One hundred and eleven MPs voted last evening, in Parliament, to give the British electorate a vote on the EU, at some time in the future, in a referendum.
This was mainly a massive rebellion by eighty plus members of Cameron's own Conservative Party! The debate was preceded by a Prime Ministerial statement by the typically arrogant appearing Cameron, it was shallow and poisonous, like a slick of high sulphur fuel oil. The Foreign Secretary, William Hague proved his equal in glib self-assurance and flawed reasoning, well deserving the suggestion by one colleague later in the debate of having experienced a Damscene conversion, on the road from Richmond Yorkshire.
Singling out individual contributions to the debate, which had some true high points of drama, well fitting the buildings' past and heritage, one must first make mention of the two Conservative PPS, who sacrificed their posts to defy the unprincipled and sordid three line whip. (Note my links are to the initial Hansard report here
) Stewart Jackson and Adam Holloway.
Before the debate got under way Sir Stuart Bell made an important and telling interjection to Cameron, on a crucial point upon which I commented on this blog yesterday, as follows:
Sir Stuart Bell (Middlesbrough) (Lab): The Prime Minister rightly said that the 27 nation states will make any decision on the single market. He has not told the House that the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, has been elected president of the 17 nation states within the eurozone, with France on one shoulder and Germany on the other. The President has said that he will inform the British Government prior to any summit meetings and inform them of the results. Does the Prime Minister think that to be “informed” is the same as to be
David Nuttal Conservative Bury North (4:32pm page 46) made a convoincing case in opening the debate. Hague's inadequate six points against the motion were subsequently completely annihalated by Jacob Rees-Mogg. The Shadow Foreign Secretary, Alexander, has passed so long in close proximity to the likes of Blair and Brown, that he has ceased to convey reason with his words on the topic of Europe, presumably having suffered permanent spritual damage from involvement with the deceits and treason undertaken by these former PMs over the EU Constitutional Treaty, EU Reform Treaty and Lisbon Treaty, all as ably aided and abetted by Margaret Beckett, David Miliband and Jim Murphy, all as fully detailed in the archives of this blog, recorded daily as the foul and deep plots were unfolded!
The highlight for me of Mr Nuttal's speech was this passage:
A staggering 84% of the current voting age population have never voted in favour of Britain’s continued membership of the EEC, never mind the European Union. Furthermore, if I were a betting man, I would wager that some of those who voted yes back in 1975 may well have since changed their minds. The Common Market has fundamentally changed in size and powers as it has been transformed into the European Union, and without the British people ever being consulted, of course.
Two Labour ladies made their normal outstanding contributions on European issues, these were Gisela Stewart (Birmingham Edgbaston) and Kate Hoey (Vauxhall) also with several well-chosen interjections. I select this passage for mention:
Kate Hoey (Vauxhall) (Lab): I am not sure when the Foreign Secretary has to leave, but he is going to a very important conference, the Commonwealth conference in Australia. Many people in this country believe that the Commonwealth was sold out when we joined the Common Market, and I hope he remembers that by 2050 the 55 members of the Commonwealth will have 38% of the global labour force, while the European Union, with its 27 members, will have only 5%. I hope he goes with that figure in his head to the Commonwealth conference, because then we might actually see much more attention paid to the Commonwealth.
This could have been a wonderful day for Parliament, for democracy and for the new regime—on which the coalition have to be congratulated—of the Backbench Business Committee, with its many keen members. This debate was brought about by a process involving people outside, in the United Kingdom—and let us stop talking about “Britain”, please, because when we do we ignore Northern Ireland, which when it comes to a referendum is going to be very important.
Among the always reliable stalwarts, an impassioned speech by John Redwood (Wokingham Con) was remarkable, Bill Cash (Stone Con) was close to the best I have ever seen him (which is an awful lot), and Bernard Jenkin (Harwich and North Essex Con) literally sparkled with irrefutable and accurate logic!
Probably the most shameless inntervention(s) and contribution came from a Liberal Democrat (flanked by Charles Kennedy) Martin Horwood, Chelltenham, at 7:28 pm.His party ran an election in support of an in/out referendum on the EU, reversed their stance between the Commons and the Lords to ensure the Lisbon Treaty was past into law, ran the General Election claiming support fo an in/out referendum - and now in Government, imposed their own three line whip to ensure no referendum would likely be ever forthcoming - contemptible creatures such as these do not bear further comment.
A valuable contribution, cut short by the Deputy Speaker, brilliantly illustrating how that ancient and venerable office has been degraded, was the following from Fran Field which ended as follows:
I make a plea to Members onmy own side of the House. We are getting it wrong on the issue of the representation of England and appear to be a party controlled by our Scottish colleagues. Increasingly, the question will be how England is represented in this Parliament, and so far we are on the wrong side of that debate. Again tonight, by trying to force Members into the Lobby in support of the Government stance, we are in danger of alienating many Labour voters.
When I first stood for election, the turnout was 85%.Last time, it was 60%. How have we managed to turn off 25% of the electorate? It comes down to our conduct
as politicians. We were going to make a small move by having debates that we, Back Benchers, could control, but the Government decided it would be better to clobber us with—
Mr Deputy Speaker: Order.
I wonder what he wanted to say, far more important than much else we heard, especially from the nowadays thororoughly grotesque, almost self-parodying, Scot, Sir Malcolm Rifkind!
The contributions from John Redwood and Austin Mitchell are in full on my blog Teetering Tories
, linked here
Glyn Davies, at 8:27 pm made a rambling speech which his Montgomeryshire, Conservative constituents must this morning, weigh heavily on their consciences.
Douglas Carswell (Clacton Con) began with a paragraph, that sums up well the despair and flavour of the entire evening, perhaps for once, leaving Britain's long disenfranchised voters with some small glimmer of hope:
Mr Douglas Carswell (Clacton) (Con): For 40 years, we have left Europe policy to Ministers and to mandarins—to a tinyWhitehall elite. Look at the collective mess that they have made of it. We have a fisheries policy with no fish; red tape strangling small businesses; financial regulation that suffocates the City; and now
we are being asked to spend billions of pounds bailing out a currency that we never even joined. We have lurched from one bad deal with Brussels to the next,
and fromone disastrous round of negotiations to another. That is the price we pay for leaving it to Ministers and mandarins to decide our Europe policy. It is time to
trust the people. Today, every Member of this House faces a straightforward choice. They can either vote to give people a referendum on the EU or they can vote not to trust the people.
At least, for the first time, for many years, we can this morning count more than one-hundred true democrats in the House of Commons during last evening!
Labels: Commons EU referendum debate, EU MPs vote