Let's examine what he says line by line:
It is vital for our country — for the strength of our economy, for the health of our democracy and for the influence of our nation — that we get our relationship with Europe right.
We need to be absolutely clear about what we really want, what we now have and the best way of getting what is best for Britain. We need to answer those questions before jumping to questions about referendums.
I am not against referendums in our parliamentary democracy. Parliament is elected to make decisions and be accountable, but when powers are transferred it is right to ask the people. That is why we will ensure the Scottish people can hold a referendum having elected a government on a mandate to do just that.
I am also not against referendums on Europe. The last government should have held a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. They didn’t, so this Government put in place a referendum lock so that no government can ever again pass powers from Britain to Brussels without first asking the British people.There's not much point having a referendum on Europe because you can't argue with geography - we're connected to the continent, a referendum won't change that. But assuming you mean the EU - why did you go back on your promise to hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty? Why did you whip your MPs to deny us a referendum on the EU?
But back to the prior questions: what we want and how we get it.Clearly not by trusting you to stick to your word or voting for your treacherous party.
As a trading nation Britain needs unfettered access to European markets and a say in how the rules of that market are written.As a trading nation, the UK needs unfettered access to the world markets, not just the EU. Unfettered access to the EU's markets comes with a free trade agreement which the EU has happily signed with a great many countries all over the world. A Commonwealth Free Trade Agreement would be worth a billions to our economy, free trade with India alone could easily out-strip the economic benefits of an EU Free Trade Agreement.
The single market is at the heart of the case for staying in the EU. But it also makes sense to co-operate with our neighbours to maximise our influence in the world and project our values of freedom and democracy.Access to the single market doesn't require EU membership. Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Bosnia, Chile, Columbia, Croatia, Egypt, Faroe Islands, Iceland, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Mexico, Montenegro, Morocco, Norway, Palestine, Peru, San Marino, Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, Switzerland, Tunisia and Turkey all have access to the EU's single market via their own Free Trade Agreements with the EU. Antigua & Barbuda, Argentina, the Bahamas, Barbados, Bahrain, Belize, Brazil, Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kuwait, Laos, Malaysia, Oman, Paraguay, Philippines, Qatar, St Lucia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, St Vincent & the Grenadines, St Kitts & Nevis, Suriname, Thailand, Trinidad & Tobago, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay and Vietnam are all in the process of setting up Free Trade Agreements with the EU. None of these countries are members of the EU and they all either have access to the EU single market now or will do when their treaties are concluded.
Here Britain makes the running in the EU, so I don’t agree with those who say we should leave and therefore want the earliest possible in/out referendum. Leaving would not be in our country’s best interests.Leaving would be in our best interests, only an idiot would say otherwise. Oh, you just did.
An “in” vote too would have profound disadvantages. All further attempts at changing Britain’s relationship with Europe would be met with cries that the British people had already spoken.The "reform" option that you want is a vote for the status quo because meaningful reform is impossible. Ever closer union is a fundamental part of EU membership, the whole machinery of the EU is committed irrevocably to that single aim of creating a country called Europe. When reform was shown to be impossible, any stamping of feet would be met with cries that the British people had already spoken and they said they wanted to stay in the EU.
Yet the fact is the British people are not happy with what they have, and neither am I. That’s why I said on Friday that the problem with an in/out referendum is that it offers a single choice, whereas what I want — and what I believe the vast majority of the British people want — is to make changes to our relationship.What you want and what the majority of the electorate want are two different things. You know full well that what the majority wants is to leave, that's why you refuse to hold a referendum. Whether a referendum is a simple in/out or your preferred in/out/reform is irrelevant, they both mean the same thing. "Reform" is a vote for the status quo because the course of the EU can't be changed.
So what is wrong with what we’ve got? Put simply, for those of us outside the eurozone, far from there being too little Europe, there is too much of it. Too much cost; too much bureaucracy; too much meddling in issues that belong to nation states or civic society or individuals. Whole swathes of legislation covering social issues, working time and home affairs should, in my view, be scrapped.You can't have too much or too little Europe, save for the effects of coastal erosion it remains static in size no matter what arbitrary lines someone draws on a picture of it. Ah, you're doing that "EU is Europe" thing again aren't you? The problem, Dave, is that transfers of power to the EU are one-way. You can talk about repatriation of powers all you like but the Lisbon Treaty has no provision for returning powers from the EU, only for the one-way transfer to unelected euroscrats on the continent.
