Own goal in bid for party unity

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It was once deemed disrespectful to vote against a Queen’s Speech, until in 1974 the Tory Opposition voted against the minority Labour Government.

This year’s Queen’s Speech changed the rules again. Bizarrely the main party of Government encouraged its own backbenchers to either abstain or vote to back a rebel amendment.

The issue was Europe, not because European legislation was in the Queen’s Speech but because it wasn’t

To see off UKIP he proposed a referendum on a reformed Europe only to see Tory backbenchers demand he goes further faster. They demanded legislation to lock in a referendum – an in out referendum.

Instead of achieving the goal of party unity, the result was an own goal.

When the amendment fell the Government encouraged a Private Members Bill even though without a majority it is also doomed to failure.

The events were a gift to headline writers. What failed to make the headlines was the preceding Labour amendment, complaining that the Queen’s Speech contained little to deal with the cost of living crisis. Missing too was the news that Hitachi Europe is to start work on their new north east factory building trains.

We need a debate on reform of the EU. But that should include the true economic effect of membership of the EU and be conducted in the national and not party interest.