Tag Archive: David Lidington

European Scrutiny Committee vs David Lidington & Gisela Stuart vs Lidington

Yesterday David Lidington, Minister for Europe, appeared before the European Scrutiny Committee; and for those interested it is well worth watching those proceedings, which while lasting just over an hour are a prime example of the deficiencies within the system of representative democracy and the practice of politics.

The session began with Bill Cash making the point that while a written statement had been produced, it was lamentable that an oral statement had not been made by David Cameron which would have allowed him to be questioned on the floor of the House – this point being later rejected by David Lidington.

Questioning began with James Clappison querying the apparent wish of the Government to prevent debate on Syria and the country’s relationship with the European Union. This was, in effect swatted aside by Lidington who pleaded that there were time constraints, bearing in mind other business and that in any event it was the responsibility of party business managers to allocate time for debate. In regard to the first point made by Lidington, perhaps if Parliament sat for longer than it does, time constraints would not be such an issue. On the second point, it is obvious that none of the three main parties in Parliament wish to discuss matters EU, consequently it is hardly surprising that left to party business managers – who after all only do their master’s bidding – matters EU do not feature as regularly as they undoubtedly should.

The first half-hour was taken up very much on the question of who did what when, viz-a-viz requests from the ESC to the Government and the response by the latter. Lidington countered by stating that responses and papers were provided as and when possible, but cited the fact that some information and documents were subject to classification of confidentiality by the EU which caused delay in the release of said information. Clappison raised the point that surely the HoC should be involved prior to any meeting of Heads of State and Ministers, rather than what happens whereby by the time the HoC and the ESC are involved it is very much a ‘done-deal’.

Towards the end of the session Jacob Rees-Mogg returned to the question of the Government and the delay in their response, pointing out that in the 13th ESC report specific questions were raised in respect of Syria and which went unanswered, accusing Ministers of therefore not having read the report. At this Andrew Morrison from the MoD was most indignant complaining that if the ESC wished for a response on any matter then it would be courteous at the very least for such responses to be called for by means of a letter.

Reference was made by Bill Cash to an urgent question on the December Heads of State Council meeting which had been granted. This was one raised by Gisela Stuart and which can be viewed here – starts at 12:35:43; and containing extremely pertinent questions in response to Cameron’s written statement which she considered ‘tawdry’. In his opening statement Lidington was a tad disingenuous – as was Clappison during the ESC session when he mentioned that Cameron had negated any increased contributions to the EU (something in fact he did not) – by stating that Cameron had ensured the UK would not be liable for any further underwriting of eurozone debt when in fact I believe it correct that this country is still liable under IMF obligations.

Lidington’s response to Stuart was, I feel, patronising in the extreme. I fail to see the difference between the EU assuming competence in an area and the EU requiring Member States to ‘voluntarily’ co-operate in order to achieve that which the EU wants and is determined to have. Bill Cash then highlighted the two conflicting statements of Cameron and Van Rompuy, following the December Council meeting which only served to underline the content of the preceding sentence.

When considering democracy per se and the fact that the HoC’s role is so obviously diminished by our membership of the EU, it cannot have escaped the notice of readers that such statements, whether written or oral, coupled with the work of the European Scrutiny Committee are but another charade, one of many that we have to endure.

Setting to one side the ‘handbags at dawn’ adversarial content of the aforesaid ESC session, it is worth noting that when the ESC produced its 24th report calling for reform of the European Scrutiny System within the HoC, it ran to 3 volumes – the fact that it was necessary for this report to run to 3 volumes can but demonstrate that there is much wrong with our present system of democracy and the mechanisms involved in our membership of the European Union.

If Parliament is sovereign – which we are repeatedly informed it is – then surely there should be pre-EU Council meetings debate and any minister attending such would be constrained as to that which he can agree by the will of Parliament. That such debates now no longer take place only serves to demonstrate that we do indeed live under a democratised dictatorship whereby Ministers can take decisions and ‘come to agreements’ with no oversight whatsoever. While it is admirable of Stuart to attempt to hold the Government to account it is but a forlorn effort due to (a) the lack of separation of power that currently exists twixt the Executive and the Legislature; coupled with (b) the stranglehold party leaders have on their MPs through the whipping system; and (c) as stated earlier, Parliament does not sit long enough for any ‘holding to account’ to occur on any matter, particularly matters EU.

