Following the European elections in May, David Cameron led a campaign to block Jean-Claude Juncker, the President-select of the European Commission from assuming office. As with most British initiatives in the European Union, the Prime Minister failed spectacularly. But in a surprising volte-face, Cameron is now telling his Conservative MEPs to endorse Juncker and his Commission team when it comes to a vote on Wednesday.
So why has ‘Cast-Iron’ Dave changed his mind on Juncker? Surely if the Prime Minister saw Juncker as too federalist and anti-democratic in May, he still sees him as unsuitable in October. Cynics would say Cameron’s previous opposition to Juncker was grandstanding, designed to appease his backbench critics. But now Juncker has been appointed as President, Cameron needs his goodwill for “renegotiation” and is now prepared to betray the British people.
This would not be the first time Cameron has tried to force his MEPs to vote against their consciences in order to shore up support for his renegotiation chances. In the aftermath of the European elections the German Eurosceptic AfD party applied to join the Tory’s European political grouping, the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR).
With the AfD very ideologically similar to the Conservative Party, this seemed like a good fit. However, Cameron ordered his MEPs to veto their joining the group, in order to keep German Chancellor Angela Merkel onside as he thought she would support his renegotiation attempts. This has failed spectacularly as she has made clear. And the same will happen this time, as he attempts to grovel to Juncker.
Fortunately, his MEPs have ignored Cameron’s political game playing before and voted to admit the AfD to the ECR grouping. Let’s hope they ignore him again.
We learnt on the Andrew Marr Show yesterday Cameron is far more ‘pro-European integration’ than the British people previously realised. Outgoing President of the European Commission Barroso revealed he frequently has private phone calls with Cameron in which he supposedly talks about his fervent desire to remain inside the EU. Following his backtracking over Juncker, we can expect Cameron’s clandestine conversations about how to promote the EU agenda in Britain to continue unabated with the new President.
The Prime Minister should be spending more time listening to the people of Great Britain than to unelected European bureaucrats like Juncker. The fact he isn’t speaks volumes about his position – he clearly isn’t serious about changing our relationship with the EU.
Conservative MEPs – almost all of them elected on a Eurosceptic platform – should defy Cameron’s wishes and show Britain’s disdain for unelected Juncker and the British Commissioner, as well as the hapless Lord Hill.
Their intervention on either side of the debate will be entirely inconsequential to the outcome however. In the past five years a majority of British MEPs voted against 576 European Parliamentary motions. Of these, 485 became law anyway. This is a failure rate of 84%. Eurosceptic Tory MEPs therefore have no chance of blocking Juncker or his team.
Perhaps this is for the best however. Few things can help our cause to Get Britain Out of the EU and back into the wider world than a foreign, unelected, federalist bureaucrat dictating Britain’s domestic policy to it. Cameron and Juncker are welcome to snuggle up to each other. They are like two peas in a pod!