Douglas Carswell

03 NOV 2012

Reflections on a turbulent week in Westminster

Last week, the House of Commons instructed ministers to seek a real terms reduction in Britain's EU budget contribution.

Predictably, BBC-types have tended to analyze what happened in terms of either "Tory splits" or "Labour opportunism". In doing, they miss a bigger point.

It's not merely that there was a Eurosceptic majority in the Commons for the first time in a generation.

The Commons itself has got off its knees. Those we elect as Members of Parliament are behaving as Parliamentarians, not front bench toadies.

For forty years, almost regardless of which party had a majority, the Commons left the deal-making to the mandarins. Last week, those we elect said "enough". The legislature made it clear they will not merely rubber-stamp deals made in its name. Not only is there to be a bottom line, the Commons has made it clear, it will decide where that line is.

In doing so, the Commons demonstrated that it has little faith in UKREP, and those diplomatic deal makers who we have too long left to speak in Brussels on our behalf. Tory front bench claims that Labour allowed run away rises in our budget contributions when in office are undermined when you consider that it is almost precisely the same diplomatic deal-makers at UKREP now advising ministers.

To have confidence in a deal, you need to have confidence in the deal-makers.  But what confidence can we have in the Europhile mandarinate who negotiate on our behalf?

One reason Britain has got such a bad deal from Europe is that those cutting the deals are not properly answerable to the people. They have little appreciation of the national interest beyond their cozy world of Whitehall.

They see their role as splitting the difference between what one lot of "here today" politicians want, and what the Euro system will allow.  Unelected, mandarins have zero appreciation of what it is like to have to win over hard pressed voters.

We need a head of UKREP that answers to Parliament. Imagine how much more confidence we might have in any EU budget deal if head of UKREP sat in the Cabinet and answered to Parliament?

Imagine how much more fiercely UKREP might fight our corner if it was run by someone who knew what a marginal seat looked like?  Or better still, who owed their position in public office to swing voters?

Ministers and mandarins would be wise to think about this.

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