24 Jan 2013

When Davey was kicked out of Commons over EU referendum

The Liberal Democrats’ opposition to David Cameron’s yes or no referendum on our continuing membership of the EU is in stark contrast to the party’s position five years ago, when they were the only major party actually seeking such a vote.

Indeed “seeking” may be too mild a term to describe their exhortations.  For in February 2008 the party felt so strongly about the issue that their then Foreign Affairs Spokesman, Ed Davey, was even suspended from the Commons for the vehemence of his protests, and refusing to let the matter drop.

Mr Davey, of course, is now a member of the coalition cabinet, as energy secretary.

In February 2008 the Liberal Democrats were furious that the Commons Speaker, Michael Martin, hadn’t selected, in a debate on the Lisbon Treaty, a Lib Dem amendment calling for an in-out referendum.  Before the debate began Ed Davey got up to voice their fury through a string of points of order.

Read more: The full transcript from Hansard

“Will the chair reconsider the decision not to select the Liberal Democrat amendment for a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU?” Davey asked.  “That is the question that goes to the heart of the debate before the house.  That is the debate that people want to hear.  We are being gagged, Sir.”

Several times Ed Davey rose to continue his objections.  The decision was an “outrage”, he said.  The Deputy Speaker, Sir Michael Lord, slapped him down, saying the “outrage” was Davey’s “attitude to the house”.

Davey persisted, calling the speaker’s decision “unfair”.  And at one point Davey was backed up in his objections  by none other than Nick Clegg.

In the end the deputy speaker suspended Davey for the rest of that day’s sitting for his “grossly disorderly manner”.

That meant he was also barred from the Palace of Westminster as a whole, a very rare instance of a Lib Dem MP being suspended, if only for a day.

So much for the “outrage”, and it all being so “unfair”.

How times change.

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