This afternoon a debate took place in the House of Commons on the question of Eurozone Financial Assistance and the provisional* copy of the Hansard report can be read here.
A number of observations need to be made.
Due to what may be termed the shenanigans of government business managers the original motion for debate was never voted on. In fact Bernard Jenkin rose, at the end of the debate to lodge a protest in the form of a Point of Order.
From Conservative Home we learn that the original motion required the government to:
"place the European Financial Stability Mechanism on the agenda of the next meeting of the Council of Ministers or the European Council and to vote against continued use of the EFSM unless a Eurozone-only arrangement which relieves the UK of liability under the EFSM has by then been agreed."
In what has been termed a "whips' operation", a watered down amendment, proposed by a supposed Eurosceptic Chris Heaton-Harris, merely required the government to "urge" the government to raise the issue of the ESFM at the next meeting of the Heads of State. |(has Heaton-Harris been "bought" or promised a promotion in any forthcoming reshuffle?)
Some MPs made points which are more than worthy of repetition:
Kate Hoey: "Let us stop being afraid of our constituents’ views, and listen to what many people out there want to say. This Government need to accept what the previous Government would never accept—namely, that we are here to stand up for our constituents and our country on this issue."
Richard Drax: "Perhaps we are led to the top of the hill and then let down by parliamentarians who do not have the guts to stand up for their country."
Ian Davidson: "The wider question we need to address is why it appears that this Government are consistently going soft on the European Union. When they were elected, the impression was given that they were going to be much tougher on Europe than the previous Government had been, and I welcomed that different position, on that issue if on no other. I welcomed the fact that the Conservatives gave the impression they were going to stand up to Europe much more than the previous Government, and that they were going to seek opportunities not only to repatriate powers but to reduce the amount of money we give to the EU and to pursue all possible ways to clip the European Commission’s wings. Why, therefore, has it come to pass that they seem to be simply acquiescing in so much that goes on in the EU?" (A very good speech and one worth reading in full)
Douglas Carswell: "We have sat here for too long listening to what Ministers tell us. We have been fed too many bogus assurances and too many reasons that have turned out to be excuses." (Much as I have disagreed with Carswell in the past, this again is a good speech and worth reading in full)
Whilst it was heartening to see Labour MPs defying their party's decision to abstain and voting for their Eurosceptic beliefs, what was sickening was to see the number of Conservative MPs - the majority of whom had not been present for the debate - all dutifully obeying their Whips orders and voting like the sheep they undoubtedly are.
Those sheep may console themselves that they will be accorded a waiting pen, with individual nameplates, in the abattoir to which they will, one day, be led!
* This provisional copy of Hansard will be replaced in the morning by the official copy and I will change the link at that time.