After a good deal of speculation, David Cameron has unexpectedly nominated a little-known peer, Lord Hill, as Britain’s next European Commissioner.
This is a bizarre choice. Following his car-crash of a negotiating strategy over Juncker’s nomination, Cameron desperately needs to claw back some British influence and credibility in the eyes of neighbouring countries by securing a major Commission portfolio.
To maximise his chances of this, he should be sending a big hitter — not a relatively obscure technocrat who has already tried to resign from the government at least once. And, given Juncker’s concerns about the probable make-up of the Commission, it might also have made sense to nominate a woman.
The only conceivable advantage of Lord Hill (apart from the fact that he seems to be reasonably moderate on Europe, unlike most of Cameron’s new cabinet) is that his nomination avoids a by-election, which would almost certainly lead to another embarrassing defeat for the Tories. Surely Cameron can’t be putting the party interests above country yet again when it comes to Europe?