It was yet another difficult weekend for David Cameron who is struggling to maintain Tory discipline after members of his own cabinet said they would vote to leave Europe.
The difficult weekend followed a difficult week after members of his own party tried to vote through an amendment to the Queens speech, regretting the absence of an in/out referendum on Britain’s EU membership.
But it was two members of his own cabinet who have caused him most grief. The Education Secretary, Michael Gove, controversially confirmed for the first time that if the UK was to leave the EU there would be “certain advantages”. Meanwhile Defence Secretary, Philip Hammond made equally damaging remarks when he said he “would vote to leave if he was asked to endorse the EU “exactly as it is today”.
Containing members of his own party is proving somewhat difficult for the Prime Minister, who also suffered a knock last week when respected conservative politicians, Lord Lawson and Michael Portillo, called for Britain to leave Europe.
This week the Prime Minister is preparing to endorse an EU trade deal, which will be negotiated with the US by the EU as a whole, which could see an estimated £10bn worth of annual trade reach the UK. This whole episode is embarrassing for him but also embarrassing for the country.
Clearly frustrated by members of his own cabinet making such remarks, party officials claimed Gove had been “unhelpful” in saying what he did. You can read more on this here.
In a further chaotic episode, it was reported last week that, in an unprecedented move, David Cameron may support a vote in parliament to condemn his own government’s Queen’s speech for failing to include a bill advocating a referendum on EU membership.
Labour’s response was, rightly, to stress this is yet more evidence of the chaos within No 10 over Europe. It is, the party said “meant to appease an increasingly nervous parliamentary Tory party following the strong showing of the anti-EU UK Independence party in last week’s local elections. Cameron is wandering into unchartered political waters by accepting or even voting for, an amendment to a Queen’s speech.”
Social networking site, Facebook named Nicola Mendelsohn vice president of its European arm last week. The announcement may not have coveted such news if a man had been placed in the same position, in addition she is also doing the role four days a week. It’s this kind of flexible working which can help many working mothers. Last week the Telegraph did a list of the 10 most powerful women who are working part time. You can read the list in full here. And there is more on Nicola Mendelsohn’s appointment here.
Finally there was more woeful news for the Coalition over the weekend. The Mirror reported over the weekend that Nick Clegg could be forced out as Lib Dem leader before 2015 election as party is forecast to win just 24 seats. Senior Lib Dems are concerned after the party’s drubbing in the local elections earlier this month. You can read more on this here.