Sir Jeremy has been accused of stifling debate among eurosceptic ministers by issuing new guidance banning ministers from accessing official documents and receiving briefings ahead of the neverendum. Access will be restricted to those persons who support the Governments official line to remain in the EU.
So never mind the two speed Europe, now it would seem that the PM is instituting a two speed Cabinet because it doesn’t seem to have occurred to Mr Cameron that he is denying access to government documents to persons who are actually part of that government. It means that ministers would be denied access to what is happening in their own departments under the pretext that it is relevant to Europe.
Here’s the text of Sir Jeremy’s letter of guidance : “It will not be appropriate or permissible for the Civil Service to support ministers who oppose the Government’s official position by providing briefing or speech material on this matter. This includes access to official departmental papers, excepting papers that ministers have previously seen on issues relating to the referendum question prior to the suspension of the collective agreement.”
He went on “All other EU or EU-related business, including negotiations in or with all EU institutions and other member states, and debates and votes in the UK Parliament on EU business will continue to be subject to the normal rules of collective responsibility and party discipline.”
There are also tough new rules on special advisers, with Sir Jeremy making clear that any adviser wanting to “work part-time or full-time for a campaign should seek the Prime Minister’s approval for this. Special advisers who wish to undertake routine campaign activity in a personal capacity may do so in their own time and outside office hours. They may not use annual leave or unpaid leave for any campaign activity.”
Naturally the same restrictions to not apply to the pro-EU members of the government, a clear case of double standards and yet more evidence that the PM is looking increasingly desperate.
And Mr Cameron’s official comment on this state of affairs? “It’s good for democracy!” That has to be the quote of the campaign so far!
This is a move of which Hitler’s Minister of Public Enlightenment, Joseph Goebbels, would have been truly proud…