Much of the talk this week has been of the Prime Minister’s renegotiation ahead of a potential summer referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU.
So what has the PM come home with?
Well, firstly I should say that the negotiation is still ongoing, and nothing will be confirmed until February 18 or 19, or perhaps later (in which case there’s no prospect of a June poll).
But where we are at the moment is as follows.
The ‘Emergency Brake’. This is where, with agreement from Brussels in certain circumstances (for eg if there is excessive pressure on public services), the UK can restrict benefit payments for EU migrants for up to four years.
Child benefit; If a child is abroad, benefits will only be paid at ‘local rates’, relevant to the country the child is residing in.
The ‘Red Card’. Again this can be used if 55 per cent of EU member countries confirm that they don’t agree with a piece of legislation, discussion of its implementation can be discontinued.
‘Ever closer union’; We will not be committed to further political integration.
An agreement meaning we can more easily deal with those deemed a ‘genuine and serious threat’ to the country.
There were some other wins as well, and it will be interesting to see the final recommendations in a couple of weeks - clearly much progress has been made - but is it enough? I am interested in your thoughts, and as ever you can email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I have always taken the view that the very least I, as MP can do is wait to see exactly what the Prime Minister comes back with before making a decision - which will then be an informed decision based on facts rather than being in the definite ‘in’ or ‘out’ camps.
Notwithstanding that we don’t have an actual date for the referendum as yet, I will be holding a public meeting on the subject with some key national speakers from both sides of the argument as well as a journalist and someone from business.
Please pencil in May 26 for this meeting, and I will confirm full details shortly.
US Presidential Race;
A fascinating contest in the Iowa caucus.
I gather it was the closest contest ever on the democratic side, with Ms Clinton winning by just .03 per cent, and Mr Trump’s bandwagon coming somewhat off the rails.
Make no mistake, in a world where Jeremy Corbyn can become leader of the opposition against odds of 200/1, there is no doubt that Bernie Sanders - and for that matter Donald Trump - really could become US President.
However, my money is on Marco Rubio to win the Republican nomination, and I still think he’s likely to be up against Hillary Clinton.
If I’m right, I can see President Rubio in the White House this time next year - time will tell!