Conservative Party

Conservatives for Britain – but not if you're on Government payroll


“Conservatives for Britain has been formed among Tory parliamentarians to discuss the criteria by which to judge the Government’s EU renegotiation. We are willing to consider how to prepare for an ‘out’ campaign if, lamentably, the European Union establishment will not allow the UK a new relationship of trade and co-operation.” So writes the new group’s Chairman, Steve Baker, the decent, principled and honourable MP for Wycombe.

And after a few plaudits hurled in the direction of the Prime Minister (for having “secured a cut in the European Union budget”, and having “kept us out of a centralising EU fiscal treaty”), Mr Baker gets to the nexus of the matter: Conservatives for Britain want to trade freely with the EU without the political commitment to ‘ever closer union’, enshrined in the founding Treaty of Rome. “We are an outward-looking, free trading nation which feels acutely the lack of democratic consent for European supranational government,” he says.

The thing is, the European Union was never conceived as a democratic entity: indeed, it could only be constructed by anti-democratic, bureaucratic incrementalism. It was never designed to flexible or open, and less still responsive to the will of the people, as successive referenda in Denmark, France, the Netherlands and Ireland have shown. The trajectory toward political union is fixed: if the people vote to the contrary, they are sold a pup and asked again – and again, if necessary, until they give the pre-ordained answer.

It isn’t entire clear what David Cameron actually wants from his EU renegotiation, so it’s hard to discern whether or not he has been successful. According to Steve Baker:

He has indicated about ten areas for reform. As a recent Business for Britain report set out, they are: an end to “ever closer union”, reduced regulation for small businesses and start-ups, domestic control over social and employment law, protection for the City, exemption from Eurozone intervention, fast-track trade deals, a reduced EU budget, greater transparency, migration controls for member states and the right for Britain to veto EU laws.

And it is the self-appointed task of Conservatives for Britain to explore “the extent to which those goals have been met in the renegotiation package and whether they are sufficient to recommend EU membership to the British people”. Meaning, presumably, that Conservatives for Britain is a nascent ‘Out’ group which will campaign for a ‘No’ in the forthcoming referendum, not least because ‘ever closer union’ isn’t up for negotiation: it would require fundamental (truly fundamental) treaty change, and that would require an inter-governmental conference to draw up a new treaty, which would need to be unanimously agreed by all EU heads of state, which would need to be ratified by each state’s parliament, some of which would be constitutionally bound to put the matter to a referendum.

The Lisbon Treaty changed this slightly with its ‘passerelle’ clause (48.6-7), which effectively created a self-amending treaty such that the European Council, deciding by simple majority, might convene a Convention to adopt amendments to the treaties. Although national parliaments may veto proposals, the use of the ‘passerelle’ does not require ratification by the member states. It is all very tediously nuanced, if not politically subversive, but it is not possible to see how David Cameron could secure a package of reforms which essentially gives the United Kingdom all the advantages of EU membership without any of the costs. The ‘fundamental change’ required must restore the sovereignty of the British people and the political primacy of the UK Parliament, and it isn’t clear at all that the Prime Minister has that as an objective.

This being the case, whatever is negotiated is unlikely to satisfy Conservatives for Britain. “We need a Parliament which can decide the level of British taxpayers’ contributions to the EU, what regulations should apply to our businesses, how to control EU migration and our trade relations with the rest of the world,” says Steve Baker. “In short, we need a sovereign Parliament which can answer the demands of our electors. Without this, it seems likely many Conservative MPs will conclude that the best interests of the UK, Europe and the wider world, and the cause of peaceful international co-operation would be advanced by the UK leaving the European Union..”

But David Cameron has already determined that it is in the national interest to remain in the EU, and we learn today that all members of the Government (that is, the entire payroll right down to the lowliest PPS) are to be bound by collective Cabinet responsibility: “If you want to be part of the government you have to take the view that we are engaged in an exercise of renegotiation to have a referendum and that will lead to a successful outcome,” he said, rather presciently, if not prophetically.

