European Parliament President: “Britain Belongs to the EU”

As Cameron lunches with Europe’s leaders, the President of the European Parliament continues to do the ‘Out’ campaign’s work for them:

“The European Union and Britain is one thing. The United Kingdom belongs to the European Union.”

Hardly encouraging since Martin Schulz gets a say on any deal Dave comes up with.

Perhaps it was lost in translation…

Video credit: stolen from ITV

Tory Purdah Rebels in Full

Nigel not doing the cause of Eurosceptic unity much good with that tweet – perhaps frustrated to be on the sidelines outside parliament. That sentiment will only confirm Tory MPs’ fears that he will be difficult to work with in a broad Eurosceptic coalition. 

According to the Press Association the Conservative rebels were: Adam Afriyie (Windsor), Richard Bacon (Norfolk South), John Baron (Basildon & Billericay), Bill Cash (Stone), Philip Davies (Shipley), Nadine Dorries (Bedfordshire Mid), Richard Drax (Dorset South), Dr Liam Fox (Somerset North), Cheryl Gillan (Chesham & Amersham), Zac Goldsmith (Richmond Park), Philip Hollobone (Kettering), Gerald Howarth (Aldershot), Stewart Jackson (Peterborough), Bernard Jenkin (Harwich & Essex North), David Jones (Clwyd West), Sir Edward Leigh (Gainsborough), Tim Loughton (Worthing East & Shoreham), Stephen McPartland (Stevenage), Anne Main (St Albans), David Nuttall (Bury North), Owen Paterson (Shropshire North), John Redwood (Wokingham), Andrew Rosindell (Romford), Bob Stewart (Beckenham) and Andrew Turner (Isle of Wight).

The numbers are well short of the numbers given as supporters of “Conservatives for Britain”, so this is a disappointing show of strength. Paul Goodman of ConservativeHome notes that Liam Fox has rebelled against his frontbench in a whipped vote for the first time in 23 years…

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…

Tories: Purdah Vital to “Enhance Integrity of Politics”

Cameron’s concession on the date of the EU referendum distracts from the more important issue of his attempt to scrap the pre-vote ‘purdah’ period. Effectively allowing a taxpayer funded stitch up in the weeks before the referendum.

Back during the original 2000 debate on purdah, Tory Shadow Leader of the House George Young said a period of neutrality was essential before a referendum:

“to enhance the status, credibility and integrity of the profession of politics… [and not] add to public cynicism about the political process”

The Neil committee recommendations on referendums – backed by the Tories – even insisted that:

“the government of the day in future referendums should, as a government, remain neutral and should not distribute at public expense literature, even purportedly ‘factual’ literature, setting out or otherwise promoting its case.”

Yet now the government say it is fine to use the might of taxpayer-funded state institutions to campaign for an ‘In’ vote.

There is speculation this morning that Labour will abstain if it comes to a vote today, following last week’s split where Hilary Benn favoured the government position but Harriet Harman backed joining the Tory rebellion.

No.10 now says it wants to “address people’s concerns” on purdah. Does that mean a second climbdown in 24 hours or will the stitch up remain?

Tory MEP Shares Fanny With Kanye West

fanny kanye west

Geoffrey Van Orden’s wife looked rather smitten with Kanye West in a photo shared by the Conservative MEP on Facebook recently.

Fanny Van Orden called Kanye her “new best friend” and described the global superstar as “a real gentleman” and “very charming”. 

Though Guido is guessing anyone called Fanny is probably not that well acquainted with Kanye’s more ‘charming’ anatomical lyrics…

Via Ned Donovan

Cereal EU Rebels Eat Cameron For Breakfast

jenkin

Back in those heady days of May, when the Prime Minister had just won a shock election victory and the party was united, it was reported that even the old ‘awkward squad’ had fallen in behind Dave.

All those weeks ago (4), at a meeting of the ’22, Bill Cash “stood up and gave an incredibly passionate defence of the Prime Minister and said it was time for the party to unite over Europe.” A Tory MP told the Spectator“I’ve never heard him give such a human speech. It’s the only time he’s ever mentioned Europe and it’s been helpful.” Well even that didn’t last long.

Old Bill was spotted earlier this morning plotting away with EU troublemaker Bernard Jenkin. The two were seen deep in conversation on the Horseferry Road. Cameron on the breakfast menu?

David Miliband’s Advice For Labour

Marginally more welcome than an intervention from his brother in the Labour leadership race…

Miliband Snr told CNN last night:

“What I think is important for all of the candidates is to reflect on the very clear lessons of two devastating electoral defeats for the Labour Party in the last five years, that have come for a very clear reason.

And the reason is the that public have concluded that instead of building on the strengths and remedying the weaknesses of the Blair years, the party has turned the page backwards rather than turning the page forward.

So I think its the responsibility of all the candidates, to find again that combination of economic dynamism and social justice that defined the success of the Labour Party in the 1990s and early 2000s.”

That will be Liz then.

Miliband also said “leaving Europe would be like resigning from the world.”

From the man who resigned from Britain…

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?

Kay Burley Burns Tory MP

“We are a broad-church” insisted new Tory MP Craig Mackinlay to Sky News earlier.

 “You know what happened in that TV programme?” replied Kay Burley. “Lots of people die.”

Brutal…[…]

+ READ MORE +

BoJo: We Must Be Willing to Go

EU REFORM

“Now is the chance to build that coalition for reform. It may not be easy, and it may take a while – beyond 2016, I am sure”, says Boris this morning. After telling the Telegraph he was against an […]

+ READ MORE +

Guido Guide to Cabinet Europe Rebels

After Cameron’s “back EU, or I sack you” ultimatum, who would actually walk?

Guido does not have much hope for Hammond, who – just like Hague – went pretty native the second he walked into the FCO.

Fallon owes his […]

+ READ MORE +

EU Forces Elected Government to Renege on Queen’s Speech Promise

queen eu

The government will be forced to back track on their Queen’s Speech promise not to raise VAT following a European decree. The decision by the Court of Justice of the European Union to ban the UK’s 5% rate of VAT […]

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Charles Clarke says Cameron is the most successful PM for over a century…

“Under Margaret Thatcher the Conservatives gained 99 seats. They lost 211 under John Major, gained one under William Hague, quickly and wisely got rid of Ian Duncan-Smith, gained 32 under Michael Howard and have so far gained 133 under David Cameron who, to the great surprise of many (including senior Conservatives), has turned out to be the most electorally successful Tory leader since 1900.”

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