The former "minister for the Today programme" may want to examine his own party's voting record before he mentions EU expansionby Steve Bloomfield / September 11, 2017 / Leave a comment
Sir Michael Fallon is good in front of a microphone. When he was a junior minister he was often described as the minister for the Today programme, able to deflect, distract and stay on message during the most awkward of interviews. He probably felt pretty pleased with himself yesterday as he toured the TV and radio studios criticising Tony Blair’s suggestion that new curbs on European Union migration could be introduced in order to reduce the number of migrants arriving from central and eastern Europe.
“It’s a bit late now, this epiphany,” Sir Michael said, on the BBC’s Marr Show. “I think it’s a pity he didn’t think of that when all these new countries were admitted to the European Union on his watch.”
It’s a good line. But there’s a problem. If Sir Michael really thinks EU enlargement was such a mistake then it’s a pity Sir Michael didn’t think of that when he voted in favour of “all these new countries” joining the EU back in 2003. Indeed, Sir Michael was no rebel—he was joined in the division lobby by every single one of his Conservative colleagues who bothered to vote. In total, 491 MPs voted in favour and none whatsoever voted against.
“The architects of Brexit—David Davis, Liam Fox, Boris Johnson—all trooped into the aye lobby”
The architects of Brexit—David Davis, Liam Fox, Boris Johnson—all trooped into the aye lobby alongside such dyed-in-the-wool Remainers as Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. Theresa May was there too, as was Philip Hammond. Even long-time Eurosceptics like Owen Paterson, John Redwood and Bill Cash seemingly had no problem in allowing citizens from Poland, Lithuania and the Czech Republic to move to the UK for work. It’s not just Tories—several Labour leavers, including Kate Hoey, voted in favour too.
Fallon et al should be incredibly proud of their vote. After the fall of the Soviet Union, nations in central and eastern Europe yearned for freedom and democracy – part of that dream was to join the European Union, a club that promoted those values. We encouraged them, rightly. Just imagine, for a moment, what central and eastern Europe would look like now, with a resurgent Russia already asserting its influence, if the West had turned its back.