Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Europe Minister: I Haven't Read the Lisbon Treaty

Quite incredible. My old university sparring partner, Caroline Flint, the Europe Minister, has admitted not having read the Lisbon Treaty. Quite a gaffe for someone in her position, I'd have thought. Still, it betrays a refreshing honesty, as her Tory Shadow has already pointed out, betraying a little, and perfectly understandable Schadenfreude. Mark Francois just issued this missive...

It's wonderfully honest of the Minister for Europe to admit that she hasn't actually read the renamed EU Constitution. It's not every day that someone will admit they haven't read the most important document for their job. Her astonishing admission does leave some questions. How does she know if the Treaty's good for Britain if she hasn't read it? How could she lecture the Irish that they'd only rejected the Lisbon Treaty because they didn't understand it? If Ms Flint had taken the time to read the whole Treaty, as I have, she might then know that it is substantially almost identical to the EU Constitution we were promised a referendum on and that it means a major transfer of power from Britain to the EU. The right thing to do would be to let the British people have the chance to read it and decide for themselves whether they want it – as Labour pledged at the last general election.
Quite.

54 comments:

trevorsden said...

Flint is a greasy pole climbing self important gobshite.

Can you tell I am not impressed by her TV appearances?

I'll fight back the quip that comes to mind from the WV - redlampa

rickytshirt said...

It's like a priest admitting he hasn't read the Bible.

pete-s said...

I complained to my crap labour MP about the Lisbon Treaty. I got a reply which was a cut and paste from Murphy, the then europe minister. I then sent a rebuttal letter pointing out how crap his argument was. NO REPLY.

Conand said...

The government want a huge transfer of sovereignty, without giving the people a voice.
The Minister concerned hasn't even read the Treaty!!
The Government have badly let down Her Majesty The Queen and the people.

The Government must resign immediately. A General Election must be called. The Treaty must be put to the people in a referendum.
Democracy must be restored as soon as possible.

The Boiling Frog said...

I'm not really surprised, I doubt if many MPs have read it.

But it's not much different to Douglas Hurd though, on 7th Feb 1992 about the Maastricht Treaty:

'Now we've signed it - we had better read it'.

And IIRC Ken Clarke said something similar as the same treaty was being passed through the Commons

Stuart said...

I've read it, and it's scary.
This lot risk bringing down democracy so I've got involved. I've made it onto a Cons selected candidate list... now let me show them!

Rockfall said...

Almighty gaffe though this is, it is unlikely that it is going to make much impact outside of Eurosceptic circles. Confirms a number of suspicions, however...

Oh and sorry to be pedantic, but it is Mark FranCOIS, Iain!

Paul Halsall said...
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JL said...

Amazing. I thought that the levels of incompetence in this government could sink no lower - how wrong I was.

Regardless of whether you are pro- or anti-EU constitution, how can we have signed something if the person mainly invovled in the argument has not read the document?

She won't be the only one though, what prizes any Labour cabinet minister, past or present, having read the document?

Simon Gardner said...

I feel a new spring Euro-mania coming on in the Conservative party (not to forgive Flint (or indeed remember Ken Clarke)).

We’ve had delirium over Hannan, Stuart Wheeler-gate and now some more.

Is the Tory party going to end up talking to itself again and not to the voters (who care little about the “Europe issue”)?

Is that poll lead going to slip through David Cameron’s fingers as - unwanted by him - his party starts obsessing about the same old nonsense?

Ben Rowe said...

Have we got a source for Flint's original comments? Can't find it anywhere.

Anand said...

I wish toe Conservatives could come out and state clearly and unequivocally that they WILL give the British Public a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty if/when they form the next parliament (and assuming it ahs not been implemented, which i can't imagine it will be now this close to a GE)

Daniel1979 said...

FFS!

Simon Gardner said...

Anand said... “I wish toe Conservatives could come out and state clearly and unequivocally that they WILL give the British Public a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty...”

I bet you do.

The Boiling Frog said...

