Gove offers a lesson for Cameron on Europe

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Joining what is now the European Union must rank as probably the most extravagant folly ever perpetrated in the annals of British politics.

It is a money-wasting lumbering elephant of an organisation, to which we pay billions of pounds, and dishes out often ludicrous edicts which never get debated at Westminster.

In short, it is an outrage far worse than anything George Orwell might have thought up in his celebrated book 1984.

And now, at long last, a senior Cabinet minister, in the form of Michael Gove, Education Secretary, has apparently said that if there was a referendum today on the issue of Britain’s continued membership, he would vote to leave.

He is also reported as wanting Britain to issue to other EU countries a: “Give us back our sovereignty or we will walk out” ultimatum.

Gove is apparently fed up with the way the EU meddles in his attempts to reform education in this country. And no doubt many other Cabinet ministers are equally frustrated that this is also happening within their spheres of influence.

Take the recent instruction that Women’s Institutes, and such organisations, cannot sell homemade jam in used jars. The Church of England put out a notice about this and felt obliged to say that it was not a spoof.

The Prime Minister continues to make dithering noises about Britain’s future relationship with Europe.

He who hesitates...

The Prime Minister has been denounced by a prominent fellow Tory of negotiating “like Pontius Pilate” with Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond over the terms of the forthcoming referendum on independence north of the border.

The attack comes from Lord Forsyth, a former Secretary of State for Scotland. And it certainly looks as though Salmond has emerged from this encounter as the knock-out victor.

Now 16-year-olds, still in the classroom, are expected to be allowed to vote. The minimum age for voting in parliamentary elections is 18, which itself is regarded in many quarters as being too young.

The 16-year-old decision appears to have been taken on the specious argument that if you are old enough to marry at 16, you are old enough to vote.

Then Salmond is to be allowed to suggest the wording of the question and to delay the referendum if it suits him.

And what about the rest of the United Kingdom? Such a massive constitutional change is just as important to those who live outside Scotland in the UK as to those who live within it.

What has always puzzled me is why Tony Blair, when prime minister, reputedly a bitter opponent of Scottish independence, allowed the Scots to go halfway there with the devolution legislation.