Behind the “times”?

I notice that Roland Watson, Political Editor, writing in The Times today, states:

“Andrew Mitchell and Peter Lilley have emerged as candidates to be Britain’s next European Commissioner, as ministers press David Cameron to send a sceptic to fight for new government priorities in Brussels.

Mr Mitchell, 56, the former chief whip, and Mr Lilley, 69, who last held office as John Major’s social security secretary, are regarded as early contenders for what will be one of Mr Cameron’s key EU decisions.”

One would have thought that having plumbed the depths of journalism to become the Political Editor of The Times, Roland Watson would know that on appointment as an EU Commissioner that person’s allegiance lay with the EU and no-one else. Do not such people take an oath:

“Having been appointed as a member of the Commission of the European Communities by the Council of the European Union, after the vote of approval by the European Parliament, I do solemnly undertake: to be completely independent in the performance of my duties, in the general interest of the Communities; in the performance of these duties, neither to seek nor to take instructions from any government or from any other body; to refrain from any action incompatible with my duties.

I formally note the undertaking of each Member State to respect this principle and not to seek to influence members of the Commission in the performance of their tasks. I further undertake to respect, both during and after my term of office, the obligations arising therefrom and in particular, the duty to behave with integrity and discretion as regards the acceptance after I have ceased to hold office of certain appointments or benefits.”



which kinda negates whether said person is a euroscetic or a europhile.

Digressing, as I do, one also wonders whether an oath taken first has precedence over any that may be taken later. The reason I ask is that, if Watson’s article is correct, whichever of the two individuals named will have also taken the Privy Councillors Oath, part of which states

“……..defend all civil and temporal Jurisdictions, Pre-eminences, and Authorities, granted to Her Majesty and annexed to the Crown by Acts of Parliament, or otherwise, against all Foreign Princes, Persons, Prelates, States, or Potentates. And generally in all things you will do as a faithful and true Servant ought to do to Her Majesty.”

Anyways, back to the article in question; and no doubt readers will have noticed the subtle attempt to influence British public opinion with the inference that either Mitchell or Lilley would “bat for Britain” should they reach Brussels. It will also be recalled that there have been rumours that Nick Clegg might be on his way to Brusssels as a Commissioner – in which case why would Cameron, who has professed his desire that the UK stay a member of the European Union, send a eurosceptic rather than a europhile to Brussels? What better way to demonstrate his belief in EU membership than to send someone committed to that task?

On reflection, when stating that Roland Watson had plumbed the depths of journalism I think it possible I was being a tad too kind…….


5 Responses

  1. Peter Melia says:

    What I find remarkable is the implied threat in the last line of the EU oath, “..loss of certain appointments or benefits..”.
    I guess “certain appointments” means nice jobs-for-the-EU-boys.
    Similarly, I guess that (loss of) “benefits” means pension.
    I would imagine that the monetary value of those two perks, taken either separately or together, must be so great as to easily ensure total discretion in all things EU on the part of any EU servant.
    Why are you surprised, David?

  2. When Norris McWhirter and I wrote our book Treason at Maastricht in 1994 (still available see Freenations website) we quoted Lord Denning who was by then a Former Lord of Appeal in Ordinary and of course Master of the Rolls, who wrote about our book and Allegiance:”I cannot reconcile the conflict. I feel that they should resolve the conflict by deciding to bear allegiance to the one or the other and not both sovereiogns”

  3. Derek Buxton says:

    I did like the bit in the Oath to the EU about “behave with integrity”. We are back in the world of George Orwell’s 1984 where words mean the opposite of what we would think.

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