12 Apr 2011

Tory MP asks for Osborne to be investigated on code of conduct

Douglas Carswell MP is a very unusual sort of Tory MP. I think he’s probably the only Conservative MP with a poster celebrating the libertarian guru and novelist Ayn Rand in his Commons office. And he’s no respecter of party “lines to take.”

In that spirit (as reported in the Daily Telegraph) he’s asked Sir Philip Mawer, the adviser on the ministerial code of conduct, to investigate George Osborne (not expecting a government job, our Douglas!).  He’s concerned that the Chancellor may have misled the Commons when he said he “did not support” Alistair Darling’s decision to support the temporary “European Stability facility” in the last post-election gasps of the Labour government. It’s a claim that David Cameron has repeated in the Commons (so Mr Carswell really isn’t very ambitious).

I understand what happened way back in May 2010 was that the then Chancellor, Mr Darling, phoned George Osborne to check if he was ok with the decision he was minded, reluctantly, to take, backing the facility. “You’re the Chancellor,” Mr Osborne is supposed to have said (maybe it was a dark moment in the coalition negotiation fluctuations). Mr Osborne is also thought to have said he realised the EU would vote on a QMV basis so we couldn’t stop the measure. He asked if there was any case for abstaining, but I hear was told that would simply lose us influence and to no gain. And that was more or less it. A civil servant note of the conversation exists and the government has toyed with publishing the relevant papers with some sections withheld. I hear Mr Darling is strongly of the view that the whole lot should be published. Which, you might think, suggests who will come out of all of this looking like they have the better recall.

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