Philip Hollobone MP

21 Jun 2013 11:11:19

Bone and Hollobone - the Bialystock and Bloom of the Conservative backbenches

By Paul Goodman
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Readers of a certain age will remember the scheme at the heart of the plot of Mel Brooks's The Producers - namely, to make a fortune by finding the worst play in the world and taking it to Broadway.

The two men at the heart of this criminal venture are Max Bialystock, a seedy producer, and Leo Bloom, a presenceless accountant.  It is late at night, and the two shirtsleeved men are trawling through a pile of play manuscripts.

Bloom: Max, let's call it a night. It's two in the morning.  I don't know what I'm reading anymore.

Bialystock: Read, read.  We've got to find the worst play ever written.

(Bialystock turns his attention to a new script. He cracks it open and begins reading.)

Bialystock: Hmm. "Gregor awoke one morning to find he had been transformed into a giant cockroach..."

Cut to today's Palace of Westminster where, as part of a quartet with Christopher Chope and David Nuttall, Peter Bone and Philip Hollobone have conjured up an entire Alternative Queen's Speech - a venture first embarked upon by this website.

Bone and Hollobone are anything but seedy and presenceless, let alone the kind of men who get involved in criminal ventures.  Indeed, they are two independent and principled MPs.  None the less, I thought of that Mel Brooks scene when I read about their ploy this morning.

For just as Bialystock and Bloom had an aim - to make a loss - so do Bone and Hollobone: namely, to wind up the left, and fly it like a kite (not to mention advancing ideas in which they believe).  Imagine: the two shirtsleeved men are trawling through a pile of bills...

Hollobone: Good Lord, it's morning. Let's face it, we'll never find it.

Bone (wearily): "A Bill to privatise the BBC."

Hollobone: Too predictable.

Bone: "A Bill to abolish the Department of Climate Change."

Hollobone: Too reasonable.

Bone: "A Bill to Ban the Burka".

Hollobone (pause): Not provocative enough.

Bone (suddenly): We'll never find it, eh? We'll never find it, eh? Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.

(Bone is standing. At his feet lies a bill. He dances around it, his arms folded across his chest.)

Hollobone: Peter, what is it? What are you doing? What's happening?

(Bone bends down, picks up the bill and shakes it in Hollobone's face.)

Bone: This is freedom of want forever. This is a house in the country. This is a Rolls Royce and a Bentley. This is wine, Mrs Bone and song.

Hollobone: You've found the right bill!

(Hollobone snatches the bill from Bone's hands reads aloud the title.)

Hollobone (triumphantly): "A Bill to rename the August Bank Holiday Margaret Thatcher Day..."

A final point in closing.  Benedict Brogan's usually infallible morning newsletter is sadly off-beam today on the subject of the Bone/Hollobone measures.  He suggests that the real aim of the duo, plus of course Chope and Nuttall, is to wind up not the left, but David Cameron.

I can't imagine what on earth put this idea into his head.

15 May 2013 19:36:32

114 Tory MPs vote for the Baron amendment

By Peter Hoskin
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130 MPs voted in favour of John Baron's amendment expressing regret at the absence of an EU Referendum Bill in the Queen's speech. 277 voted against.

Peter Bone, who was a teller for those supporting the amendment, has confirmed that 114 of the 130 were Tory MPs. That exceeds the 100 that Philip Hollobone was anticipating, and it far exceeds the 60 or so that some in Government were talking about. There were also 12 Labour MPs, 4 DUP and one Lib Dem.

Although it's not strictly a rebellion – thanks to the oddities listed by Andrew Sparrow here – it's still rather embarrassing for David Cameron. It seems that the draft EU Referendum Bill rushed out yesterday did very little to sway hearts and ayes. Many of his MPs don't think he's doing enough to reassure the public of his intentions.

And the whipping operation? According to Zac Goldsmith, this was a truly free vote with "no pressure from the Whips", so may help absolve them. But it doesn't shake the fact that Team Cameron won't be thrilled with tonight's outcome – or, more exactly, with this whole farrago in the first place.

