Oct 5, 2011

Conservative Party Conference 2011: Boris Johnson defies David Cameron to call for referendum on Europe - Telegraph

Conservative Party Conference 2011: Boris Johnson defies David Cameron to call for referendum on Europe - Telegraph

Conservative Party Conference 2011: Boris Johnson defies David Cameron to call for referendum on Europe

Boris Johnson has openly challenged David Cameron’s authority by calling for a referendum on Britain’s relationship with the European Union.

Conservative Party Conference 2011: Boris Johnson pledges to bring back village spirit
Mayor of London Boris Johnson gives his keynote speech to delegates at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

The London mayor said it was “not a bad idea” to give the British people a direct say on Europe. He told a fringe meeting at the Conservative conference that voters deserved a chance to express their views on the issue.

He said: “The British people haven’t had a say on Europe since 1975. There hasn’t been a vote. It seems to me to be that if a reasonable question could be framed and put to the people of this country, I think it is not a bad idea.”

One option for the referendum would be an “in-out referendum”, he said.

He predicted that while voters might not vote to leave the EU, they might demand a “looser relationship” with Brussels.

Mr Johnson, seen as a potential future Conservative leadership contender, spoke hours after Mr Cameron had ruled out any popular vote on EU issues and insisted that the Conservatives should not focus on the issue

“I don’t want Britain to leave the EU,” the Prime Minister said. “I think it’s the wrong answer for Britain. People in rooms up and down Britain aren’t thinking, gosh, if only we could have a treaty change in Europe.”

The mayor’s intervention shatters Mr Cameron’s attempts to take Europe off the conference agenda and will infuriate Downing Street. Mr Johnson made the move even as he insisted he was not interested in trying to take Mr Cameron’s job in the future.

He said he would not take another “big job in politics” after being London mayor, and wanted to “knock on the head” speculation about his ambitions, declaring: “I really don’t want to do anything else.”

Mr Johnson, who will seek a second term as mayor next year, was repeatedly applauded as he addressed the conference about his record running London.

Mr Johnson’s performance underlined his status as a favourite of Tories and a potential leadership candidate. Many Conservative MPs believe Mr Cameron will be replaced by either Mr Johnson or George Osborne, the Chancellor.

But in television interviews last night, Mr Johnson described talk of prime ministerial ambitions as “complete nonsense”. He told ITV News: “Let’s take this opportunity to knock this on the head. The job of Mayor of London is the most wonderful, most engrossing job I could ever imagine I would have in politics.

“It gluts the appetite for power and executive action, and I love it. And I really don’t want to do anything else.”

Recent reports have suggested Mr Johnson could seek to return to the House of Commons in his second term as mayor. Conservative rules say the party leader must be an MP.

Mr Johnson told the BBC’s Newsnight there is “not a snowball’s chance in Hades” of a return to the Commons.

He has said he will only serve two terms as mayor. Asked about trying to become Prime Minister, he replied: “I don’t think I will do another big job in politics after this.”

Relations between Mr Cameron and Mr Johnson have often been tense and Downing Street insiders say the Prime Minister and the Chancellor are determined to help Mr Johnson win re-election next year in order to complicate any leadership plans he may harbour.

Oct 4, 2011

Russian Reality-Check

David J. Kramer and Christopher Walker: Russian Reality-Check - WSJ.com

Putin's return to the presidency should dispel any remaining delusions about the Medvedev era


The prevailing wisdom is that Vladimir Putin's return to the Russian presidency is bad news. That may be, but there is also reason to welcome his not-so-surprising Kremlin homecoming: It will remove the fiction of Russian reform and modernization that the presidency of Dmitry Medvedev represented. This in turn should allow U.S. and European Union policy makers to see the country as it is, rather than as they would prefer to imagine it.

Oct 3, 2011

Gazprom-phobia escalates in Brussels : Voice of Russia

Gazprom-phobia escalates in Brussels : Voice of Russia
Sep 28, 2011 15:21 Moscow Time

Russia has urged the European Commission to observe the rights of its energy giant Gazprom. The country’s Energy Ministry said its interests as a supplier and investor and protected by international agreements. The day before, members of the European Commission have searched offices of a number of EU energy companies that are one way or another linked to Gazprom. The Russian giant itself referred to this as common practice being in strict conformity with Brussels’ orders concerning the protection of competition. EU commissioners claim it is too early to talk about any violations.