Jean-Claude Juncker has demanded Britain send a woman to be our next European Commissioner, replacing Baroness (Cathy) Ashton, whose term has ended. The soon-to-be-installed President of the European Commission made the demand as he wants half of his cabinet to be women.
Juncker does not have the right to tell national governments who they send as their commissioner but he does pick which portfolio they get once they have been appointed, and some of these portfolios are more desirable than others. The President has told every country in the European Union to pick a man and a woman to be on a shortlist so he can select their commissioner for them. He has no right to do this and Britain has refused to make the list.
So instead, according to the Financial Times, Juncker has told David Cameron that if he wants his nominee to get one of the best portfolios she must be a woman. Leaving Cameron with a dilemma: whether to fight Juncker again and risk losing or to appear weak by backing down.
The Prime Minister had previously favoured Andrew Lansley to be the next commissioner, and had wanted him to get a portfolio related to trade and economics. However, Lansley appears to have blotted his copybook by telling anyone who would listen that he was the frontrunner, leaving Cameron feeling forced into the appointment.
As a result of the falling out with Lansley the Prime Minister may consider a woman candidate after-all. If he did, the likely frontrunner is Theresa Villiers (pictured), the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland who was generally accepted to have been a competent Member of the European Parliament before entering the House of Commons in 2005.
Also on the list could be Maria Miller, the disgraced former Culture Secretary, who now sits as a backbencher with no real future at Westminster. She was caught over-claiming on her expenses and had to resign once it became clear she had used delay tactics to thwart the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standard Investigation.
Appointing either Villiers or Miller would, however, cause a parliamentary by-election, which could waste resources and cause embarrassment if the Conservatives lost. Prior to the party’s win in Newark in May, they were unwilling to risk that at all, and still remain uneasy about it although may be willing to go ahead if necessary.
If they decide not to risk a by-election, they could pick either Sarah Hogg and Patience Wheatcroft, both former financial journalists who sit in the House of Lords. Or, if Cameron was willing to pick a man, recently defeated Conservative Leader in the European Parliament, Martin Callanan might be in the frame.
Callanan was charged with creating a viable European Conservative and Reformists (ECR) group at the European Parliament. Although he lost his seat at the European elections, he did pave the way for it to become the third largest group in the European Parliament.
This has given the British Conservatives genuine power for the first time in decades, because the ECR look unlikely to ever vote for anyone who is not a British Conservative as leader. Meaning that British MEP Syed Kamall is the most powerful Brit in Brussels, having taken over the leadership when Callanan lost.
Whatever happens, the situation at the Commission is worrying the British as Juncker was forced on the continent in an unconstitutional fashion. His demands to pick his commission is similarly unconstitutional, but in Brussels the need to follow rules is not a high priority.
David Cameron has always been strongly opposed to Juncker’s appointment, but as reported on Breitbart London, the commission President did initially claim he would make concessions. In reality he is widely expected to be an anti-reform hard-liner who will push Britain into an even more Eurosceptic position. Which is why some of the right actually like him.