Wednesday, February 01, 2006
Little & Large do Battle Over Europe
Rather overshadowed by events later in the day, yesterday's Statement by the Europe Minister Douglas Alexander on EU prospects in 2006. Last year Jack Straw made the equivalent statement but this year it was left to his little flunkie. And because Shadow Europe spokesman Graham Brady was in Brussels with William Hague giving it straight to the Euro MPs on the EPP, it was left to Mid Norfolk MP Keith Simpson to reply. Keith is never one to knowingly stick one knife in when two would do, as this little exchange demonstrates...
"Turning to trade, many hon. Members on both sides of the House were disturbed to hear Commissioner Mandelson say two or three weeks ago that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had not spoken to him recently—it appears that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has been ignoring him—which is causing much upset on the Government Benches. I understand that the Minister is a protégé of both Commissioner Mandelson and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, which means that he is caught between a rock and a hard place. Nevertheless, will he use his good offices to get them talking? It is good to talk, but on such a crucial issue, it is vital."
Ooh, get her! He reminded me later that when Peter Mandelson heard Alexander was standing in the Paisley by-election he remarked, "Ooh, he's such a sweetie". Indeed so.
Douglas Alexander was rather remiss in that he made no comment abhout the 100th British soldier killed in Iraq. Simpson rectifed matters, as did the LibDem Spokesman, Nick Clegg. Eventually someone nudged him and did his duty. Fellow Labour MPs were said to be less than impressed by wee Dougie's performance.
Now, can anyone guess which backbencher got up to ask this?
"Has the Minister any intention of giving more priority to stopping the gold-plating of all the EU directives to which we sign up and then reinforce to a much greater extent than the rest of Europe? Secondly, what will he do to protect the pint? "
Bill Cash? Bernard Jenkin? Andrew Rosindell? Nope. Kate Hoey! I've always thought that she and Frank Field could sit quite happily on the Conservative benches.