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MS-07 - EU Commissioner Appointment  

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General Goose
(@general-goose)
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Joined: 5 months ago
Posts: 299
17/06/2019 7:15 pm  

((OOC note: while later then this would have been in real life, the A Team have confirmed that this delay is no issue.))

Mr Speaker,

It is my privilege today to announce that the UK is nominating Lord Paddy Ashdown as the next British member of the European Commission. I am thrilled to confirm that Lord Ashdown has accepted the offer to be Commissioner and will, I am sure, be an ambitious voice for reform, change and renewal throughout the continent of Europe.

Lord Ashdown’s credentials for this position are many. He has a distinguished career in diplomacy and security, culminating in his tenure as High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina. In Lord Ashdown, the EU will find a Commissioner who has worked hard to promote democracy, stability and peace in the continent of Europe. I can think of no better candidate.

Perhaps most important is the ethos that Lord Ashdown will bring to this post. I know him well. He is a creative and thorough thinker. His capacity for languages is astounding. He brings empathy, attention to detail, and good humour to everything he does. His commitments to values such as human rights, equality of opportunity, democratic accountability, the rule of law, international cooperation, and environmental preservation are beyond dispute. These values should be, and are, at the heart of the project of the European Union.

I believe the European Union and the UK will be served well by his appointment.

Graham Adiputera (Lib Dem - Sutton and Cheam)
Deputy Prime Minister
Liberal Democrat Leader
Foreign Secretary
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Climate Change
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Technology

Parliamentary - 36
Media - 53
Policy - 46


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William Croft
(@william-croft)
Member
Joined: 5 months ago
Posts: 215
18/06/2019 3:25 pm  

Mr. Speaker, 

I thank the Deputy Prime Minister for updating the House on the Government's decision on who to appoint as our next European Commissioner. 

With that said, I and many on this side of the House are deeply concerned with the individual chosen to fill that position. Lord Ashdown, Mr. Speaker, is a revered public servant who has committed himself to the service of our country. I do not doubt his commitment to Britain, nor do I doubt his desire to serve the British people. It is his views on Europe, and where he sees Britain within the European Union, that is a source of great concern for me and many people across our country. 

Under Lord Asdhown's leadership, the Liberal Democrats embraced a radical agenda of greater integration into the European Union. He pushed his party to support a more federal style European Union. He aggressively advocated for a single currency, a position that would have stripped away Britain's ability to control our monetary system and permanently undermine our sense of national sovereignty. If given his way, Mr. Speaker, Britain would be less of an independent country and more of a member state within a federal Europe. 

That is an eventually I cannot stand for, Mr. Speaker. It is a position that contradicts fully with the Government's stated promise of reforming the European Union and renegotiating our place in the alliance. How are we to take this Government's commitment to reforming the EU seriously when they have just chosen as Commissioner a man well known for his support a bigger, more powerful, omnipresent European Union? 

This appointment is a clear U-turn in the Government's prior commitment to reforming the EU, and a clear indicator that the Government's promises on the European Union are nothing more than meaningless talk. It is disappointing, and more importantly Mr. Speaker, it is deeply worrying. With this appointment the Government has shown us their true intentions when it comes to the EU: prioritizing the power of Brussels over the sovereignty of the British people. 

William Croft
Member of Parliament for Bracknell
Shadow Foreign Secretary
Chairman of the Conservative Party
Chief Whip of the Conservative party


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General Goose
(@general-goose)
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Posts: 299
19/06/2019 10:50 am  

Mr Speaker,

Firstly, there is a fundamental flaw in the gentleman's point. If you listen to the party opposite, you may well believe that only an avid sceptic of the European Union can help reform it. That is not this government's philosophy. We believe that membership within the European Union is essential. Working together in promoting our shared values and developing new avenues for international cooperation are opportunities that we only get from EU membership, and they are opportunities that we need to protect our interests and create a fairer and safer world.

We believe that, by every metric, including advancing our nation's role in charting the course of world events and promoting liberties and opportunities for every Briton, membership within the EU is to our advantage. Reform is, of course, necessary. The EU is not perfect. But believing in the importance of the EU is not only compatible with helping reform it, but it is positively helpful. That Lord Ashdown is a supporter of the goals and principles of the EU does not hinder his ability to deliver on needed reforms - it advances it. 

Another flaw in the argument must be pointed out. The member opposite has - in his public statements and his questions to ministers - suggested that Lord Ashdown is to serve as Britain's representative to the EU. This is a misunderstanding of the role of the Commission. The Commission is the de facto Cabinet of the European Union, not the place where national governments or directly elected parliamentarians put forward arguments and promote national interests. That work is done in the council and the parliament, respectively. The party opposite can engage in fearmongering all they want, but it does not make their arguments any more valid. 

Within the Juncker Commission, Lord Ashdown has been given the brief of International Cooperation and Development. I am sure that all members of this House can acknowledge that this is an area where Lord Ashdown's talents are well-suited. 

