Better-looking than Ken Clarke, too
Natascha Engel, the Labour MP who is Chairman of the Commons Backbench Business Committee has spoken, and she has spoken remarkable good sense.
The e-petition to demand a referendum on Britain's relationship with the EU reached the required 100,000 signatures and, as promised, it has gone before the Committee and will be debated in Parliament. I am cynical about the whole process - after all, debating something is not the same as passing legislation that the public actually wants - but it is a start. And it's the Daily Mail that is reporting it, so a reality filter needs to be applied to that too. But what really struck me was what Ms Engel said about it.
Committee chairman Natascha Engel, a Labour MP, said: ‘Given the crisis in the eurozone, this issue has become more relevant than ever. There is a clear majority of backbench MPs who want to debate this and we have to respond to that.About time this was said. And from a Labour MP, too. Colour me gobsmacked.
‘The EU today is completely different from the one the British people voted to join in 1975. It is time to examine the position again. For years it has suited successive governments to avoid debating whether Britain should leave the EU. The whole purpose of my committee is to make sure the big issues of the day are aired in Parliament. People in pubs and shops all over Britain are discussing our membership of the EU and it is time MPs openly debated it too.