Anyway, here's the list of the 114 Tory MPs who supported the amendment:

Continue reading "114 Tory MPs vote for the Baron amendment" »

5 Dec 2012 11:09:15

70 Tory MPs vote to repeal the Human Rights Act

By Matthew Barrett
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BACON RICHARDYesterday in Parliament, Richard Bacon, a Conservative backbencher, tried to introduce a Bill which would repeal the Human Rights Act 1998. One of Mr Bacon's lines of argument was that the legal requirement for Ministers to amend legislation - without a vote in Parliament - in order to comply with European human rights legislation - is "fundamentally undemocratic":

"Under section 10, a Minister of the Crown may make such amendments to primary legislation as are considered necessary to enable the incompatibility to be removed by the simple expedient of making an order. In effect, because the accepted practice is that the United Kingdom observes its international obligations, a supranational court can impose its will against ours. In my view this is fundamentally undemocratic."

Mr Bacon also compellingly argued that the controversial social issues that judges often like to get involved in should be decided by "elected representatives and not by unelected judges":

"[T]here is no point in belonging to a club if one is not prepared to obey its rules. The solution is therefore not to defy judgments of the Court, but rather to remove the power of the Court over us. ... Judges do not have access to a tablet of stone not available to the rest of us which enables them to discern what our people need better than we can possibly do as their elected, fallible, corrigible representatives. There is no set of values that are so universally agreed that we can appeal to them as a useful final arbiter. In the end they will always be shown up as either uselessly vague or controversially specific. Questions of major social policy, whether on abortion, capital punishment, the right to bear firearms or workers rights, should ultimately be decided by elected representatives and not by unelected judges."

Continue reading "70 Tory MPs vote to repeal the Human Rights Act" »

24 Nov 2012 08:54:59

The 118 Tory MPs the Daily Mail lists as being opposed to gay marriage

By Matthew Barrett
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The Daily Mail this morning reports on the 118 Conservative MPs who have written to constituents indicating their opposition to gay marriage proposals. The Mail says "Their opposition has been expressed in letters and emails sent to constituents who have contacted them with their own concerns", and points out that if these MPs voted against proposals, it would constitute the biggest Tory rebellion in modern times. However, Equalities Minister (and Secretary of State for Culture) Maria Miller pointed out on Twitter that since any vote on the issue would be a free vote, it would not technically be counted as a rebellion.

I have listed the MPs from the Mail's story below.

