By Paul Goodman
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- Paterson has come out for a referendum in the event of fiscal union. He has told the Spectator that "if there was a major fundamental change in our relationship, emerging from the creation of a new bloc which would be effectively a new country from which we were excluded, then I think inevitably there would be huge pressure for a referendum."
- He has thus publicly lined up with IDS on EU policy. The Northern Ireland Secretary also said: “I think there will have to be [a referendum], yes, because I think the pressure would build up.” He added: “This isn’t going to happen immediately because these negotiations are going to take some months. But I think down the road that is inevitable.”
- At PMQs, nine Conservative backbench questions were on Europe. I counted Andrew Rossindell, Andrew Tyrie, Steve Baker, Mark Pritchard, John Baron, Andrew Turner, Julian Lewis, Fiona Bruce and Sir Peter Tapsell. Andrea Leadsom, one of the leading figures of the Fresh Start group, raised a constituency early intervention project.
- The Speaker is once again being accused of bias. The Telegraph's James Kirkup tweets that "In the tearooms, Cameron loyalists are blaming Bercow for the PM's euro-mauling; accuse Speaker of deliberately calling many hostile Qs…" Certainly, John Bercow let the session run on for a record 36 minutes, and didn't pull up Ed Balls for throwing papers on the desk.
- The older you get, the bolder you get. The longer you've been in the Commons, the more you tend to speak your mind. John Baron raised the r-word, backing repatriating powers. Lewis pressed about democracy in Europe. Andrew Turner demanded British control of employment, immigration and fishing. Sir Peter Tapsell said fiscal union is a threat.
- Oh, and Ed Miliband asked some questions, too. Three effective ones, that's to say, exploiting the gap between the Prime Minister and his backbenchers over the repatriation of powers, and three wasted ones about poverty figures, which allowed Cameron off the ropes. Flanked by a grim-looking Balls/Cooper duo, he'd have done better to keep going on Europe.
Boris is apparently piling in on a referendum as I write on the World at One.
Now there's a surprise.