Prime Minister David Cameron is planning to orchestrate a row with the French government ahead of an EU referendum, in order to present the outcome as a “win”, it has been alleged. The same source suggested that the referendum on British membership of the EU will be held next September, avoiding a clash with regional council ballots.
The former Conservative Party health minister, Andrew Lansley, who is backing the “yes” campaign to remain within the EU, last week told a meeting of business leaders that the government had “choreographed” a “big row with the French” after February’s European Council meeting. They are understood to have had the information from a source present at that meeting, The Times has reported.
Notes from Mr Lansley’s speech to the meeting, which were circulated amongst MPs after the event, read “Public expectations from renegotiation need to be realistic (and be downplayed at the outset) and then be exceeded. Other EU governments should recognise the need for UK ‘wins’, preferably following some ‘rows’.”
His comments have been slammed by Brexit campaigners, who say the notes are an admission of low expectations. Rory Broomfield, director of the Freedom Association’s Better Off Out campaign told Breitbart London: “We see almost daily that the government is asking the EU for less and less. Firstly, they wanted treaty change; then they say the British people can’t have it. Indeed, with or without treaty change, the ‘Yes’ side aren’t asking for anything fundamental – which the Prime Minister has said is his aim in the past.
“It means that the reforms are becoming less and less relevant as a debating topic anyway. The real question is about Britain’s future and I hope that the British public will both realise this and vote “No” to whatever meagre reforms are eventually proposed. That would be the real vote of confidence in Britain and against an ever corrupting and manipulative elite.”
Mr Lansley furthermore indicated that the “Yes” campaign team were planning to use positive campaigning tactics for much of the campaign, in order to gain “the right to go negative” in the final run up to the poll. He lamented that the campaign had its work cut out as the public was by now used to hearing arguments against continued membership.
“For years, many senior Conservatives have defined Europe in negative terms, seeking only to limit European interference and stop Europe doing things to Britain. It will be a dramatic change of gear to say to voters ‘Europe is in our interests’,” he said.
But Mr Broomfield accused Mr Lansley of playing games, saying: “it seems that the Yes campaign is limbering up to play ‘the expectations game’ with the British public. I wish they’d realise that the EU referendum is not a game but, instead, a question about the future of the United Kingdom.
“Whether the ‘Yes’ side are successful at steering the media through fabricated rows with foreign leaders or not, what it will eventually come down to is whether the British people want to be part of an EU super-state or run their own affairs.”
It’s a charge that was echoed by Benjamin Harris Quinney, chairman of conservative think tank The Bow Group, who said: “Britain is not merely a chess board for Bullingdon Club Members to play on. David Cameron has a responsibility to not just trick his way to his desired goal at any cost to democracy or the law, but to act transparently and responsibly to fulfil the will of the British people.”
He accused the Prime Minister, David Cameron subverting the will of the people through subterfuge and double dealings, saying:
“Cameron has pledged to run the most transparent government in history, enhance democracy and tackle global corruption. Yet he has threatened members of his government with the sack if they campaign for Britain to leave the EU, and now is exposed to be planning to fake diplomatic incidents and manipulate the media to achieve his aims, actions which would not be unusual in a dictatorship.
“It is no surprise that Steve Baker MP, leader of the “Conservatives for Britain” parliamentary campaign to leave the EU, has threatened to quit Parliament over the tactics being used by the Conservative leadership. If the EU referendum is marked by corruption and conspiracy then the question won’t be settled, regardless of the outcome of the vote.”
A senior Tory source said: “Andrew Lansley is not part of the government.”