  1. Nigel Adams (Selby and Ainsty)
  2. Peter Aldous (Waveney)
  3. Tony Baldry (Banbury)
  4. Guto Bebb (Aberconwy)
  5. Henry Bellingham (North West Norfolk)
  6. Sir Paul Beresford (Mole Valley)
  7. Jake Berry (Rossendale and Darwen)
  8. Andrew Bingham (High Peak)
  9. Brian Binley (Northampton South)
  10. Bob Blackman (Harrow East)
  11. Nicola Blackwood (Oxford West and Abingdon)
  12. Peter Bone (Wellingborough)
  13. Graham Brady (Altrincham and Sale West)
  14. Julian Brazier (Canterbury)
  15. Andrew Bridgen (North West Leicestershire)
  16. Steve Brine (Winchester)
  17. Fiona Bruce (Congleton)
  18. Robert Buckland (South Swindon)
  19. Conor Burns (Bournemouth West)*
  20. Simon Burns (Chelmsford)
  21. David Burrowes (Enfield Southgate)
  22. Alun Cairns (Vale of Glamorgan)
  23. Douglas Carswell (Clacton)
  24. William Cash (Stone)
  25. Rehman Chishti (Gillingham and Rainham)
  26. Christopher Chope (Christchurch)
  27. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (The Cotswolds)
  28. Therese Coffey (Suffolk Coastal)
  29. Geoffrey Cox (Torridge and West Devon)
  30. Stephen Crabb (Preseli Pembrokeshire)
  31. David Davies (Monmouth)
  32. Glyn Davies (Montgomeryshire)
  33. Philip Davies (Shipley)
  34. David Davis (Haltemprice and Howden)
  35. Nick de Bois (Enfield North)
  36. Caroline Dinenage (Gosport)
  37. Richard Drax (South Dorset)
  38. Charlie Elphicke (Dover)
  39. Jonathan Evans (Cardiff North)
  40. David Evennett (Bexleyheath and Crayford)
  41. George Freeman (Mid Norfolk)
  42. Richard Fuller (Bedford)
  43. Roger Gale (North Thanet)
  44. Edward Garnier (Harborough)
  45. John Glen (Salisbury)
  46. Cheryl Gillan (Chesham and Amersham)
  47. Robert Goodwill (Scarborough and Whitby)
  48. Robert Halfon (Harlow)
  49. Philip Hammond (Runnymede and Weybridge)
  50. John Hayes (South Holland and The Deepings)
  51. Gordon Henderson (Sittingbourne and Sheppey)
  52. George Hollingbery (Meon Valley)
  53. Philip Hollobone (Kettering)
  54. Adam Holloway (Gravesham)
  55. Gerald Howarth (Aldershot)
  56. Stewart Jackson (Peterborough)
  57. Gareth Johnson (Dartford)
  58. David Jones (Clwyd West)
  59. Marcus Jones (Nuneaton)
  60. Eleanor Laing (Epping Forest)
  61. Pauline Latham (Mid Derbyshire)
  62. Andrea Leadsom (South Northamptonshire)
  63. Philip Lee (Bracknell)
  64. Jeremy Lefroy (Stafford)
  65. Edward Leigh (Gainsborough)
  66. Julian Lewis (New Forest East)
  67. Ian Liddell-Grainger (Bridgwater and West Somerset)
  68. Peter Lilley (Hitchen and Harpenden)
  69. Jonathan Lord (Woking)
  70. Tim Loughton (East Worthing and Shoreham)
  71. Anne Main (St Albans)
  72. Paul Maynard (Blackpool North and Cleveleys)
  73. Anne-Marie Morris (Newton Abbot)
  74. Karl McCartney (Lincoln)
  75. Anne McIntosh (Thirsk and Malton)
  76. Stephen McPartland (Stevenage)
  77. Esther McVey (Wirral West)
  78. Steve Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock)
  79. Nicky Morgan (Loughborough)
  80. David Nuttall (Bury North)
  81. Matthew Offord (Hendon)
  82. Neil Parish (Tiverton and Honiton)
  83. Priti Patel (Witham)
  84. Owen Paterson (North Shropshire)
  85. Mark Pawsey (Rugby)
  86. Mike Penning (Hemel Hempstead)
  87. Christopher Pincher (Tamworth)
  88. Mark Pritchard (The Wrekin)
  89. John Redwood (Wokingham)
  90. Jacob Rees-Mogg (North East Somerset)
  91. Simon Reevell (Dewsbury)
  92. Andrew Robathan (South Leicestershire)
  93. Laurence Robertson (Tewkesbury)
  94. Andrew Rosindell (Romford)
  95. David Ruffley (Bury St Edmunds)
  96. David Rutley (Macclesfield)
  97. Andrew Selous (South West Bedfordshire)
  98. Alec Shelbrooke (Elmet and Rothwell)
  99. Richard Shepherd (Aldridge-Brownhills)
  100. Henry Smith (Crawley)
  101. John Stevenson (Carlisle)
  102. Bob Stewart (Beckenham)
  103. Gary Streeter (South West Devon)
  104. Mel Stride (Central Devon)
  105. Robert Syms (Poole)
  106. David Tredinnick (Bosworth)
  107. Andrew Turner (Isle of Wight)
  108. Andrew Tyrie (Chichester)
  109. Paul Uppal (Wolverhampton South West)
  110. Martin Vickers (Cleethorpes)
  111. Ben Wallace (Wyre and Preston North)
  112. Robert Walter (North Dorset)
  113. James Wharton (Stockton South)
  114. Craig Whittaker (Calder Valley)
  115. John Whittingdale (Maldon)
  116. Bill Wiggin (North Herefordshire)
  117. Gavin Williamson (South Staffordshire)
  118. Jeremy Wright (Kenilworth and Southam)
* Conor Burns has stated that he will not be voting against gay marriage but may abstain.

