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David Cameron must promise a referendum on whether the UK should leave the European Union, former Tory chairman Lord Tebbit is expected to say.

In a speech on Monday, he will call on the Conservative leader to show “Thatcherite courage” on the issue.

This should happen “within two years” of a Tory election win, he will add.

BBC

Most conservatives are at best ambivalent about Cameron’s eurosceptic credentials. We don’t trust him or his party to make substantial changes to our relationship with Europe. In fact, cynicism about his position on Lisbon is widespread. However, I wonder whether much of this cynicism is just a reaction to the feeling of helplesness that comes from being out of power for so long. The Tory party is now eurosceptic, as is the electorate as a whole. Cameron has nothing to lose politically from being as eurosceptic as he likes. I think the reaction to a repeal of the ’72 European Communities Act would be relief and joy. People have been so beaten down by the ridiculous idea that an island trading nation of 60 million people at the centre of an international English-speaking community would be in trouble as an independent country, that to have the shackles broken would be immensly liberating to the spirit. More people would rejoice than now think they would, more of those on the left as much as of those on the right.

The problem with Tebbit’s idea is that if the electorate vote against the specific results of a negotiated settlement the Tories present to them, the Tories would be politically damaged. Furthermore, the negotiations would be a tricky time. The europhile press – the Independent, Guardian and FT – would attempt to make hay over every problem in the negotiations. Far better it would be just to repeal the Act and leave. Let the chips fall where they may with Europe. Europe needs us much, much more than we need it.

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