CAMERON PREPARES TO SHOW HIS HAND
There wasn’t a great deal of coverage in the papers about the European Parliament’s victory over mobile phone roaming charges. But then it was a good news story about a body they like to pour contempt on rather than treating it like the impressive democratic forum of 28 nations, which it is. Anyway you will soon find sending home your selfies when you are on holiday a lot cheaper because the Members of the European Parliament have used their collective power to stop the mobile phone companies ripping you off.
Enjoy the benefit while you can because its increasingly likely that in 2017 we’ll be out of the EU on our own in the world. As soon as David Cameron announced the referendum in 2013 I warned that it would coincide with the mid term of the next parliament when governments are unpopular. Never mind the issue, people from hard working doctors to those who’ve lost their tax credits will want to take it out on the Prime Minister. Cameron and Osborne will be campaigning to stay in, so many people will want to give them a bloody nose and will vote to come out.
We could see this begin to play out in the Oldham West and Royton by election on December 3rd. UKIP have chosen John Bickley. He’s a candidate for all seats having already fought Wythenshawe and Sale East and Heywood and Middleton. I profoundly disagree with his politics but he is an able candidate and will give Labour a run for their money.
Europe is poorly reported by our media generally. Not only did the European Parliament’s victory over roaming charges get little publicity, there was virtually no coverage of the Treasury Select committee’s inquiry into the actual consequences of our withdrawing from the European Union. I sat through two hours where witnesses who knew what they were talking about outlined the complexity, cost and uncertainty of what detaching ourselves from our friends and neighbours would mean.
Next week the Prime Minister is due to clarify what he actually wants from the EU in order to campaign to stay in. He will get an opt out from ever closer union and possibly a formal recognition that the £ will always exist alongside the Euro. He may get the ability for the Westminster parliament to “red card” some EU measures. But to convince Eurosecptics he wants a four year ban on EU migrants gaining access to in work benefits. Immigration is the big issue Cameron wants to deliver on and what he wants is illegal under European law because it discriminates against people because of their nationality.
That’s why I fear people will vote “no”. Cameron will be ridiculed for not stopping what some people call “benefit tourism” . Ironically the “living wage” project of the government will make it more attractive for foreign workers to come here to cut our lettuces, clean our streets and support the National Health Service.