07:40 Tuesday 14th May 2013
Bigger Breakfast Show
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
PAUL STAINTON: The Conservatives are to publish a Draft Bill which will legislate for a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union by 2017. The move was announced late last night during David Cameron’s visit to the US. It’s being seen as an attempt to satisfy all the Tory critics of his approach to Europe. Now the Prime Minister has promised to reenegotiate the terms of Britain’s membership of the EU and then put it to a popular vote. The BBC’s Political Correspondent Robin Brant(?) explains what the Bill will mean for Cameron and his party. (TAPE)
BBC: A it send out the message for millions of voters that this is how serious the Conservatives are about this referendum. It’s not just a private Ministerial pledge. They’ve actually passed a law. And secondly they believe that no political leader, ie David Cameron, could possibly go back on that. (LIVE)
PAUL STAINTON: Well, will the Bill be enough to satisfy the Eurosceptics and defuse the revolt within the Conservative Party? Stewart Jackson of course is the Conservative MP for Peterborough, and has openly criticised Cameron’s stance on Europe in the past. Morning Stewart.
STEWART JACKSON: Good morning.
PAUL STAINTON: Is it enough to placate you?
STEWART JACKSON: Well I think it’s a step in the right direction, and certainly if the amendment to the Queen’s Speech, which is being tabled and I signed yesterday, which regrets there being a Bill, is still on the agenda tomorrow when we vote, I will be voting for it. But I think it’s a recognition that actually we’re not split as a party, because I think there is now a settled consensus in the Conservarive Party that a referendum is inevitable.
PAUL STAINTON: You plainly are split, because a lot of the Party want it now. They don’t want it in 2017. They don’t see the point of it.
STEWART JACKSON: Well the split in the ’90s Paul was between people who were basically pro-Europe and anti-Europe. I think the split now is people who are wanting a referendum as soon as possible, in order to rebuild the bond of trust with people, because frankly the voters don’t believe any parties on Europe. And that’s why you’ve seen the rise of UKIP.
PAUL STAINTON: Well I think they believe UKIP, don’t they. This is a panic measure aimed at placating Tory sceptics, but also aimed at winning back the public who’ve flooded across to UKIP in their droves.
STEWART JACKSON: Well not quite. UKIP got one in four votes at the local elections, and they were for county council elections.
PAUL STAINTON: Not bad, is it?
STEWART JACKSON: No, it’s pretty good. And of course UKIP sent a message. I’m not dismissive of UKIP voters, and actually I don’t worry about UKIP in Peterborough because I voted against the EU Budget. I lost my job over supporting, eighteen months ago, before it was on the agenda, an EU referendum. So I’m pretty sound on those issues.
PAUL STAINTON: And you’ve been to meet them, so you know them.
STEWART JACKSON: (LAUGHS) I have been to meet them, and I like the UKIP people in Peterborough. They’re decent civilised people. But one point is the Conservative Party has a consensus now that we need a referendum. That wasn’t the case even two years ago. I think you’re quite right in saying some people like me think we have to have it before the General Election. We have to have the legislation in place. I would prefer the referendum on whether we stay in or leave the European Union to be on polling day.
PAUL STAINTON: Well who knows? The panic over this is poalpable, isn’t it? David Cameron in America with Obama saying just last night that perhaps you need to fix things with Europe, then wooh, out of left field David says ooh, I’m going to introduce a Bill. Where did that come from? It’s a panic measure, isn’t it?
STEWART JACKSON: I fail to understand when Barack Obama became the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and told us who we should have relationships with, economically or politically. It’s like me saying Barack, why don’t you hook up with Mexico. That’s a good idea. We’ll leave our relations with the European Union to our government.
PAUL STAINTON: No but you see where I’m going. It’s a panic measure aimed at keeping everybody onside while the cat’s away.
STEWART JACKSON: David Cameron is a good politician. He’s a pragmatist at the end of the day. He understands that the British people now are saying we’re fed up with politicians’ flim-flam. We’re fed up with people promising us jam tomorrow. We want a say, for the first time in almost forty years, on our relationship with the European Union, as do I. Actually, as it happens, I will campaign and vote to leave the European Union, because I think we’re a proud global trading nation, and we can do without a backward looking sclerotic customs union.
PAUL STAINTON: Did David Cameron wake up and smell the coffee just last night? Or did he wake up and smell the coffee Monday, Sunday, last week, the week before? Was he planning this all along? Did you know about it?
STEWART JACKSON: I did know about it early yesterday evening, but I didn’t quite know what it was going to be.
PAUL STAINTON: So the coffee was put on about five o’clock wasn’t it?
STEWART JACKSON: He’s smelling the coffee, but I think he’s just understanding where people are now. People say, oh, they’re not interested, voters aren’t interested in Europe. They are, because they can connect the dots. They can see Europe which is into every aspect of their life. And they are sophisticated and intelligent people. They want a vote on the future of their own country. And they’re absolutely right. And I think if he’s wise he can rise to the occasion, take an historic decision, and make sure he drives this Draft Bill through, so that at the General Election people know that the Liberal Democrats and the Labour Party will not give you a vote and a voice on Europe, but the Conservative Party will.
PAUL STAINTON: Well we’ll find out what the LibDems and Labour have to say about it later on today. The irony is Cameron was on a trip to build trade links with the US on behalf of the EU. You may heve scuppered that with your comments this morning Stewart. You never know. Thank you for coming in. Stewart Jackson, MP for Peterborough.