbon will not be possible to unpick once ratified, and his boss needs to get his fresh policy position out there without further delay, to give him the chance to win over the doubters and head off any transfer of loyalty to the flat earthers of UKIP, whose leader Nigel Farage will doubtless have been toasting the Tory change of tack.
But Young Dave did give an unequivocal promise to hold a referendum. And he gave it in the pages of the Murdoch Sun. His move to map out a new stance on the EU is necessary and pragmatic, but even with the most enthusiastic of spinning, it will be easy for his detractors to accuse him of dishonesty.
Welcome to real world politics, Dave.
[UPDATE: Nosemonkey has an excellent post, Liveblogging The Lisbon Apocalypse]