People walk behind the European Union's flag
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Caroline Spelman was said by many commentators to have had her card marked for demotion after her handling of the forest sell off controversy, but her latest comments on the proposed referendum on EU membership prove she may have the makings of a baroness!

The decision to hold a debate in Parliament next Monday on the possibility of holding an EU referendum has been described by one anti-EU Tory MEP as "colossal", meanwhile UKIP has called on people to lobby their MPs to vote in favour of a referendum and a sacred band of Conservative backbenchers are preparing to do exactly that.

By contrast David "Cast-Iron" Cameron is opposed to a referendum on EU membership, which he views a good thing for Britain as, according to former UKIP leader Lord Pearson of Rannoch, he sees membership as the best way of "fighting climate change".

This of course puts members of the government, such as Ms Spelman, in the difficult position of trying defend not holding a referendum on the EU, while simultaneously pretending to be both democrats and conservative eurosceptics.

For poor Ms Spelman the strain obviously became too much as, under light to medium questioning on the BBC's "Daily Politics" programme, she stated the following:

"I think the most important thing is what is in the interests of the country right now, and with economic turmoil in global markets and a crisis in the eurozone, from which we are not immune, it's clear that having a referendum about the structure and membership of the European Union is not what's needed now."

This piece of Doublethink is perhaps like saying that just because one's car keeps breaking down one does not need to get it to the mechanic.

Ms Spelman has at least recognised that there is a crisis in the eurozone, but it seems not to have occurred to her, or her boss, that perhaps that crisis may have been brought about and prolonged at least in part by the structure of the eurozone which she claims is of so little relevance.

Would the current chaos in Greece be happening if they had not been allowed to join the single currency by an EU apparently more interested in expanding its borders than in financial honesty and competence?

Would Greece benefit if the EU and its single currency resembled the Hotel California a little less and allowed nations to leave it so that they could devalue their own currency and export back to growth?

Is throwing money at a country almost certain to default anyway an effective way of solving a debt crisis, especially when some of that money comes from the poorer parts of Europe?

And would the debt of European nations be quite as bad today if they did not send such large cheques to the European Union which is so careless with other people's money that auditors have refused to sign off its accounts for 16 years in a row?

These are questions that Ms Spelman, the Cabinet and the Prime Minister, seemingly do not think to be worth asking. This seems increasingly bizarre at a time when government ministers are taking to blaming the eurozone crisis for the lack of a British economic recovery. Are they really saying it is their policy to do nothing to challenge what they claim is the greatest obstacle to growth?

Inside the minds of the government is the fear that should a referendum be granted it would automatically lead to the British people voting to leave the EU. Indeed Mr Cameron has in the past stated openly that he opposes a referendum because Britain should stay in the EU, an implicit admission that he thinks the British people want to leave.

However with the referendum being proposed for debate on Monday there is no guarantee that a vote would result in a victory for the likes of Nigel Farage and Daniel Hannan, indeed Keith Vaz thinks it will be won by pro-Europeans, but one hesitates to cite him as an authority.

Under current proposals a referendum would present three choices to the British people rather than the expected two of "In" or "Out".

Those choices would be:

a) The UK should remain a member of the EU on the current terms.

b) The UK should leave the EU.

c) The UK should renegotiate the terms of its membership in order to create a new relationship based on trade and cooperation.

This is a very unsatisfactory proposal for anyone who has a serious view on the matter.

What would happen, for example, if 40 per cent voted to leave the EU, 30 per cent voted to stay in under current terms and 30 per cent voted for renegotiation? Britain would presumably have to leave the EU despite 60 per cent of Britons saying they would like to remain members in one way or another.

By including option C the referendum seems almost designed to lead to a status quo result as it could well siphon off voters from both the pro and anti-EU camps or lead to an overly complex and unsatisfactory result such as that outlined above.

In any case option C is arguably Conservative Party policy anyway (in theory if not in practice), quite why would we need to have a referendum on something the government was already elected (in the most generous sense of the word) to enact?

Hence whether MPs vote for a referendum on Monday or not (and it seems likely they will not) nothing is likely to change. It may in fact be more likely that eurosceptics will not see Britain leave the EU but will have to wait for the supranational entity to collapse by itself, under the weight of its own debt and internal contradictions.