EU Referendum

EU Referendum: Cameron double speak


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Cameron, in demanding the commitment of ministers to the outcome of the renegotiations, is playing fast and loose with words ... as so often. The manifesto commitment is this:
It will be a fundamental principle of a future Conservative Government that membership of the European Union depends on the consent of the British people – and in recent years that consent has worn wafer-thin. That’s why, after the election, we will negotiate a new settlement for Britain in Europe, and then ask the British people whether they want to stay in the EU on this reformed basis or leave. David Cameron has committed that he will only lead a government that offers an in-out referendum. We will hold that in-out referendum before the end of 2017 and respect the outcome.
In the manifesto, the government is taking a neutral position. It says it will ask the people and abide by their decision. There is nothing there to the effect that the government will seek take an active role to convince the people that they should remain members of the EU.

What, in effect, Mr Cameron is doing, is appointing himself as the (very enthusiastic) leader of the "yes" campaign, and then conscripting his ministers into his "army". Instead of the protagonists fighting it out between them, with the government as neutral referee, Mr Cameron is turning this into a battle between his government and the people. And that's not what it said in the manifesto.

Meanwhile (top), the Telegraph needs to be putting a little more work into its headlines, unless there is a subliminal message there.

UPDATE: The Guardian (with others) is saying that David Cameron has withdrawn his threat to sack ministers who want to campaign for an EU exit - at least, for now. Number 10 says his comments yesterday were "over-interpreted". He was just talking about ministers having to abide by collective responsibility during the negotiation process.

Journalists at the prime minister's briefing do not accept that they misrepresented his words, and the transcript supports their account.