Has Cameron got away with his Lisbon ambivalence?

Has Cameron got away with his Lisbon ambivalence?

How’s he survived without re-opening the wounds?

Just cast your minds back five days to Saturday when news came through of the overwhelming YES to the Lisbon Treaty in the Irish referendum. This, everybody seemed to be saying, could not have come at a worse time for the Conservatives just as their Manchester conference was opening.

For was the leader going to be able to side-step the issue of a UK referendum given that the treaty looks set to be ratified before the general election? His much repeated response about “not letting the matter rest” seemed to satisfy no one.

For forty-eight hours this was the big meda story. Cameramen seemed to tail the pro-EU Ken Clarke everywhere while the “not-on-message” Boris became the man every political TV show wanted to have on.

Then the story ran out of stream. There was no “peg” to move it on – a remarkable tribute to what happens to parties when they are so near a general election. Unity is everything and nobody, not even Ken Clarke at his most avuncular, dared to rock the boat.

I think that Southam Observer on the previous thread had this right – “.. Europe remains a side issue and will continue to be so as long as the Tories keep their discipline. The only people that can damage them on the Europe front are themselves.”

This will come up again before the expected May 6th general election day but my guess is that a lot of the potency has gone out of the story.

Mike Smithson

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