Paul Uppal MP knows which side his bread's buttered. Half of the Conservative Party MPs voted for a referendum on EU membership last night, against party policy. But not Paul: he's never stated a view either way in public (when the wind changes so often, clever cynics never leave hostages to fortune), and last night he voted with his party leadership.
Was this a principled vote? Of course not. Those Tory rebels have ruled themselves out of government jobs. Odds on Uppal getting his feet under a ministerial table have just risen. Be afraid, citizens, be very afraid.
I don't want a referendum on EU membership. It would just be an opportunity for racist newspapers to play on the racist fears of a reactionary minority which won't take a reasoned view of the benefits and drawbacks of membership.
Personally, I'd vote for a United States of Europe in a heartbeat, as long as it's a United Socialist States, rather than a machine for imposing the economically, environmentally and socially destructive neoliberal policies which have beggared us all. The current EU is unwieldy, undemocratic and often corrupt - but having lived in the UK for rather a long time, I'm well aware that on things like working condition, the EU has always been better for us than our own governments.
On a more tactical basis, I'm quite pleased by this huge Tory revolt. I'm hoping that, like the US Republicans and Tea Partiers, the party structure is promoting extremist voices. It might look like there's a upsurge of extremism, whereas Americans in general are moving away from this nuttiness. This leads to the hollowing out of the party's support and what seems like a radical insurgency actually becomes the last hurrah of the nutters. The Tories can eat themselves up over Europe and normal citizens will treat them like the weirdos they are.