Cameron went to the Commons this afternoon, allegedly to report on the end-of-last-week’s EU summit. Since most of that was concerned with the troubles of the €uro-group, one has to wonder why he bothered.
Suddenly, though, all that became a spiel about the present banking scandals. As Patrick Flynn (about the only reason for thinking the Daily Express is still a “newspaper”) tweeted:
Strange PM EU summit statement became a banking crisis statement. Shows how thorny EU issue now is that he preferred to talk about banks.
The whole thing, which Malcolm has missed on the BBC Parliament channel, will be well worth revisiting in detail when the Hansard report becomes available tomorrow. Consider this, from The Guardian‘s running blog, for a start:
15:42 BST Cameron is now talking about bankers.
People want to see bankers punished. And they want the government to learn lessons.
The SFO is looking at the case for an investigation, he says.
On learning he lessons, he says he wants a joint committee of parliament, chaired by Andrew Tyrie, the chairman of the Treasury committee, to hold an inquiry.
It will be able to take evidence from former ministers and aides. It will take evidence on oath. And it will be able to start immediately.
• Tory MP Andrew Tyrie to chair a parliamentary investigation into the banking industry.
Although keeping the inquiry inside Westminster won’t satisfy anyone outside the Tory inner circles, Tyrie is as good a choice for chair as any. He has a useful track record in annoying and irritating: not for nothing is he “Andrew Tiresome”, good reasons why Cameron snubbed his talents when pointedly excluding him from the ConDem team.
Later: it now appears that Labour may refuse to serve — especially if the Committee is constituted with a government majority. Tyrie is already making ameliorating noises, but Cameron’s “in the dock” remark (see below) and talk of “stitching-up” are indicative of something about to give.
15:44 BST Ed Miliband is responding.
On the banking inquiry, he says people will not be assured by an investigation by MPs and peers. There have already been parliamentary inquiries, he says. There should be a full independent inquiry instead.15:48 BST Ed Miliband is now talking about the EU summit.
He says Cameron wanted the patent court to be based in London. But it will be headquarted in Paris. Only Cameron could think that a success.
On the referendum, he says this was Cameron’s “weekend hokey-cokey”. On Friday Cameron ruled one out. Then, after Tory MPs demanded one, Cameron ruled one in on Sunday. William Hague said Cameron was not changing his position. But Cameron’s position went from no to yes to maybe.
Has the position changed?
Miliband says Cameron’s position on a renegotiation is long-standing – long-standing because it is not getting anywhere.
Would Cameron pull Britain out of the EU if he did not get what he wanted?
Last year Cameron said now was the wrong time for a renegotiation? Why has he changed his position15:51 BST Cameron is responding to Miliband.
He says Miliband’s comments were “demeaning to parliament”. The “best and the brightest” in parliament have a lot to contribute. Cameron says he wants it to move quickly, so the conclusions can inform the banking bill when it comes to the Commons early next year.
Responding to jeers from Ed Balls, Cameron says no one would more like to see Balls in the dock of a court than Cameron.
On the EU, Cameron says he won’t take lectures from people who gave up the rebate and got nothing in return.
Miliband likes to talk about standing up to vested interests. But he will never stand up to two vested interests – the trade unions and Brussels.
Cameron is unashamedly two-faced. Looking towards the resurgent Opposition, he gives us Flashman in full bullying rant: the cheap smack at Ed Balls as the most obvious symptom. When he looks over his shoulder at his own “supporters”, the ingratiating oiliness is gruesome.
Raphael Behr, now political editor for the New Statesman, has it off to a tee:
Cameron very deferential when dealing with backbench calls for in/out referendum; desperate to avoid provocation. Not a position of strength
Whose is the Porky?
One further mystery remains: did Cameron chat up Andy Coulson at the Cornbury Music Festival? Anita Singh and Rowena Mason (for the Telegraph) are strong that he did:
Mr Cameron allegedly came face to face with Mr Coulson at the Cornbury Music Festival in Oxfordshire on Saturday, where both men were enjoying a family day out.
According to onlookers, the pair spent several minutes chatting in the VIP area. To add to the embarrassment for Mr Cameron, Rebekah Brooks, the former News International executive, was at the same event, although their paths are not thought to have crossed…
Downing Street sources last night denied that the Prime Minister had spoken to Mr Coulson. But a fellow guest in the VIP area said: “Cameron and Coulson were definitely together. They spent a few minutes chatting, and seemed to be just saying hello and exchanging pleasantries.”
Back at the Guardian blog, we have:
16:10 BST Labour’s Dennis Skinner asks if he came to his present views before or after he met Andy Coulson.
Cameron says he did not meet Coulson this weekend.
A photograph of the event would be telling.
And yet to come:
- A further statement from “Submarine” Osborne (and yet another inquiry);
- According to Tom Watson, a possible reshuffle:
The Commons feels like a pressure cooker over Europe and Lords today. One Tory MP tells me whips are claiming a reshuffle a week on Friday.
Which would be Friday the Thirteenth.