Theresa May’s speech on Tuesday will set out her approach to Brexit and be keenly watched by ministers across the EU. Some of them may bring popcorn [Image: Hannah McKay/PA].
Theresa May seems determined to make as many mistakes as she possibly can.
If she continues with this bid to be one of the shortest-lasting prime ministers in UK history, we’ll be calling her Theresa Mayfly. In fact, let’s start now.
The gist of today’s (January 16) Guardian story appears to be that she is threatening the EU with the possibility that the UK will take its trade to the US, under a new agreement.
What, like the now-defunct Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)?
That project would have been an agreement between the US and the EU to cut the cost of trade – but the price would have been high.
The quality of goods would have been cut to the lowest common denominator – a considerable fall for products made in the EU, including the UK.
Working conditions would have been devalued, meaning workers in the UK would have lost many of their valued working rights. Mrs Mayfly is already working hard to strip you of those rights in any case.
And – crucially – the agreement would have given multinational companies the right to take national governments to court if any legislation they passed was likely to interfere with their profits. This would have sealed privatisation into the National Health Service, to name one obvious example.
TTIP was stopped because an international protest was launched against it, in which ordinary people came together across national borders to stand up for their rights, for the high quality of their goods, and for corporations to be put in their place.
It seems Mrs Mayfly is threatening to take those things away from UK citizens, despite the obvious and demonstrable public feeling.
If so, then the EU nations will laugh at her – and encourage her to continue.
Her threat will not harm them, you see. It will harm ordinary British people – like you.
It will give American corporations the opportunity to asset-strip the UK for anything worthwhile and leave a worthless husk in its place.
And it will give the EU nations opportunities they would not otherwise have had, if the UK did not enter into such a devastating deal.
If Theresa Mayfly makes this threat – and tries to follow up on it – she’ll have to go.
Theresa May will aim to strike a defiant tone in her upcoming Brexit speech on the risks to the rest of the EU of giving Britain a raw deal, echoing the combative approach taken by the chancellor.
In a speech by the prime minister on Tuesday that will be watched closely in EU capitals, Downing Street is keen to impress that there are potentially lucrative economic opportunities elsewhere, weeks before the UK is expected to trigger article 50.
There has been no decision about whether to publish a document setting out May’s approach to Brexit negotiations or let the prime minister’s speech stand as the plan, as she promised to MPs.
May is likely to emphasise Britain’s enthusiasm for pressing ahead with negotiating trade deals with countries including the US.
When David Cameron woke up this morning (Tuesday), it may have been to the realisation that he said too much in response to a grilling by Jeremy Corbyn over Europe yesterday.
Cameron had been to a meeting of the Council of Europe, the regional intergovernmental organisation with 47 member states best know for its operation of the European Court of Human Rights. One of the subjects he discussed there was the UK’s attempts to renegotiate the conditions of its membership in the European Union. He said:
“On the UK’s renegotiation, I set out the four things that we need to achieve. The first is sovereignty and subsidiarity, where Britain must not be part of an “ever closer union” and where we want a greater role for national Parliaments.
“Secondly, we must ensure that the EU adds to our competitiveness, rather than detracts from it, by signing new trade deals, cutting regulation and completing the single market. We have already made considerable progress. There has been an 80 per cent reduction in new legislative proposals under the new European Commission, and we have reached important agreements on a capital markets union, on liberalising services, and on completing the digital single market. Last week the Commission published a new trade strategy that reflects the agenda that Britain has been championing for years, including vital trade deals with America, China and Japan. But more needs to be done in that area.
“Thirdly, we need to ensure that the EU works for those outside the single currency and protects the integrity of the single market, and that we face neither discrimination nor additional costs from the integration of the Eurozone.
“Fourthly, on social security, free movement and immigration, we need to tackle abuses of the right to free movement, and deliver changes that ensure that our welfare system is not an artificial draw for people to come to Britain.”
Mr Corbyn instantly drew attention to matters that the PR Prime Minister had failed to mention. Noting that full discussion of the UK’s in/out referendum had been deferred to the December European Council meeting, he said:
“I think that all of us across the House and people across the country would echo the words of Chancellor Angela Merkel when she asked the UK to ‘clarify the substance of what it is envisaging’. There have been indications from Government advisers that the Prime Minister is trying to diminish the rights of UK workers through opt-out or dilution of the social chapter and the working time directive. However, other sources say the Prime Minister has retreated on those proposals.
