Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Dave Does Double Dutch


Those who wondered why David Cameron has chosen Holland to spell out where he stands on Europe had only to check out the faces behind him at Prime Ministers Questions.

Was that the clicking needles of the tricoteuses which could be heard during his last appearance in the Commons? On Friday he flees to make his speech to the no-doubt confused Dutch, more used to British visitors sampling Amsterdam's exports.

It is six months now since he began the run-up to The Speech - as it's now known in No 10 -but he may well wish he had travelled a lot further if the looks of love he was getting from his back-benchers are ever translated into action on his return.

As it was, the pleasure of putting the boot in first fell to Labour leader Ed Miiband for whom PMQs has become the gift that just keeps on giving. But, the cock-ups which provided him with so much pleasure over the past year are as nothing compared to the joy with which he approaches the Tories and Europe.

Dave's shoulders slumped as Ed asked was he not the one who said years ago it was time the Tory Party "stopped banging on" about Europe. As Labour MPs slapped their - in some cases not inconsiderable sides - members opposite adopted the "who me, guv?" look of the guilty.

The Prime Minister protested feebly about Ed's feeble jokes, went puce and slumped again
with the knowledge that this one will run and run and run.

With dozens of his MPs willing to consider life outside the EU, the Labour leader was more than happy to extract from the PM his personal belief Britain should stay in to the obvious displeasure of those on his side who have yet to accept we no longer own India.

Was it true that Cabinet Ministers would be allowed to speak up for both sides of the argument, asked Ed, as the Front Bench suddenly decided to collectively study their shoes.

Dave huffed and puffed in reply but left listeners with little doubt that going to Holland was merely to provide him with the opportunity to use double dutch in his speech. Talking of which, another reason for the froideur in the Commons may well have been the spotting by Whitehall twitchers last night of that rarely-ever-spotted bird of prey, the Gordon Brown.

The Incredible Sulk is believed to have travelled from his Scottish fastness under the cover, or in the company of, the southwards moving snow which fell over the capital throughout Tuesday. Those who awoke to this morning's freezing temperatures may naturally  have assumed he was still in town.

So, it will have been a shame if Gordon could not stay for his successor's latest skewering since Dave got so much extra pleasure sticking it to him at the PMQs of his short reign.

Still, with Europe and the Tories there's always next week, and next week, and next week……..