By Tim Montgomerie
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Dan Hannan MEP is most categorical:
"December's 'veto' turns out to be nothing of the kind; at best, it is a partial opt-out. Britain had asked for concessions in return for allowing the other member states to use EU institutions and structures for their fiscal compact. No such concessions were forthcoming, but we have given them permission anyway. The only difference is that, because the deal was done in a separate treaty structure, the PM doesn't have to put anything through the House of Commons. We had a generational opportunity to improve our relationship with the EU. That opportunity has passed."
"There is no doubt that the Government's position has altered since the December summit when they were insisting the Institutions could not be used. I blame a combination of appeasing Nick Clegg (who is desperate to sign anything the EU puts in front of him) and the practical reality that this pact is actually quite hard to prevent. The Government would have to ask the ECJ to rule against itself having a role! Any action could easily take 2 years, we would probably lose and, if the Euro collapsed in the meantime, the UK would get the blame. It's particularly ironic when the EU lectures developing countries about the importance of good governance and the rule of law!"
That 'we-would-have-got-blamed-for-the-failure-of-the-€uro' was the line I was getting from the FCO on Saturday.
Nadine Dorries MP, nonetheless, fears that what the Fiscal Union countries are doing may be illegal:
"If the fiscal pact countries such as France and Germany wish to follow a course of action which allows them greater control of their own economies, that is entirely up to them however, they must put in place whatever financial controls are necessary to make this work. What they cannot do, is break the law. By using the ECJ to police the fiscal union they would be doing just that and therefore the British Government cannot and must not under any circumstances condone what is ultimately an illegal use of the ECJ . Cameron must stick by what he said and not roll over to pressure from our European partners or he will look weak to them and insincere to British citizens."
Nadine might be technically correct but the EU has a way of deciding that anything that serves integration is legal and anything that doesn't is not.