Ahead of tomorrow’s vote in the European Parliament to elect its new president (speaker), Sajjad Karim MEP, the Conservative candidate, is asking for support from MEPs from other parties. I have also been getting emails from Conservatives in Yorkshire asking me to support him.
I have respect for him as an individual MEP. He fights his corner well on many issues, and he is far less prone than some of his Conservative colleagues to indulge in their trademark myth-making about the EU. But I find his pitch of wanting to reform the EU to increase accountability and transparency somewhat incredible, coming from a Conservative candidate.
Let’s just look at some recent reforms that the Conservatives voted against:
- requiring that all proposals for European legislation be sent first to national parliaments, in time for them to take a position on it before their minister heads off to Brussels to negotiate on it
- requiring that ministers in the EU Council meet in public when adopting legislation
- putting in the treaty that the EU may only act when powers have been conferred on it by itsÂ member countries
- putting a binding procedure in the treaty allowing national parliaments to object to proposals that they consider violate the ‘principle of subsidiarity’ (that is, when they think the proposal should not be an EU matter but a national one)
- requiring EU legislation to get approval from the elected European Parliament and not just ministers
- providing for a right of access for the public to EU documents
All these reforms were agreed under a Labour government, with the Conservative party opposing them when they came before the House of Commons.
So how credible is a Tory pitch for ‘reform’?