- Leader of the House of Commons told Exeposé that “politicians in Britain, with a handful of exceptions, have little affection for the EU flag”
- The minister also said that he’d like to see more House of Commons committees “get out more” away from London
- Said students “have a right to expect a high quality of teaching” in reference to the TEF proposals blocked by the Lords in January
David Lidington, the Leader of the House of Commons, has told Exeposé that he doesn’t think it is any secret that “politicians in Britain, with a handful of exceptions, have little affection for the EU flag and the anthem.”
He added that that doesn’t mean the value of the EU should be dismissed.
The minister also said that students “should welcome” new higher education proposals in the form of the controversial Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF). Some student organisations have claimed the framework to be a justification for tuition fee rises.
The Leader of the House was speaking on a visit to Exeter University today, where he spoke to Politics students and other members of the university community.
It comes in light of David Cameron’s comments this week during a trip to the Ukraine in which he stated he never “liked” the EU and that he was glad he called a referendum.
“I don’t think that it’s any secret that politicians in Britain, with a handful of exceptions, have little affection for the EU flag and the anthem. But that doesn’t mean that we dismiss the value of the EU, and the PM has gone out of her way in her speeches – and two white papers – to acknowledge the importance of European values.”
Lidington was the longest-serving Minister for Europe under David Cameron’s government, having been in the post for over six years – he also campaigned to Remain in the EU.
Lidington also commented on last week’s Westminster terror attacks, saying that both parliament and the police will be “looking very closely at any lessons to be learned”. Two security reviews of parliament were announced on Wednesday.
However, he also said that public tours and visits to parliament would continue.
The minister dismissed footage of Theresa May frantically being rushed to another car, having apparently gotten in the wrong one in the wake of the attacks, stating, “I don’t think that report was accurate”.
The Leader of the House also told Exeposé he’d like to see more House of Commons committees travel from London to the South West to take evidence, stating that committees made up of cross-party groups of MPs should “try and get out more”.
Speaking to Exeposé, Lidington also did not dismiss a possible return to regional select committees. Regional ministers were bought in under Gordon Brown’s government, but ceased to exist on the dissolution of Parliament in April 2010.
On being questioned about the Higher Education Bill – blocked by the Lords in January – would get through Parliament or not, Lidington said that he was optimistic that it would become law.
He dismissed accusations that the bill is designed as a justification to raise tuition fees, as student organisations such as the NUS have claimed. Lidington said the purpose was to ensure teaching standards in universities remained high.
“I think that students should welcome the fact that there would be a new framework in place that actually highlights the quality of teaching in universities.
“I think that students, particularly when they are contributing to tution fees in a big way, have a right to expect a high quality of teaching. Now I know there are many universities in this country that have a first class record in terms of teaching quality, (but) there are others where you do pick up complaints from students.”
The NUS encouraged a boycott of the National Students Survey as a result of the proposed Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).
The Leader of the House’s visit comes days after the commencement of the official countdown to Brexit, with the triggering of Article 50 on Wednesday by the Prime Minister.
Devon currently benefits from EU grants designed to help disadvantaged areas with low incomes.
As Britain leaves the EU, Lidington said the government has a plan in order to fill the gaps left by EU funding, and that Theresa May had made industrial strategy “a central part of her overall policy programme”. On the government’s negotiating strategy, he said: “The PM, David Davis and other ministers are absolutely focused on getting the best possible deal now.”