Monday, February 04, 2008

Tories surrender on Constitution

Now here is a fascinating email exchange. Every few months the heads of the UK political parties in the European Parliament are invited to have a session with interested MPs and Lords. This is organised by Dermot Scott who heads up the Parliament office in London.

From: SCOTT Dermot
Sent: Mon 2/4/2008 3:17 PM


Subject: Tripartite meeting 6 March, Westminster

Dear colleagues

The following topics have been suggested for discussion at the next Tripartite meeting of MEPs/MPs/Peers on 6 March:

Lisbon Treaty
energy package
Spring Summit/Lisbon Process
Western Balkans/Neighbourhood Policy

If we are, as usual, to reduce that to two main topics and one for general conversation over lunch, would the following meet you approval?

Energy package
Western Balkans

with the Treaty discussed over lunch.

I think the Lisbon process has been on the agenda fairly regularly, though of course the spring summit follows shortly after. I look forward to hearing from you.


Dermot Scott

Dermot Scott
Head of Office, European Parliament UK Office
2 Queen Anne's Gate, London SW1H 9AA

A perfectly reasonable request I would have thought.

This below is the response from James Temple-Smithson, who is the EPP-ED staffer based in Conservative headquarters in London as is one of the senior advisers to the Tory leadership on matters pertaining to the EU. His advice having spoken to Giles Chichester, Tory MEP leader is as follows.
Dear Dermot,

Thank you for your mail. Giles' view is that there is limited value in another discussion of the Treaty at this meeting as there will be little new to say, so he would prefer it to be dropped in favour of the Spring Summit which, as you say, will be more topical.

Best wishes,

Nothing new to say! What the ?==))(&(&!!!!

The treaty will still be going through Westminster at this time, either in the Lords or back in time for a third reading. Given that the Lib/Dems are falling out at this moment and that for the first time there seems to be a chink in the armour over a referendum, to not talk about the key European issue de jour is tantamount to absolute surrender. Yes the odds are against any significant change, but do you give up now. Even Mr Scott points out that the Lisbon Agenda has been done to death over the last few years. But Giles Chichester has decided to airbrush the incovienience of our liberties being sold down the river out of the equation. I cannot see Duff, or Titley out voting him on this. After all the Labour Party and the Lib/Dems would be delighted to sweep the Treaty under the table. But to have a Tory doing their work for them.

Nothing to see, move along.


Mike Wood said...

I would have thought that the less formal setting of a discussion over lunch is probably a better place to discuss the constitution.

Where would you even start to draw up an agenda for a discussion on the constitution? Positions are so entrenched by now that you wouldn't even be to agree the agenda.

Any discussion would just end up going round in circles, repeating a debate that has been well rehearsed. When the position is that there should not be a Treaty without a referendum, there really is very little new to add.

The campaign for a referendum - and then for a no vote - needs to be conducted in public, not through an obscure closed meeting where few minds are likely to change.

Elaib Harvey said...

The point is Mike is that Giles has vetoed the discussion even over lunch.
Thus your next three paragraphs, though sensible are irrelevant.

Mike Wood said...

He's clearly not vetoed anything - if only we had that kind of power.

If it had been me, I would have gone ahead with the discussion on the Treaty rather than on the Lisbon process but that might just be because far too long on IMCO has made me sick of the mention of Lisbon process. Has the Council actually decided that the spring Council will be about Lisbon again? Last year they seemed to relegate Lisbon to a bit part in the Council and spent more time on climate change.

Elaib Harvey said...

Yes they have, it seems that is what the spring council will be about.

James T-S said...

Just come across this. The point was that everyone knew what everyone else thought about the constitution, and no-one was likely to change their mind so it would be of limited use to discuss at this meeting.

It is also worth recording that despite Gawain's blog and (failed) attempt to make a media story out of this at the time, no UKIP representative bothered to turn up to the meeting, just in cese anyone would have been in any doubt about the humbug of this faux outrage about an unremarkable discussion about the agenda.

Must have been a quiet week in the UKIP newsroom?