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Analysis

PM damned if he names a Commissioner, damned if he doesn’t

by David Hannay | 07.11.2019

The little matter of the appointment of a British Commissioner to the new, Von der Layen Commission, due to take office at the end of this month, has been lurking just below the surface of the waves for several months as Boris Johnson struggled to maintain the fiction that Britain would be out of the EU on 31 October. Now his leaky, Brexit -at-any-cost vessel has struck that rock.

The simplest solution, once the decision was taken to extend the UK’s Article 50 time limit from 31 October to 31 January (a decision, incidentally, in which, however hard the Prime Minister triés to prove to the contrary, the U.K. participated) would have been to nominate a non-political, non-partisan figure, perhaps, if he was willing, the present highly competent British Commissioner, Julian King. This would have minimised potential problems with the European Parliament, which has to scrutinise and approve nominations; and would have ensured that Britain would, as its Treaty obligations require, be represented on a key European institution, which will take decisions binding on us at least until the end of 2020 if the present Withdrawal Treaty is ratified.

Simple indeed, but not so simple for Boris Johnson, no doubt scared of a backlash from his ERG minders. He may even believe that not putting forward a name is part of the same cunning strategy as his September decision that British ministers and officials should absent themselves from most EU meetings, a decision that has brought no benefit of any kind to the U.K., has accelerated our loss of influence in the EU’s institutions and has surrendered our say on EU decisions which will apply here at least until the end of 2020 . If so, he is wrong. yet again. The new Commission will soon put forward its work programme for the period ahead, it’s equivalent of our Queen’s Speech, and there will be no British voice helping to shape it.

So now the Prime Minister has to be reminded by the Commission to do what it is his legal obligation to do. Is there perhaps a silver lining to this heavy cloud of miscalculations? Well, there could be. If no nomination is made before the general election on 12 December, then it will be for the incoming government of whatever party or parties to put forward a nominee, whether for six weeks or for five years should a confirmatory referendum result in the U.K. remaining in the EU. Perhaps not the cleverest decision ever to have handed that possibility to one’s political opponents!

In all this, as usual, the national interest is ignored in the manoeuvring within and between parties. It would be great to put an end to that.

Edited by James Earley

Categories: UK Politics

4 Responses to “PM damned if he names a Commissioner, damned if he doesn’t”

  • As if we needed further confirmation that the ERG/Johnson/cronies have no idea how the EU works-here the advantage we have if we have a Commissioner.I am just so weary of ignorance about how the EU works and angry about the continuing lies and misinformation. To have influence, you need to be a member and also actively contributre. This puerile negativity is sickening.

  • And still there are plenty of people who actually trust this man. Says something very nasty about human mental powers.

  • One would have imagined that it would be impossible for a politician to survive, let alone a Prime Minister, in a normal world in the light of such ignorance, dishonesty and incompetence, so what are we to conclude ? Politicians in today’s world can get away with anything ? The thought is not only sickening but the consequences for the country frightening.