WHO will be the next UK’s Commissioner going off on the four year gravy-train to Brussels eh? Do you even care? Perhaps you ought to though? A lot of names have been bandied around already – but man or woman you can bet your life on it being a Tory politician or funder – you don’t actually have to really know anything in particular for the job to get it do you?
A European Commissioner is an ‘unelected’ member of a twenty eight-member Commission of the European Union parliament (a pseudo Cabinet member no less), and each of them have been given a specific job (somewhat like being a Secretary of State in the UK Government) by the equally ‘unelected’ President. These guys are simply ‘unelected’ appointees of their home governments. The British Prime Minister used to gift such a selection to two mates, until ten years ago, then it was dropped down to only one – expansion of the EU put paid to the other one, you see. Do they make European Law? No not quite, but they invent them and no one else is allowed to do that – they then pass-on their proposed laws for enacting. Power indeed! A person of real influence if they land one of the top jobs!
So some of the posts are more powerful than others you see, just like in all ‘cabinets’, so the President can reward the home country leaders he favours. The new Commission President is one Jean-Claude Juncker and our PM David Cameron has not only rubbished him privately but also done so on the European stage to – as well as doing his damdest to stop his actual appointment (friendless so failed miserably!). Whoever gets the nod from Cameron (notably indecisive on this issue) can be certain of one thing; Juncker will NOT be singling them out for preferential treatment (no top plumb job in the offing then), so probably all the top experienced heavyweight candidates will have withdrawn already, and we will see an also ran heading out. – will the PM dare to chose a real euro-sceptic only to have him or her, even a big hitter, sidelined in Brussels, or avoid that and get screwed at home by his backbenchers – what a dilemma eh?
Cameron’s has another quandary on his hands as well though doesn’t he? If he chooses a sitting Conservative MP he will have caused a by-election no less. He got a win in the last one (ultra safe seat Newark) only through an unprecedented effort; a by election in any winnable seat for Labour will certainly put the cat amongst the pigeons won’t it? Ed Miliband would be over the moon of course to have a chance of improving Labour’s image and banging the socialist drum (and putting another nail in the LibDem’s coffin. And it will also play straight into the hands of Nigel Farrage, who would jump at another chance of getting a first UKIP MP into Parliament before next year’s General election.
Europe would love Britain to send a top female as a Commissionerbut the Conservatives don’t really have any fully trained yet that could go, do they? [like Nicky Morgan Women Minister, Harriett Baldwin Assistant Whip, Esther McVey Employment Minister, Liz Truss Under Secretary Education & Childcare, who are said to be rising stars – but haven’t made it yet!]
Events alter the odds constantly so there are dramatic changes and movements in the betting markets. Some of the Candidates you might have heard of?
Nick Clegg who ticks all the boxes, would love the lifeline, but he can’t go – the Conservatives need him at home in post as DPM to attract all the flack about the Coalition Government, don’t you think?
Owen Paterson a sitting MP and current Environment Secretary is a renowned eurosceptic who’s nomination both would delight Tory backbenchers and at the same time get him sent to Coventry at the Commission.
Andrew Mitchell of the plebgate affair, an MP and ex Minister & Chief Whip, but still not the most popular of chaps despite bringing the Police Federation into disrepute.
David Willetts, an MP and the Governments Science Minister, who is said to be keen on being sent to sit on the band wagon, but is apparently not a true mate of the PM.
Andrew Lansley, another MP though, was one time favourite at half odds, is now no better than evens, but a UK sacked Minister would not appease German powerhouse Angela Merkel, nor show that we are treating the opportunity seriously.
Many pundits are suggesting there is a good chance it could be the previous outsider at double figure odds, oldish seventy three year old Lord Michael Howard, a good mate of Cameron, as well as an ex Tory front bencher & indeed the preceding Conservative Leader – but out of the front line some ten years now, as well being a mildish bit of a eurosceptic.
Newcomer mentioned in the betting frame, also at double figure odds, Malcolm Rifkind ex-senior Cabinet Minister but an MP in a not too safe seat (eight & half thousand majority) for a by-election under current circumstances, but probably ‘over qualified’ as he is a Queens Council lawyer and they prefer uncommitted amateurs for these powerful posts at the EU! A Scot into the bargain, so that won’t go down too well if they vote for independence next month, will it?
WHO is there NOW? Catherine Ashton, a nobody Baroness plucked out of obscurity by PM Gordon Brown, but has done well at the Commission (Foreign Affairs & a Vice President indeed)
WHO has been THERE?
Christopher Soames (a heavyweight!) former Conservative Minister & Ambassador did Trade & External Relations / Roy Jenkins a former Labour Home Secretary, politically thwarted here, so got to be President there no less / Christopher Tugendhat businessman and former Tory MP but selected by Labour and became a VP there / Stanley Davis ex Labour Minister got Environment, Consumer Protection, Transport there / Arthur Cockfieldformer Tory Minister did Internal Market & Services / Bruce Millan ex Labour Minister did regional Policy there / Leon Brittan, a former Tory Home Secretary, had ten years plus in post, was a VP and got Trade (mated-up with Clegg there) / Neil Kinnock long serving ex-Labour Leader did Transport & Admin Reform there / Chris Patten ex Tory Minister and one time Governor of Hong Kong got External Relations there/ Peter Mandelson former Labour Minister & Party strategist went also as President
[PM David Cameron has to make a decision immediately now he has prevaricated a long time – so expect it in a few days!]