“Working people in Britain are losing trust in a Government who attack their trade union rights and cut their tax credits, while giving tax breaks to millionaires.
“Will the Prime Minister confirm that Britain will remain signed up to the European convention on human rights and will not repeal the Human Rights Act 1998? The lack of clarity and openness from the Prime Minister means we do not know on what basis he is negotiating. Too often, we have been guided by anonymous press briefings from his inner court.
“Does he agree with Angela Merkel, as we on the Labour Benches do, that ‘there are achievements of European integration that cannot be haggled over, for example the principle of free movement and the principle of non-discrimination’? Again, clarity from the Prime Minister on that would be welcomed not just, I suspect, by his own backbenchers but by millions of people across the country.
“We believe we need stronger transnational co-operation on environmental and climate change issues, on workers’ rights, on corporate regulation and on tax avoidance.
“We will continue the European reform agenda. Labour is for staying in a Europe that works for the people of the UK and for all the people of Europe. We will not achieve that if all we are doing is shouting from the sidelines.
“On the referendum, will the Prime Minister confirm that the Government will now accept votes at 16 for the referendum, as per the amendment in the House of Lords?”
He also told Cameron that Labour will be “on his side” to support the proposed “red card” mechanism to give national Parliaments greater powers of influence over European legislation: “In fact, it is such a good thing that it was in Labour’s manifesto at the general election.”
Now on the back foot, Cameron had to work hard to regain the initiative. He started by claiming that the discussion of the referendum had not been deferred, but that the meeting in October had always been intended as an update, with a full discussion in December.
But he went on to contradict himself on “what we were delivering for working people in Europe”. Cameron said: “We are delivering two million jobs here in Britain for working people, with tax cuts for 29 million working people. I have set out in this statement again the reforms that we are pressing for in Europe.”
But later he added: “We do need to reform free movement; it should not be free movement for criminals or for people who are benefit shopping, for example, and we are already taking steps to ensure that that is not the case.”
So, he has delivered more jobs alongside tax cuts – making the UK a more attractive location for EU residents looking to immigrate in – but he wants to bar the entrance. This looks like a lie, to make it seem that Cameron has achieved something worthwhile.
The facts are that the jobs are low-paid and the tax cuts do not make up for the amount of income that working people have lost over the last five years of Tory rule. With the forthcoming tax credits cuts, millions of working people will no longer have enough money to make ends meet. That is the shame of the Conservatives and it is understandable that Cameron would want to hide it.
His dilemma is that it is his own rhetoric about his (imagined) achievements that is making the UK attractive to EU immigrants. We know the jobs are awful and the tax system has been skewed to benefit the rich, and we also know that the social security system has been sabotaged by Iain Duncan Smith – but that is because we live here. Citizens of other EU states are not so lucky. If Cameron was honest about the mess he has made of this country, his immigration problems would evaporate. His own public relations skills have betrayed him.
And worse was to come: “Our plans for a British Bill of Rights are unchanged. We want to get rid of the Human Rights Act and replace it with a British Bill of Rights.
“We voted in this House of Commons on votes at 16, and we voted against them, so I think we should stick to that position.” This will not please the Scots, where the voting age was lowered for their own referendum on whether to remain in the United Kingdom, and where democracy enjoyed a huge resurgence in popularity as a result.
Finally, there’s the elephant in the room. It is unfortunate that Mr Corbyn did not raise the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, one of the “vital trade deals” that Cameron mentioned. In its current form, this would mean control of workers’ rights, working conditions and the quality of products would be transferred from elected parliaments to faceless international corporations. It is the biggest threat to democracy facing us.
Gordon Brown during his speech at the Royal Festival Hall in London. Image: John Stillwell/PA
At first, it seemed that Gorden Brown had agreed with Tony Blair for the first time in more than a decade – over the threat to neoliberal New Labour Blairites posed by Jeremy Corbyn.
Of course the other architect of New Labour was going to speak up against Jeremy Corbyn’s candidature to lead the Labour Party. Brown is almost as right-wing as Blair.
It doesn’t stop them both being on the wrong side of history.
The joy of Brown’s speech is that much of it was non-specific. He didn’t refer to any of the candidates by name, and advised that Labour must be “credible, radical, sustainable and electable to help people out of poverty, and that anger was not enough” (according to The Guardian).
Nobody would disagree with that, and Corbyn supporters would argue that the only candidate endorsed by such a statement was theirs; Burnham, Cooper and Kendall – by embracing the nonsense of austerity economics – will only make poverty worse while enriching those who already have enough.