2 Jul 2012 20:18:25

34 Conservative MPs write to Andrew Lansley to express "serious concerns" about plain tobacco packaging

By Matthew Barrett
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Lansley2On Friday, 50 MPs, including 34 Conservatives, wrote a letter to the Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, expressing their "serious concerns" with the Department of Health’s proposal to introduce plain packaging for tobacco products.

The letter stated that:

"There is no reliable evidence that plain packaging will have any public health benefit; no country in the world has yet to introduce it. However, such a measure could have extremely negative consequences elsewhere. The proposal will be a smuggler’s charter. ... this policy threatens more than 5,500 jobs directly employed by the UK tobacco sector, and over 65,000 valued jobs in the associated supply chain. ... Given the continued difficult economic climate, businesses should not be subjected to further red tape and regulation"

The signatories of the letter also expressed concern about the freedom aspect of blocking any branding of tobacco products:

"...we believe products must be afforded certain basic commercial freedoms. The forcible removal of branding would infringe fundamental legal rights, severely damage principles around intellectual property and set a dangerous precedent for the future of commercial free speech. Indeed, if the Department of Health were to introduce standardised packaging for tobacco products, would it also do the same for alcohol, fast food, chocolate and all other products deemed unhealthy for us?"

Continue reading "34 Conservative MPs write to Andrew Lansley to express "serious concerns" about plain tobacco packaging" »

17 May 2012 17:20:59

Peter Bone and Philip Hollobone can be proud of their work on the BackBench Business Committee --- but it may never be as powerful/ awkward for the govt again if the new members get their way...

By Tim Montgomerie
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Like Graham Brady I wasn't keen on the nature of some of the electioneering but the overall result of the 1922 elections was, as I blogged this morning, encouraging. I'm more worried about the outcome of the elections for the Backbench Business Committee.

The BBBC has been hugely successful. It has meant that the House of Commons has debated issues that wouldn't have been discussed if the two frontbenches had had their way. The most famous debates of this kind were on prisoner voting and, of course, the EU referendum motion (in which 81 Tory MPs rebelled). Other debates have included the war in Afghanistan, welfare of circus animals, contaminated blood products, metal theft, charging for Big Ben tours, assisted suicide and the Hillsborough stadium tragedy.

BoneholloboneTheir voting behaviour (see list within this post) may have been too anti-Coalition for their colleagues but central to making the BBBC a success were Peter Bone and Philip Hollobone. Sadly both were unsuccessful in yesterday's election and I fear the BBBC will be a little more tame from now on. Two changes orchestrated by the Whip's Office since the "81 rebellion" made them particularly vulnerable. One change, a few months ago, meant that the BBBC's members were no longer elected by the whole house but the Tory members by Tory backbench MPs only and Labour representatives by Labour backbench MPs etc. The second change was to allow ministerial aides (Parliamentary Private Secretaries) as well as full backbenchers to vote and these received instructions from Keith Simpson, bag carrier to William Hague to vote for change. I don't know what the margins were in the secret ballot but the two rule changes certainly contributed to the fact that the new Tory representatives exclude Messrs Bone and Hollobone. The successful candidates were David Amess, Bob Blackman, Jane Ellison and Marcus Jones.

Continue reading "Peter Bone and Philip Hollobone can be proud of their work on the BackBench Business Committee --- but it may never be as powerful/ awkward for the govt again if the new members get their way..." »

15 May 2012 15:45:08

Tomorrow's 1922 Committee Elections - nominations in full

By Paul Goodman
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8.45pm Update by Matthew Barrett: I have now learned which candidates are being backed by the traditional organisations on the right of the Conservative Party, such as the No Turning Back group. I have highlighted these in purple.


