Our Role in Europe

Main issue for PMQ: This week Prime Minster David Cameron has promised to give the British citizens a referendum on whether to stay in the EU under the new terms, or leave entirely. 

 

We live in the most interesting times.

A coalition government of this type has not been around since Churchill’s War Ministry. Mostly, these types of Parliament are unfavourable, seen as a struggle of power, which eventually leads to policy failure. However, the roots of a hung parliament, by definition, are also known as a ‘balanced parliament’.

This is a phrase in the New Year we should take heed of, for a more positive start.

However, most of you familiar with Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQ) from the previous year will know that this government doesn’t fare well with compromise. Each week, Ed Milliband lambasts and makes college jibes of their Oxbridge days at Cameron, or belittles any achievement, with counter-facts and figures.

For those of you who don’t watch PMQ, a weekly dose will encourage you to be more in-depth about current issues in the most lively, dramatic way, more than watching any usual news programme.

The format of PMQ is one, as a nation, we should be proud of. Nowhere in the world has a debate as transparent, colloquial and in-tune with the people of today, with a regular nationwide, televised broadcast.

We hear of constituencies that we may never have come across before such as Erdington or Chippenham, and pressing individual case stories are told – some of which the Prime Minister personally promises to follow-up.

I myself am addicted to PMQ for the Milliband versus Cameron banter.

Wherever I am in the world, I have to be up to date.  It’s almost like a TV series for me. I need to know the latest grapples and insults Milliband tries to throw at Cameron, what issues are being tackled, what each party is being criticised for, and who are the latest cronies sitting besides them.

It’s almost reminiscent of an Oxbridge debate, with each one’s best friends sniggering at the sides, with the rest of the Club jeering from behind.

Milliband’s favourite line being:

“Just look at how red the Prime Minister has gone”. And poor Cammy is really flushed.

I’m a definite Cameron fan though. He’s clued up. Witty. Brilliant.

Some MPs choose to use their question slot to congratulate Cameron on achievements; others won’t spare him at any cost and form their ‘question’ almost as an accusation format.

Council leaders who change this country at the very grassroots have their voices heard. Not only that, but Cameron himself can shout out his own party’s progress and sometimes, with Milliband’s continual jousting, there’s no room for modesty.

This week we learnt that Britain has had the fastest job creation since 1989, there are more women in the workforce than ever, and the number of jobs in the private sector is at its peak.

 

Three highlights this week:

– Dennis Skinner, Labour MP, states there is nothing more gruesome than Cameron travelling to wine and dine with the multi-millionaire bankers at Davos, who caused the economy’s crash. He went on, like a grandfather figure, to scold Cameron on the company that he keeps.  Cameron coolly replies with the fact that he happened to bump into the party’s opposition leader (Ed) at Davos last year.  Good one.

Of course Cameron has to be at Davos – If 5% of the world controls the most economic wealth, they need to be targeted.

– What I like is that over time, Cameron also voices some very meaningful statements in PMQ on general policy. When asked whether the nation will always continue to learn about Germany’s holocaust, Cameron says that we should also extend this to always learning about holocausts all over the world such as the Rwandan genocide, not just the European ones.

– Ed Milliband pushes Cameron for a ‘Yes’ or a No’ on whether Cameron will support a reformed EU. Rather absurd since we can’t accurately predict the economic situation we’ll find ourselves in for 2015/2017, whenever this referendum will take place.

What policies will the new membership involve? Will Merkel’s Germany still be the one holding up the euro from sinking? We can’t predict how the EU will fare. Therefore, it was rather silly for Ed to try and incite this answer.

Cameron also recently said in a speech:

 

“For us, the European Union is a means to an end – prosperity, stability, the anchor of freedom and democracy both within Europe and beyond her shores – not an end in itself…

 

From Caesar’s legions to the Napoleonic wars, From the Reformation, the Enlightenment and the industrial revolution to the defeat of Nazism. We have helped to write European history, and Europe has helped write ours.”

 

Whether we become officially part of Europe or become our island nation again, globalisation has diffused borders that will be ever connected. If the EU cannot hold itself, why should we be dragged down? Cameron is smart to keep Britain with a ‘get out clause’ for future, should he be re-elected.

Just take a look at Gordon Brown’s decision to leave Britain out of the Euro – he’s never given enough credit for such a wise choice.

This week’s PMQ has given us peace of mind that this government is toughing up its priorities, making critical choices on expenses, and getting this economy back on track.

Our role in Europe is left open-ended. We’re neither here, nor there – and that’s a good place to be, for now.

N.B PMQ Format:

Watch Live Every Wednesday 12p.m. BBC/http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes
Most wanted tickets in Parliament for the public gallery view.  Every Wednesday when Parliament is in order (takes a long recess in Summer), MPs enter their names of order papers to ask questions to the Prime Minister for a half an hour slot. These names are shuffled, and, like a lottery, called out at random by the Speaker (who heads the debate).
This puts the Prime Minister under pressure. Does he know his facts and figures without his Deputy’s aid? Can he defend his party’s policies proudly and sternly?  However, the Prime Minister will have a clue of what kind of topics will be asked, depending on current news headline and being briefed by various government departments. In the current format of coalition government 2013, the leader of the Opposition party is the only MP who can ask questions repeatedly.

 

By: Poorna Harjani