EU Purdah Stitch Up: Full Letter From Lidington to Tories

Minister for Europe David Lidington has written to Tory MPs to tell them they are still planning on stitching up the EU Referendum, but it’s ok because they they will ‘work with them’ to do so:

16th June 2015

Dear Colleague,

EU REFERENDUM BILL

I am writing ahead of the Committee Stages of the Bill to address some of the key concerns raised by colleagues during the Second Reading debate last week and to set out the Government’s approach.

As you know, the Government’s intention in bringing forward this Bill is to fulfil our General Election Manifesto pledge to let the British people decide our country’s future in the European Union. It is our clear intention, through the Bill, to provide a straightforward, fair and effective framework for the referendum.

Timing of the Referendum

As stated during the debate, the government is keen to maintain as much flexibility as possible over the date of the referendum. The bill sets out a requirement to hold the referendum by the end of 2017 at the latest, and the Prime Minister has always been clear that if we can hold it earlier, then we will. This has lead to a great deal of speculation that the Government intends to hold the referendum in May 2016 in combination with elections to Scottish Parliament and Welsh and Northern Irish Assemblies. I can confirm that this is not the case. We have now tabled an amendment to specifically rule out 5th May 2016 as a date. If we are not able to debate it during committee, it will be retabled at report.

Section 125 of PPERA 2000

A number of colleagues raised concerns in the debate about Clause 25 and Schedule 1 of the Bill. I am grateful for the constructive way in which these concerns were raised.

The effect of Clause 25 is to disapply S.125 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000. It therefore removes the statutory restrictions placed on Government publications in the final 28 days before the referendum. Under S.125, Government and Ministers are prohibited from publishing during the 28 days prior to polling day any material which deals with any of the issues raised by a referendum question; and which puts any arguments for or against a referendum outcome.

As the Foreign Secretary set out during the debate, after careful consideration we believe that it is unworkable and inappropriate to fully apply S.125 in this instance. It is unworkable because the restriction on publication is so broad that it could prevent Ministers from effectively conducting the significant amounts of ordinary day-to-day business between the Government and the EU that will necessarily continue during the pre-poll period. And it is inappropriate because the Government, having taken a position on the outcome of our negotiations with the rest of the EU, will naturally be obliged to account to Parliament and the British people.

The Foreign Secretary said during the debate that the Government will exercise proper restraint to ensure a balanced debate during the campaign. We have no intention of, for example, spending public money to deliver mailshots to households ​in the last four weeks of the campaign.

Working out a system that will reassure colleagues and voters that the referendum is a fair fight, yet will preserve the Government’s ability to act in the national interest is not straightforward. It is important that it is legally clear and robust.

Therefore, we will work with colleagues over the next few months to understand their specific areas of concern and bring forward at report stage in the Autumn government amendments that command the widest possible support within the House and put beyond any doubt that the campaign will be conducted throughout in a manner that all sides will see as fair.

I look forward to working with you during its passage.

Yours sincerely

David Lidington MP
Minister for Europe

Yeah, that should do it…

Dave’s Balls Up in Bavaria

Tory unity has lasted exactly one month, as has Dave The Winner’s honeymoon with the press. Needless to say his EU-turn today and then an arrogant schooling G7 news conference has gone down like a cup of cold sick with the travelling press pack.

The PM’s suggestion that “if you’re not certain about something I said yesterday, then ask”, has gone down particularly badly:

If Cameron 2.0 is so keen on journalists asking questions, perhaps he might like to reinstate those monthly press conferences that he dodged for the last five years?

Blue on Blue: First Shots Fired in EU Row

If Cameron pushed through HRA reform today he would be accused of rushing it by critics. Just as his fast-tracking of the EU referendum bill has irritated others. Here’s Liam Fox accusing No. 10 of not being ‘entirely honourable’:

“Those who are urging him to go for a referendum in 2016, I think, have ulterior motives which are not entirely honourable. I think they want to see a decision made quickly to limit the level of debate in the United Kingdom; I think that they are afraid that if we have a very full debate then some of the real unacceptable issues in Europe at the present time will become all the more clearly seen by the British public.”

