Party leaders face a tough challenge today, as MPs are scheduled to debate whether or not a debate on Europe should be held.
“This is democracy in action”, announced Cameron, as he returned from an exchange of insults with the French president.
“By scrawling a poorly worded demand on our e-petitions website and then posting links to it on Facebook, the British public have told us that we must discuss the thorny matter of a referendum on Europe.”
“And they can trust us to consider this matter seriously, right before we reject it out of hand.”
In a rare moment of agreement, both Cameron and Miliband have welcomed the debate, with the Labour leader declaring that “the electorate needs to have faith in the political system”.
“That’s why we’re going to discuss the proposal openly, in the Houses of Parliament, before voting it down.”
Some political commentators are concerned that debating an issue in an open and frank way could lead to MPs making up their own minds about whether the public can be trusted to make up their own minds.
But Cameron assured his critics that his MPs had been reminded of the correct answer, in no uncertain terms.
“The three-line whip is there for exactly these sorts of occasions”, soothed Cameron.
“In times of weakness, where there is a very real and present danger that the public could be asked to make a decision on important issues, both parties are prepared to openly promote a debate, and secretly stifle the outcome.”
“It’s only by discussing important issues, allowing people to draw their own conclusions and then threatening to wreck the careers of those who vote the wrong way that we can build confidence in politics.”
Senior members of both major parties have accepted that some MPs might see a vote as an invite to express an opinion, but they have a contingency plan should the worst happen.
“If by some accident the MPs vote to allow the public to vote on this matter, we’ll just word the referendum in such a way that the public vote correctly.”
“If that doesn’t work, we’ll just keep holding referendums until they get it right.”