It’s fair to say that David Cameron’s answer to John Baron at last week’s Prime Minister’s Questions, in which the Tory leader basically confirmed to his backbench colleague that he was ignoring him, hasn’t exactly helped relations with the eurosceptics in the Tory party. The row was splashed across the front page of the Sunday Telegraph this weekend, and I now understand that Baron has secured a Commons debate that will take up the issue he has been trying to raise with the Prime Minister.
Baron’s debate will be in a backbench business session on 4 February, and has a rather spiky motion for discussion:
‘That this House believes in the importance of Parliamentary sovereignty; and that the Government’s EU renegotiations must encompass Parliament’s ability to stop any unwanted legislation, taxes or regulation.’
A good number of MPs from across the House have already said they want to speak, and even though it is a backbench debate with a non-binding vote at the end, it will be an opportunity for those who are concerned that the Prime Minister’s EU renegotiation doesn’t amount to more than a hill of beans to express their displeasure.
Perhaps it would have been easier for Cameron to grant Baron that meeting he and 40 colleagues wanted to discuss the renegotiation. Those around the Prime Minister were a little surprised at his sharp tone last week (he said to Baron that ‘I have always felt, with my hon. Friend, that he has slightly made up his mind already and wants to leave the EU whatever the results, and I do not want to take up any more of his time than is necessary’). Perhaps the problem with holding a meeting with backbenchers worried about the renegotiation is that it would necessarily involve the Prime Minister actually explaining what that renegotiation aims to achieve.
These are the MPs who plan to speak:
Steve Baker, Douglas Carswell, Bill Cash, Christopher Chope, John Cryer, Philip Davies, David Davis, Richard Drax, Nigel Evans, Frank Field, Paul Flynn, Mary Glindon, Roger Godsiff, Gordon Henderson, Kate Hoey, Adam Holloway, Sir Gerald Howarth, Bernard Jenkin, David Jones, Julian Lewis, Ian Liddell-Grainger, Craig Mackinlay, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Andrew Rosindell, Jim Shannon and Andrew Turner.