The Coalition parties will have different views on this, so we will be reviewing the balance of the EU’s competences, to provide a national audit of what the EU currently does and its implications for our country.Different views? Yes, one coalition party is rabidly europhile and the other is ... oh, wait. And do we really need a national audit of what the EU currently does and its implications? Surely there's a list of what sovereignty has been transferred to the EU already otherwise how would anyone know whether it was too much or too little? We're told that the benefits of EU membership outweigh the costs so a cost/benefit analysis must have been done already, surely?
Finally, and vitally, how do we maximise the chances of actually getting what we want?By holding an in/out referendum and letting us vote out.
First, we need to recognise that Europe is changing — and fast . The single currency is driving a process that will see its members take more and more steps towards fuller integration. They are necessary if the euro is to survive, but mean that the EU and relationships within it will change. We have shown not only that we can stay out of that integration, but that we can also get out of things — such as bail-out funds — that we don’t like.Well, coastal erosion ... nearly got me there Dave, you mean the EU don't you? We haven't stayed out of the €urozone bailout, our contribution has merely been laundered through the IMF. We're not stupid David - the EU says it needs x billion for a bailout and you tell Boy George to go and borrow an amount that coincidentally amounts to what would be our share if we were contributing directly and give it to the IMF who give it to the EU for their bailout fund.
At Friday’s summit we ensured that the key parts of banking union would be done by the European Central Bank for eurozone members and not for us. We won’t stand behind Greek or Portuguese banks, and our banks will be regulated by the Bank of England, not the ECB.The Bank of England might be the official regulator for banks in the UK but it is regulating them according to EU rules. Why did the EU have to approve bailouts to UK banks if they aren't regulating them? Why did the Bank of England have to publicise its offer of a credit line to Northern Rock under the EU Monetary Abuse Directive (appropriately abbreviated to EU MAD) which directly caused the run on the bank and the start of the collapse of the UK banking sector if the EU doesn't regulate our banks? Why did the EU have to approve mergers of UK banks and why could it set conditions on the merges if it doesn't regulate UK banks? The Bank of England is an EU sockpuppet.
There is more to come where we can take forward our interests, safeguard the single market and stay out of a federal Europe. Those who say we would never say “no” were proved wrong by my veto last December. And those who instead say we risk giving up all influence are also wrong.Oh Dave, this is getting a bit silly isn't it? You can't veto something that doesn't exist - there was no treaty for you to veto in December, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office confirmed as much: "no EU Treaty was drafted at the European Council in December" were their words.
Two of the last big decisions about European institutions have gone our way: we have a British head of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and a home in London for important parts of the new EU patent court.We don't need EU institutions based here Dave, we need them to go away and regulate the EU into oblivion and leave us the hell alone.
Second, let us start to spell out in more detail the parts of our European engagement we want and those that we want to end. While we need to define with more clarity where we would like to get to, we need to show tactical and strategic patience. The eurozone is in crisis which needs to be resolved, and we are in a Coalition government during this parliament.The €urozone is in terminal decline and it can't be saved. We need to step away from the €urozone and the EU as a whole and leave them to sort themselves out. The more we interfere in their crisis and the more you tell the world that we have to save the €uro to avoid disaster, the less confidence investors have in us and the more we will feel the negative effects of the eventual collapse of the €uro. Distance ourselves now, stop lending to debt-crippled €urozone countries and insulate ourselves from the fallout - that's the responsible thing to do.
Nevertheless I will continue to work for a different, more flexible and less onerous position for Britain within the EU.Then you're working for something that most of us don't want. We want out.
How do we take the British people with us on this difficult and complicated journey? How do we avoid the wrong paths of either accepting the status quo meekly or giving up altogether and preparing to leave? It will undoubtedly be hard, but taking the right path in politics often is.Staying in the EU is the wrong thing to do, pretending that it can be reformed or that powers can be repatriated is simply dishonest.
As we get closer to the end point, we will need to consider how best to get the full-hearted support of the British people whether it is in a general election or in a referendum.And here's the money shot: a referendum won't be held in this parliament, it will be a Cast Iron Guarantee™ in their next manifesto and the message will be if you want an EU referendum then you'll have to vote Tory and if you vote UKIP and deprive them of an outright majority then no referendum.
As I have said, for me the two words “Europe” and “referendum” can go together, particularly if we really are proposing a change in how our country is governed, but let us get the people a real choice first.