After years of demanding a referendum, suddenly on the cusp of one, there is a dawning realisation amongst eurosceptics that they will in all likelihood lose… 

Official: No Move Against Bercow Next Week

The Prime Minister told the 1922 Committee this morning that the government would be re-electing John Bercow when the Commons convenes next week.

Apparently Dave said “I think we’ve got more on our plate than the Speaker”.

Intriguingly, Bercow has more on his plate at the moment too. Namely being cuckolded by his cousin.

Friday Caption Contest (Election Special)

Better late than never… 

Dave’s Personal Jag Follows Tory Battle Bus

Just as his driver used to carry his shoes and briefcase. In his defence, it’s for security reasons…

Dave V Nick Ferrari: PM Teases Cable

The PM just ‘Eoin Clarked’ his Business Secretary and claims the #EdStone is worse than the ‘Quiet Bat People’

“A real doctor…standing against Vice Cable”. Zing…

Dave Reaches for the Props

Dave has a new prop: that Liam Byrne letter.

He waved it about in Wetherby high-street earlier. Local sources say the crowd was “about 60% passers by”. Which almost, almost counts as a walkabout…

Cameron: “Russell Brand is a Joke”

“Russell Brand is a joke. Ed Miliband, to hang out with Russell Brand. He’s a joke.”

At last a politician tough enough to stand up to Russell Brand…[…]

+ READ MORE +

Pump It: Dave Edition

[…]

+ READ MORE +

The Passion of Dave: “That Pumps Me Up!”

Can Dave do passion?

“If I’m getting lively about it it’s because I feel bloody lively about it,” he went on to add.

Little bit Howard Dean…

UPDATE: Here is what the passion looked like inside the room:

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Best Music Video of the Campaign, So Far

Catchy…[…]

+ READ MORE +

PM: “the Selfie Will Come, the Selfie Will Go”

David “too many tweets make a twat” Cameron has made another bold prediction in an interview with the Spectator:

“The selfie will come, the selfie will go.”

As Guido reported in the Sun last month, the selfie has been a key part of the Cameron premiership:

“So adept are Dave’s selfie skills now that he often takes the phones off those who are too shy or cack-handed and does it for them.”

He tells the Speccie:

‘It is an extraordinary phenomenon,’ he says, ‘and it sometimes makes part of the process of politics quite difficult.

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Eton Ukulele Loon Was Privately Educated

“I didn’t have any eggs and didn’t want to get arrested. I could have shouted but that is boring” says Robin Grey, who hit the headlines this week by serenading the PM with a ukulele and catchy tune about f**king off back to Eton.[…]

+ READ MORE +

WATCH: Pie Minister’s Eating Tour Goes Global

Coverage of Cameron’s calorie consuming, pie-tastic tour of Britain last week has gone global. John Oliver’s Daily Show spin-off Last Week Tonight is fascinated by the PM trolling Miliband over how to eat in public:

Sun readers will know the real secret behind Dave’s stump eating habits:

Normally conscious of his diet, Cameron has an unflattering cartoon of himself on his fridge at home to stop him snacking. 

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Ashcroft Reaffirms Dave Bio Is Post Election

Boo! There was a growing school of thought that Lord Ashcroft would bring forward publication of has ‘gak and all’ biography of Cameron to this side of the election. Especially after he resigned the Tory whip and his seat in the Lords.[…]

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Heather Wheeler talks to Burton Mail about her tweet…

“It was a tongue in cheek pop after the European Parliament tweet – it was purely that. I also wanted to congratulate Team GB on a brilliant result and thirdly congratulate the Commonwealth countries who also did very well. Fourth, I am also looking forwarded to establishing new trade agreements. That was it – nothing more. Let’s just enjoy the summer!”

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