The following have been returned unopposed:-




Posts for which elections will take place (I have marked those previously identified by Tim as members of the 301 slate in blue):

1) Secretary - the following nominations have been received for TWO posts:


2) Executive members - the following nominations have been received for TWELVE posts.

PRITI PATEL - Priti Patel is being backed by both the 301 group, and the right of the Party.

Finally and separately, the following nominations have been received for Conservative members of the Backbench Business Committee - four posts:


14 May 2012 12:07:22

The People's Pledge announce shortlist of 39 constituencies for new European referendums

By Matthew Barrett
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4pm update: People's Pledge sources tells me that Anne Marie Morris, the MP for Newton Abbot has come out in support of a referendum

Mike Freer, the MP for Finchley and Golders Green, has also backed a referendum. This is significant because Freer was not one of the 81 rebels, but has now come round to the view that Britain should have an in/out European referendum. 

These two new additions to the list of MPs supporting the People's Pledge means 68 MPs - from several parties - back a referendum. 


PeoplesPledge2Following on from their successful referendum campaign in Thurrock - turnout was higher than in the recent local elections - The People's Pledge campaign have announced further referendums, to be held in 3 contiguous seats. The campaign has announced a shortlist of 39 seats, grouped in 13 contiguous triples, from different regions, from which one triplet will be chosen in the next few days, with a polling date set for late July.

Continue reading "The People's Pledge announce shortlist of 39 constituencies for new European referendums" »

8 May 2012 13:03:56

The 2010-12 parliamentary session was the most rebellious on record

By Matthew Barrett
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Screen shot 2010-06-16 at 18.02.09Philip Cowley and Mark Stuart of the University of Nottingham have released a new pamplet - "The Bumper Book of Coalition Rebellions", which documents the 239  backbench rebellions so far in this Parliament, in which 544 votes have been held. 

The pamplet takes us from the first rebellion, on the government’s control of time in the Commons, to the last, on Sunday Trading during the Olympics. This Parliament has seen more rebellions by government MPs than in any other session in the post-war era. As "The Bumper Book" says, "It comfortably beats the previous record of 128, held by Conservative MPs in the 1971-72 session. Indeed, a figure of 239 is higher than all but three entire post-war parliaments."

In fact, there were more rebellions in the last two years than there were between 1945 and 1966 - a period which saw six Prime Ministers and six parliaments. On a different measure, the "relative rate of rebellion", this session's 239 rebellions constitute a rebellion by Coalition MPs in 44% of divisions, which is a record in post-war parliaments. The 44% figure can be broken down further: Conservative MPs have rebelled in 28% of votes, while Lib Dems have rebelled in 24% of votes.

It is also notable how much of a contrast there is between the 2010-12 session and most first sessions in a parliament. As the pamplet says: "The rebellion rate for coalition MPs collectively is way above all other first sessions in the post-war era (the previous record was 28%, for Labour MPs in the 2005-6 session, as the party entered its third, and most troublesome, parliament under Tony Blair)".

Continue reading "The 2010-12 parliamentary session was the most rebellious on record" »

4 May 2012 06:14:38

What is the Cornerstone group? Matthew Barrett profiles the socially conservative Tory backbench group

By Matthew Barrett
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My series profiling the backbench groups of Tory MPs has so far mainly featured groups founded or mostly composed of 2010 intake MPs. Last time, I looked at the Thatcherite No Turning Back group, founded in the 1980s. This week's group is somewhere between the two. The Cornerstone Group is the main group whose defining mission is to represent socially conservative Members of Parliament. The group was formed in 2005, and presented some challenges for David Cameron's leadership. In this profile, I'll see how the group is doing now.

Origins of the group

HayesLeighCornerstone was founded by Edward Leigh and John Hayes, who still chair the group. Leigh has been the MP for Gainsborough since 1983, and is a former Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department of Trade and Industry, who was sacked for his opposition to Maastricht, and John Hayes, who has been the MP for South Holland and the Deepings since 1997, and the Minister of State for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning since 2010.

