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.David Cameron - 2007
If the Lisbon Treaty is not yet in force at the time of the next general election we will suspend ratification, hold a referendum and campaign for a No vote
David Cameron - 2009
I think the British people deserve a say on it. I think it would be right for such a debate to be held
I don’t want to say anything or do anything now that would undermine or prejudice what is happening in other countries, where they are still debatingDavid Cameron - 4 October 2009
Bob is exactly right - Cameron will continue the Conservative grind towards a federal Europe. We had no vote over Maastricht - which was an infinitely more Euro-federalist treaty than Lisbon - and no referendum over the Single European Act. The referendum has only been offered by Cameron as a sop to the anti-European nuts who make up a large chunk of the Conservative Party, but in the hope that everything would be cut and dried by the time the election came round - despite the fact that a poll for The Daily Politics showed that 80% of Tory councillors wanted an unequivocal commitment to a referendum in any circumstances.
Make no mistake, Europe is still a hugely dangerous issue for the Conservatives. Although the views of the membership and the elected wing of the party have shifted so much that Ken Clarke is firmly in the minority, the leadership grasp that to oppose European integration in any practical sense would generate massive opposition from the business community. A referendum would be quite interesting, as it could feasibly see the Liberal Democrats, Labour and most of the private sector economic drivers line up against the Conservatives and their 'little Englander' stance. The reality of the referendum movement isn't anything to do with the Lisbon treaty, it is more about withdrawal from the institution as a whole.