The Guardian article continues: “In a clear reference to Corbyn, he said there was one camp whose own supporters even did not believe their candidate would win the next election” – but this is hardly a ringing endorsement of the others, whose policies (along with Brown’s own) have already lost not just one election but two.
“Brown said he was heartbroken and the party grieving after the general election defeat in May, but that it would be ‘even worse if we leave ourselves powerless to do anything about it’” – powerless as the party would be under a Burnham, a Cooper or a Kendall, whose policies would be so close to those of the Conservatives that the electorate would give up on any possibility of opposition and leave the Tories to it?
“Analysing some of the reasons people may have turned to Corbyn’s left-wing politics, he said people were feeling insecure about globalisation, which had left people ‘uncertain and unmoored’ and turned people to nationalism in countries from Greece to Scotland”. This was a clear miss. People aren’t insecure about globalisation; they know for a fact that it represents an attack on their wealth, security and well-being.
Globalisation helps the rich to get richer and pushes the poor down – the behaviour of the European Union over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership tells us all we need to know about it.
Attacking Corbyn’s foreign policy, Brown said: “Don’t tell me that we can do much for the poor of the world if the alliances we favour most are with Hezbollah, Hamas, Chávez’s successor in Venezuela and Putin’s totalitarian Russia.”
This is a deliberate attempt at disinformation. Corbyn has not indicated agreement with the views of any of those people or organisations. Instead, Corbyn is far more likely to put forward policy agreeing with Brown’s claim that Labour should form progressive alliances, especially within Europe, against “illiberalism, totalitarianism, antisemitism, racism and the extremisms of prejudice”.
Brown’s claim that it is “not an abandonment of principles to seek power” and that Labour members should see their vote not as a protest but a “public duty and sacred trust” also chimes with the Corbyn campaign.
It is only Corbyn’s opponents who paint him and his policies as unelectable. The wider Labour Party clearly sees his policies as preferable by far to the watered-down Conservatism that people like Brown, Blair, and their supporters like Alastair Campbell, Simon Danczuk and John Mann have been peddling for the last 20 years.
Indeed, the idea that a Labour vote is a “public duty and sacred trust” merely highlights the growing belief among the Labour Party and the electorate at large that New Labour, and Labour under Ed Miliband, betrayed that trust, abandoning their sacred duty to the people in order to embrace the profanity that is neoliberalism.
“The best way of realising our high ideals is to show that we have an alternative in government that is credible, that is radical and is electable – is neither a pale imitation of what the Tories offer nor is it the route to being a party of permanent protest, rather than a party of government,” said Brown, not realising that he had just written off the chances of Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall in one sentence.
For those who do not understand: The three non-Corbyns don’t have any high ideals. Their alternative is not credible – otherwise Labour would not have lost the 2010 and 2015 elections. It is a pale imitation of the Conservatives and it has led Labour into the twilight of being a party of protest, rather than government.
Actually – are we sure Brown wasn’t supporting Corbyn? The Guardian continues: “People must vote not for the candidate they ‘like’ as they would on Facebook, but for the candidate who can make a difference, he added.” That’s resounding support for Corbyn.
In support of the policies Corbyn opposes, Brown quoted, among others, Gandhi asking: “Is what I am about to do going to help”, and Nelson Mandela saying the yardstick by which he would be measured was the ability to better the lives of all people. Against this, we need set only one of Brown’s policies: Employment and Support Allowance and its accompanying ‘work capability assessment’.
This single policy, begun by New Labour and continued by the Conservative/Liberal Democrat Coalition and now the Conservative Government, has led to more than 10,000 known deaths and possibly many tens of thousands that have been hidden from the public. Perhaps Mr Brown should be asking how that single policy was ever intended to help anybody in need.
In the end, Brown will probably be seen as having done more harm to the three stooges other candidates than to Jeremy Corbyn.
Brace yourself for a further surge in support – for the people’s candidate.
David Don’t cry about it, David! Cameron whinges after being outflanked by the SNP.
The Conservative Government has responded to the Scottish National Party’s announcement that it will oppose changes to the Hunting Act – by postponing tomorrow’s (Wednesday) ‘free vote’ on the matter.
It seems if MPs are likely to freely vote against David Cameron’s wishes, he’d rather they didn’t vote at all. Someone should tell him, that defeats the point, really!
