...is how one Labour MP described the Conservatives rolling over and supporting the motion in Parliament yesterday to establish the European External Action Service. Dan Hannan helps explain the significance of the EEAS here.
In the 2009 Conservative European Election manifesto (pdf file), David Cameron pledged:
"....if the Constitution is already in force by then, we have made clear that in our view political integration in the EU would have gone too far, the Treaty would lack democratic legitimacy, and we would not let matters rest there...Brussels believes that the default answer to every new issue – from foreign policy challenges to fighting terrorism, from globalisation to regulating financial markets – is to demand more powers from Member States. Labour – first under Tony Blair, now under Gordon Brown – has willingly agreed to such demands. We fundamentally disagree with this approach. The answer to the challenges Europe faces is not greater centralisation of power in Brussels...Conservatives are committed to bringing change to Europe."
Apparently not letting matters rest didn't mean trying to stop it or reverse it rather it means implementing it, fundamental disagreement means acquiescence and the change to be brought was more Euro-centralism. Laughingly, it appears some new jargon has been created for Tories with their retreat described as a policy of Euro-Constructionism.
According to ConservativeHome the role of Tory MEPs was key in the decision being pushed through. These are the people who claimed to be:
"...unstinting in their pursuit of our national interest..."
Returning them to Brussels was vital:
"...to make sure the other political parties are not able to sell Britain short."
So that they could fulfil the aim of:
"Maintain the UK’s independence on foreign affairs"
According to the Daily Telegraph the MEPs somersault came following orders from William Hague who had backed down in the face of EU demands. This left Charles Tannock MEP, the ECR's Foreign Affairs spokesman, having to issue an explanation with an internal contradiction:
"We were opposed to the creation of the EEAS but we are now reconciled to engaging constructively within the new architecture in the best interests of our countries."
Locally, the UUP leader Reg Empey signed the same pledge as Cameron in the UCUNF manifesto for the 2009 Euro election and Jim Nicholson made the same promises on British interests and policy aims. However, Jim Nicholson's name does not appear among the Tory MEP's who voted against or abstained on the motion in the ECR group.