Thursday, October 08, 2009

EXCLUSIVE: Guest Post from George Lyon MEP. Cameron must be praying for Czech "no" after Irish "yes"

I'm delighted to be able to present a guest post from Scotland's new Liberal Democrat MEP, George Lyon.


One question the Conservatives have studiously avoided answering during their party conference is what will happen to their hallowed referendum on the Lisbon Treaty after Ireland’s resounding ‘yes’ vote.

Where do the Conservatives go from here? We know what Boris thinks, but what about Dave?

Some said that a no vote would have sent the EU spiralling into crisis. But it is the yes vote that now threatens to send the Conservatives lurching back down the Euro-sceptic road.

The Irish yes vote is a hammer blow to Mr Cameron, one that threatens to crack open the traditional Conservative divisions over Europe. Now he is forced to confront the issue that all Conservative leaders fear, particularly when heading into a General Election.

The Irish referendum signalled the beginning of the end of the ratification process. Poland will ratify in short order leaving only the Czech Republic with the chance to bring down the treaty.

Seventeen anti-European Czech Senators have lodged a legal bid in an attempt to derail the process. A 60-page document outlining why they believe the Treaty is unconstitutional has been submitted to the Republic’s highest court. Although it will take some time to digest, it is expected that the case will be thrown out in four to six months time, leaving the Lisbon Treaty ratified and the Tories in European limbo.

By then the Tories hope to be the party of power in Britain. Cameron must be praying that the Czechs take Lisbon off the table before it lands on his lap.

Despite the chipper mood of the blue rinse brigade, a Tory victory is far from a foregone conclusion. If Mr Cameron wants to be taken seriously at home or abroad he must begin to fill in the yawning policy gaps that exist, starting with what to do about Lisbon.

The choice Cameron faces is quite clear. He can face down the Euro-sceptics in his party and embrace Lisbon as the way to strengthen Britain’s position in Europe through a more democratic EU. The alternative is to find himself pitted against Sarkozy, Merkel and all the other European leaders with whom the UK must work constructively with to get the best deal for our country.

David Cameron has already thrown a bone to the rabid euro-sceptics in his party by banishing the Conservative MEP group to the margins of European decision making. It would be disastrous for Scotland if the Conservatives were to force Britain to the European fringes by putting a collision course with our European neighbours.

With big EU decisions looming on reform of financial regulation, agriculture and fisheries, a Tory Government at war with itself over Europe would have a devastating impact for our farmers and fisherman, our economy and environment. Issues of importance to families across Scotland will be neglected and all because the Tories choose to put their own divisions ahead of the countries best interests.

We need a Government in this country that is willing to work with Europe, not against it. The fact that Cameron is unwilling to be honest and upfront over this key issue shows that the change they offer is fake and the promises they make are hollow.

The country deserves a straight answer from Cameron. Are they going to accept the Treaty that is designed to make the EU more efficient and effective or continue down the Euro-sceptic road which will leave us isolated and without influence?

The Irish yes vote has set the dominoes tumbling; all we can do now is wait to see where they fall.

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