In a comment left in reply to a recent blog post by Conservative MEP, Roger Helmer, AM pointed out the contradictory nature of Helmer’s position.
On the one hand, Helmer is convinced that Britain would be Better Off Out of the EU and says he wants an In / Out referendum. On the other, Helmer is convinced the new ‘Eurosceptic movement’ set up by George Eustice, Chris Heaton-Harris and Andrea Leadsom does not support Britain remaining in the EU and that AM is wrong in claiming otherwise.
The problem for Helmer is trying to balance being true to his stated principles with maintaining a tribal loyalty to his Tory colleagues. He can’t have it both ways. The fact is, Helmer has got it badly wrong.
You don’t have to take my word for it, why not take the word of Anthony Browne, who attended the meeting in the Thatcher Room in Portcullis House and wrote about it on ConservativeHome – content partner of The Guardian:
Under the chairmanship of George Eustice, there was a calm determination to take advantage of what everyone agreed was a “golden opportunity” presented by the euro crisis to renegotiate the UK’s relationship with the EU – with the aim of repatriating some powers. Contrary to media reports, the aim of the meeting was not to pressure the government into holding a referendum on pulling out of the EU – indeed, that was explicitly and repeatedly ruled out as a purpose of the new group. The government has very good reasons not to want to hold such a referendum – it would pull the coalition apart, it would stop the government doing any other policies, and the outcome would be very unpredictable.
Hmmm. We continue to see the deliberate misrepresentation of the EU as only have a relationship with Britain, rather than governing it. But crucially we have confirmation that this group of Europlastics is (unsurprisingly) holding the line against a referendum on being governed by the EU. Two weeks ago Patrick O’Flynn of the Daily Express reported the comments of a Tory backbench MP who said of the group:
This is a cynical distraction to try to stall the momentum among grass-roots Conservatives for having a referendum on leaving the EU. They are offering a fake alternative to try to take the wind out of our sails.
When nothing substantial gets renegotiated they will then just blame Nick Clegg and promise to do better when there is a Tory majority. If that occurs then they will find another excuse for effectively doing nothing.
When you consider Browne’s account of what was discussed in the meeting that backbench source had got it bang on the money… Open resistance to a referendum. Only partial repatriation of powers from Brussels. The use of the Lib Dems as cover for not trying to achieve what voters want. And the usual rhetoric about making the EU work better. If that is not evidence enough all we need to do is take a look at the voting records on key EU integrationist Bills of the two Europlastic co-founders of the group, George Eustice (who when he turns up to vote goes pro-EU) and Chris Heaton-Harris who never misses a chance to please the Whips and vote for as much EU as he can.
So what is the response of the supposedly withdrawalist Helmer? Read it for yourself:
There is a campaign in Westminster right enough. But it isn’t for a referendum and it isn’t to extract Britain from the EU. Once again we are led to ask, how Helmer can support two viewpoints that are mutually exclusive? Is it a stunning failure of comprehension? Or is it a deliberate ploy to trick those opposed to EU membership into thinking that he is their flag bearer, when he is giving support and encouragement to those MPs who are actively undermining his stated position?
Roger Helmer is either a fool, or he is playing many well meaning people for fools. As the Honorary Chairman of The Freedom Association, the pressure group which runs the Better Off Out campaign, it seems incredible that Helmer can endorse the Eustice / Heaton-Harris initiative. Members of The Freedom Association should ask Roger Helmer to do one of two things:
- Publicly oppose the new faux ‘Eurosceptic movement’ which is actively heading off a referendum and wishes to keep Britain in the EU, or
- Resign from The Freedom Assocation for holding views contrary to those of the group
Let us see if Helmer has the moral fibre to do either. As long as he continues to shill for those Europlastics who wish to deny us our say on how this country is governed and who want to keep us firmly in the EU, Helmer confirms himself as the ultimate Judas goat, leading the unwitting who have faith in him deeper into that which they think they are being led away from.