@Ben Rowe. It's here:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmgeneral/euro/090330/90330s01.htm

davidc said...

'rickytshirt said...It's like a priest admitting he hasn't read the Bible'

or a solicitor admitting she hadn't read a mortgage document before signing

Conand said...

Simon Gardner said@12:20

'obsessing about the same old nonsense'

Most voters want a referendum. This is one of the things contributing to our massive poll lead. I can barely hear myself think for all the LibDems calling for a referendum. I know as a LibDem you have no interest in Liberty or Democracy and want to stamp them out as soon as possible. The voters rather like those concepts though, that's one of the reasons you're 3rd in the polls.

The Boiling Frog said...

I should add, it starts from Column number: 12. and goes like this:

Shadow Europe Minister Mark Francois asked,

"Has the Minister read the elements of the Lisbon Treaty that relate to defence?".

Ms. Flint replied, "I have read some of it but not all of it...I have been briefed on some of it."

Cynic said...

What would be the point in her reading it? She would never understand it.

She was always renown as a Minister who could 'carry' a brief well, but that doesnt require understanding - just flawless sound-bite repetition.

Plato said...

"Has the Minister read the elements of the Lisbon Treaty that relate to defence?".

Ms. Flint replied, "I have read some of it but not all of it...I have been briefed on some of it."

WTF.

So she's read 'some of it' and has been briefed on 'some of it'.

What is her job again?

Holy Cow *Defra arrives to put it down as potential TB threat*

Bill Quango MP said...

Have a read of Polly over at The Guardian.

She is defending Poor Jacqui Smith, a victim of puritanism..

Well, not a single commenter agrees with her on the whole of page 1..or page 2... might be 1 on page 3..

How does Ms Toynbee have the incredible knack of being wrong about everything? She must, by law of averages, hit a winner now and again. But no..on and on getting shriller and more wrong each day.
Caesar's Palace would love to have her visit.

Batteredstrat said...

I have read it, or at least most of it. It took a while to plough through because it is the most deliberately obfuscating piece of legislation I have ever read, (and I read law through the OU)

It is written in such a way as to make it unintellegable to the layman, and thereby give governments all over the EU an excuse not to give their populations a say on it.

It is the most dishonest piece of legislation ever forced upon the British people.

curly15 said...

That's really quite beautiful, has she ever been blonde?

Twig said...

Simon Gardner said...
"Is the Tory party going to end up talking to itself again and not to the voters (who care little about the “Europe issue”)?"


It's not the "Europe issue" it's the EU issue, and the EU depends on the apathy of the voters.

Wakey wakey everybody!
Daniel Hannan on the EU

jon dee said...

Why should we be surprised?

Rachel Sylvester in today's Times quotes one Cabinet minister as saying " the truth is we haven't a clue whether any of this will work" refering to the G20 discussions.

Perhaps this has been obvious for some time. Brown's vain hyper activity, a flurry of worthless but costly initiatives combined with his non-stop talking has given no one confidence.

Though it would be lost might it not be time for a vote of No Confidence.

T England said...

Isn't the EU like the banking scandle?

The government have no idea what they are dealing with but someones getting rich out of it so who needs to understand it?

Unsworth said...

Probably not enough in the way of pictures in the document for her.

She has a face like a well-slapped bottom, and considering the amount of crap that emanates from it that's hardly surprising.

Dennis said...

Be fair. Her index finger must follow the line of print, and her lips move as she reads. She is, after all, a member of this "government of all the talents", "all" having its usual, inclusive meaning.

It could be worse. Maybe.

Arthur said...

A referendum would be good, but the Treaty is likely to be in force by the next election. And considering the Conservatives merely say they "would not let matters rest there", what can we expect. More pressure on their vision for the EU please,

Mark M said...

She didn't need to read it. Gordon will have told her to support it no matter what. He is a dictator.

from-the-north.blogspot.com
Today on my blog, does the government ever think before spending?

Simon Gardner said...

Conand said... “Most voters want a referendum.”

Most voters don’t actually care very much.

