The UK Won't Get a Real Vote on Europe
All eyes will be on Our Dave today as he makes his keynote speech on Europe this morning, whilst at the same time the annual World Economic Forum in Davos gets into full swing.
The pressure from Cameron's own political party is bad enough, but now he also has to consider the threat that UKIP poses to the Conservatives.
This has forced Our Dave into a position to set out what sort of referendum he'll give UK voters on the EU issue if he wins an outright majority at the next election.
The front page of every newspaper is covering this important speech and it looks like, in just a week since it was postponed, the expectation has shifted towards an in/out vote rather than simply repatriating powers.
Importantly, this speech will set the bar when it comes to the EU and, with Europe having become such a dominant issue, it will force the other political parties to set out their position.
Of course, the major risk is that he is playing with an exceptionally important relationship that has served us very well by opening up a common market with our biggest trading partners.
Also, by weakening our position within the EU, we would have less of a say about how the future of Europe is shaped.
The wave of Euro-scepticism that has built up in the past few years puts the No camp in rather a strong position, and this is unlikely to change if the euro crisis escalates.
Nevertheless, if the policy proves to be a vote winner, it's unlikely that any of this will matter too much for the Conservatives as they only really care about winning a majority in 2015.
By Simon Denham - 23 January 2013
The UK Won't Get a Real Vote on Europe - Part 2
Update - 24 January 2013
Our Dave's speech on Europe has received some mixed press this morning which is rather unsurprising given that the issue always tends to split the country down the middle.
However, if you were to ask a random sample of 1000 people whether they'd like to see more powers repatriated from the EU to the UK, almost all of them would probably say yes.
The speech was well delivered and, similar to most speeches of this type, short of detail in terms of what powers the Prime Minister would try to bring back from Europe.
The stock markets
were largely unaffected by the speech since any referendum, if it does materialise, is dependent on an unlikely Tory majority at the next election.
In addition, even if they do win, the referendum wouldn't happen until 2017 by which point it is likely to have been watered down or changed from an in/out vote altogether.
Dave will now face many of his European counterparts in Davos today where the reception to his speech was also quite mixed.
Many of the staunch EU-enthusiasts have naturally come out and said that members can't pick and choose what they like and don't like about the project.
This is quite understandable as many other members would love to repatriate some powers but, considering the quagmire that is EU decision making, such negotiations would be painful and desperately drawn out.
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By Simon Denham, 24 January 2013