Wednesday, July 07, 2010

EXCLUSIVE: More Trouble for Tory Euro Grouping as Kirkhope Launches Takeover Bid

It seems that the row about the new Conservative grouping in the European Parliament is about to flare up again. Here's the story so far.

Last week David Cameron held a meeting at Number Ten with the Polish presidential candidate, Jaroslaw Kaczynski and the leader of the Conservatives & Reformist group in the European Parliament, Michal Kaminski. Kaminski was rather surprised to find that the leader of Conservative MEPs, Timothy Kirkhope also turned up. It soon became clear as to why. After Kaczynski left, Cameron told Kaminski that he wanted him and Kirkhope to have a joint chairmanship of the Reformist Group for the next five years. Kaminski was, according to one source, left "gobsmacked".

Yesterday afternoon Kirkhope reported these events back to the group's MEP members in Strasburg. One source said there was "uproar". Another said that "uproar" may be putting it too stringly but "people aren't very happy - it's supposed to be a democratic process".

It's not just many British MEPs who aren't very happy. The MEPs of the other 6 countries inn the group are none too pleased that they only found out an hour before the meeting. Indeed, the Czechs - important players - have not been consulted at all, I am told.

There are two schools of thought about these events. Conspiracy theorists think David Cameron might want to break up the group, having been embarrassed by all the press coverage over the last year, and thought this was a good way to do it.

The other, and I have to say, more likely explanation is that the whole thing was Kirkhope's brainwave and that he has tried to bounce himself into the co-chairmanship of the group having stood aside in Kaminski's favour last year.

The reason I say that is because a source tells me that Cameron's office is maintaining that they had been assured by Kirhope that the whole thing had been agreed by all parties in Brussels beforehand, and everyone was onside as it would give the group a broader appeal as it tried to attract new members. There is something in that, but it is completely untrue that it had even been floated in Brussels, let alone agreed.

Unfortunately, it is all now beginning to backfire on Brother Kirkhope.

The Czech President is said to be about to phone David Cameron to clarify who said what and to whom and when, although Kirkhope is still maintaining that he had squared off the Czech PM some time ago, but he (the Czech PM) had failed to inform his MEPs.

There is another fly in the ointment for Kirkhope. Under the Reformist's group's own rules, there is no provision for a dual leadership. The rules state there has to be a single leader, so it is entirely possible that the group's MEP members could rule the move ultra vires.

I've put this to Number Ten and am awaiting a response.


Simon Gardner said...

But seriously. Do you really expect this bizarre cabal of loons outside the EPP to survive?

For Cameron, it has served its purpose. He is now in Downing Street and needs this horrible international embarrassment like a hole in the head.

JohnRS said...

Perhaps CallMeDave needs to arrange for Mr Kirkhope to spend more time with his expense account and less time as leader of the party's EU group.

p smith said...

A patently transparent attempt to provide an excuse for the Tories to return to the mainstream right wing pro European grouping in the European Parliament.

Not that it matters now that Dave has already agreed not to seek a repatriation of powers using Clegg as cover but I find it hugely entertaining the lengths that Dave will go to in emasculating the right wing of his party.

Dominic said...

Which Czech PM do you mean?

A new one, Petr Necas has just very recently taken office (although his choice of ministers is yet to be approved).

He is in the ODS, unlike his immediate, interim, precedessor, Jan Fischer (who was basically a non-partisan placeman who was only supposed to be in office for a very short period, but constitutional politics got int he way so he was PM for about a year)

The one before him, another ODSer, Mirek Topolánek (Silvio Berlusconi's naked partying chum) rather disgraced himself (not for the first time) earlier this year, with some rather off-colour comments about Catholics, Jews and gays earlier in the year and consequently more or less concluded the best thing to do was to step down as ODS leader, which he has just done.

In any case I seriously hope that the grouping isn't going to be compromised by this rather badly managed intervention

Edward Bond said...

To should have spelled Cameron with a K to simplify things.

David Lindsay said...

Promising to set up this meaningless Group enabled Cameron to pose as the Eurosceptic candidate even though David Davis was promising the very meaningful withdrawal from the CFP. The rest of that Group, including Kaminski, is too good for Cameron and his party.

Are there not other Groups that could propose measures and motions for the payment of mothers to stay at home with their children, for adoption and against abortion, for palliative care and against euthanasia, in favour of Obama’s support for traditional marriage (or, at the very least, against compelling anyone to conduct deviations from it), against sex and violence in the media, against State toleration of drugs and prostitution, against unrestricted Sunday trading, and against supermarkets opening on what are supposed to be public holidays for everyone including shop workers? Much of this Group would vote for such measures and motions. But then there would be the Tories.

Are there not other Groups that could propose measures or motions to safeguard or restore family life in general and paternal authority in particular by safeguarding or restoring high-wage, high-skilled, high-status employment such as coal-mining? Much of this Group would vote for such measures and motions. But then there would be the Tories.

Are there not other Groups that could propose measures and motions for generous welfare provisions, for public services in the public sector, for universal healthcare provided by the State, for workers’ rights, and for the public ownership of important companies? Much of this Group would vote for such measures and motions. But then there would be the Tories.

Are there not other Groups that could propose motions, perhaps on appropriate anniversaries, condemning by name all those (including Margaret Thatcher) who signed the Single European Act, and condemning Winston Churchill for his carve-up of Eastern Europe with Stalin? Much of this Group would vote for such motions. But then there would be the Tories.

And so on.

Jimmy said...

If you don't get anything back from No. 10 why not ask the deputy PM for a quote?

Malcolm Redfellow said...

As a habitual sniper, congrats on that piece.

'Nuff said.

Tapestry said...

I can't see this latest intervention is going to cut any more ice than Cameron's attempt to hamstring the 1922 Committee.

It will all look good on his 'I'm trying my best to cooperate with the EU' CV. When he pleads with his EU 'partners' that he can't make any headway despite trying over and over to bring the sceptics around, they'll be sympathetic, I'm sure.

Meanwhile Cameron hopes that withdrawal from the EU will become superfluous, as the organisation self destructs around its highly indebted currency and banks, with Germany calling it a day.

I mean, why be seen to be the architect of the destruction of an organisation, in the process of destroying itself? Cameron wants to be in a 'what? me?' position.

An outburst of rage from a couple of the better known eurosceptic MEPs would complete this piece of political theatre nicely.

Helmer and Hannan, are you ready?