His tactic – shelving the vote until such time as he believes he has the advantage – copies that of European Parliament President Martin Schulz over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
Faced with strong opposition for the part of the proposed TTIP deal that would allow corporations to take legal action against countries if national legislation was likely to affect profits (ISDS – it stands for Investor-State Dispute Settlement) – no matter whether it was in the best interests of the population or not – Schulz shelved a vote that had been scheduled for earlier this year.
The TTIP vote eventually took place last week, overshadowed by the Greek referendum and clouded by political sleight-of-hand that meant important amendments to the agreement like the cancellation of ISDS were not considered – replaced by watered-down options that left the underlying principle of corporate power over nation states intact.
In line with the European Parliament model, you can expect the hunting vote to return to Parliament in a different form, once Cameron and his cronies have worked out another dirty trick to slip it through unopposed.
This week’s vote had been intended to neutralise opposition from the SNP with a claim that it would bring England and Wales in line with the situation in Scotland – but the Scottish Nationalists said they were reviewing the ban north of the border and it would not be right to allow the law in England and Wales to change while that was going on.
The Prime Minister has not taken this with good grace.
Fellow Tory hunt supporter Owen Paterson chimed in to say the SNP had shown “extraordinary hypocrisy” in voting on a matter that affects England but not Scotland, and claimed they were “playing games in order to antagonise the English.”
And SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon had already explained her party’s decision to take part in the hunting vote, saying there had been “overwhelming demand” from people in England.
The English, like the Welsh and the Scots, support the continuation of the hunting ban.
What a shame David Cameron cannot live with that.
Looking forward, we should probably expect fox hunting to return at a point after Cameron manages to force through another controversial plan – English Votes for English Laws (EVEL). He had to shelve that one last week.
Perhaps Ms Sturgeon is right, and he really is “not master of all he surveys in the House of Commons”.
Jeremy specifically emphasised the threat of the US-EU trade deal TTIP… NAFTA on Steroids. He called for TTIP’s rejection not only in terms of its well publicised threat to the NHS and public services but also because of the international threat that it poses to worker and environmental protection legislation across Europe, the UK and the US.
In this speech, Jeremy Corbyn demonstrates by example, just how far the current Labour Party has lost its way. In a recent hustings speech, he was more overt:
“We’ve become cowed by powerful commercial interests, frightened of the press, frightened to stand up for what we absolutely believe in. I want a more equal society, a fairer society, a world at peace not at war. I want a LP at the heart of the community that is demanding those jobs, homes and hope for everyone, so that they can live in a society that is more equal. We are moving in the wrong direction at the present time – let’s turn it around and move the other way.”
Note: This article is aimed at people whose response to TTIP (and other serious issues) is to ignore it and hope it will go away. If you are not one of these people, please share this article with someone who is.
Details have emerged about the vote in the European Parliament on the secret EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership that will affect UK citizens so harshly – but which gathered very little interest from any of you last week.
The European Parliament voted by a majority of 436 to 241, effectively to allow the deal to go ahead – ignoring repeated and widespread protest from their own constituents, according to Lee Williams in The Independent.
TTIP is about reducing and removing regulations that hamper trade – but protect the public and the environment. Once it is in place, you can expect to eat growth hormones in your beef that have been linked to cancer, your cosmetics will be filled with formerly-banned chemicals, GM foods (copyrighted by the firms that created them) will be forced onto your plate and pesticides will be filled with endocrine disruptors that can cause cancerous tumours, birth defects and other developmental disorders.
Critics have pointed out that the deal would lock privatisation into the UK’s National Health Service, meaning your treatment for any of the disorders created by these profitable enterprises would vary in effectiveness, depending on where you live. Once the deal is signed, there will be no way to ensure that we all receive a high standard of care; no UK government minister has any duty to provide it.
Are you interested now? Or is it still not worth worrying your pretty little head about it?
Fortunately for you, many other people have been working hard on your behalf. Unfortunately, your representatives in the European Union are doing all they can to silence this dissent. But that’s nothing to do with you either, one supposes.
The European Commission’s public consultation on one of the most controversial parts of TTIP – the Investor-State Dispute Settlement section that would allow corporations to sue nation states if legislation was passed that might restrict profits – received a resounding no from a staggering 97 per cent of respondents – but this was ignored.
A European Citizens’ Initiative against TTIP currently stands at over 2,300,000 signatures, but has been dismissed as “illegitimate” by the unelected European Commission.
If the Investor-State Dispute Settlement system is included in the deal, there will be nothing you can do to prevent fracking or phase out nuclear power. Look at the Australian court case on limiting cigarette advertising for a current example.