Graham Adiputera (Lib Dem - Sutton and Cheam)
Deputy Prime Minister
Liberal Democrat Leader
Foreign Secretary
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Climate Change
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Technology

Parliamentary - 36
Media - 53
Policy - 46


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Steven Andrews
(@steven-andrews)
Member
Joined: 2 months ago
Posts: 106
21/06/2019 10:50 am  

r. Speaker,
I wish to start by clearly stating that I have no doubt of the skills or talents that Lord Ashdown possesses. He served for many years in this House before he was called to the Other Place, that place decked in red to which senior politicians are called and from whence they never return...

*laughter from the Oppositon benches*

Anyhow, Lord Ashdown is indeed a man of many talents and skills, one who has had a long and dignified career. My concern is not that he is lacking in these areas. Rather, my concern is that Lord Ashdown will be predisposed to represent the Commission's views and interests to Britain rather than to represent Britain's views and interests to the Commission. The problem is not unique to Lord Ashdown: Lord Kinnock, who led Labour into two elections supporting a nationalized railroad system in the UK then in turn promulgated directives, notably EU Directives 95/18 and 95/19, which made it virtually impossible to operate a nationalized railway system. I do not comment on the substance of either position; I merely highlight the fact that it only seems to have taken three years for Lord Kinnock to go from supporting the retention of British Rail to issuing directives that would inevitably force its breakup.

The Prime Mi...I mean, the Foreign Secretary. My apologies, Mr. Speaker, I consistently find myself forgetting that the Member for Sutton and Cheam is not actually the Prime Minister, he merely plays the role on the evening news. The Foreign Secretary has assured us that Lord Ashdown has a career of working for democratic accountability. Very well. Will Lord Ashdown be inclined to 'rock the boat' when he gets to Brussels? Will he be inclined to fight to give the Parliament the ability to actually initiate legislation? To give opposition parties a role? Or will he simply blend into the Bipartisan Grand Coalition of Ideological Mush that sits atop Europe and prevents the views of anyone else from really getting a hearing and which has the power to impose its will upon Europe secure in the knowledge that the two largest groupings will likely hold a majority indefinitely?

Mr. Speaker, Europe is fundamentally broken. Even if we set aside any desires to preserve things such as national identity, national pride, and so on...even if we were content to become no more distinct than a Canadian province or an Australian state within those respective polities...even if we felt that the deepest integration into the Continent was an absolute good that must be pursued...there is still the deep and abiding issue of the democratic deficit. That deficit is the glaring chasm: It is that which causes low turnout at European elections because millions of voters are painfully aware that their vote does not, in fact, matter in Europe because the Commission holds all the power and the European Parliament is weaker than the House of Lords. It is the greatest failing of the European Union because it stifles the voters, fundamentally denies them the ability to effect change in Brussels because the real decision-makers are buffered from any direct responsibility to the voters. In the meantime, those on the Commission know well that the voters won't turn anyone out of Westminster or the Bundestag or the Cortes over a Commissioner who is tied up in a cabinet responsibility situation and who is at arms length anyway. And of course, those who pick the Commission members know that as well and so have little reason to pick anyone who might actually rock the boat.

So, Mr. Speaker, will Lord Ashdown put up a fight? Will he work to fix Europe from the inside? Or will Lord Ashdown do what so many others have done and be content to a private car, a Business Class ticket on the Eurostar with a good brunch thrown in, and an expense account that would make the former Member for Corby think he might have picked the wrong body to sit in?

If I have any concern with any choice for the Commission it is this: The voters have made it clear repeatedly that they are not happy with the state of Europe and the clock is ticking for them to get their heads out of their arses before dissatisfaction boils over into something more damaging to the future of Europe. The appointment of Lord Ashdown does not seem to be inclined to give them the swift kick that is so greatly needed. I am worried that he will simply settle into a comfortable job and end up representing the views of the Commission rather than working to actually fix Europe.  I would rather see someone sent to Brussels who is willing to be isolated on the Commission, willing to dissent, but also prepared to fight to make Europe work than I would a casual Europhile getting a capstone in their career.

Steven Andrews, MP for Croydon South

34 Policy/18 Media/23 Parliamentary


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General Goose
(@general-goose)
Member
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Posts: 299
22/06/2019 2:42 am  

Mr Speaker,

Firstly, there is the question of representation. Lord Ashdown will, of course, be a sterling advocate for bridging the democratic deficit, for working on the issues that matter to the people of Britain, and in ensuring a thriving and effective EU. His pro-European beliefs enable him to work with dedication and diligence in delivering a better EU. His specific brief will be on International Cooperation and Development - issues where the need for the EU is perhaps the most pressing - and it is of course important to note that that means he will not be taking the lead on every issue, but when he does, we are guaranteed thoughtful and conscientious leadership. 