So, there you have it: unlike Harold Wilson, who was rather more latitudinal with his 1975 EEC referendum by permitting his ministers to campaign for a ‘No’, David Cameron says it is not possible to be a part of this Conservative government and support secession from the EU; that it is not possible to uphold the sovereignty of the British people and the supremacy of Parliament and serve in a Cameron administration. The inference is that Brexit is incompatible with the fundamentally conservative principle that EU law should not override UK law; that advocating Brexit is irreconcilable with being a Conservative. This is an unacceptable deception, which one must hope Conservatives for Britain will refute directly as a matter of urgency.

UPDATE 13.03 8 June 2015

Apparently, the Prime Minister’s comments were “over-interpreted” (by seemingly every journalist present and every news outlet which reported them). There is now no ultimatum for Government ministers to support the negotiated settlement or resign (or be sacked). Thus collective Cabinet responsibility seems not to be applicable in the EU referendum campaign. Cameron says on the one hand that the Government is “not neutral” on the matter of recommending continuing EU membership on his renegotiated terms, and yet, on the other hand, he intimates that members of the Government will be free to oppose. Take care, however, for this clarification may have been over-interpreted.

UPDATE 16.34 8 June 2015

The Prime Minister’s spokesperson’s “over-interpreted” has now been further clarified by the Prime Minister himself as “misinterpreted“. It is not known at this stage if this will be subject to further clarification, or whether our apprehension of ‘misinterpreted’ may be an over-interpretation.

  • Old Blowers

    It has been reported that Mr Slimy has announced with his new government a record number of PPS’s that any government has ever allowed…Wonder why he may have done this?

    The Slimeball has learnt everything that an heir to Blair could possibly hope for from that example of dictatorial democracy and then some.

    Have any of this new intake of Tory MP’s got the spine to say no to this Machiavellian mischief or will the dangling wee carrot from said snakeoil salesman be too much to resist for the poor dears???


  • You are nearly there. The Conservatives just aren’t any more. There is only one political party that stands for democracy and the rule of law, and the excuse far too many Conservative party members have used to avoid making the jump to it is now untenable.

  • David

    Finally the extent of the treachery of the majority of the Conservative Party, and certainly its leadership, is revealed to all but the totally, wilfully blind. From Heath to Cameron we have a seamless steam of rank deceit, duplicity and double-speak, which is tantamount to treachery.
    The euro-scepticism of the Conservative Party’s leadership is merely a image useful to harvest the votes of the patriotic and gullible. This is the way it has been for decades now.
    This is precisely why many left years ago for Ukip, which is, sadly, the only party that genuinely believes in the UK as a freestanding, global trading nation state, ruled by Common Law.
    If Cameron allows the billions of the EU to be used to browbeat and frighten the large body of doubters into voting “Yes”, allowing the final vestiges of our independence to be snuffed out, then the game truly is up. The Franco-German empire will have destroyed England and the UK, using its internal plants. We really are drinking at the last chance saloon now, as a nation state.

  • Albert

    it is not possible to uphold the sovereignty of the British people and the supremacy of Parliament and serve in a Cameron administration.

    A beautiful summary of the incoherence of Cameron’s position. For where does his authority come from if not from the sovereignty of the British people as expressed in the supremacy of Parliament?

  • Orwell Ian

    “There can be no democratic choice against the European treaties” – Jean-Claude Juncker.

    We are faced with an unelected ruling elite in Brussels who can’t balance their books, with a backward culture still marching towards 1984 and where opposition to ever closer Union is condescendingly seen as heretical. No auditor has ever blessed the EU accounts. It is to government what FIFA is to football, a cosy, corporatist cartel, run for the advantage of insiders. The fact that we are bothering to negotiate with these criminals means we’re more than half way to losing already.

    I am suspicious of this eurosceptic Conservative group. Too many in there that will put career before Country. They must know already that unless reforms are set in stone via revised treaties renegotiation is utterly pointless. Reform without treaty change would never survive subsequent legal challenges at European level. This is all part of a ritual dance where Dave the master of presentation without substance, will spin things out until the 11th hour, returning in triumph like Chamberlain version 2.0. It would then be too late for our valiant Conservative group to go all Churchillian and turn the tide.

    • Anton

      Which is why I didn’t vote for one of them who stood in my constituency but preferred the UKIP candidate.

  • Anton

    “If you want to be part of the government you have to take the view that we are engaged in an exercise of renegotiation to have a referendum and that will lead to a successful outcome,” he said, rather presciently, if not prophetically.

