The British people elected this government, not EU bureaucrats

editorial image

David Cameron is shortly having to beg European Union grandees to be allowed to change the benefits arrangements for migrants entering Britain.

That is simply outrageous.

The British people elected this Government and the House of Commons, not these self-important, unelected, smug Brussels bureaucrats sitting in judgement on us.

Mr Cameron should not have to get on his knees to plead with them. He should simply tell them, as a matter of courtesy, what he proposes to do – and then do it, and if they don’t like it, they should take a running jump.

Some people must be wondering what the point is of voting at general elections at all, if decisions are to be made by those to whom the voters have given no remit.

There is absolutely no case for what Sir Bernard Ingham has called this “useless, corrupt and riddled with fraud” organisation to lord it over us.

Meanwhile, the auguries are not good. After a dinner at Downing Street last weekend over EU reforms, the message was a bleak: “No deal.”

Rogue MPs who, shockingly, continue to abuse the parliamentary expenses system, seem now to be protected by a covert “old boys’” operation which keeps their identities and the nature of their misdemeanours secret.

This, if proved, is almost as outrageous as the abuse itself, especially in an age when “transparency” is all the rage.

The trouble is that when they open one door for public viewing of questionable activities at Westminster, they slam another one in their face.

Since the expenses scandal of 2009, we were entitled to assume that the system had been tightened up to stop MPs from building ducks’ houses or buying lavatory seats in bulk (as one MP did) at the taxpayers’ expense.

But that is not the case, and the House of Commons Standards Committee is to examine practices which should horrify the taxpayer.

The cross-party Commons Standards Committee is expected to raise the lack of transparency with Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) compliance officer Peter Davis when he appears before them.

Mr Davis’ approach was laid bare recently in material disclosed under freedom of information rules. He is obliged to identify politicians when he kicks off an investigation. But he has seemingly been getting round the rule by carrying out in-depth “assessments” and in a number of cases allowing MPs to repay money or make amends in secret.

This kind of practice is intolerable. If you are caught shoplifting from a supermarket, you are not generally entitled to say you will hand the goods back - and thus emerge scot free. So why should MPs who rifle taxpayers’ money be allowed to get away with it?

It is beyond belief that the parliamentary authorities have so far failed to foil these greedy and grasping MPs who continue to abuse the system, while virtuously proclaiming that they have broken no rules.

So let’s have the rules tightened with a vice-like grip. It should not be beyond the wit of man to do that.

The former Conservative Cabinet Minister, Lord (Cecil) Parkinson, who has just died aged 84, was said to have been Margaret Thatcher’s favoured “son” as the man she wanted to succeed her at 10, Downing Street. Indeed, it was suggested that she was actually in love with him.

Alas for him, his political career was torn to tatters after the disclosure of his affair with his secretary Sara Keays and the subsequent unpleasantness which followed.

Norman Tebbit, another Thatcher favourite, was also widely tipped as a Tory Prime Minister, but his House of Commons career was ended by the Brighton bomb.

Then, according to the pundits, Michael Portillo became Thatcher’s choice to succeed her. But he lost his seat in 1997 and, although he returned briefly to the Commons after that, he seemed to have lost his appetite for the place. He has since become a TV presenter.

And so the political greybeards got every single prediction wrong. In fact, the man who did succeed Thatcher, John Major, was never even considered by anyone.

These so-called experts would be wise to heed the comments of Tony Blair, even though the second part of his remark contradicts the first part. He said: “I never make predictions - and never will...”

No one, in my experience, has delivered budgets with as much verve, zest and zip as does the present Chancellor George Osborne. He makes it all sound like Utopia. Sometimes, however, when experts unravel the figures, the horizon does not appear quite so bright.

So, therefore, are the Prime Minister’s private thoughts about Osborne quite as enthusiastic as his public ones? There are now sotto voce mutterings at Westminster, that Cameron would prefer Theresa May, the Home Secretary, to replace him when he quits, as promised, towards the end of this Parliament.

She would therefore become Britain’s second woman Prime Minister. Or will it be, as so often has happened in the past, some unexpected outsider be handed the key of Number 10?

We shall see.