• British Prime Minister David Cameron's next trick will be telling the people of the United Kingdom he needs a chance to renegotiate and make a deal with the European Union. Renegotiation is an option but not a solution. The British people deserve a true choice in a straight in/out referendum. Cameron does not want them to have one in case citizens do not give him the answer he wants, which is to stay in the EU. But only after a 'no' vote could we get that free trade deal. You know, the one we thought we had signed up to in 1975.
There is currently a lot of talk about the promise of a referendum on the EU, in the Westminster air. Cameron has a huge amount of ground to make up in the polls and some Conservatives think this could be the promise to give them a boost. Caveat emptor. But buyers and voters beware; we have had promises of EU referenda before. They came to nought.
Who can forget Cameron's promise to The Sun newspaper in September 2007, when he said: " Today, I will give this cast-iron guarantee: If I become PM, a Conservative government will hold a referendum on any EU treaty that emerges from these negotiations. No treaty should be ratified without consulting the British people in a referendum." Of course, the three big parties at Westminster in October 2011 told their MPs to vote against a motion calling for a referendum to be held on UK membership. With their blanket three- line whips, just like the EU itself, they were willing to bully and bulldoze all in their path to ensure that the will of this political class is carried out.
They will not listen to the people. Yet the public's call for a referendum is becoming stronger. Just this week, a poll by Populus showed that a clear 80 per cent of the electorate want such a poll. Even well-known Europhiles like Lord Owen have added their voice to this popular call. However, we have a problem. In previous party manifestos, promises have been made but not kept. So how can we trust the Labour and Tory parties now? If a referendum on membership were to be promised, would the wording be clear and actionable? People want democracy, people want to be able to vote. They want to express their will and have their will carried out.
Will any referendum that is called be free and fair? Would there be guarantees to ensure equal spending and equal media coverage for both sides? These issues are hugely important. There would be no use in having a referendum and having one side totally dominating the media or even the European Commission becoming involved and outspending a patriotic party like the UK Independence Party by a huge margin.
Many voters were surprised by the three-line whips in the referendum vote in the House Commons last October. Yet now, people have started to wake up and see through the false promises, the arrogance and deviousness of mainstream political parties. If a referendum on membership is called, which side would each party leader support? At this stage, it would seem that every leader of the LibLabCon would vote to stay within the political union that is the EU. It is sad, but true, that UKIP is the only political party which calls for the UK to withdraw from the EU and become a trader on the global stage, rather than being tied to a failing Europe.
There are other vital points to be raised. Would the necessary legislation be put in place before the next general election? No parliament may bind its successor, but it would show good faith and a strong will if this were so. There has never been a better time for an in/out EU referendum. The euro currency is in crisis. And as we speak, there is a large power grab by the EU taking place and talk of a new treaty or treaty change. Now is the chance to grab that opportunity for real change. This is the biggest issue facing the UK - by whom and where should our laws be made? In London, or in Brussels?
Our argument is resonating around the country like never before. The people have now woken up. They are restless and will not stop until their voice is heard. We want out of the EU, we want to control our own lives and we want our democracy back. That is why a referendum on this issue is vital and the quicker it comes, the better for all of us. We will work tirelessly until we achieve this goal.
Nigel Farage MEP is leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party