And I’m not a Lib Dem. I’m not an anything. I’m not a member of any party and owe allegiance to none.

Simon Gardner said...

Conand said... “It's not the "Europe issue" it's the EU issue, and the EU depends on the apathy of the voters.”

And they don’t really care. Sorry and all but they don’t. They care about the economy, jobs....etc etc.

What they don’t greatly care about as an issue is Europe which the Tories found out to their cost years ago but apparently still want to scratch that itch.

Roger Thornhill said...

For Caroline Flint to have not read the Treaty is, I would have thought, Gross Negligence Equal to Fraud.

Anyone?

Conand said...
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Conand said...

Simon says....

Conand said... “It's not the "Europe issue" it's the EU issue, and the EU depends on the apathy of the voters.”'

No I didn't, it was Twig@1:10 PM

Simon Gardner also said...

'And they don’t really care. Sorry and all but they don’t. They care about the economy, jobs....etc etc.'

OK so you think the EU is great but it has no impact on the economy, jobs etc? That's a bit of a waste of people's money then isn't it? Do you just like the propaganda generating Anti-Nation State bit, for purely idealogical reasons? Do you just like the creation of a taxpayer funded new feudal system? Do you just like the concept of Democracy being undermined for it's own sake?

Simon Gardner said...

Conand said... “No I didn't, it was Twig@1:10 PM”

Sorry, posting in haste as off to retrieve my faithful sick Powerbook from the mending shop (now gratefully back).

“Simon Gardner also said... 'And they don’t really care. Sorry and all but they don’t. They care about the economy, jobs....etc etc.' OK so you think the EU is great but it has no impact on the economy, jobs etc?

Not at all and that’s not what I said (I think). What I am trying to say is that whatever the supposed polling figures on being in/out of the EU or signing/not of Lisbon, neither is on the radar of the general population. They just aren’t that bothered. (If they were they’d be thinking a bit harder about it.)

All the indicators I have seen over the last six months and before say that our position vis à vis the EU or Lisbon is way down the list of priorities of the general public.

If the Tories start talking about little else (as they have in the past) then they cease to engage with the public. And Cameron will have a serious problem on his hands.

Euro-election or no Euro-election.

Conand said...

I think Simon Gardner is a Federation agent. I'm minded to let Avon & Cally extract the information.

graybo said...

Iain: you quote Mark Francois as saying that the British public should have the opportunity to read the Lisbon Treaty. Well, they can - it's here: http://europa.eu/lisbon_treaty/full_text/index_en.htm

I suspect, however, that 99.9% of the electorate won't read it, even if there is a referendum, and will base their opinion/voting preference on the information they receive through the filter of the media and politicians. That can't be a good way to make a decision, can it?

Unsworth said...

@ Dennis

Holy Cow! Has Flint graduated to finger following the print? I thought she was still using the old 12" ruler.

Then again, maybe she is - but for not quite the same purpose.

DespairingLiberal said...

When and where did she admit this Mr Dale? Can't see anything about it from online news searches.

moorlandhunter said...

It's plain and simple, we need a vote on this Treaty.

Twig said...

Simon Gardner
"What I am trying to say is that whatever the supposed polling figures on being in/out of the EU or signing/not of Lisbon, neither is on the radar of the general population. They just aren’t that bothered. (If they were they’d be thinking a bit harder about it.)"

You seem to be implying that that’s a good thing?

If the Europe Minister can't be bothered to read it what chance is there that your average punter will go through it. How many pages does it consist of?

It was never intended to be read, like the small print in a contract, that is the point.

I'd like to quote Daniel Hannan:
"Can someone explain to me why Gordon Brown wants Ireland to vote twice on the Lisbon Treaty while simultaneously insisting that Britain shouldn't vote at all?"

Gordon has approved it, so should we just trust to his judgement? I think not.

Vote UKIP!

Simon Gardner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Simon Gardner said...