Cornerstone admired the work done during Iain Duncan Smith's time as leader to promote a more communitarian, Burkean conservatism, and wanted to ensure IDS' work on this front was carried on.

When the group launched formally in July 2005, it released a pamphlet, which criticised Michael Howard's election campaign for being too quiet about tax cuts, public service reform and family values. Strongly condemning the personality politics and liberalism of New Labour, Leigh wrote:

"We believe that these values must be stressed: tradition, nation, family, religious ethics, free enterprise ... Emulating New Labour both lacks authenticity and is unlikely to make us popular. We must seize the centre ground and pull it kicking and screaming towards us. That is the only way to demolish the foundations of the liberal establishment and demonstrate to the electorate the fundamental flaws on which it is based."

The group first exerted its influence during the 2005 leadership contest. A group of about twenty Cornerstone supporters interviewed David Cameron, David Davis and Liam Fox. Fox apparently put in the best performance, while David Davis was, reportedly, not able to take criticism well. This meeting, combined with David Davis' alienating stint as the Minister for Europe under Major, and Davis' reluctance to support Iain Duncan Smith's compassionate conservatism programme wholeheartedly, is thought to be why many Cornerstone supporters first voted for Fox, and then switched to Cameron.

Continue reading "What is the Cornerstone group? Matthew Barrett profiles the socially conservative Tory backbench group" »

20 Dec 2011 12:17:51

The Government is doing everything it can to "increase the number and speed of removals" of foreign criminals says Damian Green

By Joseph Willits 
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GreenIn Parliament yesterday, Immigration Minister Damian Green responded to an urgent question tabled by his Labour counterpart Chris Bryant after reports that 4,238 foreign criminals awaiting deportation were still committing crimes. In May of this year, 3,775 foreign criminals were awaiting deportation, but by September the number had increased by almost 500.

Green said that in 2010, the Government had "removed more than 5,000 foreign criminals, 43% by the end of their prison sentence", adding that "where there are barriers to early removal, the agency seeks to detain them to protect the public".

However, the removal of foreign criminals is effected by legal issues Green said, saying that the UK Borders Agency (UKBA) had to "operate within the law". The UKBA "must release foreign offenders when ordered to do so by the courts and release low-risk offenders where there is no realistic prospect of removal within a reasonable period". Green said that "challenges under human rights legislation, the situation in the offender’s home country, and lack of co-operation by the offender or his home Government in getting essential travel documents" could all delay the deportation process. Whilst the deportation process was still ongoing, "the UKBA works closely with the police and the National Offender Management Service to reduce the risk of reoffending".

Continue reading "The Government is doing everything it can to "increase the number and speed of removals" of foreign criminals says Damian Green" »

6 Dec 2011 15:29:57

A motion seeking to prevent ministers leaking policy before addressing Parliament is defeated

By Joseph Willits 
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HolloboneProposals to give Parliament the power to take action on ministers who leak announcements to the media, before informing the Commons, have failed. The motion tabled by Phillip Hollobone MP (Kettering), aimed to be as "non-partisan as possible", was defeated by 228 votes to 119. Hollobone accused all three major parties of mistreating the House of Commons:

"All Governments, whether this Government, the previous Government or the one before that, have leaked information, and that is not how our great House of Commons ought to be treated".

On Sunday, Tim outlined the Speaker's exasperation, after last week's Autumn Statement was the latest example of policy being leaked to the press beforehand. Naturally, Hollobone expressed the same sentiment as the Speaker, saying that Parliament "should be the first place to hear of major new Government policy initiatives". He continued: 

"Should it be “The Andrew Marr Show” on Sunday, the “Today” programme on Radio 4 in the morning or ITV’s “Daybreak”; or should it be the Chamber of the House of Commons?" 

