Will they ever stop banging on about Europe?

I began Business of the House questions by raising the three defeats we inflicted on the government in the House of Lords this week on their plans for judicial review. A brace of ex-Tory cabinet ministers backed our amendments, while a former lord chief justice described the government’s plans to block dissent as an ‘elective dictatorship’. I asked the government to accept our amendments.

Tuesday is Equal Pay Day, the day when women effectively stop being paid for the rest of the year because of the gender pay gap. And the picture is bleak. The pay gap is at 20 per cent and widening, women’s are earning less they were a year ago and the UK has crashed down the world gender equality rankings to 26th place. It is no wonder the prime minister has refused to wear a Fawcett ‘feminist’ T-shirt. I asked William Hague to arrange for a debate in government time on the government’s dire record on women.

With 21 days to go until the by-election in Rochester and Strood the panic has clearly set in and the work of government seems to have been wholly subordinated to Tory attempts to outflank the United Kingdom Independence party on Europe. We have had the tantalising but as yet unfulfilled promise of yet another ‘game-changing’ European announcement from the prime minister. We’ve had his unconvincing Mr Angry performance in Brussels on the €2bn bill that George Osborne forgot to tell him about. And we all know that half his parliamentary party seem content to put our security at risk by plotting to sink the European arrest warrant in a move their former immigration minister said would make us the ‘Costa del Crime’. Will they ever stop banging on about Europe?

I finished by congratulating Michael Gove on his dog Snowy’s second place finish in the Westminster Dog of the Year Competition. The chief whip described his dog as ‘naughty, stubborn and greedy’, which sounds a lot like his Tory backbenchers. Life’s not easy for Mr Gove at the moment; his MPs are fleeing the kennel to Ukip, the Eurosceptics are straining at the leash and Lynton Crosby has sent the dog whistle into overdrive. Anyone who’d vote for this lot must be barking.

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Angela Eagle is member of parliament for Wallasey, shadow leader of the House of Commons and writes the weekly Business of Parliament column for Progress. She tweets @AngelaEagle

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Photo: UK Parliament

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