Lots of you say you oppose fracking. Why aren’t you interested in this?
And commentators say the vote was rigged by some creative procedural changes from EU President Martin Schulz, meaning nobody voted on a plan to cut ISDS from the deal altogether, while a watered-down ISDS scheme won MEPs’ approval.
What happened on Wednesday was proof that democracy has no power in the European Union and big business trumps the rights of citizens.
But you’re not bothered, are you?
Tell you what – you go back to watching Coronation Street, Britain’s Got Talent, or the media anaesthetic of your choice. Enjoy a game of Criminal Case.
Leave the heavy lifting to those of us who actually care about our health, the environment and democracy. There aren’t enough of us but obviously you’re more interested in other things.
Just remember, when the deal is in place and there’s nothing you can do:
Ignored: Protesters from across the EU who have mounted a huge campaign against the corporatists who want to override your rights in the name of profit. [Image: Huffington Post].
Did you think the Budget was the only important thing that happened yesterday (July 8)? Think again.
The European Parliament had its first-ever vote on the controversial TTIP trade deal between the EU and the United States – and, thanks to British Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, it went against the will of the people.
Millions of us, across Europe, have demanded the removal of part of the proposed partnership agreement that allows corporations to take legal action against national governments if they pass laws that inhibit the firms’ profit-making ability.
But a compromise on the controversial Investor-State Dispute Settlement mechanism (ISDS) secured a majority, with help from the UK’s Liberal Democrat and Conservative MEPs.
It was opposed by Labour, Green, Plaid Cymru, SNP and UKIP MEPs
Stronger amendments, that were opposed to ISDS altogether, were kept off the agenda by procedural manoeuvres – leading to EU President Martin Schulz being accused of “shredding the rules of procedure”.
Nick Dearden of Global Justice Now said: “The only reason that MEPs are still trying so desperately to push this through is because of the enormously powerful corporate lobby machine in Brussels. TTIP is fundamentally an issue of people and democracy versus encroaching corporate power.”
Campaigning group 38 Degrees released a press release stating: “We know exactly what the corporate lobbyists writing this deal want: they want us to go quiet.”
Instead, the group is proposing a series of actions to ramp up the pressure:
Another huge national day of action. “Enormous public pressure has been a huge factor in causing chaos around TTIP so far. We know that as soon as people get the facts, outrage follows. The more people that know, the more worried decision makers will be.”
Commission an expert report on TTIP, to throw in the face of anyone who says it is a good idea. “It’d give us a valuable chance at media coverage, and we can take out adverts in newspapers and online to expose the findings.”
Meet face-to-face with MPs to ask them directly where they stand on TTIP “and what they’ll do to represent the British public’s opposition.”
Get ready for MEPs to come back from their summer holidays and be ready to pile the pressure on them again. “As soon as they’re back, they need to be reminded about TTIP. We need to make sure that whenever the next vote is, we’re ready to step in.”
“To be honest, this is probably one of the hardest issues 38 Degrees members have ever taken on. Many people hear “trade deal” and their eyes glaze over. The acronyms and figures that fly out of the mouths of TTIP officials are designed to get people to switch off,” the 38 Degrees press release states.
“But when people like us hear what’s going on and choose to stand up, that changes everything. TTIP has gone from zero public awareness to huge public outrage. There’s plenty more we can do together to stop this awful deal.”
This blog reported yesterday on a European Parliament vote due to take place today, that could have removed the controversial ‘Investor-State Dispute Settlement’ – the power for corporations to sue governments – from the even more controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership plan between the EU and the US.
It is proof of the obsessively secretive way that negotiations over the TTIP have been carried out that – at the time yesterday’s piece was being written – the vote had already been postponed.
According to Unite the Union’s Touchstone blog, several explanations have been put forward. The official version – to reduce the number of amendments put forward from 116 – is dubious, as in fact most were likely to be taken off the table to allow the Parliament to discuss the heart of the matter – whether the controversial ISDS mechanism should be allowed to remain part of the deal.
No new date has been set for a future vote.
If it had gone ahead today (Wednesday, June 10) then it is likely the European Parliament would have demanded wholesale changes in the negotiating mandate – originally secret – that Trade Ministers in EU member states gave to the European Commission when the TTIP negotiations started in 2013.
Touchstone is optimistic about the latest development: “Delaying the vote will only make public opposition to TTIP and ISDS clearer and more influential. And if the vote is delayed until September (as some think it might), that would deal a fatal blow to the hopes expressed by world leaders at last weekend’s G7 summit for TTIP negotiations to be all but over by the end of 2015.
