The Sketch: Hague leads the charge against EU Treaty after Miliband's 'rant worthy of Goebbels'

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The Independent Online

Transport Questions. A drone interrupted by a hum. Someone complained: "We are at the back of the queue for electrification." Only too true, mate. The House was very low. I've got noted down from the evening before: "Multi-dimensional mating frenzy". Maybe this was the post-coital torpor.

It really had been exhilarating. The EU Treaty debate. David Miliband took 26 interventions and dealt with many other attempts. Horatio on the bridge. You could suddenly imagine him as Blair. But they were coming at him from all sides. Gwyneth Dunwoody produced the most damaging point – he'd quoted the preamble to the treaty as though it had the force of law. Which it hadn't. You see? Blair-like.

Andrew Robathan made the nastiest point. "A rant worthy of Goebbels!" Now, the mention of Neville Chamberlain had caused the Foreign Secretary to lose his temper with a committee. Goebbels! These whips really know what they're doing.

Patrick Cormack raised a point of order. An appalling speech, he said. Adjourn the House and give him time to write a better one. What an attack animal he is; twice as savage as Geoffrey Howe. Like being attacked by two sheep.

William Hague made the speech of the year, and probably next year as well. There were three particular passages. One where he took on the accusation that only the Conservatives were alone with the Dutch Animals party in opposing the treaty. "Vast tracts in the treaty have been opposed by the Government themselves!" Second, he gave us a historical analogy, flattering those of us who are susceptible to these things. He compared the Commission's stealthy acquisition of power with "the way the First Lord of the Treasury evolved in Britain, steadily developing a grip over cabinet departments previously independent of it, and developing into the post of Prime Minister".

And then finally, the picture he painted of Tony Blair. "When he attends a conference of a centre-right party and describes himself as a socialist, he is on manoeuvres!" He painted him as president of Europe. The depression into which this would plunge Gordon. "The glutinous praise oozing from every head of government"... "the melodrama of 'When will you hand over to me?' all over again!" Even Miliband was laughing. Just like Blair.

simoncarr@sketch.sc

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