It is becoming increasingly obvious that where our politicians are concerned, in virtually everything they say, it is possible to levy a charge of misrepresentation or being economical with the actualité – apply whatever term you like; personally I prefer to rely on basic Anglo-Saxon and use the word ‘lying’.

Much has been written of late about our loss of ‘Englishness’ – it is becoming apparent that those in power have lost their Englishness due to the fact they have cast aside two important characteristics – namely that of principle and honour.

But we should worry not as do we not live in a democracy and are thus able to hold our elected representatives to account? 


So why do we need the EU?

Euractiv reports that David Lidington. Europe Minister, states:

“We welcome the Dutch government’s subsidiarity review as an important contribution to the debate about the future of Europe. We agree with our Dutch partners on ‘ever closer union’. And we share their goal of creating a European Union that is more modest and more effective – a European Union in which things are done at a European level only when necessary and at the national level whenever possible……to build a more flexible, competitive and democratic EU, and one in which powers can flow back from the EU to the national level.” (my link)

If “things” need to be “done at a European level” only when necessary, then why can they not be be done by negotiation between the countries of  Europe as individual, independent states and as independent members of United Nations institutions such as the WTO? Just why do our political elite make us suffer the effects of an unwanted political union? It then follows why do we, as a nation, suffer the dictatorial rule of our own political elite? Should not we also be able to “negotiate” with our politicians – ie should we not have the ability, under direct democracy, to tell them they have “gone too far” on certain subjects?

Just asking…………….


Who is this “We”, Cameron & Lidington

Stubbornness does have its helpful features.  You always know what you are going to be thinking tomorrow.”

Glen Beaman

Just over a year ago Richard North, EUReferendum, posed the question: “Who’s this “We”, Cameron” in relation to a question asked during Prime Minister’s Questions on the subject of Coastguard closures.

Lo and behold, today during the same event, namely PMQs, came not one but two more questions on the same subject, this time from Adrian Sanders (12:07) and Richard Drax (13:41):

Although the word “We” was changed to “This government’s” and “Our”, the implication and misinformation remain the same.

There was also today a debate in the House of Commons about “Europe” in which David Lidington also made use of the word “We” in a slightly misleading context (18:52) in which he implied that “We” had just concluded trade agreements with Singapore and South Korea and were about to conclude one with the United States of America. What he did not make clear is that said trade agreements were – and are about to be – made by the European Union acting on behalf of the Member States and to which said Member States will now be bound.

When one considers the UK’s relationship with the European Union, coupled with calls to re-think how politics is done in the UK, one can only quote Judge Judy:

“The time to change was yesterday. The time to wake-up is now.”

Two points to note

Matthew d’Ancona, writing in his usual Sunday Telegraph piece today:

“When Cameron warned his party to stop “banging on about Europe” in 2006, he was making a point about tone, not content. The Tories could no longer afford to seem shrill or behave like a single-issue pressure group: they needed to remind the voters of what they had to say about health, education and other public services. But Cameron’s Euroscepticism was undimmed. Consistently, throughout his leadership, he has believed that an opportunity would come to seek the repatriation from Brussels of key powers and to challenge Lord Denning’s sonorous opinion that European law “is like an incoming tide. It flows into the estuaries and up the rivers. It cannot be held back.” (Emphasis mine)

It was also clear that the matter would have to be settled by referendum. Though not a man given to introspection, Cameron does privately regret not making clear in his Sun article in September 2007 that his “cast-iron guarantee” of a vote on the Lisbon Treaty held good only until the agreement was fully ratified.”

Compare the emphasised four words with Cameron’s statement, in his speech, on the subject of securing an agreement which would include the repatriation of some powers – quote: “And when the referendum comes let me say now that if we can negotiate such an arrangement, I will campaign for it with all my heart and soul”. Where both d’Ancona and Cameron are concerned, one is reminded of Humpty Dumpty in “Through The Looking Glass”: “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

On the point mentioned in the second paragraph of the above extract, the statement that Cameron regrets not putting the caveat about ratification of the Lisbon Treaty in his cast-iron article, this point was picked up by Andrew Neil during hisSunday Politics* interview with David Lidington today. The latter was forced to concede that no caveat had been included but maintained that both Cameron and Hague had made the point elsewhere. Andrew Neil then confronted Lidington (at 13:03) with the news that the BBC had trawled all the “clippings” and nowhere had any evidence of Lidington’s claim been found. In rebuttal Liddington was adamant that both had but did not proffer any time, date or place – which would lead one to draw but one conclusion, no such caveat had ever been made.

