EU Repatriation Of Powers Row Escalates As Tory MPs Sieze On Contradictory Statements
Conservative MPs are demanding answers on the government's policy on repatriation of powers from the EU, after Nick Clegg appeared to contradict statements previously made by senior Tory cabinet minsters.
On Sunday the Telegraph reported the Prime Minister as saying: "This is the right time to sort out the eurozone’s problems, defend your national interest and look to the opportunities there may be in the future to repatriate powers back to Britain. Obviously the idea of some limited treaty change in the future might give us that opportunity.”
Michael Gove expanded on this on Tuesday on the Today programme when he said: " I think we should take powers back over employment law; I think that we should take powers back which affect our capacity to grow. I think there are some specific regulations that govern who we can hire, when we can hire and how long they work for that actually hold us back."
But on Tuesday morning Nick Clegg told reporters: "You don't change Europe by launching some smash and grab dawn raid on Brussels. You do it by setting out the case for changes and then arguing the case with other countries."
The picture became more confusing on Tuesday afternoon when the Minister for Europe, David Lidington, told the Commons: "It is in its early stages at the moment because we gave priority in our first year in office to implementing the referendum lock."
This was in response to questions from both the Labour front bench and Conservative MPs who'd rebelled against the government on Monday evening over the motion to hold a referendum on Britain's place in the EU.
Tory MP Mark Reckless told Huffington Post UK: "My concern is that that what the Prime Minister said yesterday has been completely contradicted by what his Minister for Europe is saying today.
"It seems as though backbench Conservatives were told one thing on repatriation of powers yesterday but the Liberal Democrats are calling the shots again today.’
The Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander has written to William Hague [PDF] about the confusion.
Alexander says: "“Within a couple of hours of Michael Gove taking to the airwaves this morning promising the repatriation of powers, we have now got the Deputy Prime Minister, his Cabinet colleague, flatly contradicting him and saying there will be no repatriation of powers as part of the Coalition Government’s programme."