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Cameron to act swiftly on key election promises

UK Premier David Cameron aims to swiftly implement key promises in his election manifesto in the first 100 days of the new Conservative government.


UK PREMIER David Cameron aims to swiftly implement key promises in his election manifesto in the first 100 days of the new Conservative government.

The most significant moves will be to despatch  George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond to Brussels and Berlin to begin negotiations on European Union reforms - notably to reduce the high level of emigration from the poorer eastern European nations to the UK.

Mr Osborne, who has also been promoted to First Secretary of State, i.e. deputy prime minister,was given the key role as Mr Cameron wants to end uncertainty over a referendum on whether the UK should remain in the EU. During the previous coalition government, Mr Cameron set 2017 as the date for the referendum, but major companies have threatened to delay investment in the UK because of the uncertain outcome. Thus, off-the- record hints from senior Tory ranks indicate that the referendum could take place sooner.

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Business people are concerned about the referendum because pollsters estimate that only 56 per cent of the electorate are in favour of remaining in the EU. But getting the breakdown of votes in the recent election wrong could indicate that the pollsters may be wrong on this estimate as well.

Much depends on the wording of the referendum question. Mr Cameron wants the UK to remain in the EU, and in a referendum, would be backed by the majority of Labour voters, the Scottish National Party (SNP), the Liberal Democrats and others. This indicates that the UK is unlikely to leave the EU.

On the other hand, UK Independence Party (Ukip) supporters with anti-EU Tory voters and some disenchanted anti-immigration Labour supporters could use their votes to fight a fierce battle.

The difficulty in gauging the referendum result is estimating the proportion of Tory voters who would vote for an exit.

Vigorously anti-EU and anti-immigration, Ukip, in terms of votes, is the third-largest party with almost four million votes, despite winning only one seat. Since many Ukip followers voted tactically for the Conservatives and a guaranteed referendum, the effective number of its potential voters who are against the EU is much larger than generally perceived. 

Examining the vote count and assuming that the effective size of the Ukip vote is five million and about a third or 3.3 million of the remaining Tory vote is eurosceptic and anti-immigrant and that about one million Labour voters have the same view, the vote for exit would be over nine million.

Since Mr Cameron would be backed by Labour, the Lib Dems, SNP and the Greens, the arithmetic indicates that the votes in favour of union would be at least double that of the eurosceptics. This indicates that pundits, pollsters and large businesses are too pessimistic about the outcome of the referendum. The proviso is that a deep eurozone financial and economic crisis doesn't raise the level of euroscepticism.

The other significant move within the coming 100 days is a Bill to abolish or alter the UK's Human Rights Act which has legislation that follows the European Commission's Convention of Human Rights. This Act has been controversial and unpopular as people who have promoted terrorism or other dangerous or illegal acts have used the law to either avoid incarceration or remain in the UK.

Mr Cameron has appointed former education secretary and chief whip, Michael Gove, one of his closest allies, as the new Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary to drive through the Bill on the Human Rights Act.

He is also expected to promote several women ministers who have performed well and hand a key economic portfolio to Sajid Javid, the party's leading minister from an ethnic minority.  Mr Cameron is also expected to appoint a new culture secretary who may consider the abolition of the BBC licence fee.