Continue reading "A motion seeking to prevent ministers leaking policy before addressing Parliament is defeated" »

5 Dec 2011 17:41:54

Rolling record of Tory MPs' comments on new EU Treaty

Friday 8.45am John Redwood MP blogs:

"Orderly but rapid break up would be the least cost option. It would liberate the countries allowed out, and permit them to adjust their competitiveness by a devaluation which would be swift and easier to sell than large wage cuts. There is  no foundation to the proposition that the EU would lose 10-50% of its output if they changed currencies. To my knowledge 87 countries have left currency unions since 1945. In most cases they have prospered more after exit. The successful break up of the 16 member rouble bloc could be the model."

8.30pm Philip Hollobone told Sky News:

Hollobone_phillip"...we need to have a disorderly breakup so that the whole of Europe and the rest of the world economy can get back to significant economic growth in the future. This idea that we can prop up the eurozone in the next ten years with constant austerity is just not going to work."

6.45pm The leader of the Conservatives in the European Parliament, Martin Callanan MEP said: 

CALLANAN MARTIN"If there is any treaty change which creates European fiscal union then clearly that will radically effect the UK and that should be put to a referendum. That is what democracy demands, because we would be creating a fundamental change to the EU and our relationship with it. However, that could take years to complete. It might be a way to solve the next crisis - but not this one. That is why the focus should be on measures to address the issues at the heart of this crisis."

He said these would include "The casual one-size-fits-all approach that had undermined the euro from its foundations", "The massive economic imbalance between its prosperous and economically-disciplined members and those which were debt-ridden and financially dysfunctional", "The over-regulation which hampered wealth-creation and innovation and encouraged a dependency culture in struggling states."

5.30pm Paul Waugh reports that Edward Leigh said the following in a Westminster Hall debate this afternoon:

LEIGH edward MP"We have had enough of reading of British prime ministers over the last 20 to 30 years in the days preceding a summit that 'they will stand up for the British national interest' and then coming back from a summit with a kind of Chamberlain-esque piece of paper saying, 'I have negotiated very, very hard, I have got opt-outs on this and that and I have succeeded in standing up for British interests'."

Update: Paul Waugh tweets

"No.10 hits back at Edward Leigh's Chamberlain remarks. PM's spokeswoman: "It was offensive and ridiculous.""

5.15pm Nadine Dorries blogged

DORRIES-Nadine"I have no doubt that the PM will return with some form of a guarantee for Britain as the last thing Merkel wants is a referendum in Britain. If Britain succumbs, other countries may follow suit and the effect such an event would have on the markets would be damaging for Germany. After all, it’s all about Germany. A fiscal union of 17 EU members forming one new country and in effect a new trading block will have huge implications for Britain and British business. It's time we gave the British people their say via a referendum. The next two days will test the Prime Ministers courage and skills. If he misses this opportunity to grasp the nettle and give the British People their say, they may eventually make him pay with the one vote they will have."

4.15pm Nick Boles appeared on the Daily Politics show this afternoon, and argued:

Jenkin Campbell Boles"Today is the moment of maximum economic danger for Britain. Our retail sales are falling, manufacturing output is collapsing, Brazil has stalled, China has stalled. The entire global economy is sitting on the edge of an abyss and the urgent priority for the British people is to protect our economy and their jobs by getting this Eurozone crisis fixed. We need to repatriate powers but we need to come to that after we've saved our economy, not before. ... What I want David Cameron to do is to protect our economy, protect our jobs - mainly, because that's the thing that's under most threat from the Eurozone - protect the City of London, but he needs to help them get a solution to the Eurozone crisis so that the entire European economy doesn't fall apart. ... We are going to work out an entirely new kind of outer-tier relationship, and that is a big exercise, it's a very important exercise, and it offers big opportunities for Britain, but it's probably going to take two or three years - it's not the work of a weekend when the global economy is on the precipice."

