Tuesday, January 31, 2012

It gets more bizarre

Gradually, the text of today's the Hansard is being put online . One of the latest offerings of interest is this:
Mark Reckless (Rochester and Strood) (Con): Will the Prime Minister explain what it is that he has vetoed?

The Prime Minister: I have vetoed Britain's involvement in a treaty. As a result, it is not an EU treaty. We had in front of this House the Maastricht EU treaty and the Lisbon EU treaty; we had Amsterdam and we had Nice. All of those were treaties that Britain was involved in as a member of the EU, and they were EU treaties with the full force of the law. This is not like that; this is outside the European Union. It is an arrangement that has been reached by 25 other countries and we are not involved. As a result, we have safeguarded Britain's interests, which could have been put at risk by a new EU treaty.
The answer is gibberish. Consider, though, that the current intergovernmental treaty is effectively identical to the treaty that would have been produced as an amendment to the Lisbon Treaty, had not Cameron given the "colleagues" the opportunity to go outside the EU framework. It would thus be interesting to learn how, and in what respects, Britain's interests have been safeguarded by this version, when they would not have been by an EU version.

Mary Ellen Synon reckons The Boy fudged it just to make sure he was not faced with an EU referendum. Cameron's "courage" was Cameron dodging a bullet, she says. "Which is to say, a quick manoeuvre to his own political benefit". It was not so much Britain's interests that he was safeguarding, as his own.

And we get a flavour of that in this exchange:
Mr Wayne David (Caerphilly) (Lab): Will the Prime Minister explain the difference between a veto and an opt-out?

The Prime Minister: There is a very important difference. Let us consider what happened with Maastricht, for instance. There was a European Union treaty to which Britain was a full signatory. We opted out of certain parts of it, but we were still subject to a huge amount of additional EU law. That is why there were so many agonised debates in the House about whether it was a good thing or a bad thing. The same can be said of all EU treaties. The difference in this case is that there is no EU treaty. We are not going to put something in front of the House, and nothing will be voted on, so it will not affect the UK.
One gets a clear sense of relief from Cameron that the treaty does not go in front of the House, and "nothing will be voted on". That gets him off the hook, even if he is now impaled on another one.