Leading article: The European political battlefield

Share
Related Topics

The demotion of Baroness Kinnock to the Foreign Office Africa portfolio after only four months as Europe minister may look unjust – after all, Parliament was in recess most of that time and the new minister had scant opportunity to show her mettle. What is more, the appointment of Chris Bryant to replace her, with a lower salary, a lesser status and without a seat at the Cabinet table, suggests a downgrading of the post.

Yet the thinking behind the Prime Minister's decision to move the Europe minister post back to the Commons is quite right. Now that the Irish have voted "yes" in their second referendum, the Poles have ratified the Lisbon Treaty, and the Czech President – the last hold-out against the treaty – is coming under increasing pressure to reach a deal with Brussels, the Europe question is inexorably returning to the British political agenda. In the run-up to the general election, the Government has to be able to take the fight on Europe to the Opposition as though it means it. To have the Europe minister in the Lords, rather than speaking directly up against his or her opposite number in the Commons, would make any debate limited and restricted in its resonance.

So far, Mr Brown has seemed reluctant to debate Europe with David Cameron, while the Foreign Secretary has concentrated on the narrow issue of the Conservatives' dubious Continental friends, following Mr Cameron's decision to withdraw his MEPs from the mainstream centre-right alliance in the European Parliament. That decision looks increasingly ill-judged. But the weakness in the Conservatives' position stems from more than their questionable alliances in Brussels. Assuming the Lisbon Treaty comes into force before the British election, which looks more and more likely, this solves one problem for Mr Cameron, in that it will free him from his commitment to hold a referendum. What it will not do, however, is heal the deep divisions in his party over Europe.

This is a vulnerability that Labour and the Liberal Democrats have a perfect right to exploit as the election campaign approaches. They should make the most of it, arguing the case for Britain's wholehearted participation in the European Union at every opportunity.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A press image from the company  

If men are so obsessed by their genitals, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities of sex?

Chloë Hamilton
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory