By Tim Montgomerie
Who has the real power in UK-EU relations? Douglas Carswell, noting that policy towards the EU seems to more or less stay the same whichever party is in power, argues that the UK's Permanent Representative at the EU holds significant power. It reminds me of that Yes, Minister sketch when Sir Humphrey Appleby says that it is much better that civil servants and teacher unions decide education policy because ministers are always changing.
Acting on his instincts Douglas Carswell has teamed up with a few other Eurosceptic Tories – Steve Baker, Philip Davies, David Davis, Richard Drax, Zac Goldsmith, Chris Heaton-Harris, Philip Hollobone, Mark Reckless and Charles Walker – to table a motion on today's Commons Order Paper calling for the UK Permant Representative to answer questions at the bar of the House.
It won't happen, of course, but the UK's Permanent Rep should be accountable to MPs.
John Redwood is also on the warpath. He has been looking at the detail of the new economic surveillance powers that Brussels and Angela Merkel want. He concludes they are unacceptable and blogs:
"The UK is exempted from the sanctions and enforcement measures, but is still part of this big increase in economic surveillance and common policy making. If it is all as harmless and unimportant as the governemnt says, why don’t we just exempt ourselves from the whole thing, and demand powers back in return for any assent to a new Treaty?"
Meanwhile, on Planet European Parliament, MEPs are insisting that they want more than a 2.9% increase in their annual budget. Unacceptable as a further budget increase is, it must not distract us from the real issue. Cameron wants us all focused on the budget debate. The real issues are the new economic surveillance powers and the failure of the Coalition to use Merkel's Treaty amendment to negotiate repatriation of some powers (as the Tory manifesto promised to do). Nick Clegg, in an interview with Friday's FT, made it clear that repatriation was not acceptable to him. The Tory Mainstream must make it clear that the economic surveillance powers are unacceptable to them.