The prospect of a new treaty is rightly seen as a once in a generation opportunity to renegotiate the UK's relationship with the EU and actually repatriate some of the powers the Conservatives promised they would less than a year ago, or pursue a number of other reforms - for example giving real powers over EU policy to national parliaments.Cameron's public promise on 3 November 2009 included the following undertaking:
Never again should it be possible for a British government to transfer power to the EU without the say of the British people. If we win the next election, we will amend the European Communities Act 1972 to prohibit, by law, the transfer of power to the EU without a referendum. And that will cover not just any future treaties like Lisbon, but any future attempt to take Britain into the euro. We will give the British people a referendum lock to which only they should hold the key - a commitment very similar to that in Ireland.Prior to which he said this:
The decision to promise, and then deny, a referendum was taken by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. The betrayal was backed and matched by the Liberal Democrats. And I believe it ranks alongside the expenses scandal as one of the reasons that trust in politics has broken down.Whether they intended to do it or not, Merkel and Sarkozy have forced Cameron to fight or surrender. No surprise that he has chosen the latter - the only question now is whether his bad faith will split his own party.