David Cameron has been bullying members of the British cabinet, by declaring that they are either supporting his move to remain in the EU or should hand in their resignations. Prime Minister Cameron’s words have sparked fury amidst those opposed to staying in the European Union, known as Eurosceptics in the media, as they would essentially be losing their jobs should they choose to campaign for an alternative to European membership ahead of a referendum.
A 60 strong team of cabinet members have formed Conservatives for Britain, a campaign that intends to rally for an EU exit should Cameron fail to strengthen his negotiating skills and secure reform with regards to issues such as national sovereignty. The Tory Eurosceptics are not alone in feeling Cameron has not fought hard enough for the interests of Britain, as Labour leadership candidate Liz Kendell this week criticized his lack of leadership regarding EU matters.
Speaking to reporters at the G7 summit in Bavaria, Germany this weekend, Cameron announced in his most determined stance yet, that he will not tolerate Conservative party members going against him over European Union matters. In a stern message to political colleagues he instructed everyone in government to support him and to remember that their roles within the Tory cabinet are reliant on their unwavering support. “If you want to be part of the government, you have to take the view that we are engaged in an exercise of renegotiation,” Cameron said. He went on to explain that he is confident he can broker a deal with Europe that will benefit Britain, and dismissed any threat from rebelling co-workers within Conservatives for Britain, “It is not any one political party or MP that will decide,” the prime minister said, referencing a referendum, “it will be the British people.”
Members of Conservatives for Britain, the group of Tory cabinet members who have been victims of bullying by Prime Minister David Cameron into supporting EU membership for Britain, are quite clear about what they would like their leader to achieve, primarily the restricting of movement within European countries and the designation of Westminster as sovereign over European law. The option to campaign for these reforms within a referendum should, in the eyes of Ken Clarke, MP for Rushcliffe, be a “free exercise.”
Campaigning against Europe in a referendum is not seen as the Eurosceptics’ biggest battle, however, as Cameron supporter Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary, told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show. Speaking initially about supporting treaty change to “protect Britain against judicial attack”, Hammond said that the Eurosceptics ideal of a House of Commons “unilateral red card veto” on European issues was completely unegotiable and unrealistic and would essentially see the end of the European Union. Supremacy over the EU, he explained, would not only dissolve the legislation that permitted Britain entry back in 1973, but would also destroy the foundations of the union which sees a group of national parliaments operating together for mutual benefit rather, than issuing complete control to just one. Essentially, Conservatives for Britain group is saying it will support Britain’s position in the EU, if Britain gets to run the EU.
David Cameron bullying Tory cabinet members who fail in supporting his decision to remain in the EU may be causing animosity among party members, but others view it as an opportunity for British politicians to stand up for what they truly believe in and challenge the often archaic operating of British government. Tory MP and former cabinet minister Owen Paterson supported the Eurosceptics right to lobby for a ‘No’ vote and added, “if they have got any character about them at all and are interested in the future of their country, they should stand down and campaign according to their conscience.”
By Alison Klippenstein
The Telegraph: Back me or resign: David Cameron’s ultimatum to Cabinet rebels over EU referendum
Mirror: David Cameron warns Cabinet ministers to back Government on Europe – or he’ll sack them
ITV News: More than 50 Conservatives ‘set to lead EU exit’
BBC News: ‘Conservatives for Britain’ pressure PM over EU talks
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