Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Over to EU, says Dave

On the 7th of September 2011, the Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland declared: "I don't see the case for an in-out referendum on Europe." 

On the 23rd of January 2013, he changed his mind.

Those wanting to now why, had only to cock an ear in the direction of the House of Commons as David Cameron made his way into the chamber for Prime Ministers Questions.

For the last year, Dave had slipped quietly into his seat, trousers stuffed with newspaper, ready for his weekly beating by Labours Ed Miliband, silently egged on by Tory back-benchers aghast at their position in the polls.

But, all changed at just after eight this morning when the PM finally got to make his much-trailed speech on Britain's future relations with Europe in front of a group of yawning city bankers obviously on the promise of an extra bonus for missing breakfast.

He revealed that Europe was constantly on the lips of the nation's people even as they staggered about their business through the snow and it was almost, but not quite time, for them to have their say.

Shutting up the Sun and the Daily Mail, queering UKIP's pitch, wrong-footing Labour and taking himself off the hit list of dozens of his MPs was not mentioned. But, what he did say was enough to produce rapture on the Tory benches as the man finally with a Europe plan appeared in front of them.

So loud were the cheers that Dave looked nervously behind him to check that someone else had not walked in and an unsuspecting Harriet Harman, on her way to the Labour front bench, must have thought she had finally got Ed's job.

The Labour benches were momentary stunned by the rare sight of the suddenly popular PM but rose to the challenge when Ed finally got to his feet with a clamour that would have put the Kop to shame.

Speaker Bercow seemed to have springs attached as he bounced up and down demanding both sides stop "shouting their head off" and being roundly ignored by all. Meanwhile, normal service was being resumed as Ed asked questions Dave would not answer and Dave asked questions Ed ignored. 

Dave made it clear that he had no intention of making it clear what he would do if he failed to get a better deal from Europe and Ed, having appeared to make it clear he was against a referendum, then let it be known that this was not clear at all.

With five years and a general election still to go before a referendum this lack of clarity was clearly looked on approvingly by most MPs.

As the clamour continued it was noticeable that the Deputy Prime Minister had the look of someone who had turned up uninvited at the wrong party as indeed did those other Lib Dems who have made it onto the payroll of the coalition cabinet.

Nick Clegg stared wildly about him seeking a friendly face as Dave made it clear the referendum would only come if the Tories are elected to run the country on their own. But, it was noticeable that Ed avoided an opportunity to make more of the Lib Dem leader's discomfort following weekend reports that the two had been making eyes at each other as the general election clock continues its countdown.

Ed once said he could never work with Nick but then Dave once said he could not envisage an in-out referendum.

Over to EU.