One thing to note is that we have advocates for our interests in the European Parliament and can forcefully argue the British government's position at the Council. Lord Ashdown's job is, of course, partly to represent our values and the needs and aspirations of the people of Britain, but he is not merely going to duplicate the work of other representatives. His job, as Commissioner, as everybody in this house surely knows, is to deliver an effective and accountable Commission, to effectively manage and administer EU funding, to help promote pan-European solutions on issues that we must tackle together. He will do that job, as he has every job throughout his political career, with an independent spirit, a reforming zeal, and a paramount interest in human rights, liberty and rule of law. A Commission that has the principles and talents of Lord Ashdown is one that is an invaluable asset to the whole of Europe - including the people of the United Kingdom. 

Lord Ashdown has never gone for the easy approach. He has never been happy settling into a comfortable mediocrity. The member for Croydon South talks about his fear that Lord Ashdown will be "content" with the perks of the job, will be eager to avoid fights, will not be willing to take a stand. Anyone who knows Lord Ashdown will reassure the member that that is just not a risk with this appointment. Paddy Ashdown is a fighter. He's bold. He's hard-working. He's an ambitious reformer. 

Graham Adiputera (Lib Dem - Sutton and Cheam)
Deputy Prime Minister
Liberal Democrat Leader
Foreign Secretary
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Climate Change
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Technology

Parliamentary - 36
Media - 53
Policy - 46


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Eleanor Nerina
(@eleanor-nerina)
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Joined: 4 weeks ago
Posts: 56
28/06/2019 11:29 pm  

Mr Speaker,

It is characteristic of the Opposition, if I may say so, to look at the appointment of Paddy Ashdown and not celebrate that such a statesman of the highest calibre will now be representing Britain and Europe in one of the most important briefs of all, but to attack it on a petty party political and ideological basis.

When faced with this choice, Mr Speaker, it appears as if the Opposition's question would not be "are you the best man or woman for this job, who will deliver the best for Britain and for Europe", but to ask "are you Eurosceptic enough?" I say this, Mr Speaker, as an avowed Eurosceptic. I disagree passionately and completely with Paddy Ashdown on Europe. I would just as rather we were not sending a Commissioner at all. But if we are in the club, and we have a seat at the table, we should fill it with Britain's best and it's brightest. Paddy Ashdown is well respected, he is highly competent, and I have no doubt that he will work hard for Britain and for Europe, and unlike the opportunists opposite, wish him the very best - even if I rather hope we can one day make him redundant.

Her Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for the Home Department
Labour MP for Brent North (2005 - )


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Meredith Hansen-Charles
(@mhc)
Member
Joined: 5 months ago
Posts: 96
29/06/2019 1:35 am  

Mr Speaker,

 

I find it amusing that members opposite all start their remarks today by extolling how much they respect Lord Ashdown and then subsequently complain about him and his appointment. Of course, they wouldn’t want it to sound like they actually have no respect for Lord Ashdown, which is the truth for most of them on the benches opposite anyway. The member for Croydon South clearly has no respect for Lord Ashdown, and it is disappointing to see members be so obviously rude to a former member of this House and a senior and well-respected British statesman

 

Paddy and I served in the Commons together for a decade, and over those years I learned many things about the man, he is a man of principle, he is a man of vision and he is a man that talks about focuses far too much. He is affable and charming and he is a man that is well suited to his new role as an EU Commissioner, and with a brief that is well suited to his experience and expertise. And to come back to the comments of the member for Croydon South, where he asked if Paddy will just settle into the role - that is not what Paddy does, that is not what he has ever done. Now, I am not one to extoll the virtues of the Liberal Democrats, but Paddy has never rested on his laurels. Not when he took on a foundling political party and led them into elections, not when he took on the job in Bosnia and brought together a country scarred by division and civil war. To suggest that Paddy would just settle into a comfortable job is just an insulting notion.

 

I would also caution members opposite about criticising commission appointments for being too lazy, because the majority of the lazy ones have been from the Conservative party - far too happy to collect a pay cheque and do zero work. Much like most of the Conservative Parliamentary Party.

 

Now, I agree with my honourable friend the member for Brent North, in that one day I would like to find us in a position of not having to send a Commissioner to the EU. We would be far better outside of the European Union, freer to pursue a truly socialist Government, but while we continue to be member of the EU we must ensure that the Commissioner we send is competent and committed to doing a good job. I am confident in this appointment and I am confident he will be a strong advocate of Britain in the European Union, with any luck he will reverse the lack of talent that is usually sent by the Conservatives when in Government.

Meredith Hansen-Charles
Cambridge
Secretary of State for Education
Minister for Women and Equalities


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Dan
 Dan
(@dan)
Member A-team
Joined: 6 months ago
Posts: 127
30/06/2019 11:39 am  

Order!

The House shall now move onto other business.

Dan

A-Team


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