    And also rather obscurely. Look closely at the phrase “we are engaged in an exercise of renegotiation to have a referendum and that will lead to a successful outcome” and see if you can work out what it means.

  • len

    Conservatives are going to be told that the negotiations about the role of the UK in the EU were’ successful’ whatever the outcome.
    What a farce this referendum is turning out to be…..

    If anyone had any doubt at all the ‘democratic process’ in Europe is just an illusion…

    • Orwell Ian

      Cameron’s ultimatum to potential EU rebels demonstrates that he will declare
      renegotiation a “success” regardless. He will use the EU referendum as a device to keep us in.

      Meanwhile Obama speaks from the burning bush:
      “We are very much looking forward to the UK staying a part of the EU because we think that its influence is positive for the world.”
      Whatever happened to America? Where is the defender of democracy?

      • len

        America was built on a Christian foundation where that has declined the country has declined (Europe is following the same pattern)

  • Busy Mum

    According to Peter Hitchens, the Yes campaign will be able to spend up to £17million but the No side will be limited to £8million in the run up to a referendum. He also says that a law preventing public bodies from running Yes campaigns during the last 28 days has been dropped. Has anyone else heard that?

  • preacher

    As expected, sold down the river by Cameron again. He never intended to give the electorate an in/out vote, it was a scam because he was afraid (Rightly so by the number of votes) of UKIP’s popularity.
    So we are back to the double talk & lies of Heath, only the New-speak has changed to include ‘renegotiation’, the new magic formula for turning base metal into Gold or in this case Euros.

    Disappointed, but not surprised.
    The late Robin Williams got it right in a line from one of his films – “Politicians are like diapers, (nappies) they should be changed regularly & for the same reasons”.

    One wonders what would happen if those honest & honourable members of Conservatives for Britain & Steve Baker left the party & joined UKIP, further reducing Cameron’s slender majority before they became soiled with the rest of the toadies & Lickspittles.

    • Graham Wood

      Good post and probably represents the views of many, cynical as it may be – all justified.
      If, as seems very likely through Cameron’s lying, manipulation of the electoral process in the coming referendum, and scaremongering from his “colleagues” in the EU establishment, there is a vote to remain in the EUSSR, then there is another route out.
      Contingent upon the political will being present within the ‘Conservative’ party, there needs to be a call to amend the 1972 European Communities Act, so that all EU based legislation (mandatory to be passed into domestic law at present) is subject to scrutiny by the H of C, and whatever is not deemed in the national interest is rejected. Amendment of the Act will cut off EU law making hegemony and with it the dictatorial powers that follow. Let the ECA wither on the vine for a period and then repeal the Act altogether.

  • David

    At the GE there were, I am sure, many genuine patriotic conservatives, trusting sorts, who wanted a proper referendum, and foolishly believed Cameron. So although they wanted their country returned to full sovereignty, with a trade and friendship agreement, as originally agreed, they voted for the old party, not UKIP. Well they have been betrayed, as many of us ex-Conservative, genuine conservatives who joined the Ukip band wagon had grasped would be the case. Loyalty to people like Cameron is merely abused, sadly. He has no “bottom”.

    If we are cheated out of a proper, fair referendum the pressures for another one will only grow. Patriots do not surrender, ever, but bide their time. The EU is a disaster. Every other continent is growing economically as Daniel Hannan’s excellent article in the DT today explains. We cannot retain our Laws, Culture and independence for successful trading, trapped within a dying, failing EU Empire. We must OUT as soon as possible. Cameron is as unprincipled as was that man Heath – terrible people !

    • Coniston

      If the aim is to restore sovereignty to the British parliament, then assuming Cameron gets some concessions from Brussels, who is to decide if these concessions have genuinely restored our sovereignty?

      • David

        Restoring sovereignty requires either Treaty Change of Parliament invoking its right to withdraw, lock, stock and barrel. The first is very slow, tortuous and highly unlikely. The second takes a determined patriotic government which we certainly don’t have.
        Gaining “concessions” does not constitute Sovereignty restoration. Our sovereignty has only been restored when it is clear that The Westminster Parliament is superior, sovereign over, the EU’s dictats.
        Cameron is performing “smoke and mirrors” Act 2. Act 1 was the initial entrapment under Edward Heath. Neither Conservative PM is trustworthy.

