Good news for the two million people who voted for either the Greens or the Lib Dems: The Queen’s Speech has confirmed there WILL be a bill introducing a 5p tax on plastic bags. Worse news for the eight million people who voted for UKIP or the Conservatives: the Queen’s Speech makes no mention of legislating for an In/Out EU referendum in 2017. So much for David Cameron’s assurances of “message received” last week.
The Prime Minister had to drop a foreign aid bill from the agenda, enshrining a target of 0.7% of GDP for foreign aid, which has outraged the Lib Dems. In response Nick Clegg has refused to allow the Tories to include a bill for an In/Out EU referendum in the Queen’s Speech. This means the government will be unable to introduce this bill itself before the general election, and Cameron is apparently relying again on a private member’s bill.
As we know from James Wharton’s failed EU Referendum Bill in the last session, even if a new bill were to pass through the Commons it would be killed off by unelected and out-of-touch dinosaurs like the disgraced Lord Oakeshott. But would an In/Out referendum bill passed in 2014 achieve anything? Many argue because one Parliament cannot bind its successor, if we end up with a Labour government in 2015 Miliband could simply repeal such a 2017 referendum date. However, we believe there would be such a public outcry this would prevent him from going back on Cameron’s referendum promise, if the promise is enshrined in law. As such it is vital the referendum bill is introduced this session, even though it would have to be introduced as a private member’s bill.
Earlier this year “Cast Iron” Dave assured voters he would back a second in/out referendum bill. However, his track record on living up to promises is laughable, including his recent failure to stick to his immigration targets. Hopefully pressure both from the public and MPs will force him to live up to his promise. It would certainly be a novelty.
The sooner an EU referendum bill is introduced, while the shadow of UKIP’s victory still hangs over Westminster, the better chance we will have of this bill becoming law. The recent European elections have shown the Great British Public want to a referendum to Get Britain Out of the European Union.
So what are the Tories waiting for?
Luke Stanley, Research Assistant