Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘David Lidington’

Armistice 2018 Commemoration

Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 11th November, 2018

3FD0BB67-E403-4016-BDB7-B1A8C5D35606I found pictures of the Armistice Day commemorations in Paris today deeply moving. President Emmanuel Macron spoke with dignity against nationalism and war. The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, stood next to him, underlining how these two great European powers, which had fought each other three times during a period of just 75 years, are now allies and the mainstay of the European Union — a body which now unites not just most of the countries of Western Europe but also the formerly Communist states of central and Eastern Europe. It was good that both Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump were present, too (even if Trump blotted his copybook by pulling out of an earlier, related engagement because rain was forecast). Despite some recent tensions in the West’s relations with Russia, the Cold War, which kept us teetering on the verge of nuclear Armageddon, is long over. Scores of nations were represented at senior level in Paris, but shamefully Theresa May was not there. Apparently she thought it more important to be at the Cenitaph in London rather than participate in this unique, truly global event. Reportedly she sent David Lidington MP (Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster) instead, though naturally he did not get to stand with the top leaders, thus relegating the UK to second rank. At a time when Britain’s reputation is at rock bottom among our EU partners as Brexit loooms and many Conservative and Labour politicians fall over themselves to be rude to the EU and the 27 other member states, while banging the drum of British exceptionalism, this was a serious miscalculation. Theresa May is trashing the UK’s standing in Europe and the wider world, while Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn just stands on the sideline, nodding.

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David Lidington’s Europe

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 8th July, 2013

UK EUDavid LidingtonDavid Lidington, the (Conservative) Minister of State at the Foreign Office with special responsibility for Europe has lasted much longer in the post than most of his Labour and Tory predecessors, which has given a welcome degree of continuity at the countless ministerial meetings of the now 28 member states of the European Union. Moreover, he has already been on working visits to all of the UK’s EU partners so has relevant experience under his belt. This lunchtime, he was the guest speaker at the Association of European Journalists (AEJ) British Section lunch at Europe House in Westminster and gave a pretty upbeat overview of the situation regarding the future of the EU and Britain’s role within it. He echoed the Cameroonian line that the UK is better off inside the EU, while nonetheless maintaining that the British public deserves a say about whether to continue that relationship, as so much has changed since the last European Referendum in 1975. Mr Lidington stressed the strong contribution the UK has made to the EU’s development, not least in the creation of the Single Market (under a Conservative government, incidentally). However, he argued strongly that many of our EU partners appreciate the way that Britain has been raising awkward questions and has been pushing for EU reform. He also endorsed Theresa May’s strategy of wanting to withdraw from European Justice and Home Affairs arrangements, with the option of opting back in to the best of the bunch. I have always felt that such cherry picking runs the risk of alienating many of our EU partners , as well as weakening our European legal benefits. I asked him head-on what he intended to do, as a Conservative Europe Minister, to tackle the Europhobia of so much of the traditionally Tory-supporting UK Press, notably the Daily Mail, the Daily Telegraph and the ghastly Daily Express. He riposted that he would champion the benefits of EU membership while stressing that the current UK government argues for significant reform of the EU and its institutions. Good luck to him on that, but I fear the subtleties of such arguments may go over most voters’ heads. With UKIP and Tory Eurosceptics screaming daily and loudly “EU bad; let’s get out!” what is needed is a clear government campaign to respond “Better in than out — and here’s why!”

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