Nick Robinson thinks William Hague said something significant about post-ratification tactics during this afternoon’s Queen’s Speech debate on foreign policy:
"He was asked once again whether his party would promise a referendum if the Tories come to power after the EU Treaty (or what they insists is still the EU Constitution) had been ratified. The Shadow Foreign Secretary went through the usual list of "ifs" implicit in that question – if there’s no referendum, if the treaty’s ratified elsewhere, if there’s an election after that process is over – before going on to say that if all those "ifs" came to pass "We could not let matters rest there". In other words Hague is saying that the Tories would not accept that ratification by the Commons and by all other EU nations put an end to the debate. They would insist, presumably, on either a post ratification referendum or, if that were not possible, a re-negotiation of Britain’s membership of the EU."
I, personally, hope Nick Robinson is right but I think he’s in danger of reading too much into Mr Hague’s words.
PS No time to write anything else as I’m
playing working with my new iPhone.
10.15pm: A spokesman for David Cameron has tonight said that there is no change of policy. A close aide to the Tory leader told PA: "There has been absolutely no change in our position. It is exactly as David Cameron stated in his press conference last month." Europe Minister Jim Murphy had earlier leapt on the perceived change of tactic: "William Hague today signalled an extraordinary shift in Tory policy that would be a recipe for instability and be damaging to British business, British jobs and British prosperity. This latest commitment shows David Cameron has yet again caved in. This rash pledge demonstrates the Conservatives are not a serious party ready for government." I’m left wondering if the Government fed the BBC the idea that policy had changed.