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Cameron contrite while Farage laughs: The longer the Crime - sorry, Prime - Minister wavers over Europe, the more of a fool he makes himself seem.

Cameron contrite while Farage laughs: The longer the Crime – sorry, Prime – Minister wavers over Europe, the more of a fool he makes himself seem.

David Cameron seems determined to make his mark on the history books as the worst Prime Minister never to be elected in the United Kingdom.

Yesterday we learned that he is giving serious thought to supporting a Parliamentary vote that would condemn the Queen’s speech – that now-notoriously sparse proclamation of forthcoming legislation, spat out by Her Majesty like a rotting carcass last Wednesday – for failing to mention any law allowing an in-out referendum on Europe.

It’s as though he’s going out of his way to make a fool of himself.

Perhaps he is running scared of UKIP, a party that won the votes of just over 7.5 per cent of the British voting population in the local elections and is therefore – still – a considerable distance from forming any kind of threat to the Conservatives, who we should remember are the oldest, ugliest and nastiest political organisation in the country.

More likely, he’s running scared of his own backbenchers, who have become considerably more restless about Europe since the (perceived) rise of UKIP to prominence. It’s a false belief, based on the fact that the Eurosceptic party got 25 per cent of the vote in the locals. Total voter turnout was only 31 per cent, so a quarter of that means only 7.5+ per cent voted UKIP.

We should also remember that UKIP supporters were more likely to vote in this year’s elections as theirs was a vote of protest against the government, supporting the party they believe to represent that protest. Others were more likely to believe the locals were irrelevant in the larger scheme of things and stay at home.

However, Tories are not highly-regarded for their understanding and good stewardship of statistics – look at the example of Iain Duncan Smith – so it seems they’re putting the screws on Cameron.

This has been accentuated by calls to quit Europe from ex-heavyweights Nigel Lawson and Michael Portaloo, and the claim by Bore-us Johnson that leaving the EU will not harm the UK’s economy.

It’s as though they are going out of their way to make a fool of him.

You see, there are two very good reasons why Cameron should not support a vote that undermines the measures in the Queen’s speech:

Firstly: He wrote it. Even if he was not responsible for the exact wording, it is the document that outlines the legislative programme for the forthcoming year, to be followed by the government of which Cameron is the leader – and it follows, therefore, that he must have had the final say about it.

If he supports a vote against it, the public can conclude either that he is not a man of principle but one who does whatever he thinks will win him the support he needs, whether it is right or wrong, or that he is a brainless fool who didn’t pay enough attention to the content of the speech.

Secondly: No Parliament can bind the next. It is likely that ‘enabling’ legislation for a vote on EU membership was left out of the Queen’s speech for the very good reason that the vote will not take place during the lifetime of the current Parliament. Cameron has always stated that it would take place after an outright Conservative victory in 2015 – partly to blackmail Eurosceptic voters into supporting his party at that poll, but also because his Liberal Democrat Coalition partners won’t support a vote while they are a part of the government.

Finally, it seems Cameron should have remembered the coda at the end of the speech. It said, “Other measures will be laid before you.”

In other words, provision had been made, already, for legislation that was not included in the speech. He didn’t have to say or do anything.

It’s as though he’s going out of his way to make a fool of himself.

Postscript: New information has been passed to me which casts the situation in a whole new light.

The parliament.org website includes a page about procedures in a hung parliament such as, for example, that under which we are all currently living.

It states: “The first parliamentary test of a minority or coalition government is the vote on an amendment to the Queen’s Speech.  If the Queen’s Speech is amended, the Prime Minister must resign.”

Let’s all hope that this amendment is won and Cameron supports it. Because, guess what?

It’s as though he’s going out of his way to make a fool of himself!

Post-postscript: According to the New Statesman, the Commons Information Office reckons a defeat on the Queen’s speech no longer constitutes a vote of no confidence in the government. That Bill offered a definition of a ‘no confidence’ vote for the first time, meaning that a defeat on the planned legislative programme or, say, the Budget, are no longer regarded as votes of no confidence in the government.

That seems wrong to me; if Parliament doesn’t support the planned legislative programme (or spending plans, in the case of the Budget) then it follows logically that Parliament does not have confidence in the government that devised it.

Whatever happens, it seems this Conservative Prime Minister is happy not to conserve an ancient Parliamentary convention, if it doesn’t suit him.