Simon Carr: Not another fine mess, or we could all throw up


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The Independent Online

Would the PM be calling for a convention without presumptions on EU competences? Did he remember Bill Cash's pamphlet from last September? And what about Haldane's 1918 opinion about ministerial responsibilities? Will the Bank of England be underwriting riskier loans to achieve their Merlin targets? Or do we have the power to stop an influx of Greek migrants exercising their Treaty rights by coming here to claim UK benefits? And (Richard Ottoway's plangent question) "How are we going to get to the future?"

Frankly I was amazed at the range of things the PM was able to talk about with energy, conviction, and human engagement. Then I saw Anne Mackintosh reading her question and the PM reading his answer. He'd been given the questions in advance.

Still, it's not the News Quiz. And frankly, it is incredible what prime ministers are expected to know and what they're supposed to be able to say.

Several times – perhaps one too many – he hadn't thought of the point raised. You can't imagine the previous prime minister admitting there was anything in the world he hadn't thought of.

But then those previous professionals – driven by pride, anger, loathing of their opponents – did take more care to think things through. The option of backing down simply wasn't available to them. U-turns come naturally to these pleasing, capable amateurs – and not everyone likes that sort of thing – as they don't suffer from the desperate imperative to be right all the time.

And one advantage – things are moving so fast in Europe as the pace picks up that you don't want to be lashed to any particular mast for fear of where the storm might take you.

Down in the canteen they were selling containers of Eton mess. There's a rule about this delicious dessert: you feel there's always room for one more. But after the permitted maximum (three) there is a danger of feeling sick.