While the UK probably won't break up or leave the EU, the risk exists and has grown. Whatever Mr Cameron wants, and he gave fair warning by leaving the EPP, he is largely responsible for a Conservative Party within which too many are now too relaxed about being the English Nationalist Party outside the EU.
Apart from the fact of a Conservative Government, three big stories on voting in 2015 compared to 2010 may affect Britain's relationship with Europe: the collapse in the Liberal Democrat vote from 23% to 8%, the quadrupling of UKIP’s vote from 3% to 13% and the trebling of the Scottish Nationalist SNP vote from 1.7% to 4.7%, giving them 50% of the vote in Scotland.
Briefly, the impact of these three stories is perhaps as follows:-
the supposedly pro-EU LibDems sustained Britain’s most Eurosceptic government from 2010-15. Since last year they have lost 92% of their MEPs and 86% of their MPs.
With the LibDems gone, Mr Cameron has no opposition within government to reversing the 1998 Human Rights Act which gave the European Convention on Human Rights direct effect in British law. He had already sacked Conservative Ministers supporting the 1998 Act. Depending on its detail, the single replacement new law may prejudice Britain’s relationship with the EU, Scotland’s attachment to the UK and the Belfast Agreement which brought 20 years' peace to Northern Ireland.
with nearly 4 million votes, UKIP secured only one MP. 149 UKIP voters had the same weight as one SNP voter. 113 UKIP voters had the same weight as one Conservative voter.
Some might say Mr Cameron served Britain well by cutting the number of UKIP MPs particularly if Brexit is avoided in the referendum.
However such grotesque distortion arising from our voting system raises questions of legitimacy particularly when Mr Cameron himself made such a populist issue of legitimacy in the election, having so emphatically alleged it would be illegitimate for the SNP to help a Labour government. UKIP is more likely than not to persist as a party of protest, and may now even be energised by manifestly justified grievance and, indeed, defeat in a referendum.
Mr Cameron is more transactional politician than strategic statesman. To damage Labour in Scotland, he effectively made a Faustian pact with the Scottish Nationalists. His rightist English nationalists and the leftist Scottish nationalists cynically motivated each others’ core vote. The SNP now has 56 of the 59 seats in Scotland: 95% of Scotland’s MPs with 50% of Scotland’s votes.
So in Scotland, nationalists have half the votes and virtually all MPs. In Northern Ireland “nationalists” at the two extremes - the DUP and Sinn Fein - together secured just over half the votes. In England, the Conservatives and UKIP together had 55% of the vote.
So the clear winners of this election were nationalists. To win an election that the Conservative Party may, like the 1992 election, come to regret winning, Mr Cameron deliberately made the Conservative Party the populist English Nationalist Party.
I briefly raise five points.
First the referendum.
This referendum is a really high risk strategy, always at the mercy of events, offering either a modest upside or a catastrophic downside.
To ensure the referendum does not become a mid-term protest against an unpopular government, and in the hope that British economic recovery lasts long enough to keep public opinion relatively positive, it may well be that the referendum is brought forward to early 2016. One straw in the wind on early timing is the removal before the General Election of the demand for treaty change by the Fresh Start group of Conservative MPs.
In this referendum, the Conservative message at best will be mixed. No one will listen to LibDems. Labour may or may not be unreliable and volatile. A pro-EU SNP could even antagonise English voters into supporting Brexit.
So the question has to be asked: will a Prime Minister who has always put the short term interest of the Conservative Party first now go into overdrive to project a positive vision of Britain in Europe?
And even if this referendum does not trigger Brexit, it may not provide closure of the issue. There is a ticking neverendum bomb: Treaty change transferring power from the UK to the EU Institutions will require another referendum.
Second, defence policy. When it came to defence, the British were once the best Europeans. It will, for example, be a massive lost opportunity for Europe's defence capacity if the replacement for the UK’s Trident nuclear submarines is not now France and Britain each halving our costs by sharing four submarines.
Third, hard-line anti-EU Conservatives will, in active opposition to EPP parties, use the ECR to project a harder-right eurosceptic narrative in all Member States. Appeasing Dan Hannan's ECR only encourages them. The EPP should respond firmly, urgently, strategically and with enhanced solidarity within the family. And Britain’s forthcoming euro-dramas can, for example in France, help only one political party: Mme Le Pen’s.
Fourth, do you believe the Conservative Party will survive in its current form? In Scotland now the obvious response, which does not mean it will happen, is to weld a separate new party out of the remnants of the Conservatives and LibDems. In England, a referendum and an increasingly unpopular government will lead more Conservatives towards UKIP’s unambiguous clarity. On our side of the Conservative diaspora, I believe the UK EPP will also secure parliamentarians. Even if it can come together again after a referendum, the Conservative Party is strategically badly placed for an emerging new period in politics. Events could lead Mr Cameron and his successor to get a rougher ride even than Mr Major in 1992-7.
Fifth, let me end positively.
The Conservative Party’s decline into Euroscepticism was substantially triggered by Black Wednesday, 16 September 1992, when the UK left the Exchange Rate Mechanism, preventing the Conservative Party from winning a British General Election for a quarter of a century. Without going into detail, today's British economy cannot withstand a bear market in sterling. If Mr Cameron has not by then blundered Britain into Brexit, I believe the British political climate will instantly transform when the Eurozone is seen to be in sustained economic recovery and when a bull market re-emerges in the Euro. The scale and speed of this transformation could astound. So, in a way my friends, it's up to you. Make us good Europeans: get rich and enhance EPP solidarity!