“It’s very difficult now to find MEPs willing to back ISDS outright, which is one reason why the controversy has moved on to Trade Commissioner Malmstrom’s ISDS-lite proposal. But we should be celebrating the extent of the opposition to ISDS itself. Eighteen months ago, unions and other civil society groups had to force the European Commission to consult about ISDS, and that consultation was initially only about what form of ISDS to propose. Now popular opposition to ISDS has been replicated among MEPs, and the smokescreen of a ‘diet-ISDS’ is being blown away.
“Whenever the eventual vote on the Parliament’s resolution on TTIP is taken, we need to redouble our efforts to get MEPs – especially in the Conservative Party – to vote against ISDS, as well as for the exclusion of public services like health and education and a ‘positive list’ approach to protect those public services; no reduction in regulatory protections; and binding and enforceable workers’ rights.”
This blog published a link to a site that shows which UK MEPs have already indicated they will support the amendment that rejects ISDS (Amendment 27), and provides a list of undecided MEPs with links to their twitter accounts so you can tweet them. If you are concerned about TTIP/ISDS, then you should still contact your MEPs.
If you don’t know the names of your MEPs, or don’t have a Twitter account, you may be better off looking up their names and contact details on the European Parliament’s website.
Vox Political will keep you updated on any developments – just as soon as it is possible to prise them out of those in the know.
Here’s a new development in the saga of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and its iniquitous “Investor-State Dispute Settlement”. It’s happening tomorrow and – as usual – there has been very little publicity.
“On Wednesday, the European Parliament will vote on a political resolution, which will represent its position on the free trade agreement with the United States (TTIP).
“One point is particularly concerning in the European Parliament debate: it is the controversial investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS), which will allow companies to attack states before private justice courts if they think legislation will undermine their profits and interests.
“Convinced that this mechanism challenges European democracies, a group of over 130 MEPs from different political groups (EPP, Social Democrats, Greens, EFDD, GUE) have proposed the following amendment (Amendment 27):
“Ensure that foreign investors are not discriminated against and have equal treatment in their efforts to seek and obtain compensation, without them enjoy greater rights than those granted to national investors;
oppose the inclusion of a dispute settlement mechanism between investors and states (ISDS) in TTIP, as there are other options to ensure the protection of investments, including domestic remedies;”
“The vote on this amendment will be tight. But you can help us. Ask your Members in the European Parliament to support Amendment 27 and to say no to ISDS in TTIP.”
The site then goes on to show which UK MEPs have already indicated they will support the amendment, and provides a list of undecided MEPs with links to their twitter accounts so you can tweet them.
If you don’t know the names of your MEPs, or don’t have a Twitter account, you may be better off looking up their names and contact details on the European Parliament’s website.
There isn’t much time so please pass on this information to as many people as you believe will be interested.
David Cameron has been forced into a humiliating climbdown over his threat to sack Tory ministers if they didn’t back his deal with the European Union – whatever that deal might be.
He reckons his words were “misinterpreted”.
The Writer reckons that is very funny indeed!
Cameron told reporters yesterday: “I’ve been very clear, which is I’ve said that if you want to be part of the government, you have to take the view that we are engaged in an exercise of renegotiation to have a referendum, and that will lead to a successful outcome.” [boldings mine]
This was a repeat of what he told Andrew Marr in January: “Well, there are Conservative Members of Parliament who want the leave the European Union come what may, but if you’re part of the government, then clearly you’re part of the team that is aiming for the renegotiation.”
Asked by Marr if this meant there would not be a free vote, as Labour allowed in the 1970s, Cameron replied unequivocally:”No, I’ve set out that very clearly in the past.”
Now he’s saying that Marr interrupted him so much that his comments were not clear.
They seem clear enough to this writer!
And they’re saying that this is a Prime Minister who has talked himself into a corner.
The Sunday Times’s Tim Shipman tweeted that this issue goes back three years, to when Downing Street said ministers would be free to campaign for the UK to leave the EU – and the next day Cameron said they would not.
He’s still saying there won’t be a free vote – possibly because he sees it as a way of getting rid of his more awkward ministers.
But that will play havoc with his standing among backbenchers – especially the 50 eurosceptics who are already campaigning for a much more radical approach.
Finally, Cameron told journalists that – if they were unclear on anything – they should ask.
Fine words, from the man who has a habit of making statements and then walking away while questions fly towards his back!
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