Yes it is true that the party that signed up to the Treaty of Maastricht and did most of the preparatory work on the Treaty of Amsterdam is now calling to undo parts of both, but call a referendum on any future Treaty. Considering how the Masstricht treaty was treated in the commons to get passed, as a vote of confidence, in all bar name, in John Major this seems like a ludicrous about turn for the Tories who have already been playing so wide on the wing to almost be as well as take a seat in the stands after joining their group of extremist Eurosceptics.
Pierre Lellouche, France's Europe Minister threw aside any diplomatic niceties when he said what he thought of David Cameron's approach:
"It's pathetic. It's just very sad to see Britain, so important in Europe, just cutting itself out from the rest and disappearing from the radar map …. This is a culture of opposition … It is the result of a long period of opposition. I know they will come back, but I hope the trip will be short.
"They are doing what they have done in the European parliament. They have essentially castrated your UK influence in the European parliament."
And want did he think of Cameron trying to rewrite the Treaties some of them crafted by his party predecessors:
"It's not going to happen for a minute. Nobody is going to indulge in rewriting [treaties for] many, many years. Nobody is going to play with the institutions again. It's going to be take it or leave it and they should be honest and say that. It is a time of tumultuous waters all around us. Wars, terrorism, proliferation, Afghanistan, energy with Russia, massive immigration, economic crisis. It is time when the destiny of Europe is being defined – whether or not we will exist as a third of the world's GDP capable of fighting it out on climate, on trade, on every … issue on the surface of the Earth.
"We need to be united, otherwise we will be wiped out and marginalised. None of us can do it alone. Whether you're big or small, the lesson is the same. And [Britain's] risk is one of marginalisation. Irrelevance. Finally we have institutional package, but it took 15 years of looking at our navel and getting everybody bored to death with sterile debate."
So what did Cameron promise when abandoning his 'cast-iron' guarantee on a referendum yesterday.
- For starters he is going to amend the 1972 (Heath Parliament) European Communities Act to not allow transfer of powers without referendums.
- Revisit some of the EU employment law set up under Maastricht 1992 under Major.
- Also looking at releasing some of the cross border powers of European security that was set up under Amsterdam just after the Blair Parliament came into being but largely negotiated under Major.
"Cameron has already done enough to alienate Britain's allies across Europe by leading his party into the lunatic wilderness - now he wants to take Britain there too."
Working as I do in trans-European work environment like I do in a call centre that caters for many parts of the EU, with sites in two other European countries, I see practical implications of what he is trying to do. Removing fundamental rights from many of my co-workers could well lead to less 0f them being likely to want to take up work here, leading to issues for the rest of us if clients are unable to fill desired language sets here in Edinburgh. We have managed to weather the economic storm to some degree but whether on the back of that we can weather a Eurosceptic one as well is something that I don't want to have to find out.