  • The Explorer

    I don’t imagine the electorate can possibly be given an in/out choice in reality, in case they vote for out. The wording will be of the, ‘Do you still beat your wife?’ variety. It’s like a tennis match in which the umpire is the father of one of the players.

  • Politically__Incorrect

    According to the DT, Cameron has backed down on his demand for his cabinet to stand with him. Thanks to his spokeswoman, there is now a new word in the English Dictionary as his comments were “overinterpreted”, unless I am underquoting her.

    • len

      Possibly Cameron ‘misspoke much as many politicians seem to be doing?.

  • alternative_perspective

    Its time to start learning German. I hear they pay well in the EU parliament.

    The referendum is nothing but cover to win a mandate for further integration.

    Consider the teams:

    – Pro-Europe:

    The PM, most of parliament, the establishment including the civil service, nearly the whole media, the BBC certainly, the EU (of course), our friends in Washington and every corporate hanger-on; the inertia of nearly 50 m ignorant British voters.

    – Pro-independence:

    Nigel Farage, Daniel Hannan (who talks a lot but does very little), 4m UKIP voters and the CEO of JCB.

    Once the PM has decisively won the vote we will be considered a pro-EU nation and the strength of the win will be interpreted as a mandate for further integration. Buoyed by the result a re-emergence of pro-EU sentiment across the continent will spread and another push for a fully federal system will emerge and likely succeed.

    My guess: this referendum will provide the impetus for the emergence of the first republic of Europe and the end of nation states across the continent.

    Since an established church and our monarchy are somewhat incompatible with a secular European republic expect there to be plenty of atheist and republican propaganda post referendum, various character assassinations and a push for dis-establishment.

    Revelation 18:4King James Version (KJV)

    4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.

    • Anton

      What could Daniel Hannan have done that he hasn’t? Sometimes talking IS doing.

  • CliveM

    For all the fury surrounding this over interpretation (and I have to admit I’m inclined to believe the statement, simply because I find it hard to believe he would piss off so many in his Govt. and back himself so firmly into an un-winnable corner at this stage) nothing has changed with regards what Cameron offered at the outset. This was never promised simply as an in/out vote. The promise always came with the rider that it would follow a re-negotiation. He has never stated that he supports leaving the EU, so his statement now can hardly come as a surprise. His new ‘clarified’ statement seems perfectly obvious. Until the referendum is called as promised in the manifesto, if you don’t support the process you should get out of Government. How could it be otherwise?

    The fact that certain groups will align with the Yes in EU cause is hardly a surprise and would mostly be the same groups even if UKIP were running the election ie EU, USA, CBI, Labour, Lib Dems (who?), SNP, BBC at least half the Conservative Party and the Civil Service (although perhaps in a more subtle form).

    Although I am hard pressed to see that all these will be a benefit to the Yes campaign, as being lectured at by the EU (for instance) is likely to put more people off then sway the vote in the EU’s direction.

    The vote is still on for taking place. Indeed it may even be pulled forward. You will still get the chance to leave. All this complaining sounds as if people have given up and are already preparing their excuses!

    The polls seem to be suggesting a surge in support for the EU (the Farage effect), so unless people fully engage in promoting the cause for leaving the EU, the chances of a successful no vote will get ever slimmer.

    The fact that everything with regards the vote will not be as people like is just hard luck, that’s life, people need to just get on with it. If inspiration is needed, just consider how close the SNP came to success with similar problems and a less conducive starting position.

  • Shadrach Fire

    I did not see what was originally said but I have no doubt that Cameron is capable of spinning the situation when they saw how bad it came over. There is no smoke without fire and the original version fits perfectly with his temperament and his record for lying and deception. The press can’t all be wrong in their interpretation of events.

    • preacher

      Possibly new legislation & gagging orders do you think ?.

  • dannybhoy

    The thing is, the European Union was never conceived as a democratic
    entity: indeed, it could only be constructed by anti-democratic,
    bureaucratic incrementalism. It was never designed to flexible or open,
    and less still responsive to the will of the people, as successive
    referenda in Denmark, France, the Netherlands and Ireland have shown.

    but that’s not how it was sold to the British people. It might be good for mainland Europe, but not quirky, inventive and outward looking Britain. I think we have suffered a real crisis of confidence since ww2, and the EEC seemed a good way to go. Then it was revealed that the EEC was the EU in disguise, and we realised we had been sold a pup.

