Cameron does a U turn and abandons Repatriation of Powers

Labour Party

David Cameron is preparing to forgo the chance of winning back powers from Brussels.

Unlike his heroine, “the lady’s not for turning” Thatcher, David Cameron appears to have caved in at the first available opportunity.

According to the Times, Cameron is ditching his flagship repatriation of powers policy in order to end the uncertainties about the future of the Eurozone as quickly as possible.

Two days after the Office for Budget Responsibility warned that the Eurozone crisis could drag Britain into recession, Mr Cameron has decided to use the health of the British economy as the ultimate excuse for abandoning getting powers back from the EU.

European Union leaders have to agree at a Brussels summit next week whether new rules for the Eurozone designed to prevent another debt crisis require all 27 members to sign a new treaty, or can be agreed simply by the 17 members of the single currency.

British officials have, the Times reports, suggested that Mr Cameron would be happy to allow the 17 Eurozone countries to agree new rules as long as they did not involve changing the powers of the European Court of Justice or the European Commission.

Since there is no need whatsoever to change the rules relating to the European Court of Justice or the European Commission in order to resolve the problems of the Eurozone, this particular statement looks like a load of flannel designed to obscure Cameron’s abject failure.

In any event, I always thought the Tories disliked the European Court of Justice and saw this as one of their targets for repatriation of powers. As if this were not enough, this is the first time to my knowledge the European Commission has been in the frame. Changing the structure and working of the Commission, one of the three institutions, along with the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers, which form the governance of the European Union, is a huge matter. So huge that it hasn’t until now been on Cameron’s repatriation of powers agenda, probably due to the fact that even Eurosceptic Tories are not so blinded by their hatred of all things EU that they believe they can reform the European Commission just like that.

Employment Minister Chris Grayling, who seems to be Cameron’s whipping boy of the moment, is on record as saying , “I would hope that all of this could get resolved quite quickly,” when asked if British demands that EU powers be repatriated to London in return for treaty change would drag out the process of negotiating the changes.

I am tempted to ask whether this is the end of the repatriation of powers saga, an unachievable policy which appears to have bitten the dust. If there is to be a resurgence of Tory backbench Euroscepticism with demands to return powers from Brussels, Cameron will either have to find some other excuse the Eurosceptics may just swallow or come clean and admit he can’t deliver.

My money is on the former, though I have to say I can’t readily think of any plausible excuse. Somehow I can’t see Cameron owning up to the fact that repatriation of powers is a total fantasy; that would involve a degree of honesty we have not yet seen from our Prime Minister.

Tories isolated in Europe and surrounded in London

Labour Party

My blogging is likely to be less frequent and shorter until May 6th for obvious reasons. Quick thoughts today;  Cameron victory ‘will marginalise Britain in Europe’ writes the Independent…

“A Conservative-led Britain would be marginalised and powerless in Brussels unless David Cameron swallows his pride and rejoins the European political mainstream, a senior EU politician warned yesterday.”

with the Times adding

“Mr Cameron cut himself off from mainstream leaders in Europe by his alliance with “exotic” MEPs from Eastern Europe in the European Parliament, said Antonio López-Istúriz, secretary-general of the European People’s Party. This was also damaging Conservative relations with the Republican Party in the US, he claimed.”

I thought this story about the “Kiss mob” protest on the excellent Rene Lavanchy´s blog (whose photo I am using)  deserved wider coverage.  I am glad people are protesting and asking why Cameron will not sack Grayling for his homophobic views.

Chris Grayling for Europe portfolio?

Labour Party

I hope you had a good Easter break. I took the opportunity to do a little spring cleaning and clearing out.

One of the blasts from the past I found was my first newsletter as a MEP in Spring 2001 before  Labour’s second landslide. After 9 years it is strange how little things have changed. My headline article said…

“Tory MEPs Forge Links With Far Right

UKIP the UK Independent Party has been behaving even more erratically than usual in the last few months. With the defection of one of its MEPs and the unprecedented criticism by its founder, Alan Sked in the Spectator recently one would think that the Conservative Party would at least wish to be seen to distance themselves from a Party whose published aims include trying to woo BNP supporters.

Yet the Tories seem unconcerned by this, demonstrated by attempts to bribe UKIP into not standing candidates in seats where this would be detrimental to the Conservative Party. More worrying is the behaviour of 11 Euro sceptic Tory MEPs who are forging links with Italian extreme nationalist party Alleanza Nationale.”

How little some things change. UKIP erratic, that’s situation normal after a decade of seing them in action. UKIP losing a MEP, that’s become such a  regular event I sometimes wonder whether UKIP members hold sweepstakes on who is likely to leave next with Nikki Sinclaire the latest departure.

What strikes me now as naive is my thinking “that the Conservative Party would at least wish to be seen to distance themselves from a Party whose published aims include trying to woo BNP supporters.” Over the last decade the Conservative Party in Europe has moved steadily rightwards and this has culminated in them leaving the traditional centre right European Peoples Party to found their own ECR group with various far right parties across Europe. The 11 Eurosceptic MEPs have won

With the election called Europe should be a bigger issue. The Conservative record in Europe demonstrates a record that deserves the “nasty party” label. When Chris Grayling was caught out on gay rights he was only expressing views that Conservative MEPs in Europe tolerate on a daily basis. (Incidentally I stayed in a wonderful gay owned Bed & Breakfast for Labour Party Conference at Brighton last year – I wonder what happens when the Conservatives come to stay, do they have people checking out on the first night?) David Cameron has been allowed to say nothing when he should have sacked or demoted Grayling. The Conservatives still treat gay people as second class citizens. If Chris Grayling had been supporting the rights of Bed & Breakfast owners to not allow black people to stay he would have been instantly vaporised politically. Gay people, oh we’ll just ride that out say the Tories and hope it goes away. The obvious job for Chris Grayling has to be the Europe Portfolio, you just know that Chris Grayling would feel so much more at home with the Conservative Party’s Polish partners homophobic views.

The Conservatives will be keen to keep Europe off the General Election agenda. Despite a vocal minority, whenever Europe is voted on in General Elections the majority of British people consistently support pro-European parties. They recognise we live in a complex interdependent world and want to work with our European neighbours, not isolate themselves. I predict that the majority of the popular vote will favour pro-European parties again.