Twig said... “Simon Gardner "What I am trying to say is that whatever the supposed polling figures on being in/out of the EU or signing/not of Lisbon, neither is on the radar of the general population. They just aren’t that bothered. (If they were they’d be thinking a bit harder about it.)" You seem to be implying that that’s a good thing?

I don’t think it’s a good thing at all. I’m pointing out a fact of political life.

Twig said...

Simon,
"I don’t think it’s a good thing at all. I’m pointing out a fact of political life."

Do you think it's a bad thing, or are you just not bothered that they're not bothered?

Simon Gardner said...

Twig said... “Simon, "I don’t think it’s a good thing at all. I’m pointing out a fact of political life." Do you think it's a bad thing, or are you just not bothered that they're not bothered?

It would be unfair and unreasonable for me to expect everyone else to be as interested in politics and EU politics as me. So I am merely (again) pointing out that most people don’t care terribly much about a new go at deciding on being in/out of the EU or on signing/not signing Lisbon. This is a fact. You may not like it. Even I may not like it. But it is still a fact.

Helen said...

I am glad at least one person on this forum remembered that two Conservative Cabinet Ministers cheerfully admitted to not having read the Maastricht Treaty, one of them being the person who signed it. All this political amnesia is somewhat tiresome.

Jonathan said...

It's quite incredible. Britain is going to be abolished and we won't even get a vote. We're not even going to be allowed to have "England" in any meaningful way, it's likely we'll move directly to regions. Amazingly, though unpopular, it's not really a big election issue.

Simon Gardner said...

Jonathan said... “Britain is going to be abolished...”

There, there. Hot towels; dark cupboard. You know the drill by now.

Twig said...

Simon,
Agreed it's a fact, and I suppose people are free to be disinterested if they wish. I just wanted to know whether YOU thought it would be better for people to take an interest in something so important, seeing as how our forebears fought so hard for democracy. Or is your tacit acceptance of the status quo due to the fact that such disinterest by the population is allowing the EU project (which I guess you are a supporter of) gain ground?

Simon Gardner said...

I am a firm supporter of the European project (numerous posts passim). I agreed with Ted Heath at the time and for similar reasons. I still do. I welcomed (retrospectively) the Treaty of Rome which we had acceded to.

Just like Ken Clarke I am deeply suspicious of referendums which were (remember) introduced into the British polity by Harold Wilson purely to cover splits in the Labour Party. But I acknowledge they are now sometimes necessary. ‘Lisbon’ is clearly not one such occasion.

Referendums are rarely if ever fought on the supposed overt question on the ballot paper but instead on the record of the the government of the day. So they don’t really inform anyway.

Notwithstanding I look forward with relish (and quite a bit of déjà vu) to a wholly unnecessary re-run of Harold Wilson’s referendum. Should it happen (and it’s the only referendum worth bothering with), I am 100% confident that we will win again. So “bring it on”.

Having said that, it IS unnecessary and the anti-Europeans should accept the will of the British people - as decided once and for all the first time round. And I don’t think for a moment that when they inevitably lose again that they will bloody shut up. They still won’t accept that decision. So there’s very little point in it anyway.

And finally, as I have said repeatedly, the British mood at the moment is one of disinterest in these questions of the EU [Lisbon or in/out] - which so obsess a small minority generally and a lot of Tory head-bangers. So the public will no way forgive an expensive and unnecessary diversion down this route anyway.

Maybe these issues might rise up the ladder of importance for British people but at the moment they are a matter of supreme indifference to them. That is (as you have acknowledged) a political fact.

Simon Gardner said...

PS Oh and we should have joined the Eurozone when it started. We absolutely need to join it now; the economy demands it.

Twig said...

Simon,

I'll take that as a "yes" then.
FWIW I don't agree with you, I think it would be better if people took a positive interest in the future of the nation, rather than letting the political elite decide for them.

And by the way, it's not a European issue, Europe is a geographical fact, the EU is something else.

Simon Gardner said...

Twig said... “I'll take that as a "yes" then...”

You clearly have an odd interpretation of my carefully crafted paragraphs. I’ll remember not to bother next time. :(