3.30pm Sir Peter Tapsell told Radio 4:

Tapsel Peter"The fact is the French and German leaders have been meeting for weeks and weeks. I have very little doubt that they will not be able to solve the eurocrisis on Friday but it is very much in the British national interests that it should be solved. As we argued at the time of the Maastricht Treaty to think that you can have a single a interest rate for a whole variety of countries at different stages in their development. And that remains true today and although we opted out of the euro right from the beginning and very sensibly so, but we are affected by the euro and I feel really sceptical that they can solve to eurocrisis, I don’t expect it to survive. ... The reason why Europe is in crisis has to be traced back to the Maastricht Treaty. They then introduced a whole series of measures which weakened the European economy by comparison with those of the Far East and America and so on."

Continue reading "Rolling record of Tory MPs' comments on new EU Treaty" »

4 Dec 2011 07:47:23

MPs set to give the Speaker powers to punish ministers who leak policy announcements to the media

By Tim Montgomerie
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The Backbench Business Committee has scheduled two motions for tomorrow. One concerns extradition procedures and Dom Raab MP writes about this issue for ConHome this morning. The second motion is "relating to Ministerial statements to Parliament" and will be proposed by Philip Hollobone.

The innocuous sounding motion relates to the tendency of ministers to tell the press about major policy announcements before they tell the House of Commons. The motion will give the House the power to punish such ministers. Last week's extensively pre-briefed Autumn Statement was the latest high profile example of this longstanding phenomenon. The Speaker, John Bercow, expressed his displeasure last Wednesday. Tory MP Julian Lewis asked why the Speaker had allowed ninety-six questions to George Osborne after he had given his Autumn Statement. This was Mr Speaker's amusing reply:

"I am always keen to ensure that as many Back-Bench Members as possible should have the opportunity to question Ministers of the Crown. Secondly, as the House will be conscious, I am insistent that statements of policy should first be made to the House of Commons, not outside it. There have been notable breaches of that established protocol and they are a source of concern. To the hon. Gentleman, I say explicitly that yesterday I was particularly keen to ensure a full airing of the issues, not least because I wished to hear whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer had anything to say in the Chamber that he had not already said in the media. I hope that that response to his point of order satisfies the hon. Gentleman’s curiosity."

Hollobone_phillipInterviewed on Friday night's Today in Parliament programme Mr Hollobone said the situation has been getting worse and that the Coalition was now "routinely leaking" policy announcements to the media. The issue, he told the BBC's Mark D'Arcy, was whether the House of Commons is at the centre of the nation's political life or that it becomes a "sideshow".

Mt Hollobone is suggesting that if policies are leaked in future a complaint could be made to the Speaker and the Speaker would then decide on an appropriate sanction. That sanction might include calling the minister to the bar of the Commons to account for his/her behaviour and that of their department or, ultimately, referral to the Standards and Privileges Committee could be considered. The S&PC has "unlimited powers of punishment" including powers to suspend members and dock offending MPs' pay. Mr Hollobone hopes that matters would never come to that level but he is confident that his motion will pass tomorrow. 

> You can listen to Mr Hollobone's short interview here, beginning at about 16 minutes 30 seconds into the programme.

23 Nov 2011 11:01:48

EU enlargement creates prosperity across Europe says David Lidington... but Tory MPs worry about more immigration

By Joseph Willits 
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LidongtonYesterday in Parliament a debate was motioned, and passed unopposed without a vote, to approve a European document related to Croatia's joining of the European Union. Europe Minister David Lidington began the debate by speaking of enlargement more generally, saying that the Government has long been "a strong supporter of EU enlargement as an effective and dynamic agent of change ... the European Union will remain strong only if it is outward-looking and continues to grow".

EU accession, he said, "has helped to entrench democracy, the rule of law and human rights in parts of our continent where those values and traditions were crushed for most of the 20th century." Enlargement would "create stability, security and prosperity across Europe".

Lidington said that providing accession criteria had been met, it was important that EU membership should be available to any European country, whether it be Spain or Portugal, or a Balkan or eastern European nation. The Minister made reference to Margaret Thatcher's Bruges speech of 1988:

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