    • Graham Wood

      True. A 1970s answer to a 1950s problem !

  • preacher

    As usual the public will be the last to know what our public servants (ROFL) are planning. Suffice to say that the leak has been temporarily plugged, (Silenced ?).

    The blinds are drawn & nods & winks plus gentle hints will now be the order of the day in the secret corridors of Westminster.

    Canny Cameron has done a ‘Heath’ – ” Of course this will not be a United States of Europe, it’s nothing more than a Common Market ! “.

  • Richard Watson

    Eurosceptics will get stitched up. Europhiles will not see more democratic accountability. This is what happens when the conversation is bypassed for political goals and put on show as a referendum. Exhibit B: the so called attempt at electoral reform after the previous election.

    Offer nobody what they want and the status quo will remain. Hurrah for conservatism.

  • not a machine

    For some reason I have suzy quattros “can the can” song in my head and am rather stunned at what has been articulated through the day which we no understand as misinterpreted .
    monty pythons herring dance perhaps as well .I would think if as pm you offer a referendum , you cannot sack ministers who by the very nature of a referendum are free to campaign as they wish .There is also the aspect of making lepers out of mps who represent people who entrusted conservative mps at the ballot box to settle things via referendum , and not to be monstered by some half baked deal and dodgey treaty change lite .
    I perhaps consider a little how the EU sees things , but given they have repeatedly overrun the many appeals to consider our wish to trade but not be subsumed into something that is fiscally obese and has shown an ability to lose money and ruin euro member states , is just screaming common sense.
    It does look as though the pm has made a private deal in his tour of EU countires and listening , I perhaps ponder who advised him to play this rather unclear line , as though the fine tuned ears of his party would be happy with little . many people in the UK have voted not only the PMs undoubted economic competence and his political skills , but for him to respect that millions of UK voters do not have the same faith in the EU (and have had good reason to think it would end up in anything but tears and destitution) . He has run close to seeming to portray that ,it is his country and he is emperor in settling matters with EU wonderlust , the very thing some of us consider how the EU behaves .
    His degree in economics must be telling him , that the heir to Blair big corp model is not clear cut in its final outcome , I have doubts about it , but the EU doesn t , and if it came down to it , he could face some very tough economic questions which I doubt even he could answer , and the current help the EU is getting by not paying its massive debts may vanish . This problem is an economic one mainly and as I see it we expect as sensible and democratic country with a long history , I reserve the right not to be flushed down the pipe , someone in the EU says is sound without any validation, over fine dining .

  • Inspector General

    Stirring stuff Cranmer! You are at your best today, Sir.

    The man is of course a fool on so many levels. One thinks the blighter may go in with his fists threatening to wreck the beloved ever closer union between Germany and those who are unlucky enough to have a border with this troublesome yet wildly successful country. Well, that’s not going to happen, is it? But if he merely campaigns for us to leave the Board of Directors, he’ll get a much better hearing.

    Let us leave the continentals to whatever they’re planning, which is obviously the creation of a very large area of influence around Germany, and its slavish lackey, France. No doubt, we’ll have to pay some modern form of danegeld to enable us to trade with the rotters (at least, during the immediate), but we’ll be free of their damn interfering.

    We must now at this point celebrate Cameron’s natural ability to foster ill feeling towards him in the parliamentary party. True to form for a man who rubbed true blue noses in the same sex marriage mire, he now presumes to restrict his fellows consideration of the EU. If this, and the continued resonations emanating from that unforgettable aforementioned doolally brings forth a “No, I want out!” champion of sufficient calibre to be of leadership material and thus replace him, then he has only himself to blame.

    Here’s to the future, chaps…

    God Save The Queen!

  • carl jacobs

    If I was a cynic, I might suspect that Mr Cameron wasn’t over-interpreted at all. I would suspect he got his message out loud and clear. Then he could walk it back a little by blaming the journalists. Well, why not. Journalists are almost always guilty.

    Message: You can oppose me, but you had better not effectively oppose me.

