PMQs: Cameron beats Ed, but Europe questions linger

The wind was in the Prime Minister’s sails this week, and it would have been hard for him to lose having just made a historic and popular pledge for an in-out EU referendum

by Robin Shepherd, Owner / Publisher on 23 January 2013 12:19

Coming hard on the heels of the Prime Minister’s keynote speech this morning on Europe, there were no prizes for guessing which issue was on everybody’s mind at PMQs. The Tory backbenches were buzzing.

When Ed Miliband stood up he asked a decent question: Can the Prime Minister guarantee he’ll be campaigning to stay in the EU or to leave it when the referendum is finally held?

As time goes by, that will emerge as an enormously taxing issue for David Cameron. What is Cameron going to do if, as appears likely, our European partners refuse to play ball, or offer concessions that are merely cosmetic?

But that won’t be what’s making the headlines today and tomorrow which is that the British people are finally being offered the prospect of giving or withdrawing their consent for British membership of the European Union.

After the Prime Minister had simply parried the question, Ed asked it again, this time walking straight into another obvious trap.

It was interesting, the PM said, that the Labour leader was “accepting the premise the Conservatives will win the next election.” That brought plenty of laughter, but eurosceptics will not be laughing if the Conservatives lose the next election and Labour abolishes any bill to consult the people.

Now in full on flogging-a-dead-horse mode, Miliband asked the same question yet again. And got the same answer.

The fact is that Cameron’s move will be highly popular and by the time the Prime Minister had forced Miliband to admit openly that he is against a referendum, the leader of the opposition had lost the day.

Labour back bench efforts to argue that his referendum strategy was bad for business were easily dispensed with as the PM reeled off a slew of business organisations that think he’s on the right lines.  

Cameron was also onto a winner after the jobless figures today showing record employment, record female employment and falling unemployment.

No doubt about it, a clear victory for the Prime Minister.

Robin Shepherd is the owner/publisher of @TheCommentator. Follow him on Twitter @RobinShepherd1

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