One other point is worth noting and it is that Lidington repeated the oft-made claim that matters EU ranks way below subjects like jobs, the economy, immigration where the public are concerned – as did Rachael Reeves at the beginning of the programme when Neil quizzed here on Labour’s lack of clarity on the subject of granting a referendum. And those subjects are in no way related to the UK’s membership of the EU? Sheesh, politicians really do take for us for fools!

Just saying…………

* At the time of writing the repeat is not yet available.

Third annual German-British consultations on Europe

Minister of State Michael Link, and the British Minister for Europe David Lidington held their third German-British consultations on Europe in Berlin.


These consultations focus on intensive exchange of views regarding strengthening of the Economic and Monetary Union and the British and German views on the future of the European Union. Other topics include growth, energy, environment and strategic partnerships in the European context, in particular with the USA. On the German side, State Secretaries of different Ministries who are responsible for European Affairs will take part in the consultations. From the UK will be travelling secretaries of state and ministers from Finance, Environment, Labor, Industry, as well as representatives of the British government parties.

The German-British consultations on Europe are held once a year. In 2011, they were initiated in Berlin, whereas the second meeting took place in June 2012, in London.” (My emphasis)


David Cameron is on record as saying that while he is Prime Minister, we will never join the Euro.

Perchance, as we are “all in it together”, Lidington is preparing the ground for the “reddy” boys, come 2015?

Just asking………

And the people say?

Minister for Europe David Lidington has set out the UK’s continued commitment to EU enlargement following his participation in the General Affairs Council meeting in Brussels on 11 December. At a press briefing for European journalists today Foreign Office Minister David Lidington said:

“The UK remains a strong supporter of EU enlargement to all countries of the Western Balkans, Iceland and Turkey. I’ve just returned from the General Affairs Council in Brussels where I was pleased to have a long discussion on EU enlargement. Its conclusions make clear the EU’s continued support for enlargement. This is important, and a message that I hope will be heard clearly in the accession and pre-accession countries.

“Enlargement is good for the EU and one of the EU’s greatest achievements. The European Union, alongside NATO, has been an instrument of peace and reconciliation that has helped spread democracy and the rule of law across our continent, and helped make armed conflict between EU members unthinkable. At the same time an enlarged Single Market, another of the key success stories of the EU, has opened up prosperity and opportunity to hundreds of millions of people. An outward-looking approach and a continuing commitment to enlargement should be seen by all EU Member States as signs of strength and vigour.

“Enlargement is also good for wider security and prosperity across the continent. The accession of new Member States helps promote security, stability and prosperity across Europe, based on a firm foundation of democracy, human and civil rights, and respect for the law. The focus on good neighbourly relations is particularly important for a region such as the Western Balkans which saw conflict only two decades ago.

“It is a respect for this firm foundation and its benefits which drives the UK’s scrutiny of progress and focus on conditionality. So the UK is clear that there will be no pause after Croatia’s accession. But equally there will be no movement without progress on the ground.

“The Foreign Secretary visited Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Kosovo in October. He set out clearly the UK’s support for each country’s EU future. But he stressed to the political leaders that they needed to take the necessary steps to deliver. I hope political leaders in all of the aspiring countries will do so and that we will see further progress being made towards the EU early next year.

“And the UK remains committed to Turkey’s EU membership. We strongly believe that this would contribute to Europe’s prosperity and security, and the EU remains the strongest lever for reform in Turkey. We are focused on making real progress on the accession process in 2013 and we fully support the Irish Presidency in their desire to open a new acquis Chapter during their Presidency.”

Not only to we get a repetition of all that EU keeping the peace and spreading democracy crap, but to talk about opening up prosperity and opportunity to millions of people when the unemployment rate rose to 11.6% with 18.49 million people without jobs in the 17 countries sharing the euro kinda beggars belief where Lidington and logic go together.

The answer to the question posed as the heading to this post must surely be: I’m a pleb – get me out of here!

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© Witterings from Witney 2012