    Anyways, it’s good to be the boss. And if these members serve in positions at the pleasure of the PM, then the PM is well within his rights.

    • CliveM

      Good explanation.

      I think it gives to much credit. But credible.

  • Inspector General

    Stone the crows! He seems to have retracted (BBC news). How the hell the man is going to negotiate with the EU is beyond understanding if his own team are in the dark over his intentions…

  • Owl

    YG, you point out, once again, what a first class heir to Blair our Dave is and that he has no Intention that the UK will leave the EU on his watch (through fair means or foul).
    Yet, at each run up to a GE, you appeal for support for this charlatan as being the lesser evil (usually with regard to Labour) and discourage UKIP support with the reasoning that this could split the conservative vote.
    This confuses me no end.
    LibLabCon are part and parcel of the EU. We will not get out of the EU before we get rid of all the puppets.
    GBS thought Stalin had the right idea. Looks like that’s where we’re heading.

  • IanCad

    I’m not sure if I have this correct, but Cameron seems intent on stamping his feet and throwing his toys out of the pram with the intent of making the big bad beast grant some concessions. After which, we’ll have a referendum which will ensure our continued bondage.
    Dear Lord! We are governed by Pygmies.

  • Roy Jenkins

    DAVID telling us his plans for the ,
    E.U. vote on the IN -OUT referendum
    conservatives party member I am your BOSS DAVID
    will have your votes and you will do has I say O.K.
    You will sign this paper saying you turn all your vote over to me
    your party leader NOW?
    Now as for the voters out there if I think you are going to vote to
    leave the E.U. I will not let you vote and I will only let my party member
    vote on this matter and has I have just made then sign over there

  • preacher

    Perhaps the final word ?.
    The European Parliament has not had it’s books & accounts agreed for How Long ?.
    We’ve just seen the corruption that is rife in FIFA, & there’s probably much more to come.
    It seems that the bigger the organisation, the bigger the criminals it attracts.
    My point is that one can’t get much bigger than the EU parliament & if my surmise is right, the Grand Masters of villainy will be jockeying for positions in this Premier league of reprobates.
    The question this raises is, who will slay this Goliath of evil that stands mocking us ?, because until the foundation of this tower of Babel is destroyed & the structure is levelled, it poses a growing threat to the freedom that our young men have paid such a high price for in two World conflicts, so that we may live in freedom & peace for ourselves & our future generations.

    • Ben Ryan

      They’ve been consistently agreed for years and the audits compare very favourably with the levels of reported fraud and funds lost due to administrative error by the UK government.

      “The European Commission welcomed today the European Court of Auditors’ latest report on the management of the EU budget. It states that in 2013 the error rate was 4.7%, compared to 4.8% in 2012, and it continues to be below 5% for many years now. This shows that the Commission’s continuous efforts to improve the management of EU funds pay off.

      With regard to the EU’s account keeping, this is the seventh year in a row that the Commission has been given a clean bill of health by the Court of Auditors. In other words, the day-to-day accounting practices of the Commission have proven themselves solid and reliable throughout the entire 2007-2013 period.”

      That error rate (the bit not “signed off”) is fairly standard for any large economy.

      There are a great many sticks with which to beat the EU but this old chesnut is simply not one of them.

  • stoffel45

    David Cameron and his bosses in the EU are so arrogant that they overlook the reason for this Referendum on the EU.

    Nearly 80% of British people Demanded a Referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU – not because they were happy with it.

    Not because they wanted a debate into the finer points of geopolitics.

    They had over 40 years of EU misrule.

    They knew their pockets were picked when the EU wanted more….and more.

    Their Energy Bills were loaded because the EU said so.

    Their Courts were interfered with.

    Millions of Immigrants were dumped in Britain.

    The EU Referendum is a Protest against membership of the EU.

    • preacher

      Rather like the Pigs in Orwell’s Animal Farm !. Even they must be surprised by the ease of their success !.

  • Mike Stallard

    If it is a case of just jumping out of Europe where we live then leaving is simply out of the question.

    And do you believe in fairies at the bottom of the garden too?

    If you think that the EU is not morphing into the EUSSR under Commissars, then let me ask, how much did the tooth fairy leave you?

    The level of debate depresses me so much. People have simply not done their homework.

    Please do look here. Pretty please.