Thursday, April 30, 2009

Chris Huhne to be Britain's next European Commissioner?

From yesterday's Evening Standard:

There's an intriguing rumour in European circles. It's that Downing Street has been considering whether Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat home affairs supremo, could be the UK's next European Commissioner.

It sounds implausible, but I am told it has been seriously discussed in Lib-Dem circles. Huhne, once a financial journalist, is also a former Euro MP.

There is no suggestion Huhne, 54, wants to quit the Commons, and his office tells me it knows nothing about the rumours. But observers point out he might not be entirely averse, having twice failed to win the party leadership — the second time in a bruising battle with Nick Clegg.

I don't believe a word of it, but that does not prevent me passing it on to you.


Simon Titley said...

The current 2004-09 Commission is likely to have its life extended for a few months until the end of this year, after the second Irish referendum in October, because it is impractical to appoint a new Commission until it is known which treaty (Nice or Lisbon) will apply.

However, this still means that the next Commission will be nominated before the British general election (likely to be in May 2010).

The Labour Party would ideally like to nominate Geoff Hoon, but does not want to risk a by-election in Ashfield, which the Tories would almost certainly capture.

The Lib Dems would be faced with a similar problem - would they want to risk a by-election in Eastleigh? While Chris Huhne has a good chance of defending the seat in 2010, a new candidate would have a much harder job defending a 500-vote majority in a by-election (particularly since the Lib Dems lost their by-election mojo at some point between Bromley and Henley/Crewe).

The most likely outcome is that the government will re-nominate Baroness Ashton.

Jonathan Calder said...

All true, though it is worth noting that the Lib Dems would fancy their chances in an Ashfield by-election too.

Simon Titley said...

Ah, a bar chart. Why didn't you say?

Anonymous said...

Huhne is doomed - DOOMED in Eastleigh at the next election!

LD's should have chosen Huhne instead of MR Clegg! The Turkey that just keeps giving! LoL

Jonathan Calder said...

It could turn out to be a two-horse race, Simon.

crewegwyn said...

Oh how nice to be visited by our old friend "Illiberal liberals".

Paul Linford said...

I have a feeling Huhne might just want to wait around to see if he becomes a Cabinet minister in a post-election Lib-Tory coalition. The next environment secretary, perhaps?